The first Conviasa flight landing at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport
GEORGETOWN, Guyana (GINA) -- Venezuelan airline Conviasa made its inaugural flight on Friday to the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA), launching a direct service from Puerto Ordaz to Georgetown, Guyana.
The airline, located at the Simón Bolívar International Airport in Venezuela, is the largest airline in that country, operating services to domestic destinations and to destinations in the Caribbean and South America.
The flight, which had on board president of Conviasa, Luis Gustavo Graterol Caraballo, was welcomed by minister of public works, Robeson Benn, and other officials.
During a ceremony at CJIA, Benn said that the airline’s arrival was significant in that it has strengthened the relations between Guyana and Venezuela.
“I am happy to know that within such a short space of time, based on the inspiration of the late Venezuela President Hugo Chavez, to realise the intention of the two presidents, Nicholas Maduro and Donald Ramotar who met just recently and signed a memorandum of understanding which identifies that the two countries must have air transport links,” Benn pointed out.
He added that the fact that this vision could have been realised so quickly, speaks volume of what can be achieved if the two countries work together.
“This is the kind of spirit, the kind of working together, the kind of development and relationship between the two people that we all desire,” he stressed.
“What will spring up from this is a strengthening of economic ties, business, tourism and cultural exchanges between the two countries that will benefit all,” Benn explained.
Similar sentiments were expressed by CJIA’s chief executive officer Ramesh Ghir, who noted that the flight adds to CJIA’s strategy of becoming the “next generation” hub and also a hub for the Guianas, and will encourage more airlines to come to Guyana, together with the airport expansion project.
Ghir said that the agency is looking forward for a productive partnership with Conviasa in years to come. He assured of the commitment and cooperation and pledged that steps will be taken to ensure that flights will be processed in a timely fashion.
“This is a great achievement for bilateral relations and improving transport and enriching ties between the two countries,” Ghir said.
The new air service is welcomed more so at this time of the year when Guyana will be experiencing an increase in tourist arrivals.
GTA’s director Indranauth Haralsingh noted that this new airline and route will expand travel tourism and trade within the two countries, and boost access to other South American countries. He said that Conviasa is a perfect fit for Guyana because of its national and regional networks.
Haralsingh said that currently arrivals from Venezuela to Guyana for 2013 have increased by 27 percent, and this will help to further increase that, and to sustain the increase in general.
Meanwhile, CJIA’s chairman Ramesh Dookhoo said that many persons from the private sector are looking for an easier way to get to Venezuela to conduct business; hence this new airline will be of great help. He pledged to assist in marketing the airline and ensure the seats are filled when leaving Guyana.
Conviasa’s president expressed gratitude to Guyana for affording the airline the opportunity to expand its commercial operations. Caraballo said that this is a realisation of the political will of the two countries’ presidents.
Caraballo said that the trip takes only 51 minutes and will start with once weekly flights and eventually twice depending on the progress. Caraballo expressed optimism that the airline will see growth, in keeping up with the latest technology in order to improve its transport capacity to Guyana.
Recently, Fly Jamaica began servicing the Guyana-New York route via Jamaica and soon Travel Span will begin operations, thereby making the airline industry more competitive.