GEORGETOWN, Guyana (GINA) -- President Donald Ramotar has dismissed media reports that Delta Airlines was forced out of Guyana because former president Bharrat Jagdeo was subjected to baggage checks by the airline.
During a press conference on Saturday in Miami, the president said that at no time did the Guyana government move to have Delta out of Guyana, but rather would like the airline to continue operating the Georgetown-New York route.
“Guyana is asking them to stay… we would very much like them to stay, because it’s a reputable airline. So it has nothing to do with us asking them to leave….that is not true, I could assure you that that has no basis,” the president told reporters.
Meanwhile, the president dismissed claims that Delta was pulling out of Guyana due to poor passenger response.
“The reason why Delta is pulling out cannot be because of the shortage of people travelling, because Delta had … from the time they started, they have been first in the 70s (percentage) and over the last few years, they have been in the 80 percent of being filled, so it’s a very good route,” the president said.
He noted that, thus far, he has not had an official position from Delta that it is pulling out of Guyana.
As it relates to why the airline may be cancelling its Georgetown-New York route the Guyanese leader said there have been some talks about pricing with Caribbean Airlines. However, those too he said are just rumours “floating around.”
When asked if Guyana is in discussions with other Caribbean countries to create a regional airline, the head of state said that there have been such talks. However, that does not seem like an immediate move, even though those discussions are taking place.
Meanwhile, responding to questions as to why there is a wider use of Caribbean Airlines by Guyanese, the president said the Trinidad-based carrier has been operating in Guyana for a while and has managed to create a customer base.
“Well you know Caribbean Airlines, of course. They have a long relationship with Guyana. They have been working there a long time, and recently when we had the folding-up of EZjet, Caribbean Airlines was very helpful in coming and taking up the slack, regarding the EZJet situation…so we have (a) good relationship with Caribbean Airlines as I said they have been working in Guyana for a number of years and we value that relationship.” Ramotar said.
On Saturday, Minister of Public Works Robeson Benn, armed with statistics, debunked Delta’s excuse that the route’s profitability was the main reason for the pull out. The statistics show that, since its inaugural flight in June 2008, Delta Airlines has benefitted from the support of the travelling public to the extent that it enjoyed the highest payload for all airlines operating at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA).
The Minister said that a careful look at these numbers will reveal that Delta was experiencing passenger growth despite competition from low cost carriers RedJet and EZjet.