Caribbean News Now contributor
WASHINGTON, USA — Airlines for America (A4A), an advocate group that claims to represent major US scheduled passenger and cargo airlines, on July 31 urged the US Department of Transportation (DOT) to oppose the July 16, 2013, application of Fly Jamaica Airways and the July 18, 2013, application of Caribbean Airlines Limited (CAL) for “an exemption from 49 USC/40301 (7th Freedom) to operate scheduled service between New York-John F. Kennedy International Airport and Georgetown, Guyana.”
Members of A4A include Delta Airlines, US Airways, American Airlines, Jet Blue and United, among others. Delta Airlines recently pulled out of Guyana and could very well be behind this move to block additional flights by Fly Jamaica and CAL to Guyana from New York.
JetBlue, according to the government of Guyana, is also interesting in flying to Guyana.
Delta abruptly pulled of out Guyana in May, leaving CAL to dominate the skies over Guyana. CAL flies an average of five flights daily in and out of Guyana and has faced hurdles to add additional flights out of JFK to Guyana. This led to the government of Guyana granting CAL flag carrier status to get around US DOT hurdles.
A4A said, “Both of these applications raise serious and troubling issues for consumers, A4A members and their employees.”
The group also stated, “This is not beneficial to US consumers. The Department, instead of granting extra-bilateral exemptions for 7th Freedom operators, should focus on righting the commercial aviation business climate in the region.”
Excessive taxes and fees were also cited for discouraging passengers from flying to certain markets in the region.
The group squarely blamed Caribbean Airlines’ fuel subsidy for “forcing the cancellation of US flag service to certain markets” and cited JFK-Georgetown, Guyana, as an example.
“Member airlines have reported significant impact from Caribbean Air’s seven freedom operations and from alleged fuel subsidies from Trinidad and Tobago received by Caribbean Air, which makes it extremely challenging for US carriers to compete,” A4A told the US Department of Transportation.
The US airline advocacy group urged the DOT not to grant CAL and Fly Jamaica “such extra-bilateral authority” because “is not the right instrument to invigorate the market,” the group claimed.
“The overall business climate needs to be improved. In its current state, competition is suffering,” A4A added.
This development now adds credence to what inside sources in Georgetown are saying, namely, that “The United States is giving Fly Jamaica a hard time. They are also going after CAL.”