By Tracey Khan – Drakes
[www.inewsguyana.com] – Minister of Tourism (ag), Irfaan Ali has reaffirmed that the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA) expansion project “is here to stay and it must be done.”
He believes the project is s vital to the overall development of the aviation sector.
He made it unequivocally clear that the expansion of the airport is critical to national development as he pointed out Government’s inability to expand the airport project due to the opposition’s “nonsensical position.”
He said the question should no longer linger as to whether this project should be done, as he pointed to the increase in airlines into the country.
“This aviation sector cannot grow, it would never grow if we cannot expand that airport….I would go beyond every boundary to ensure that this project is completed. It is far too important in our national interest and the tourism sector and the aviation sector to be left as a shadow issues.”
This he highlighted is hampering other major airlines from entering the local market because the current airport does not meet international standards.
“All the carriers are changing their equipment for larger planes. You’re not gonna have them landing at that airstrip that we have there….unless you’re able to expand that airstrip and expand the facility we have we are going to stagnate the sector.”
He attributed the hassles passengers are facing. “Lining up on to the sun is as a direct result of some nonsensical non thinking persons in the political landscape of the country, who does not have their interest at heart”.
Meanwhile, he cautioned against exploiting passengers due to the challenges encountered with other airlines and noted the sudden increase in ticket prices here.
“We believe that airlines that are in the sector have a responsibility for the sector and should not exploit circumstances and situation to an economic benefit.”
Ali clarified that he supports a model that has economic gains for any airline, but emphasized that support will not be given to a market that exploits passengers in a time when the demand is high and capacity is low.
When asked how Government intends to deal with this old problem of increased airline fares, Ali stated that a lot has been done in terms of airlift capacity “but our travelling population has also grown”.