Repatriation flights to be increased as Govt considers reopening airports

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Guyanese returning home after being stranded overseas due to the COVID-19 pandemic. [CJIA photo]
The Guyana Government is examining the possibility of the reopening the airports.

This was disclosed by Minister of Public Works Juan Edghill during an interview with Inews.

Currently, repatriation flights are being facilitated to bring stranded Guyanese home and to allow foreign citizens stranded in Guyana to return home.

To date, there have been flights from New York, Miami, Cuba, Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, Canada, St. Maarten, Jamaica, Suriname, Grenada and Curacao.

However, as the new People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Government transitions into office, it was noted that more such flights can be expected.

Edghill said the process for the operation of these relief flights has already been made easier.

“The bureaucracy that was in place for the approval of flights has been rectified, and the Director General of the Civil Aviation Authority (Retired Lt. Col. Egbert Field) has assured that flights would be approved in a timely manner going forward,” he posited.

Minister Edghill further disclosed that approval has already been given for the operation of repatriation flights next week, to bring more stranded Guyanese home. Eastern Airlines will be operating those flights.

Minister of Public Works Juan Edghill and Junior Minister of Public Works Deodat Indar during an interview with Inews

Meanwhile, Minister within the Ministry of Public Works Deodat Indar added that the GCAA Head was asked to prepare a schedule plan for these relief flights. This, he noted, would not just make the process earlier for the operators, but would also reduce the high costs attached to the flights.

“When you schedule flights, it becomes easier for the airline operators to find flights. You can’t just give an operator approval two days before. It takes six days to get results back if you’re in the US or anywhere else. So, if you give a person notice for two days’ approval for flights, it really doesn’t make any sense and it’s costly, and everything else just goes up. So, we asked (Field) to give us a plan for a scheduled amount of flights until the full or partial reopening of the airports,” Indar related.

Both Public Works Ministers explained to this publication that they are looking at the possibility of reopening the airports and recommending scheduled flights in a controlled manner, without jeopardising public safety.

Minister Edghill related that DG Field has been tasked with preparing a report, taking into consideration the position of the Health Sector and other key factors, with recommendations on the reopening of the airports. That report is expected to be handed over today for the Ministers to review before submitting same to Cabinet.

“We have also examined what is required for the safe reopening of the CJIA as well the Eugene F. Correia International Airport. Mr. Field will be coming back to us with some recommendations so that we can get clearance, and point us in a direction. Because we believe that even in the COVID environment, where measures need to be taken for the safeguarding of our citizens and our country, that needs to be married with the practical need for the movement of people and goods to ensure that our country is not at a standstill,” the Public Works Minister stated.