GUYANA: Relief flights cancelled because of authorities’ unpreparedness

(INEWSGUYANA) – The cancellation of the two relief flights that were scheduled for Thursday, June 11 and Saturday, June 13 to bring home Guyanese stranded abroad, was as a result of the lack of preparedness on the party of Guyanese authorities.

This is according to Caribbean Airlines Limited (CAL) in a statement today.

According to the Trinidad-based airline, it has held talks with the Government of Guyana and the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) regarding proposed operations to repatriate Guyana nationals, who have been stranded across the region, including in Trinidad and Tobago, since the closure of borders due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

CAL explained that it had supplied the Guyanese Government and the GCAA with a proposed schedule of repatriation flights and received approval to operate a service between Trinidad, Barbados, and Guyana on June 11. It was noted that the Guyana Authorities had committing to provide a listing of pre-approved Guyanese nationals to the airline.

“Subsequently, on June 9, the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority advised that the necessary processes were not yet completed by the Guyana Authorities and they were unable to provide the listing of nationals for repatriation to Caribbean Airlines; which would facilitate the advertising of the flight and booking of passengers,” the airline said in its missive today.

Nevertheless, CAL said it remains committed to supporting repatriation efforts for the citizens of Guyana and looks forward to the completion of the processes and the provision of the necessary approvals from the GCAA.

Currently, Caribbean Airlines is facilitating repatriation flights for nationals of Trinidad & Tobago, Barbados, Jamaica, Antigua, and The Bahamas through June 16 and will support further repatriation efforts of Caribbean nationals throughout the region.

The two Caribbean Airlines flights bringing passengers from Trinidad and Tobago and Barbados, and the JFK Airport in New York, were reportedly cancelled without any apparent reason being offered to the intended passengers.

However, Director General of the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority, Egbert Field, is quoted in a local newspaper on Saturday as saying that this was because of insufficient passengers for the flights.

Local sport stalwart, John Ramsingh, who returned on the first repatriation flight from Miami, USA on June 6 expressed his disappointment over the treatment of his fellow Guyanese who have been stranded overseas for months.

Ramsingh in a statement on Friday said “Our fellow Guyanese are desperate to return home with some barely surviving. They have met the criteria to return even under difficult circumstances but are still left in the wilderness. Our decision makers need to allow our brothers and sisters to come back home.

The plight of our citizens must be heard so we are asking for your effective intervention once again. It is through our efforts previously that the first batch were allowed home. The struggle continues and you are a critical partner. Please help.”

Upon landing at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA) on the Eastern Airlines flight earlier this month, the first batch of repatriated Guyana, a total of 109 persons, were all sanitised and screened upon entering the airport.

They would have had to submit a COVID-19 PCR test 48-hours prior to their arrival. Only persons with negative results were permitted to return.

These persons were then mandated to spend one week in self-quarantine at home. During that time they were not permitted to leave their homes for any reason, other than to seek emergency medical attention.

After the incident-free repatriation, senior government officials including Minister of Public Health Volda Lawrence and GCAA DG Field pledged weekly flights to have stranded citizens return home.