The issue of BWIA as our flag carrier should be carefully considered
January 8, 2002
The debate on the BWIA question is interesting in that no-one seems to really concern themselves that one can fly from New York to Paris return for far less than NY to Guyana. The air traveller to Guyana from North America is subjected to what a regular US traveller would call a cut-down deal, but at a first class price, whether it's BWIA or any other airline in service. The price Guyanese pay for air travel is atrocious, especially from N.America to Guyana. Also, the air ticket taxes which a resident Guyanese pays the Government of Guyana are atrocious and should be lowered to allow the regular citizen to enjoy the chance to travel by air, especially to enjoy the Caribbean and the outside world.
Those who, like Frederick Kissoon, bash BWIA are obviously mis-informed and understand nothing about the complicated nature of the airline industry. BWIA needs to improve their service to the general public, but which company in whatever endeavour they engage in, does not need to improve service in general. For the Guyanese air traveller, the problem really was compounded by the bad decisions taken by the Jagdeo government and the subsequent collapse of Guyana Airways , which was a national embarrassment and disgrace , compounded by the loss of a lot of revenue by the taxpayers of Guyana. Mistakes and bad administration of Guyana Airways since Mr. Jagdeo became President resulted in the partial privatization which came too late to make the difference. Even in the end, when GA2000 faced bankruptcy, Mr. Jagdeo should have intervened to save the situation and find a way to keep the airline afloat, no matter what it took, even at that point, to make it a partner with BWIA.
Those who bash BWIA should be ashamed of themselves because with all the problems we Guyanese encounter, BWIA still has the best service in terms of weight allowance, flight punctuality, flight regularity(everyday flights), safety record, baggage -passenger arrival(together) and a good record keeping of frequent flyer status. I feel safe flying BWIA and that is a very important consideration while their in -flight attendants are competent and overall quite cheerful and friendly but being firm with safety regulations. BWIA, however, needs to have a direct flight to Guyana and Guyanese in- flight attendants need to be hired, along with some of our very competent pilots, while lowering the air-fares which not only affect Guyanese but Trinidadians also.
The concept of having BWIA as our national carrier should be looked at closely as long as the bottom line of lowering the fares and bettering service to Guyana can be realized for the regular people who have faced great trials and tribulations at the hands of incompetent Government officials who wrecked our national airlines. The bottom-line is that BWIA is still one of the great success stories of the West Indies but those in control of this great venture must remember that Guyana is an integral part of their continuing success and they must keep that in mind. The West Indian traveller deserves a break- especially in the price. However, in my opinion, we should really plan ahead properly by : extending our runway to accommodate most jets in service today; better our facilities and extend the most duty-free innovations along with other commercial services in this part of the world; offer re-fuelling, maintenance, superior food services and other mechanical services while opening our country to any airline to come fly to Guyana, whether intransit or as a final destination.
With such competition, the price of air travel to Guyana will go down, and that is the bottom line.