Murray outlines BWIA strategy to stay flying
Guyana Chronicle
October 5, 2002

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BWIA West Indies Airways Ltd is moving to reduce operational costs through greater efficiency, necessitated by spiralling increases in maintaining its services since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States.

The airline's Area Manager in Guyana, Ms. Dawn Murray told a press conference, in Georgetown Thursday, that, in order for the carrier to maintain profitability, it needs to cut expenditure by US$1M a month.

Consequently, BWIA has embarked on simplifying and modernising its operations.

She said the first phase entails the changeover from the L1011 aircraft to the new Airbus-A340, a much more fuel efficient and comfortable aeroplane and building a more productive and effective team.

Murray said, only four years ago, BWIA had an aging fleet but it is changing to eight B-737 and two A-340s, all state-of-the-art.

She said that, as part of the strategic plan to reduce expenses, BWIA has formed an alliance with LIAT (Leeward Islands Air Transport) to connect the entire Caribbean, including Suriname.

According to her, staff has rallied around the BWIA strategy and directors and executives have agreed to significant cuts in their salaries while other employees have pledged to make major sacrifices in their conditions of employment.

Murray said there will be no reduction of staffers at the local office.

She identified several aspects of BWIA operations which have been mainly responsible for its financial vulnerability, including dramatically less demand, significantly rising operational costs, a loss of investor confidence and a huge increase in insurance and security charges, directly related to the September 11, 2001 disaster.

She revealed that insurance tariffs have increased by 225 per cent, while spending on security is up by 30 per cent, but necessary to satisfy U.S. Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) standards.

Murray reported that tourist travel in the Caribbean has decreased and there is less demand for trips out of Guyana.

However, she assured that despite what she outlined, the quality and standard of BWIA service will not be compromised.

Murray also announced the appointment of Mr. Carlton Defour as the new Area Manager who will succeed her from October 15.

DeFour joined BWIA September 1985 in the Revenue Accounts Department and held various positions in the Sales Audit and Evaluation departments, she said.

Murray is going to become Area Manager in Canada and she said: "It will be a new and exciting challenge for me."

Earlier this week, Chief Executive Officer Conrad Aleong dismissed speculation that the airline will cease operating by month end.

"October 31 is simply the date by which we have targeted having all staff concessions in hand along with the other cost-reduction plans. Come November 1, 2002, BWIA will still be flying and that will be so for many, many tears to come.

"BWIA has been through worse than this in the past 62 years...we have been tested and we get better every time," he was quoted as saying.