Christmas travel to test airport preparedness for CWC
--plans on stream to accommodate more aircraft

Kaieteur News
December 10, 2006

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Airport officials will use the expected heightened air travel during the Christmas season to test the airport's readiness for Cricket World Cup (CWC) 2007, which is expected to attract over 30,000 visitors to Guyana.

Acting Chief Executive Officer of the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA), Ramesh Ghir, told Kaieteur News last week that the airport has developed a comprehensive plan to muddle through the CWC event.

The CJIA is expected to be a hub of activity as players, officials, and fans stroll through the airport for the Super Six matches which are to be staged here.

Apart from the infrastructural capacity of the CJIA to handle the increased passenger activity, this welcoming ground for thousands will also have to increase security surveillance while maintaining a hospitable environment.

“We believe that this Christmas season will be a great opportunity to put some of our plans to the test. This will allow us an opportunity to make changes to our overall plans. The airport is usually a buzz of activity during the Christmas season with frequent flights, more baggage and more passengers using the airport,” Ghir stated.

The Christmas season is also a telling time for the airline industry, especially BWIA, the major airline carrier in the Caribbean region.

In previous years, BWIA has faltered under the seasonal rush, and irate passengers have complained of lost baggage and late arrivals and departures of aircraft.

At the moment the airport could accommodate four international aircraft in four parking positions, and for smaller aircraft, like those operated by Caribbean Star and Liat, there is a small domestic parking area.

Ghir stated that, as part of the new plan for CWC, the airport is developing a remote parking position in the aerodrome to accommodate aircraft.

He explained that the remote location will be able to accommodate aircraft that may want to overnight.

“We could actually direct them to another location on the airport to park; we are actually preparing that surface,” Ghir stated.

He added that during the cricket mega event, the airport plans to activate a number of options.

As part of those options, Ghir said, the airport could utilise a secondary runway, which would allow smaller aircraft to land and park.

“Depending on the numbers of passenger movement, we will make the decision…We will be able to accommodate additional aircraft. I can say with certainty that based on the number of passengers expected to come to Guyana, we do not foresee any major problems,” Ghir stated.

The Acting CEO noted that the airport has developed a special CWC Committee to advise the airport on measures that should be taken in anticipation of the games.

Ghir stated that additional expansion work was recently conducted on the Immigration arrivals terminal and the Customs areas to provide more space.

The acting CEO assured that there will be sufficient Immigration Officers to man the airport.

He added that both Customs and Immigration Officers are undergoing hospitality training.

Recently, passengers arriving and departing the airport have complained about the length of time spent in queues at the Immigration check points.

Ghir stated that this problem has been rectified, and Immigration has assured that the requisite staffing will be available during the Christmas season and CWC.