Domestic aircraft owners, represented by two rival associations, on Tuesday railed against the adverse impact of COVID-19 measures, saying that their operational costs have gone up and a number of them have been f0rced to increase passenger fares.
The Aircraft Owners Association of Guyana (AOAG) and the National Air Transportation Association (NATA), in separate statements, slammed the Director-General of the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority, Retired Lt.Col. Egbert Field for accusing them of price-gouging and being unscrupulous.
NATA said cargo fares and hourly rates have remained the same, but passenger fares have increased because there is insufficient cargo to constantly make up the payload and compensate for halving of the passenger capacity of aircraft.
“For passenger operations however, the mandate to operate at Half of passenger loads has necessitated adjustment of Passenger fares in order to maintain the Aircraft Hourly Rate. Operating Aircraft for Half the cost is not feasible, and the lower rates charged in Guyana severely constrain accumulation of large rainy-day funds for private subsidy of operations,” NATA said. The association said the rates are the lowest they can charge in order to maintain the required level of safety the public must enjoy. They are a creature of our costs including employees, facilities, critical spare parts, and insurance.
Air Services Limited (ASL), a NATA member, has been singled out for hiking its freight charges to Region 8 (Potaro-Siparuni) where it has been operating exclusively.
Saying they were “extremely perturbed and disappointed” at Field’s description of Guyanese aviation industry operators, NATA added that its members have introduced measures more than those recommended by the National COVID-19 Task Force which have increased their operating expenses. That association said explanations have been provided to the GCAA.