- Published on Wednesday, 27 March 2013 05:02
- Written by Demerara Waves
Chief Executive Officer of LIAT Captain Ian Brunton says the airline plans to make commercial flights to Guyana’s Ogle International Airport in Georgetown as a result overwhelming passenger support. Making the announcement at the opening of the airport as a regional facility, Brunton said regular flights into Ogle would await await the implementation of number of regulatory and other requirements which are yet to be fulfilled.
"One critical component is the VOR/DME (Very High Frequency Omni-directional radio Reach / Distance Measuring Equipment), which is an important navigational aid. We have been advised by the management of Ogle that this will be done by the end of this year," he said in remarks.
Though the VOR/DME would not be in place, he said LIAT expected regulatory approval to use internationally accepted Global Positioning System (GPS) and Radio Navigation (RNAV) to land and take off at Ogle. “It’s world accepted at a high standard,” he assured in a brief interview with Demerara Waves Online News (www.demwaves.com).
OAI first shared its plans to extend the runway to accommodate Dash 8 and ATRs, prompting the airline to review the possibility of using Ogle rather than the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA).
Brunton noted that the cash-strapped 57-year old regional carrier would save a huge amount of fuel by flying to Ogle instead of CJIA.
"Flying into Ogle would also mean reduced flying time- flying time round-trip less an average of 10 minutes per flight. This of course would result in a significant annual fuel reduction for LIAT- approximately 19,300 gallons per annum," he said.
At a time when the airline continues to turn to its shareholder governments for cash bail-outs, the LIAT CEO calculated that the company would save at least US$57,900. “Every cent means a lot for LIAT,” he said.
LIAT plans to replace its fleet of 14 Dash-8 aircraft with 12 aircraft- a mix of ATR 42s and ATR 72s over the next two years.
LIAT's recent survey among passengers travelling between Guyana and Barbados has found that 62.24 percent of the 625 respondents preferred Ogle while 37.6 percent chose the Cheddi Jagan International Airport. The airline's boss noted that 84 percent of the respondents were not residents of Guyana.
Statistics show that in 2012 LIAT operated approximately 667 flights through Guyana while 804 flights were operated in 2011.
Chairman of the Private Sector Commission, Ron Webster lamented the time of air travel to neighbouring countries like Venezuela. He recalled travelling to southern Brazil via Trinidad, Panama and Sao Paulo.
While there are video conferencing facilities and Skype, he said those could not replace
direct personal communication. "There are occasions when you have to meet the person face to face... You have to beat the pavement; you have to understand your customer," he said.
Aviation Minister Benn, in his remarks, hoped that Ogle International Airport would remain a domestic hub and “extraordinary destination” for medical evacuation, forestry, and mining sectors as well as regional flights. He hoped that there would be flights from Ogle to Brazilian and Venezuelan destinations that are heavily populated by Guyanese.
Benn presented the certificate that accords Ogle a regional class airport to Chairman of the Board of Ogle Airport Inc. (OAI), Michael Correia.
Awards were presented to several persons for their sterling contribution towards the development and transformation of Ogle. They included former Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretary General, Sir Edwin Carrington; former Public Works Minister, Anthony Xavier and former Head of the EU Delegation in Guyana, Per Eklund through current Head, Robert Kopecky. President Donald Ramotar received a posthumous award to former President, Janet Jagan.