(TRAVEL WEEKLY).-The U.S. airline industry and its largest pilots union have stepped forward at the Transportation Department to oppose efforts by two small Caribbean airlines to operate between New York and Georgetown, Guyana.
According to papers filed by Airlines for America and the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), the two carriers — Caribbean Airlines and Fly Jamaica — are not entitled to serve a route between the U.S. and Guyana because they are based in third countries — Trinidad & Tobago and Jamaica, respectively.
At issue is a pending application by Caribbean Airlines to drop the unprofitable short segment of its Trinidad-Georgetown-New York route and operate strictly between the U.S. and Guyana.
Separately, Fly Jamaica, a new entrant that is offering New York-Kingston service, has filed for rights to operate New York-Georgetown, a route that Delta abandoned several months ago.
Airlines for America said in a legal pleading that the two applications raise “serious and troubling issues for consumers” and for the industry, which traditionally takes a bilateral approach to international routes. That means the traffic rights between Country A and Country B are generally reserved for the airlines of those countries rather than carriers from third countries.
Airlines for America said Caribbean Airlines’ third-country operations are responsible for “forcing the cancellation” of Delta’s Guyana service and said so-called “doing business issues” such as fuel subsidies from Trinidad & Tobago and “excessive taxes” in some countries make it difficult for U.S. carriers to compete.
In such an environment, Airlines for America said the Transportation Department should be working on “clearing away” these impediments rather than granting special favors to the region’s carriers.
In the same vein, ALPA said neither of the Caribbean carriers “can point to any compelling U.S. public interest that would be served” by their proposed operations, especially since “a U.S. carrier has just surrendered its service in the market.”