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Fly Jamaica begins serving Guyana, New York, Toronto

Fly Jamaica says it will begin Guyana-North America flights later this month but will have to transit Jamaica from Georgetown to New York because the United States Department of Transportation (DOT) is yet to approve an exemption application.

Chief Executive Officer, Ronald Reece said there would be direct return flights on the Guyana-Toronto route.  While Fly Jamaica would go direct from New York to Guyana, return flights to New York would have to make a 90-minute stop-over in Jamaica.

The Guyana operation begins on September 26 with a flight from Jamaica and the first flight out of Toronto will be on October 8. You can visit the airline’s website on http://www.fly-jamaica.com/

Reece explained that the reason for passing through Jamaica was because his carrier was still awaiting a response from DOT. “Our licence currently allows us to fly non-stop from JFK to GEO, but we had applied for an exemption from the DOT to operate non-stop back to JFK but we have not heard from them as yet,” said Reece.

Reece explained that the more than one hour long wait would be in keeping with requirements by Jamaican and American authorities. “The Transportation Security Administration and the Jamaican Government require that all the bags and passengers be screened at the last stop before entering the USA,” he said. Passengers would not be required to change planes but will have to disembark to allow checks for weapons, drugs and other prohibited weapons.

Asked why should persons travel from Guyana to New York with Fly Jamaica in view of the long transit period, the CEO sought to justify it by the  high quality of the carrier’s in-flight service and the promotion of tourism and other types of business between the two sister Caricom member states. “This will offer a glimpse of new country through the windows of a plane, encourage enquiring minds to visit that country and Fly Jamaica is hoping to encourage tourism between Jamaica and Guyana and both countries have a lot to offer the citizens of both countries,” he said. Grace Kennedy, Tastee Patties and other Jamaican companies have business interests in Guyana.

Currently, passengers travelling to and from New York with Caribbean Airlines have to wait up to 90 minutes in Trinidad.

In its application for exemption on the Guyana-New York leg, Fly Jamaica has told DOT that the airline has been granted flag carrier status for Guyana. The Guyanese and Jamaica Civil Aviation Authorities have already granted licenses for that route.

Fly Jamaica is banking on several precedents in which the US has granted permission to foreign carriers to fly direct from a number of third countries in which carriers have not been registered. “Granting this exemption application is entirely consistent with the Department precedent in cases where a foreign air carrier from one Caribbean country has been designated by another Caribbean country as its flag carrier and where comity and reciprocity support the inclusion of connecting service to other Caribbean nations,” Fly Jamaica states in its application dated July 16, 2013.
Fly Jamaica also says that its application is made in keeping with the public’s interest because there is currently no US or Guyana airline serving the Guyana-New York route. “The national economy of Guyana is heavily dependent on the US market and New York specifically where a large Guyanese community resides. For these reasons, Fly Jamaica is confident that significant demand exists for air transportation between Guyana and New York,” the airline added in its application.

But two American organisations- Air Line Pilots Association and Airlines for America- have objected to the applications made by Caribbean Airlines and Fly Jamaica. Air Line Pilots Association has contended that oil-rich Trinidad and Tobago has been providing a “substantial fuel subsidy” to CAL “and at least one US carrier has ceased services in the market. For all of these reasons, the Department should deny these applications.”  The Trinidad and Tobago government has since announced that it would be scrapping the subsidy from next month.
Airlines for America states that granting the applications will reward behaviours and policies in the region that have resulted in less choice because market distortions have resulted in the withdrawal of service on the route.