At least 60 persons travelling aboard InselAir have been refused entry to Guyana during the last six months, pointing to the urgent need for clear immigration rules.
Chief Executive Officer of Roraima Airways, Gerry Gouveia said there was urgent need for “very clear guidelines.”
Company officials said the figure rose to 60 Wednesday night (October 14, 2015) when six passengers were not allowed entry by immigration officials.
“You either have visas or you are not going to have visas. If you are going to issue visas on arrival, then you need to have very clear guidelines about what the criteria is so that people do not arrive in Guyana only to find out that they do not meet the criteria,” he said.
He said top officials of InselAir are due in Guyana shortly to, among other things, lobby government for the speedy introduction of those rules and their placement on a website for the benefit of airlines across the world
Roraima Airways is the ground handler and general sales agent for Insel Air in Guyana.
Gouveia could not immediately say what has been the dollar impact on the airline as a result of the number of persons being refused entry. He said paid outgoing passengers are being inconvenienced. “It is in fact a very detrimental effect on the airline business,” he said.
Roraima Airways says most of those refused entry were Haitians, Chinese, nationals of the Dominican Republic and Indians.
The Guyana government has said the major reasons for denying entry have been insufficient funds, inaccurate information about connecting flights, no local contact person or local address and no visas, partly leading to suspicions of human trafficking.
Gouveia emphasised the importance of government stating where foreigners could obtain visas and what the requirements for obtaining visas on arrival are.
He said the issue has arisen because InselAir now offers connecting flights from other destinations that have had usual immigration oversight and screening. “Before, all passengers coming to Guyana would have passed through the filtration systems of the visas of the UK (United Kingdom), Canada and the US (United States) before people get to Guyana. Now, with the advent of COPA and InselAir there are many people who are arriving in Guyana who did not pass through the filtration system and so our own immigration needs to ramp up its methodologies to deal with this new dispensation of arrivals to Guyana,” said Gouveia.
Roraima Airways announced that InselAir would soon been offering flights to and from Atlanta, Georgia where there is a large Guyanese community.
With the collapse of the Venezuelan airline, Conviasa, on the Guyana route Gouveia said InselAir was offering flights to Venezuela where there is a large number of Guyanese living and working.
InselAir also intends begin flying to several Eastern Caribbean destinations and Guadeloupe.
The airline offers same-day connections to Havana, Miami, Colombia, Venezuela, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Miami, and St. Maarten.