(TRINIDAD GUARDIAN).-A lobby group representing US airlines has taken issue with the fuel subsidy that Caribbean Airlines (CAL) benefits from and is attempting to use the subsidy to block an application by the T&T airline to fly directly between Guyana and North American destinations.
Responding to questions from the Guardian, CAL yesterday confirmed that it had applied to the US Department of Transportation (DOT) to fly directly between the US and Guyana and that its application was being reviewed by the US aviation regulators. CAL said: “With this application, Caribbean hopes to be granted permission to operate direct flights between GEO and JFK which would enable us to provide increased frequency and flexibility for Guyanese travellers to affordably connect with key destinations throughout the airline network.”
Asked whether CAL was aware of the status of the application and the length of time that such applications take, the local airline said: “The length of time for its review and determination will be determined by the DOT who must consider all aspects of the application, including any objections from the public.” On the issue of the objections from the public, CAL said the US DOT had informed it of the submissions of the lobby group and gave the airline an opportunity to respond. CAL is in the process of submitting its reply to the DOT, according to the airline. Asked whether CAL was aware of any move by US airlines to challenge CAL’s fuel subsidy, the airline responded in the negative, adding: “While Caribbean has not received notification of any ‘move’ by US airlines to do so, we are aware that part of their opposition to our application to the US DOT referred to the fuel subsidy.”
CAL said the a delay or rejecting by DOT of the airline’s application would have a negative impact of passengers travelling to and from Guyana. According to the airline: “While Caribbean can continue to operate its flights POS/GEO/JFK/GEO/POS, the delay or refusal to grant us permission to operate the direct flights will mean that the flexibility to improve the total value offering on the route (and to reduce fares) will be lost or delayed. “The whole purpose of Caribbean’s application is to improve the travel cost and options for the Guyanese public interest. In the event of the application being rejected, the airline will continue, wherever possible and viable, to offer passengers connectivity with key North American ports. “During the interim period, Caribbean Airlines continues to find innovative ways to serve the Guyanese traveling public with non-stop flights to North America in addition to the many daily flights via Port of Spain.”