Shortly after the MD-80 jet touched down at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA) at 11:54 PM, the overwhelming majority of passengers who disembarked were Chinese.
On exiting the arrivals area, they were escorted to buses that were awaiting them on the parking lot.
Demerara Waves Online News was told that the Chinese travelled to The Netherlands before connecting with Insel Air through Miami, and Aruba before arriving in Guyana. An official of Muneshwers Travel Agency said their Chinese agents were responsible for booking most of the seats on the incoming flights at a low fare. Prior to Insel Air, Chinese had to travel on Condor Airlines and Caribbean Airlines to Germany, Barbados and Trinidad before arriving to Guyana. Now, its China to The Netherlands on KLM and from The Netherlands to Aruba or Curacao on Insel Air. There’s an agreement between KLM and Insel Air which allows for smoother scheduling and checked baggage from departure to arrival at final destination, the Muneshwers official said.
Aruba-based Attorney-at-Law Monica Kock noted that of the 61 passengers a maximum of 10 were not from the Dutch Antilles while the remainder was Chinese “who came from very far.” Asked how one addresses the perception that most Chinese are actually migrating to this part of the world under the guise of business, she said security must be the watchword. “It’s an opportunity bust also you need t protect your own country …It will result in development of your country but also you need to protect your country which is one of the things has to go hand-in-hand with development once you are going to move to development of the economy,” she said.
Kock said Chinese are known the world over as business people who “buy and sell, buy and sell”-and so their focus on Guyana was a sign that the country’s business environment was booming.
In recent years, there has been an explosion of Chinese presence in Guyana where most of them have established stores and constructed their own buildings.
“Actually, on this plane tonight you have a lot of Chinese that actually connected from Holland to Aruba here to Guyana and so this also creates that new conduit not only for businesses and businessmen and also for tourism,” said Gerry Gouveia, the CEO of Roraima Airways.
Meanwhile, CEO of Insel Air (Aruba) Frederick Nuboer said business looks bright for his airline that has begun operating Wednesdays and Saturdays to Guyana. “We already have a forecast that these planes will be filled up very quickly,” he said shortly after deplaning from the inaugural flight. At least 80 passengers, including media personnel and travel agents, were due to leave for Aruba and Curacao early Thursday morning.
CEO of the CJIA, Ramesh Ghir said Insel Air’s decision to come here was part of Guyana’s thrust to become a hub. COPA Airlines and Dynamic Airways are due to begin flights to Guyana in the coming weeks. Ghir reiterated the need to upgrade the airport to attract larger aircraft and minimize cost overruns by airlines.
Chairman of the CJIA Board of Directors, Ramesh Dookhoo attributed the increasing number of airlines to government contracting the consultancy services of Routes, an organization that assesses and identifies new feasible destinations.
The Aruban lawyer expected Insel Air to eventually boost trade with the Dutch Antilles and European nature-oriented tourists.
Also on the flight was an Expedia Travel writer who came here at the invitation of Insel Air.