Fly Jamaica Airline on Saturday said it was working feverishly to clear a backlog of passengers in Georgetown, New York and Toronto as a result of its aircraft experiencing technical difficulties.
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Fly Jamaica, Paul Ronald Reece said his airline has chartered a Boeing 777 passenger jet from Omni Air to continue shuttling passengers to and from Toronto and Georgetown.
“We are taking some blows but we are trying to clean it up,” he told Demerara Waves Online News.
He said on Thursday a plane arrived from New York with passengers and departed Friday night with 377 passengers aboard. Reece said another plane with passengers from Toronto is expected in Guyana on Saturday afternoon and return to Toronto on Sunday after the crew gets its mandatory rest.
He said Fly Jamaica’s next flight from New York to Georgetown would “probably” depart the John F. Kennedy International Airport on Sunday night “because we are working to do that with one of our own airplanes and that is being fixed right now in Kingston (Jamaica).”
“We are cleaning it up and we should have our airplane back maybe by Sunday so it’s being worked on. We are doing the best we can. We had to rent airplanes from Omni Air at great cost and, of course, they don’t have crews at the same locations we operate so we have to wait until they fly there and they have to take crew-rest,” he said.
However, a travel agent at one of the New York offices late Saturday morning advised passengers to call back at 2 PM Saturday because he could not say when the next flight would depart for Guyana. Repeated calls to Fly Jamaica’s offices in Toronto as well as in Georgetown and Ogle went unanswered. The toll free number , 1-855-933-5952, has been continuously busy.
Director-General of the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA), Retired Colonel Egbert Field said Fly Jamaica has reported to that regulatory body that one of its aircraft was grounded about two or three weeks ago due to engine problems “which was not really due to maintenance but it seems to be something that was inherent in the engine.” He said the second aircraft encountered technical problems about one or two weeks ago.
As a result, Field said the airline was now in a “tight situation” at the peak summer time and has been applying to operate charter flights with planes provided by Omni Air and National Airlines. The GCAA boss said each time an application is made, his regulatory agency has to verify a number of things including insurance and safety.
The GCAA expressed satisfaction with Fly Jamaica’s efforts to move their passengers. “It might not be as frequent as their normal aircraft because, as they reported to us, it is difficult finding charter aircraft at this time. You find the aircraft and then the operator doesn’t have any crew to fly the aircraft,” he said.
Field said he urged Fly Jamaica to make every effort to ensure passengers do “not unduly suffer”. “I am satisfied they are making those efforts because we keep getting the requests for permission to operate,” he added.
Other frustrated passengers, who visited the Georgetown office on Friday, also expressed concern that no one has been answering telephone calls. A customer service representative said she was busy dealing with walk-in persons and could not take phone calls.