Last Updated on Tuesday, 9 February 2021, 21:56 by Denis Chabrol
The United States-headquartered Eastern Airlines has suspended its service to Guyana immediately and has promised to pay back passengers for booked flights and debts owed to other entities.
“We are in the process of reviewing all liabilities and ensuring all our obligations have been met in Guyana. Refunds for all impacted passengers are being processed,” the carrier told the Director-General of the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA), Retired Lt. Col. Egbert Field in a letter dated February 9, 2021.
In apparent response to calls by A Partnership for National Unity+Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) for government to ensure that the bonds are used to refund airfares, the Public Works Ministry said there are deposits with that ministry, the Guyana Revenue Authority and the Cheddi Jagan International Airport.
Eastern Airlines’ Senior Director, John Bosh said the carrier decided to suspend its service to Guyana for “the next few months” due to the ongoing pandemic and new travel restrictions in place. He said new US restrictions that have been put in place from January 26, 2021 have ’caused forward bookings in the Guyana market to plummet. “At the present time, Eastern Airlines is seeing more cancellations than confirmed bookings,” he said.
The airline promised to start flights between Guyana and Canada around August and also consider resuming operations to and from the United States after the COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.
APNU+AFC called on the government not to release the bonds until all Guyanese are fully repaid.
Eastern Airlines’ last flight operations were on Saturday, February 6 and their next scheduled flight was expected on Friday, February 12.
The airline operated four flights weekly in January 2021 but this was significantly reduced in the last two weeks.