Last Updated on Thursday, 13 July 2023, 17:32 by Denis Chabrol
Cayenne could emerge as a hub for aviation traffic from Europe to the Guianas, and already there is a likelihood of flights from Guyana to French Guiana, according to France’s Ambassador to Guyana. Nicolás Bouillane de Lacoste.
Alluding to the emerging oil and gas sectors in Guyana and Suriname as well as changes in French Guiana he said there was enormous potential for direct connectivity among the three territories. “Well, you have expatriates, for instance, looking for direct connections with airports in Europe. Cayenne should be an important hub in this regard. You have direct connection with Europe everyday, two or three (flights),” he told Demerara Waves Online News.
Paris is regarded as a major aviation hub.
He said the plan is for the yet to be named airline to fly return Georgetown to Paramaribo/ Paramaribo to Cayenne later this year. “It is essential if we want to enhance mobility and exchange of people,” he said.
However, Director-General of the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA), Retired Lt. Col. Egbert Field said his regulatory agency has not received any application from a carrier that wants to ply that route. Depending on the level of preparedness and responsiveness by an airline, the GCAA top official said the process could take two to eight months pr as much as a year for the regulator to do its due diligence. Mr Field said he recently met with the French Ambassador who expressed an “intention” for a carrier to serve the route. “They haven’t said any airline, what aircraft. We have no paperwork. This is just a discussion,” he said.
Mr Lacoste said initially the private airline would offer chartered flights and then eventually transition to scheduled flights at least three or four times weekly.
There are thousands of Guyanese, St Lucians and Haitians living and working in French Guiana. Guyanese often travel overland through Suriname to and from French Guiana.
The French envoy made the disclosure minutes before formally announcing the establishment of a French diplomatic bureau rather than an embassy. “We see how Guyana is changing very rapidly. There are revolutionary changes although peaceful changes and we want to be part of it and fortunately no other European country is opening an embassy here. We think that it is high time that we get more involved with Guyana,” he said.
Mr Lacoste said a French Embassy could be opened in Guyana in the coming years but that depends on a number of factors. “It will depend on if we have sufficient French people, French enterprises engaging with Guyana. We don’t open embassies currently. This is very seldom. We are happy that we are opening a bureau,” he said.
The French Bureau would be headed by a career diplomat from September and would continue to be housed in the European Union Embassy in Georgetown.
Telepeformance, a business processing outsourcing/ call centre, is a large French investment in Guyana. Mr Lacoste is optimistic about the prospect of more French businesses investing in Guyana, following a trade mission here about three weeks ago.