150 passengers arrive on inaugural JetBlue flight from New York
History was made last evening when major US airline, jetBlue Airways made its maiden journey to the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA) with 150 passengers aboard.
On landing, the spanking new A321 aircraft received a ceremonial water salute as it taxied to a stop.
Visitors, many of whom are Guyanese or of Guyanese’ heritage, lauded the experience aboard the carrier.
An excited Mr. Adrian Hoppie, who returns to Guyana every Christmas season, said he enjoyed the atmosphere aboard jetBlue.
“It was the best experience ever. No problems. It was plenty of space. The people were cordial. I would definitely do jetBlue again,” Mr. Hoppie told DPI.
Passengers, Ms. Waveney Lacon and Mr. Kapel Singh, were also happy to be part of the jetBlue inaugural flight.
“It was great. I mean, we had like a 10 minutes bump along the way but it was great, quite comfortable, smooth most of the time. The stewardess, they were great too, very co-operative, friendly,” Ms. Lacon revealed.
Mr. Singh added, “I always use jetBlue and when I heard they started to come to Guyana and I decided to come I booked the ticket with them.”
Meanwhile, 35-year-old Mr. Dutan Lakeraj, who was born in New York to Guyanese parents, brought his wife on his first visit to Guyana.
“It was a smooth flight; fast, faster than expected. I think, at first, they said about six hours and we reached in five.”
When DPI told some travellers that Guyana may invite other airlines to service the Guyana to North America route, they lauded the idea, noting that competition benefits consumers.
Mr. Hoppie said it would be an economic stimulus for Guyana.
Ms. Lacon believes flights will become more affordable for passengers. “At least I know that I can come more often and there will be competition now because when you have one airline, they jack up the price. When they know they have competition, they’ll get a reasonable fare to come home,” she said.
Mr. Singh, who travelled with his two sons, emphasised that competition is important in the aviation sector.
“It’s a good thing that jetBlue came in and they are very competitive. So, it is good for Guyana and the citizens here who are coming and people who are visiting,” he said.
Mr. Lakeraj is also optimistic that “it can bring more clientele to the country. More options, give people the opportunity to seek different ways to travel.”
Minister of Public Works, Hon. Bishop Juan Edghill and Minister within the Ministry of Public Works, Hon. Deodat Indar and other officials were on the ground to welcome the flight.
Minister Edghill said the PPP/C Government intends to transform Guyana into a key hub for international travel.
“We are so strategically positioned between linking the Caribbean to South America and coming off North [America] heading south. We are so strategically positioned that this can be a transit stop for the long hauls that are going further. JetBlue is just one of the many other airlines we look forward to being out here.”
Meanwhile, Minister Indar said jetBlue’s inaugural flight should be celebrated as the beginning of many positive steps the Government is taking in the aviation sector.
“I believe that jetBlue coming to Guyana and having regular flights here is testament to our future and the development we should see.”
GO-Invest’s CEO, Dr. Peter Ramsaroop, said the flight is not only significant for the diaspora and tourists, but also for investors.
“This flight allows more people to explore the opportunities and we are ready to welcome them from an investment perspective and guide them through the process.”
The CEO added that the current economic and political freedom will be ideal for investors to create new opportunities, employment and wealth for Guyanese.
JetBlue first applied to ply the New York to Timehri route in 2019. Operations were scheduled to begin in early 2020, but that was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and other factors. On October 13, the Government reopened the country’s two main airports to international flights after a seven-month closure. The airports, passengers and airlines, are subject to follow the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) and regulations set out by the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority.