CJIA saw 14 percent increase in arrivals in 2017

GINA, GUYANA, Wednesday, January 4, 2017

The Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA) is looking forward to increased air traffic for 2017. The corporation recorded a 13 percent growth in income for 2016.

Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the CJIA, Ramesh Ghir, today made a presentation on the airport’s 2016 performance during the Ministry of Public Infrastructure’s year in review (2016) press briefing at Transport Ground, Thomas Lands, Georgetown.

Income and expenditure

Income for the year 2016 fell short by $9M from the projected $1.3B. Despite this the CJIA was able to grow its income by 13 percent when compared to 2015.

“The income is directly related to traffic, the more passenger traffic, the more aircraft we have in operation; it means more income for the airport,” the CEO pointed out.

Expenditure at the airport also increased in 2016, Ghir said. The airport expended $919M or 20 percent more than in 2015. Ghir credited additional staffing and infrastructural maintenance at the airport as the reasons for the increased expenditure.

“I want to point out that the difference in the income and expenditure here is not profit,” Ghir pointed out. The CJIA in an effort to improve its management had established its own cleaning unit for some facilities.

Historic passenger movement

The CJIA processed 572,000 returning Guyanese and visitors, a 14 percent increase in arrivals.

“It is the highest number of arrivals and departures that we’ve had in the history of the airport, and only for the third time that we’ve actually surpassed 500,000 passengers,” Ghir pointed out.

Cheddi Jagan International Airport’s Chief Executive Officer, Ramesh Ghir

The CEO credited an increase in passengers to the celebration of Guyana’s 50th independence anniversary which was observed in May 2016. The airport CEO noted that the increase in passenger numbers was also credited to the airline carriers operating out of the airport.

Copa Airlines almost doubled its traffic with the increase in the number of weekly flights, Ghir noted.  Other airlines such as Suriname Airways, Fly Jamaica, Insel Air and Dynamic Airlines also recorded increased passenger numbers. However, Ghir said that the country’s national airline Caribbean Airlines Limited (CAL) recorded a 10 percent decline in passenger movement due to a reduction in the number of flights out of the CJIA.

Last year also saw an increase in airline carriers out of the CJIA. Ghir noted that three new carriers: Eastern Airlines Fly Always and Easy Sky also contributed to the increase in passengers.

The addition of the new airlines, along with the performance of existing carriers also resulted in increased seating capacity. “This has a direct reflection on the price of the ticket. The more seats available the lower the price, more people travel,” Ghir explained.

Despite the poor performance of CAL during 2016, the airline remains the country’s biggest carrier with more than 50 percent of the market share, Ghir pointed out.

Meanwhile, Ghir said 2016 saw a shift in arrival destination. While the North American market (New York, Canada, Miami) continues to occupy the majority of traffic, it has declined to 77 percent from 80 percent last year.

“Over the years we’ve seen a decline because we’re getting actually visitors from other destinations within the region as the market opens up,” Ghir explained. Cubans and Panamanians were identified as new arrivals.

Increased imports and exports

Ghir pointed out that there has been a 20 increase in cargo coming through the CJIA. There have been 4.2MKG of imports through the airport, along with a 22 percent increase in exports.

Imports through the CJIA include hatching eggs, industrial supplies, personal effects and consolidated cargo. The majority of the exports are fruits and vegetables.

Bomb threat simulation

The CJIA conducted a bomb threat simulation in 2016. Ghir explained that the exercise is part of a bi-yearly emergency exercise requirement. CAL lent its support to the exercise by providing the use of an aircraft.

Ghir said the exercise saw participation from the Guyana Defence Force. Explosive devices were planted on the aircraft and the GDF and the Guyana Police Force sniffer dogs were used to identify the devices.

Securing CJIA

The CJIA is seeking to improve its security. Ghir said that advertisements are out for improving CCTV coverage, access control, cargo and screening equipment. Three proposals have been shortlisted.

The airport had established its own security some five years ago, and this is steadily increasing, Ghir pointed out.

Capital projects

The CJIA undertook two capital projects during 2016. Ghir said the CJIA has been upgraded to supply the airport with water separate from the national water grid. The CJIA also procured a motorised paint machine to paint the pavement on the runways and taxiways and immediate environs of the airport.

Additionally, Ghir said that immigration forms were updated to dual language to cater for the increased travellers coming from Spanish speaking countries. The CJIA teamed up with cellular service provider Digicel to provide Wi-Fi service in the arrival and departure terminals.

Airport expansion project

The completion of the expansion of the airport project is still projected for December 2017, Ghir noted. A total of a US$150M has been allocated for the project. Ghir said that 151 Chinese nationals and 271 Guyanese labourers are working on the project. An additional 500 Guyanese labourers are expected by the end of December.

Works undertaken thus far on the expansion:

  • The extension of the runway is 57 percent completed with a projected completion date for June 17. Ghir noted that excavation and foundation works were completed, partial completion of sand backfilling and pavement works remain to be undertaken.
  • Work on the foundation of the new arrivals terminal is about 80 percent completed and projected completion date is set for May.
  • Work is scheduled to begin in February on the renovation of the existing arrival and departure terminals which will be converted into the departure terminal. This aspect of the project is set for completion later in December.
  • The new generator and fire station is 65 percent completed and is expected to be finished in March

2017 plans

Ghir said that the CJIA’s plans for the new year include:

  • Placing departure tax and security fees onto passenger tickets, eliminating the need for the booth at the CJIA effective in February
  • Establishment of cambio services
  • Car rental service by March
  • Resurfacing the public car park, internal apron
  • Procurement and installation of lighted aerodrome signs
  • Installation of additional perimeter fence lighting

The CJIA is expecting an increase in passengers and carriers, as the government invests heavily in other sectors such as tourism and oil production. “One could expect with the entire works taking place that the traffic will continue to grow and maybe in the very near future we’ll have either a European carrier or major US carrier operating in Guyana,” Ghir said.

 

By: Tiffny Rhodius

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