CJIA welcomes first commercial flight

-after 7-month hiatus

Forty-four passengers on Tuesday disembarked the first scheduled commercial flight at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA), seven months after the airport closed due to COVID-19.  

Mr. Phil Ali returned to Guyana on the flight from Miami, along with his two stepsons, Jonathan Marshall and Dominic Marshall.

“It is good be to able to get back to Guyana again,” he said.  Mr. Ali expects to reunite with his wife, who returned to Guyana aboard a repatriation flight last week.

For Jonathan who has not visited his homeland since 2016, his return to Guyana is  joyful.  He told DPI, “I am just happy to be back home, where I was born.”

With regard to the COVID-19 safety measures at the airport, Dominic said, “it is to ensure safety. So, it is all necessary. So, it is all fine with me.”

Another passenger, Ms. Latchmie Boodnarine, was thrilled to join the first commercial flight to Guyana. She was relieved to get a flight home after many attempts since June.  “It is really nice to get back and everything seems to be run smoothly,” Ms. Boodnarine said.  

 In the Arrivals Terminal, Mr. Jack Mohan commended the Government’s decision to reopen the airports to scheduled flights.

 “I think it is a good move because we cannot be at a standstill all the time and COVID-19 is not a fly-by-night. It will be here for a while with us,” he said, adding that he was satisfied with the safety measures aboard the aircraft and on the ground at Timehri. Meanwhile, passenger Mr. Deoraj Khadir said, “the economy is going to be flowing back again. I am glad that its opened back.”

Mr. Khadir, who is on a three-week visit to Guyana, said he has been trying since August to return home and is elated his journey was successful.

Prior to the flight’s arrival, Minister of Public Works, Hon. Bishop Juan Edghill, who travelled to the airport to observe operations, said the Government’s decision is designed to stimulate economic growth and salvage the aviation industry.

“Aviation is a critical and an essential service … We have to do things differently. We have to do things safely. We have to do things wisely, but we just cannot stay where we are. We have to move forward,” the Minister stated.

Minister Edghill said the re-establishment of scheduled international flights will facilitate business, travel and commerce in a safe and secure manner within the implemented COVID-19 guidelines.

Thirteen of the 44 passengers were retested for COVID-19 at the airport as their PCR tests were more than 72 hours old.

Prime Minister Hon. Brigadier (ret’d) Mark Phillips; Chairman of CJIA Board of Directors, Hon. Sanjeev Datadin and other members of the Board greeted the incoming and outgoing passengers.

On March 18, the country’s two international airports were closed to international flights as a COVID-19 precaution. Since then, Government has allowed limited repatriation, cargo, special, and medivac flights to operate with consent from the COVID-19 Task Force and the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA).