November 19, 2017

Ogle’s expanded runway commissioned

–Ramotar urges review of domestic airfares

By Samuel Sukhnandan

A section of the expanded runway at the Ogle International Airport

President Donald Ramotar at the launch of the Ogle International Airport Inc (OAI) Expansion Phase Two project on Wednesday called on the board of directors to look at some of the issues concerning competition in the local air transport sector.

The president believes that the OAI has opened up the interior not only to tourists, but to increased economic activities. While noting that the expansion project is a successful model of private sector and government partnership, the president urged management to safeguard themselves through improved regulation, especially in relation to fostering safety, free competition, and access.

President Ramotar noted that while the OAI continues to see growth in the number of cargo flights, there is need for the airport to attract more people.

Government, he stated, will continue to monitor the competition provided by all OAI operators, while ensuring that people using the services are satisfied.

On that note, the president pointed to the fact that it is cheaper generally to travel to Trinidad and Tobago than the Kaieteur Falls.

He acknowledged that circumstances may prevent OAI from offering cheaper flights, but urged management, nevertheless, to review its fare structure.

However, in underscoring the importance of the aviation sector to Guyana’s future development, the head of state said the completion of the runway forms part of a progressive plan to develop OAI into a major municipal aerodrome, both for local and regional flights.

Head of State Donald Ramotar cutting the ribbon to officially commission the extended runway at the Ogle International Airport. Also in photo are Opposition Leader David Granger, Prime Minister Samuel Hinds, Minister of Finance Dr Ashni Singh and airport officials

He stated that the expansion of the OAI operation is not intended to undermine development at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA), but is part of a wider plan to improve and develop the entire aviation sector in Guyana.

“Not only is the domestic aviation sector facilitating the increased movement of persons within our country, but it is a key player in ensuring that the wheels of the hinterland community, particularly in the gold and diamond sectors, are lubricated,” he said.

Hub for interior flights

President Ramotar pointed out that the OAI has become a hub for interior flights, allowing miners to easily travel to various locations. He admitted that without this service, many of the far flung areas would be inaccessible and communities there would found itself isolated from the coastland and further progress.

Head of the European Commission Delegation to Guyana, Ambassador Robert Kopecky in his address, expressed satisfaction with the completion of the expansion project.

This project, he noted, was made possible through the EDF Caribbean Regional Programme, signed in 2007.

The EU diplomat urged OAI staff to ensure further development of the aerodrome, acknowledging that the finances to do this would exceed the EDF contributions.