GEORGETOWN: Venezuelan airline Conviasa made its inaugural flight last Friday to the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA), launching a direct service from Puerto Ordaz to Georgetown, Guyana.
Conviasa is the largest airline in Venezuela, operating domestic services and flights to other South American countries and destinations in the Caribbean.
The flight from Simón Bolívar International Airport in Venezuela was welcomed by Guyana’s Minister of Public Works, Robeson Benn, and other officials.
During a ceremony at CJIA, Benn said that the airline’s arrival was significant in that it has strengthened the relations between Guyana and Venezuela.
“I am happy to know that within such a short space of time, based on the inspiration of the late Venezuela President Hugo Chavez, to realize the intention of the two presidents, Nicholas Maduro and Donald Ramotar who met just recently and signed a memorandum of understanding which identifies that the two countries must have air transport links,” he said.
Benn said the fact that this vision could have been realized so quickly speaks volumes of what can be achieved if the two countries work together.
“This is the kind of spirit, the kind of working together, the kind of development and relationship between the two people that we all desire,” he said. “What will spring up from this is a strengthening of economic ties, business, tourism and cultural exchanges between the two countries that will benefit all.”
Similar sentiments were expressed by CJIA’s chief executive officer Ramesh Ghir, who said that the flight adds to CJIA’s strategy of becoming the “next generation” hub and will encourage more airlines to come to Guyana, together with the airport expansion project.
Ghir said that the agency is looking forward to a productive partnership with Conviasa. He pledged that steps will be taken to ensure that flights will be processed in a timely fashion.
“This is a great achievement for bilateral relations and improving transport and enriching ties between the two countries,” he said.
Indranauth Haralsingh, Director of Tourism, Guyana Tourism Authority, said the new airline and route will expand travel tourism and trade within the two countries, and boost access to other South American countries. He said that arrivals from Venezuela to Guyana for 2013 have increased by 27 per cent, and the additional carrier will help to further increase that percentage.
CJIA’s chairman, Ramesh Dookhoo, said many persons from the private sector are looking for an easier way to get to Venezuela to conduct business and the new airline will be of great help. He pledged to assist in marketing the airline and ensure the seats are filled when leaving Guyana.
Conviasa’s president, Luis Gustavo Graterol Caraballo, expressed gratitude to Guyana for affording the airline the opportunity to expand its commercial operations. He said that the trip between the two nations takes only 51 minutes and will start with once weekly flights and eventually twice, depending on the progress.