The Guyanese government has ruled out the establishment, at this stage, of a state-owned national carrier and instead wants more international airlines to serve the country, located in the north-eastern corner of South America.

Speaking at the Inaugural Virtual Diaspora Conference hosted by the country’s Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Ministry on May 22, 2021, Finance Minister Ashni Singh said: “It is not currently on the agenda to establish a state-owned airline,” reported Demerara Waves News.

He said establishing a state-owned airline at this stage was too risky, citing the example of cash-strapped regional airline LIAT (LIA, Antigua), currently under administration, from which Barbados and St Vincent & the Grenadines have exited as shareholders because of the financial burden. He said COVID-19 had further hampered the operations of a number of state carriers.

Instead, Singh said, the government successfully was attracting private airlines to serve the Guyana route. “We are pushing aggressively to attract more international airlines to come to Guyana and we are actually seeing the results of that already, so at a time when airlines are closing down their operations and reducing routes, we are seeing international airlines actually expressing an interest to come to Guyana,” he said.

Singh said talks were continuing with Virgin Atlantic (VS, London Heathrow) with a view to serving the Guyana-United Kingdom route.

By virtue of its generous policy of dolling out fifth and seventh freedom rights to foreign carriers, Guyana is well connected internationally despite having no large-scale home airline. Caribbean Airlines (BW, Port of Spain), the national carrier of Trinidad and Tobago, has over 80% market share in terms of seat capacity at Georgetown Ogle, while Georgetown Cheddi Jagan is served by American Airlines and JetBlue Airways (B6, New York JFK), Caribbean Airlines, Copa Airlines (CM, Panamá City Tocumen Int'l), and by Surinam Airways (PY, Paramaribo Int'l) from neighbouring Suriname, according to the ch-aviation capacities module. In addition, interCaribbean Airways (JY, Providenciales) was recently granted fifth and seventh freedom traffic rights at Georgetown Cheddi Jagan airport, while Suriname's Fly All Ways Airlines (8W, Paramaribo Int'l) received route rights in March this year.

Guyana currently has one home-based private carrier, Trans Guyana Airways (TGY, Georgetown Ogle), which merely serves three routes – Boa Vista, RR (Brazil), Bridgetown (Barbados), and Lethem (Gyana) using Beech 1900Ds, Cessna (single turboprop) C208s, and a single BN-2.

As previously reported, Air Demerara (Georgetown Cheddi Jagan) has mooted 2021 debut plans with Airbus narrowbodies.

Guyana Airways (Georgetown Cheddi Jagan) has had ambitions to become the flag carrier but has failed to start operations since 2016. It was granted permission in 2018 to use the name derived from the state-owned Guyana Airways (1963) (GY, Georgetown Cheddi Jagan), declared bankrupt in 2001. The company had planned to start operations by 2019 from Georgetown Cheddi Jagan with two B737s to destinations such as Havana Int'l, Port of Spain, Bridgetown, and the US.

Caribbean Airlines (CAL) in the past also indicated an interest in securing flag carrier status in Guyana, but the carrier has been on a drive to cut operational costs by reducing staff due to COVID-19.