Service From New York to Guyana Takes Off
By MOHAMED A. HASSIM
QUEENS, NEW YORK — Just over a year after it launched its direct flight from Miami to Georgetown, American Airlines (AA), one of the world’s largest in the business, on Thursday December 18th, rolled out its non-stop service from JFK International Airport in New York to the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA) in Guyana.
American Airlines executives are upbeat about this new service and the Government of Guyana is equally positive. Guyana’s Prime Minister, Moses Nagamootoo, at a ceremony held at CJIA to welcome the inaugural flight from New York prior to its arrival, remarked, “This is great news for Guyana and all Guyanese who are traveling, having American Airlines putting on the New York-Georgetown route.”
The Prime Minister added, “It shows that there is more competition and I hope it will result in lower fares eventually. But most importantly it shows that Guyana has now become a preferred destination for international travels.”
Hours earlier, at a send-off ceremony at Terminal 8, JFK Airport, airline officials expressed excitement at the launch of this new route, especially in the wake of the success of the Miami-Georgetown service, which took off in November 2018, with four weekly flights.
“We had to increase it to daily from Miami and, with this other addition, it shows the popularity and importance of the Guyana market,” American Airlines spokesman, Justin Franco, told a gathering of passengers and invited guests at the ceremony.
The JFK event featured Guyanese entertainment and food as well as a cake and ribbon cutting ceremony. Present to partake in the events was Guyana’s Consul General to New York, Barbara Atherly, who noted, “This is great because for Guyanese in the Diaspora, one of the things that they have always been calling for is the increase in the number of flights to Georgetown, Guyana, and we feel that with more airlines plying the route, it will in the long term bring down the cost of travel and so we see this as a major step in the right direction.”
American Airlines now flies non-stop from New York to Guyana daily on a Boeing 737-800 aircraft, equipped with 160 seats, of which 16 are designated first class. Among the amenities offered on board are entertainment on your personal device using the American Airlines app. Wi-Fi is available to purchase, and planes are equipped with USB charging ports for every seat.
The sold-out inaugural flight, which included some members of the media, was marred by delays, due to the weather condition in New York, as well as the need for a stop in San Juan, Puerto Rico to refuel. That stop which was initially announced to be half an hour lasted for over an hour.
Explaining the Puerto Rico stop, which caught passengers by surprise, Franco, in a statement, said, “As you know, we are very excited to continue to grow in Guyana. This growth shows the importance of this market. However, that success led to a full flight on Flight 2896 – which due to weight restrictions – had to make a stop in San Juan, Puerto Rico (SJU). The stop was required to put additional fuel to get to Georgetown.”
Franco told The West Indian that safety is American Airline’s “highest priority”, adding, “We apologize to our traveler’s for the disruption to their original itinerary.”
According to Franco the airline’s customer relations team is working with affected passengers from “this particular flight to make things right.”
While a few passengers were disgruntled over the delays, many remain updeat and say they will fly again with American Airlines and will encourage others to do so.
“It’s very good. I mean we had a delay but its very good and I’m thankful that we reached safe,” one passenger said, when asked to comment on his flight, on arrival at CJIA.
Another noted, “As always delay is inconveniencing, but it’s okay, it’s American Airlines, they’ll definitely do better as they get accustomed to this route. I will definitely fly with them again.”
One visibly exhausted passenger remarked, “They really have to get it together fast. This is not good for a first flight.”
For many of the passengers we spoke with, inflight service was excellent and flight attendants were courteous and friendly.
Commenting on the fares, many passengers say they are reasonable and competitive.
Passengers are required to pay $30 for the first checked bag, $40 for the second. They are allowed one carry-on bag and a personal item.
The daily flights are scheduled to leave JFK at 6 pm and arrive at GEO at 12:40 am. The return flight will leave Georgetown at 1:35 am and arrive at JFK at 6:29 am.
“This route will be an important addition for our customers with cultural, business, or economic ties between Guyana and New York, and we look forward to offering Guyanese visitors air service to the Big Apple,” Vasu Raja, Vice President of Network and Schedule Planning for American Airlines was reported by News Room (an online news service) as saying.
The news service also quoted Jim Carter, Managing Director of Eastern Sales for American, as saying, “We are pleased to increase service and connect businesses, residents and tourists to Georgetown from New York.”