Two regional carriers now face a huge set back in their quest to offer direct service between Georgetown, Guyana and New York after the United States, Department of Transportation denied their requests to operate direct flights between Georgetown and New York.
The ruling now means that both Fly Jamaica and Caribbean Airlines will have to stop in their countries of registration before continuing on to the United States. All U.S bound Fly Jamaica flights will have to continue stopping in Kingston, Jamaica while all U.S bound Caribbean Airlines flights will have to stop over in Trinidad and Tobago before proceeding on to the United States.
The decision handed down by the U.S Transportation Department is a big win for a number of U.S airlines that protested the application on the grounds that the move could provide unfair competition and was against US aviation policy. There is no U.S registered airline currently serving the Guyana market.
In its decision, the Transportation department said “we have decided to deny the requests of CAL and Fly Jamaica for extrabilateral seventh-freedom combination turnaround exemption authority to serve between Georgetown and New York.”
“In considering foreign air carrier requests for extrabilateral authority, the Department weighs various criteria specific to the type of extrabilateral request, as well as any other factors that are germane to a particular case. With respect specifically to requests for extrabilateral seventh-freedom turnaround service, we have historically viewed such requests as extraordinary and have granted such authority only when the circumstances presented on the record in individual cases show compelling public interest considerations”, the ruling further stated.
The U.S Authorities do not believe that the two airlines have provided a compelling enough case to be granted the special waiver that would have allowed them direct flights from Georgetown to New York.
According to the Transportation Authority in the U.S, “we have reviewed the applications of CAL and Fly Jamaica and determined that we cannot make the necessary public interest finding. In this case, the Open-Skies Agreements that we have in place both with Jamaica and with Trinidad and Tobago provide rights for licensed carriers of both countries to conduct fifth-freedom services with full traffic rights on all segments. Indeed, such rights are currently being exercised by CAL to transport Georgetown-New York traffic on its existing two flights referenced above.”
Additionally, the release stated that “Furthermore, Fly Jamaica has begun serving the Georgetown-New York market on a one-stop basis via Kingston, Jamaica. In light of these existing Georgetown-New York services and the lack of a showing by the applicants on the record that there is a truly demonstrable need for additional Georgetown-New York services, we are unable to find that the CAL and Fly Jamaica seventh freedom turnaround proposals satisfy our public interest test for the type of extraordinary authority at issue”.
Caribbean Airlines currently conducts two non stop flights between Georgetown and New York. Those flights originate in Trinidad, stop in Guyana then proceeds to the U.S. Those flights will continue.
Both airlines have seven days to appeal the ruling.
Fly Jamaica launched its Guyana operations on Friday night. The airline was hoping that the decision would have gone in its favour since that would have allowed it to market itself better on the route. All of its New York flights will have to continue to stop in Jamaica.
Officials at both airlines are said to be disappointed in the ruling.