By Ray Chickrie
Caribbean News Now contributor
WASHINGTON, USA -- An Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) report calls for Guyana and Suriname to renegotiate their respective air services agreements (ASA) with Brazil and Colombia because they are very restrictive and not good for the development of the civil aviation industries of the Guyanas, two of South America's least connected countries with Latin America, the Caribbean and the wider world.
According to the IDB assessment, Guyana has a restrictive ASA with Brazil that limits capacity, frequency and the types of planes flown on the routes between these two countries. Seven weekly frequently is allowed using 50-seat aircraft and only three are allowed using an aircraft the size of a Boeing 737-800/900 series.
While there is currently no air connectivity directly between Guyana and Brazil, it does hamper the prospect of future development. For example, liberal air agreements between Guyana and Brazil and other countries would attract other airlines to fly to Guyana or use Georgetown as a hub.
Guyana has bilateral air agreements with only Brazil and Chile in South America.
Commencing air connectivity from Suriname and Guyana to Venezuela, French Guiana and Colombia is possible without a bilateral ASA given that these states are signatory members of either the CARICOM MASA and/or the Association of Caribbean States Multilateral Air Services Agreement, according to the IDB.
Therefore, if Guyana desires to increase its connectivity to other South American countries through the implementation of non-stop services, at some point in the future it will have to negotiate ASAs with these nations: Peru, Bolivia, Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay and Ecuador.
For the case of Suriname, according to the IDB, its ASA with Brazil grants the fifth freedom rights and with unrestricted capacity for all flights within South America, and for up to 21 weekly frequencies (per side) for flights operated with fifth freedom routes outside South America.
However, Suriname's air agreement with Colombia is the most restrictive and one that protects Avianca, the Colombian carrier. Flights out of Suriname are allowed only to land in Barranquilla and Cali, and can be routed via Port of Spain or Georgetown.
"In other words, the agreement does not grant any rights to establish services to Bogotá for Surinamese airlines, but it does grant Colombian airlines the right to depart from Bogota and arrive to Paramaribo,” the report emphasises.
The capacity is very limited and allows for only two services per week for each side, with aircraft of up to 150 seats. Suriname for decades has also been protecting its skies from competition in an effort to protect its national carrier, Surinam Airways (SLM).
The IDB report recommends that Suriname develops a higher level of connectivity with Avianca's hub (Bogota), and calls for the the current air service agreement to “be significantly amended, so as to grant a larger degree of liberalization between both countries: the main issue to be renegotiated is the limited capacity that is currently available between Bogota and Paramaribo."
Courtesy: Caribbean News Now