JULY 23, 2013
Regional Airline, Leeward Islands Air Transport (LIAT) completed its inaugural international flight at the Ogle Aerodrome, yesterday.
The Regional Carrier LI 521 made its first landing at Ogle around 2:00 pm. The flight landed on schedule bringing in 33 passengers from Barbados.
Most passengers seemed thrilled to be a part of the memorable event; some recounted their landing experience while others said that they were able to clear Immigration in less than 15 minutes.
“No turbulence, it was beautiful. I enjoyed it and the view was good. I’m so happy for this coming from the islands because I’m landing closer to Georgetown where I live as opposed to coming from Timehri.” Pansy Raphael, a Campbellville resident said.
Andrew Michelin said that this was his first time travelling with the airline and landing at the Ogle Airport was a pleasant experience.
“I enjoyed it very much. I got to see Guyana as I flew over I saw the Capital City …It was quite nice.”
Airport Manager Anthony Mekdeci said that while the airport welcomed a major regional carrier to the landing strip yesterday, the airport has been in negotiations with the company for over five years.
Mekdeci said that the airport has met all the modern requirements for security and operation on an international scale.
Transport and Hydraulic Minister Robeson Benn was there to witness the arrival of the aircraft.
“He expressed satisfaction at the commencement of the service. I like to say that I’m pleased that today we had our first official flight from Regional Airports to Ogle International Airport.”
The initiative, Minister Benn said, is a significant transformational feature that had been a dream between Government and private sector.
“Government and private sector had come together in public/ private partnership and were funded significantly by the European Union in regards to this development”
Benn said that the realization of the transformation project will also facilitate the operations of the CARICOM Secretariat, which is located approximately three miles away. The Minister notes that LIAT flights can serve as a pertinent link with associated regional bodies.
“There has been a great interest to the level of the CARICOM with respect to this project …the facilitation of business meetings on administration issues…with respect to their administration are all particularly significant.”
Benn noted the significance of having the operation in time for the upcoming Football World Cup tournament and Olympics games, which will be hosted in neighbouring Brazil.
“Not only are we resolving the problem with respect to regional connection but we are laying the basis for reaching further into South America—- Brazil, Venezuela, and Suriname.”
Local Airport Security Expert, Harold Hopkinson, said that arrangements are in place to tackle any issue that may arise and combat any illegal activity.
Hopkinson said that security cameras have been set up all around the airport for improved security arrangements.
He said that the security workers at Ogle Airport have learnt from the missteps of the Cheddi Jagan International Airport and he promised that Ogle will follow suit.
The LIAT Dash 8 aircraft left the airport for its return flight to Barbados with 50 passengers, the maximum it could carry.
The airline in a statement over the weekend expressed its excitement about the launch of the Ogle service.
LIAT believes that the service closer to the capital city could now provide the carrier with the competitive edge in the Guyana market for regional flights.
LIAT noted that this is expected to give the airline a competitive advantage since flying into Ogle would mean reduced flying time and an annual fuel reduction for the airline.