The Guyana Government recently announced some major development plans for Region 6. These include the building of: hotels, a stadium, a private hospital, a deep- water harbour and a Eugene F. Correia-sized International Airport. These are all very interesting plans and I wish them every success. Of note, is that except for the building of the airport at the Rose Hall Sugar Estate, these ventures will all be undertaken by private investors. This airport will have to be built by the Government, using the taxpayers’ money.
In November, 2001, Trans Guyana Airways launched scheduled, Tuesday and Thursday flights between Ogle and Rose Hall. The morning flights left Ogle at 06:45h and Rose Hall at 07:15h. The return flights left Ogle at 15:45h, arriving at Rose Hall at 16:15h, with the aircraft returning to Ogle at 16:45 hrs. These Ogle/Rose Hall flights did not continue for a long period as there was a lack of customers using the service, making it unprofitable, even though the costs were $4,500 for a one-way ticket and $8,000 for a return ticket.
Building a Eugene F. Correia-sized and type of airport is a major investment which needs careful consideration. This needs to start with a feasibility study, especially as a major, local, private airline has already tried and discontinued this route. Further, the Government needs to have pivotal discussions with the aircraft operators at the Eugene F. Correia airport. This will give the Government insight as to what makes this airport a success and if this success can be replicated at Rose Hall.
The president of the Berbice Chamber of Commerce, Mr. Ryan Alexander, is quoted as saying, “If you do a survey of Guyanese travelling back and forth from North America, you would see that a large percentage is from Berbice. They have long complained about the distance and the traffic build-up in and out. (So for) East and West Berbice residents, we see that as one of the options of reducing (travel) time into Guyana and our ease of travelling. We are happy for this type of infrastructure which would see a free flow not only for us but investors and (other) business persons. They can fly in, be at the area and make decisions and be back out without this long travel to get back to their destination. This would open up gates, doors, and avenues for the world to zoom in on Region 6 (in Guyana),” This comment clearly indicates that no survey or feasibility study has been done. Therefore no one knows how many international travellers will be expected to use this airport. Additionally, no one knows how many airlines will be willing to use this facility.
However, we do know that this type/size of airport cannot facilitate the larger aircraft which will be used on the longer routes, eg New York, London, Canada. For international travel, the time taken to switch to/from smaller planes at the Cheddie Jagan International Airport (CJIA) and fly to/from The Rose Hall Airport must be compared to the length of the drive from the CJIA to/from Berbice. Local travel between The Rose Hall Airport and The Eugene F. Correia Airport (including the time for pre- and post-flight procedures) must be compared to the driving time between Berbice and Georgetown (approximately ninety minutes).
Should the airport prove not to be feasible, perhaps the money should be spent building a 4 lane highway with a speed limit of 100km/hr from Georgetown to the Berbice River Bridge. That will certainly reduce the present driving time for the trip.