July 24, 2014

Strangling…

…the friendly skies

With Christmas on the horizon (albeit a bit dimly, right now) Guyanese must be breathing a sigh of relief at news that a couple of airlines are flying in to give Caribbean Airlines Limited (CAL) some competition. You’d think an airline that’s been haemorrhaging red ink for ages would’ve pulled its socks up after it inherited the lucrative Guyana-New York run all to itself.

But not CAL! It’s ineptitude and arrogance only increased by leaps and bounds – obviously less concerned about making a profit than throwing its weight around with its monopoly over our flights. We’d given it “flag carrier” status in the expectation that we’d be flying directly to New York without that horror stopover in Piarco.

We’d also thought it might’ve kept its fares in line with those from Trinidad, now that it was the official carrier for both countries. And we were all Caribbean Community (Caricom) and all that.

Perish the thought. Fares went through the roof and service into the gutter. Could you believe they don’t even throw you a pack of peanuts on the one-hour flight to Piarco? Even as they otherwise treat you like monkeys in a cage? But they say “all smart flies does get ketch in cow backside”.

Hoping to double-dip by bilking us with astronomical fares, it applied for permission to the U.S. to fly direct and cut its costs to make bigger profits. But Delta, through the umbrella body “Airlines for America” objected because CAL was getting a fuel subsidy from the Trinidad government.

You’d think with that subsidy we would’ve gotten a squeeze…but not in this life. Anyhow, the Trinidadian finance minister just announced they’ve removed the fuel subsidy – hoping to satisfy the Americans. But the Trinidad opposition spilled the beans that what the left hand had taketh away, the right hand had giveth back.

While “removing” the fuel subsidy, the TT government had extended the equivalent direct monetary subsidy! As if that will fool the Americans. But enough of revelling in bad news for CAL and back to the good news for us – which, to think of it, is by definition still bad news for CAL.

TravelSpan has now joined Fly Jamaica in announcing new flights to New York. The latter is still to obtain permission, but Travel Span looks like it’s “all systems go”! Or any new airline in the monopoly-price-gouging CAL racket.

…citizens’ initiative

We notice that bids have been submitted to rebuild the Primary School at One Mile, Wismar, which was torched during the opposition’s rampage in Linden last year.  The engineers estimated it would cost $60 million and the bids hover over that figure. But all this did was to raise our ire once again over the move by the education minister to crush the citizens’ initiative.

We’ve gone over this ground before, but its well worth revisiting because if we continue with this kind of behaviour from government, we’ll end up just like the welfare queens in America who just depend on the system for everything.

Here it was, after the torching of the school, the goodly citizens of Region 10 decided to rebuild the school through self help. The opposition, A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) and Alliance For Change (AFC) rushed in to promise help – as did citizens from abroad.

Money poured in – concrete was poured….then in stepped the minister to announce – “Step aside, folks, we’ll take over”. And the rest, as they say, is history. A history of building a dependency syndrome.

…free speech

A lot of Guyanese have stopped speaking freely over the phones. They figure if the Americans could have their National Security Agency (NSA) pick up the president of Brazil’s conversations with her aides, what about picayune Guyana?

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