[Guyana] Govt still supports EZjet

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[Guyana] Govt still supports EZjet

Unread post by bimjim » Sun Jan 06, 2013

http://www.kaieteurnewsonline.com/2013/ ... rts-ezjet/

[Guyana] Govt still supports EZjet
…claims media attacks were unwarranted
January 6, 2013

Government has denied any prior knowledge of the state of affairs which led to the demise of Chartered Airline Service, EZjet, and has instead pointed accusing fingers at the media for helping to deflate the operations of the airline.

Minister of Public Works, Robeson Benn, on Friday criticised reportage about the airline charter service ahead of its collapse even as he emphatically stated “…you shot it down. I am saying that the timing and the way it was done…you linked it to the operations which was unfortunate; that is the position I will continue to hold.”

The Minister was at the time alluding to the embezzlement allegations against Chief Executive Officer of EZjet, Sonny Ramdeo, who is currently before a Florida Court to answer fraud charges.

Benn contended that criticisms of Ramdeo led to the collapse of the airline. He could not explain how media reports from a small country could influence the people who were providing credit to Ramdeo.
Ramdeo had secured credit long after the media questioned his financial security and his credentials to operate an airline.

Benn’s remarks came at a press briefing at the Fort Street, Kingston, Georgetown, Public Works Ministry on Friday.

According to the Minister he is of the firm belief that the attacks on EzJet, coming at the time that they did in the press, were perhaps unwarranted and are perhaps still unwarranted. He insisted, too, that the attacks on the chartered airline occurred at the low point in the season when cash flow for all the airline operations to Guyana was affected.

It also came at a time when people had stopped travelling as much resulting in immediate demands of upfront payments from service providers including those responsible for fuel, ground handling services and food, said the Minister. “All of those things are what killed the operations,” stressed the Minister.

“It is my belief that cash flow would have been in a better position in December and now than at that time and we might have survived…Guyanese would have been able to travel cheaper to Guyana,” said the Minister.

He contended that EZjet was responsible for transporting more than 63,000 new passengers during its operation. “It was a saving to those persons and there was a tremendous increase of Guyanese from the Diaspora coming to visit their friends and families, some who didn’t come back to the country in 20 or more years.”

In amplifying his displeasure over the discontinuation of the airline service, the Minister asserted that even if a boss of a company is implicated in such an affair it does not mean that the service must come to an end.

He explained that “even if a corporate person could do something in a company which could be illegal and punishable he could be held accountable for that but the company continues. My interest is that the company and the operations continue because it was a benefit to Guyana…”

But Benn did not realise that EZjet was a one-man company headed by Sonny Ramdeo. It was only after Ramdeo got caught up in the fraud that he said that there were others in the airline. And to this day the others remain unnamed.

“Benn’s criticism of the media stems from a blinded desire for cheap airfares that would boost Guyana’s image. He wanted to report that many people are coming to Guyana because of confidence in the country. He wanted to promote cheap politicking even though the airline was being operated by a crook,” said one airline operator.

Minister Benn has insisted that currently there is no possibility of resuscitation for the failed Airline Service whose operation came to a screeching halt during the latter part of last year. He has in fact vocalised that the company is “dead, it is finished…There is nothing that we can do at this point in time…it has been killed off.”

The Minister turned his attention to satirical presentations that were recently published, which according to him, criticised his style of dealing with the whole licensing process of the now flopped airline service. “I repeat that the Government of Guyana through the Ministry and the Civil Aviation Department did all the requisite reviews and assessments with respect to the licensing of the EZjet operations,” insisted the Minister.

These processes, he said, were no less than what was done for another failed airline service, RedJet, and other such operators including Caribbean Airlines which had applied to Government for new routes. The procedure for licensing an airline here is in fact on par with what is required by the United States Department of Transport and Transport Canada, said the Minister who pointed to the fact that those bodies have significantly more resources than Guyana.

The eager move to license Ezjet, the Minister said, was critical to have low cost competitive airline traffic to Guyana particularly for the Diaspora and for business interest even as he noted that the Sonny Ramdeo incident is in fact a different matter.

“We are not aware that at any point whether there might have been any corporate or malfeasance or other issues, which are yet to be tested in the courts, but I am not defending it one way or the other…,” said the Minister “Whether there is a flow-through somehow improperly moving of funds from other places that was not an immediate issue and we could not have been aware of it with respect to licensing of the airline.”

Minister Benn sought to reject what he described as “suggestions trying to link the positions that I took on this matter at the time.”

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