GEORGETOWN, Guyana (AP) -- The Guyanese government will sell a 51
percent stake in state-owned Guyana Airways to local investors for dlrs 1.8
million and an agreement to absorb dlrs 3.3 million in debts.
Aviation Investments Limited, which was formed by investors during a
three-month bidding process, said Monday it will rename the company
Guyana Air 2000. It hopes to renew flights to New York and Toronto by
May 22, before the summer tourism season begins.
The investment group is led by the Guyana Aircraft Owners Association,
organization of light airplane owners and charter operators.
Demerara Distillers Ltd., a maker of rum; packaged food company Venilli
Industries Ltd.; and gold producer Correia Mining Enterprises are also
members of the group.
New chairman Yesu Persaud said the new owners will have to restore the
airline's credibility with customers and foreign safety regulators. He said the
airline hopes to begin selling tickets by next week.
The airline collapsed in February after the U.S. Federal Aviation
Administration and Transport Canada barred its leased Boeing 757 from
their countries because of concerns over its cracks in its landing gear.
Once the Caribbean's only profitable airline, Guyana Airways has been
plagued by maintenance problems for more than a year, forcing it to lease
other aircraft to cover flights and draining the company's reserves.
The airline is now about dlrs 9.3 million in debt. The government said
would assume dlrs 6 million of the unpaid bills.
The company has laid off more than 300 employees. Persaud said they
would be given preference when the company begins hiring workers again.
Last month, the company returned the Boeing 757 to its owner,
California-based International Lease Financing Corporation, after company
negotiators reached an agreement to avoid early return penalties.
Government officials have been in talks with American Airlines to expand
turboprop airplane service to Guyana from nearby Trinidad while Guyana
Airways is grounded.
Copyright 1999 The Associated Press.