The government of Guyana is hoping to have handed over control of Guyana Airways Corporation (GAC) by the end of April. The government's privatisation unit says it had set a deadline of 16 February for would-be purchasers to submit proposals and then it was hoping to complete the sale within two months.

The government has offered a 51% stake in the airline, which flies to the USA and the Caribbean using a leased Boeing 757 and has routes to Canada and neighbouring Surinam. After the sale, another 10% will be sold to company employees.

A US Department of Commerce statement to investors describes the airline as serving "a modest but reliable niche market with potential for steady earnings" thanks to a 400,000-strong Guyanese community in New York and a similar-sized community in Toronto. "There is a strong and predictable demand for flights," says the report. The statement adds that the workforce of 435 employees would have to be reduced to make the airline competitive.

Privatisation unit head Winston Brassington declined to comment on reports that the airline had run up debts of $10 million to $15 million and that both Air Jamaica and Trindad-based Air Caribbean were among potential purchasers. A report by the Caribbean News Agency CANA in January claimed that the latter had expressed concern about a lack of information on GAC's debt profile.

GAC has a leased 757, which was grounded last year and is being returned to International Lease Financing. The company also has two Twin Otters and Skyvans, which are used to service the domestic network of a country which is roughly the size of England but has a population of only 750,000.

Source: Airline Business