Published On: Tue, Sep 5th, 2017

Surinam Airways eyes Boeing for imminent fleet renewal

Suriname AirwaysPARAMARIBO - Surinam Airways (SLM) must renew its fleet by November when the lease of the current three Boeing 737-300s expires and, from recent statements by the CEO of SLM Robbi Lachmisingh, the state owned company will most likely choose the Boeing 737-700, which has the range to reach New York City.

SLM will also move to ETops or twin engine on the mid-Atlantic route between Holland and Suriname.

Lachmisingh did not mention Embraer at all although SLM had indicated previously that the Embraer aircraft was a priority choice for them. He also talked about a mixed fleet of Embraers and Boeing 737-700s. However, in his last conversation with the media at the end of August, Lachmisingh confirmed that he was very close to choosing the Boeing 737-700s.

Lachmising did not disclose how many of Boeing 737-700s SLM will lease but having just a single aircraft of this type will be problematic. SLM has been facing financial hemorrhaging due to its few aircraft frequently having “technical problems” and out of service because of unscheduled maintenance.

Apart from a recent partnership with TUIfly Holland, the company has no code share agreement or similar with any other airline, so it’s difficult to turn Paramaribo into a hub. Further, the company’s online schedule hasn’t been structured to feed passengers into its Paramaribo hub.

So it’s complicated for a Guyana resident, for example, to buy a ticket from Georgetown to Amsterdam without having to overnight in Suriname. Frequency between its hub, Paramaribo, and its destinations, Port of Spain, Georgetown, Curacao, Cayenne, Miami, Orlando, Amsterdam, and Aruba are very infrequent.

On the mid-Atlantic route, SLM finally wants to move towards twin-engine certification, which is a long and arduous process. However, with its TUIfly partnership, SLM has a golden opportunity to make this a reality.

With two Boeing 737-700s, and the capacity to carry about 150 passengers, SLM will be able to fly non-stop from Georgetown or Paramaribo to New York City.  The Boeing 737-700 has the range to ply the NYC route.  However, Guyana based carriers can’t fly to the US nonstop since Guyana is a category 2 airport. There have been calls for SLM to operate the lucrative NYC/Georgetown route because of the large Guyanese community in the NYC area. Airlines like Fly Jamaica and Dynamic, non-scheduled companies, have left Guyanese passengers stranded on numerous occasions.

Airfares on this sector remain extremely high. Delta pulled out of Guyana due to theft, high fuel cost, financial frauds, and cocaine trafficking issues it faced after entering the Guyana market. This is why the government of Guyana can’t attract reputable companies to the country. However, the government has done little to remedy the extreme need for more airlift between New York and Georgetown.

By Ray Chickrie

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