The Story of Roraima Airways - A History

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The Story of Roraima Airways - A History

Unread post by bimjim » Fri Apr 05, 2013

The Story of Roraima Airways - A History
Capt.Gerry Gouveia
Friday, 5 April 2013

Roraima Celebrated its twenty aniversary in 2012 and is very proud to be a part of Guyana’s centenary aviation celebrations this year.

From the pioneering work of aviation stalwarts like Arthur James “Art”Williams and Colonel Herman Edgar “Harry” Wendt to the current major initiative that seeks to transform the Ogle aerodrome into the country’s second international airport, the aviation sector in Guyana owes its growth and development to the cumulative contributions of groups and individuals who possessed the vision and foresight to understand the role that aviation would come to play in the development of Guyana, and, perhaps more importantly, to invest of their time, risk their lives and resources in that pursuit.

Roraima Airways,stands out as a beacon in that collective effort,more so because of its humble beginnings, its rapid growth and the multi-dimensional contribution which it has made to the rise of the aviation sector specifically,the tourism sector generally and the saving of lives as a result of its night medivac services in Guyana.

Aviation History in Guyana can never be written without the acknowledgement of the significant contributions made by Captain Gerry and Debbie Gouveia and their company Roraima Airways.

Both of these pilots are internationally highly trained ATPL rated pilots,one serving in the military and contributing to the development of military Avaition while the other had the distinction of being the first Guyanese woman to be qualify as a captain and fully command a commercial flight domestically in the jungle of Guyana.

Captain Gerry Gouveia was award a government of Guyana Scholarship to attend the Embry Riddle Aeronautical University, where he completed his flight training before returning to Guyana to serve in the Guyana Defence Force as an army pilot. While Captain Debbie Gouveia was trained at the flight Safety Academy in Vero Beach Florida and the Oxford flight Training center in the UK.

During his service in the army he rose to the Rank of Major and served as Admin officer, Training officer and Chief Pilot of the Army Air corps. He was involved in many Search and Rescue missions, humanitarian missions and Night medical evacuations out of the jungle.

After serving the army for in excess of ten years,he joined Golden Star Resources as head of Security and logistic manager before joining ASL as General Manager and Chief pilot.

In 1992 Captain Gerry Gouveia and his wife Captain Debbie Gouveia founded Roraima Airways and a new chapter in Guyanese Avaition History was started.

Roraima Airways’ great fortune reposed in the fact that from its inception it benefitted from the industry-specific skills as well as the dedication of Captains Gerry and Debbie Gouveia, two internationally trained pilots whom, over the years, have also proven themselves to be highly competent business managers and entrepreneurs

An idea was conceptualized and the dream took the young couple flying high with the potential opportunity at hand. The restless entrepreneurial spirit pushed the throttle full forward and Roraima Airways took off with two skilled captains at the controls charting their course with destiny and in the process creating a vibrant and diverse brand and group of companies with a rich legacy celebrating twenty years of growth and exciting future prospects for the next generation.

This is the story of Captains Debbie and Gerald Gouveia as they started their company, Roraima Airways from humble beginnings in August 1992 as a small local enterprise which has since grown to become a major force on the Guyanese business landscape, as a conglomerate of Aviation, Travel, and Tourism Services through their vision and guidance.

Having both flown a variety of aircraft across all of Guyana’s landscape and further afield, they brought their years of experience to fly for themselves as the principal owners and operators of Roraima Airways.

Realising the need for economic diversification, an Aircraft Ground Handling Division at Cheddi Jagan Int'l Airport, and an International Travel Agency were simultaneously launched.

The company quickly ‘graduated’ from the rented aircraft scenario with which it began operations in 1992 to its own fleet of aircraft over a five-year period which included a Bell 206 L3 Jet Ranger Helicopter, an Executive Cessna 402 and three Islander Stoll Aircraft.

Building its business model around safety, reliability, dependability and genuine warm Guyanese hospitality, the company evolved into the major player in contracted air support services to large mining companies including Omai Gold Mines (the largest gold mine in South America at that time), a distinction it continues to hold today.

Roraima Airways management showed a strong belief in corporate social responsibility well before the phrase became a common buzzword. In the words of Captain Gerald Gouveia, "the only way our business can do well, is when the community around us does well, and by extension the entire country". To this end the company adopted the village Primary School and arranged the building of a community library in the Amerindian Reservation of Santa Aratack Mission.

More tangibly, the company's Medical Evacuations, a twenty four hour response services enshrined in the Airline, saves hundreds of lives each year, conducting missions into the jungle in the dead of the night to extract sick and injured to better medical care. A significant amount of missions are also flown to countries in the Caribbean, and air ambulance jets arranged for transport to North American hospitals.

When the Gouveia's decided to open the doors of their holiday Jungle home, Arrowpoint, in Santa Mission, to commercial visitors, the CSR was not abandoned. The Santa Village Council was involved, and today benefits from lease fees and royalties, but more importantly, a major source of employment and training for community members, some of whom have become senior members of Roraima's management!

Today Arrowpoint Nature Resort hosts thousands of tourists of all nationalities. The resort was constructed by craftsmen of Santa Mission using indigenous materials and architecture, yet boasts modern amenities including hot running water and high speed WiFi internet. Guests enjoy a variety of activities, including mountain biking, kayaking, bird watching and a myriad of jungle expeditions, all designed to mimic the life of the Amerindian.

Captains Gerald and Debra Gouveia have also devoted more than a fair amount of their personal time to Private Sector Development in Guyana holding numerous appointments, with Captain Debbie Gouveia serving as President of the Travel Agents Association of Guyana and as the first female council member of the Private Sector Commission while Captain Gerry Gouveia served as President of the Tourism and Hospitality Association, the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Chairman of the Private Sector Commission in addition to serving on a number of Statutory State Boards.

Roraima Airways continued to expand with the construction of the Roraima Residence Inn, a boutique hotel, and acquisition of the Roraima Duke Lodge, a heritage hotel.

Duke Lodge in particular, is a hotbed of activity, hosting a myriad of social and corporate events, and being the venue of the Annual Wedding Expo, a specialty exhibition aimed to provide couples with relevant information to plan and execute their weddings.

Duke Lodge has recently added a modern state of the art Catering Facility to cater to the needs of large air carriers servicing Guyana as well as events and contract catering .

Roraima Tours is Guyana's premier Kaieteur Falls tour operator, but caters to tours all over Guyana, and with capabilities to organise tours for neighbouring countries.

Roraima's Ground Handling Division offers full handling services including check in, baggage handling, and all ramp services including ground power and lavatory service.

Roraima's Aviation Security Division is staffed with high quality Security Agents, trained to International Civil Aviation Organisation Standards both by large international carriers, and reputed security trainers such as Longport and ISDS. This unit provides a full suite of Aviation Security Services to International Carriers.

Roraima Airways Executive Lounge at CJIA is the only first/business class lounge which allows passengers to await boarding in an atmosphere of comfort and elegance, while enjoying a range of complimentary snacks, drinks, WiFi internet, and business services. Thousands of passengers are processed through this facility each year.

Roraima Airways Crew Lounge compliments the Executive Lounge as it is designed to accommodate aircraft crew. This facility qualifies as ICAO suitable accommodation for crew rest and provides the convenience of maximising rest periods and reducing the exposure of the crew to the hazard of road travel to and from a hotel.

The business model of safety, reliability, dependability, and genuine warm Guyanese hospitality has been extremely successful, as Roraima's client listing is dominated by the Diplomatic Community, Government of Guyana, mining companies, and a myriad of large reputable international companies including FedEx Express, who has contracted Roraima Airways with the delivery of their cargo to and from their hub in Trinidad five days a week, for almost five years.

The company was the first domestic private carrier to apply for and was granted an ICAO Three letter designator and the first to use flight numbers . As well as the first company to introduce the GPS and the Spot Tracker in Guyana.

Roraima Medivac Services saves hundreds of lives every year as the company accepts dangerous missions flying at night deep into the jungle to ferry injured and sick persons to the city hospitals.

The company celebrated 20 years of unbroken service to Guyana and today employs Approx 200 young Guyanese

Roraima Airways is therefore a company, unique in its capabilities and synergies of services. It is the only conglomerate of aviation, travel, and tourism services in Guyana, with the capability to take care of the guest from arrival to departure from Guyana, offering flexibility, versatility and a warm, friendly, competent face to accompany, throughout the experience!

Roraima Airways is proud to be one of the founding shareholder members of OAI and today Captain Gerry Gouveia Serves as a Director on the Ogle airport board of directors .

After twenty years, the Gouveias are now more excited about the future as the opportunities to grow and expand continue to excite, but more so, that their two sons are now being prepared to take the mantle and keep Roraima Airways flying further into the future.
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