Cheddi Jagan International Airport

Cheddi Jagan International Airport
Cheddi Jagan International Airport
GEO is located in Guyana
GEO (Guyana)
Airport type Public
Owner Government of Guyana
Operator Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA) Corporation
Serves Georgetown, Guyana
Location Timehri
Elevation AMSL 95 ft / 29 m
Coordinates 06°29′54″N 058°15′14″W / 6.49833°N 58.25389°W / 6.49833; -58.25389
Direction Length Surface
ft m
06/24 7,448 2,270 Asphalt
11/29 5,002 1,525 Asphalt (damaged)
Source: DAFIF[1][2]

Cheddi Jagan International Airport (IATA: GEOICAO: SYCJ), formerly Timehri International Airport, is the national airport of Guyana. The airport is located on the right bank of the Demerara River in the city of Timehri, 41 kilometres (25 mi) south of Guyana's capital, Georgetown.



The United States obtained rights to locate military facilities in British Guiana as part of the Destroyers for Bases Agreement with the United Kingdom in 1941. On June 14, 1941, the first United States Army forces arrived to survey land for a bomber airfield near Georgetown.

Atkinson Field was built 28 miles (45 km) from Georgetown on 68 acres (28 ha) of land formerly known as Hyde Park, on the Demerara River. The forest was cleared and hills were levelled and a long concrete runway was constructed. On June 20, 1941 the airfield officially opened with the activation of a weather station. The station was named after Lieutenant Colonel Bert M. Atkinson, a United States Army Air Service World War I aviator. Colonel Atkinson was the commander of the 1st Pursuit Wing on the western front in 1918. Colonel Atkinson retired from the Army in 1922 after a distinguished career and died on April 27, 1937.

The mission of the station was the defense of the colony against Nazi U-Boats. The airfield was also major staging point for American aircraft crossing the Atlantic Ocean heading to the European Theatre on the South Atlantic transport route. Also aircraft sold to the British forces by the United States were flown to Atkinson where they were turned over and ferried to North Africa. With the discovery of bauxite deposits in northeast Brazil in 1943, the mission of the airfield was expanded to protect the coastline of northwest South America and prevent any submarine landings by Axis forces on the continent.

Assigned United States Army Air Forces units to Atkinson field were the 430th Bombardment Squadron (9th Bombardment Group) from 4 November 1941 - 31 October 1942 flying anti-submarine sorties in Douglas B-18 bombers. The 430th was replaced by a detachment of the 35th Bombardment Squadron (25th Bombardment Group) from 1 November 1942 - 7 October 1943. After the detection of U-Boat activity was taken over by the United States Navy, the 91st Reconnaissance Squadron (344th Reconnaissance Group) was assigned to the airfield during 1944 and 1945 flying the F-10 photo-recon version of the B-25 Mitchell bomber on various mapping missions.

At the end of the war, Atkinson Field was reduced in scope to a skeleton staff. The facility was opened for all air travel, including commercial air flights on October 1, 1946. The military airfield was redesignated Atkinson Air Force Base on March 26, 1948, by Department of the Air Force General Order Number 10. The base was ordered closed on 31 July 1949 due to budgetary cutbacks. The final military cadre was 3 officers and 25 enlisted men upon closure, and the base was officially turned over to British authorities on August 1.

A modern terminal building was built and opened on 15 March 1952. When the new building was ravaged by fire on 5 August 1959 the old terminal building was renovated and used again until the destroyed building was replaced.

The lease of the facility by the United States was formally terminated on 26 May 1966 (Guyana's Independence Day). Because the lease was terminated 74 years before its due end, a new agreement was arrived at giving certain specified rights to the United States in relation to the air base for the next 17 years.

In 1965 and 1968 additions were made to the airport facilities. On the 1 May 1969 the Atkinson Aerodrome was renamed the Timehri International Airport - "Timehri" is a Carib word for rock motifs located deep in the Guyana hinterland that pre-date the arrival of Europeans in the New World. The airport featured murals employing Amerindian motifs by Guyanese painter Aubrey Williams.

In March 1997, following the death of President Dr. Cheddi Jagan, then-President Samuel Hinds decided to rename the airport the Cheddi Jagan International Airport. The proposition to rename the airport was tabled in the Parliament (National Assembly) by the Minister of Amerindian Affairs, Vibert De Souza, who noted that it would be a fitting tribute to a man who had spent his life committed to the betterment of Amerindian people and fighting for the freedom and unity of all Guyanese. A plaque bearing the new name was unveiled on May 21, 1997 by the Prime Minister, Janet Jagan.

Future Plans

The Government of Guyana has begun discussions with the government of India for a possible line of credit to fund massive modifications and upgrade of Guyana’s main port of entry, the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA). Likely to cost millions of dollars, the project would see expansion of the airport area, and construction of a modern terminal and a four-lane access road to the airport from the Soesdyke-Linden Highway, according to inside sources. The new airport is also likely to include cold- storage facilities to accommodate exportation of more agricultural produce from Guyana. Designs for some of these works and other preparatory activities have reportedly started, while moves are afoot to identify the needed financial resources. The Guyana government plans to implement this major development step by step. Speaking at a recent forum at the International Conference Centre at Liliendaal, East Coast Demerara, President Jagdeo told the gathering about plans to triple the size of the CJIA to include eight air bridges so that at least eight aircraft can land or take off at the same time. He also mentioned that the runaway would be extended and the airport’s general aesthetics improved, so the CJIA can be an attraction for both locals and tourists. He highlighted the establishment of a four-lane road to the airport to accommodate the anticipated increase in traffic when the airport has been modified. This substantial investment, the head of state said, is to complement a string of other developmental projects currently taking place and some still in the pipelines for Guyana. Earlier in the year, this newspaper reported that, according to sources, the government was considering making Guyana a hub for international traffic, a move that would see CJIA facilitating larger aircraft and more air traffic. Currently, Piarco Airport in Port of Spain, Trinidad, is the closest international hub in the Caribbean. Making Guyana an international hub would enable this country to earn a lot more from aircraft landings and other services offered by airports, while encouraging more visitors. Aviation sources have estimated that an airport development of the magnitude envisaged could cost Guyana between US$50 million and US$100 million. To date, the authorities have not yet finalised the cost of the project, but they have been identifying the sources of funding to execute the upgrade. The current airport upgrade plan includes expanding the existing runway to approximately 10,000 feet to accommodate larger aircraft. This longer runway would also require redesigning the existing terminal building to effectively process the increased number of passengers and cargo. With regard to extension of the terminal, an assessment is expected shortly to look at not only enlarging the existing building, but relocating the existing concessions and food courts, and access roadways for arrivals and departures. Already, the government has allocated Gy$178 million to start preparatory work on designing the extension of the CJIA airstrip by 3500 feet to accommodate Boeing 747-400 aircraft. The sum also covers designs for expansion of the arrival and departure lounges with attendant air bridges. The Boeing 747-400 aircraft is not only larger, but also heavier, and therefore requires longer runways. With seating for a maximum of 624 people, the 747-400 can fly nonstop for 7,670 nautical miles, or 14,200 kilometres, depending on the model. The CJIA runway is about 7,500 feet and usually accommodates landing of the Boeing 767, which accommodates between 181 and 375 passengers. These and other comprehensive studies for the proposed multi-million-dollar project may take no less than three months to be undertaken, and would allow the government to make informed decisions on the airport’s development.[3]

Airlines and destinations

Airlines Destinations
Caribbean Airlines Miami, New York-JFK (non-stop starts December), Port of Spain
Delta Air Lines New York-JFK
LIAT Barbados, Port of Spain
REDjet Antigua [begins November 22], Barbados, Port of Spain
Roraima Airways Georgetown-Ogle, Kaieteur, Lethem, Matthews Ridge, Orinduik, Port Kaituma


Airlines Destinations
Enerjet Toronto-Pearson

Cargo airlines

Airlines Destinations
ABX Air Port of Spain
Amerijet Santiago de los Caballeros, Santo Domingo


On July 30, 2011, Caribbean Airlines Flight 523 [Reg - 9Y-PBM] overan the runway end in rainy weather while landing at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport in Guyana and went through a chain-link perimeter fence.. The aircraft, a Boeing 737-800, broke into two just behind the first class area. There were fortunately no casualties. At least two passengers suffered broken legs and others suffered lacerations and other injuries. The majority of the injured were treated at the Diamond Diagnostic Hospital and then sent on to the Georgetown Public Hospital. Caribbean Airlines confirmed 157 passengers and 6 crew members were on board the aircraft.


The airport resides at an elevation of 95 feet (29 m) above mean sea level. It has two asphalt paved runways: 06/24 measuring 7,448 by 148 feet (2,270 × 45 m) and 11/29 measuring 5,002 by 148 feet (1,525 × 45 m).[1]

The terminal currently has six ground level gates.


 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the Air Force Historical Research Agency.

External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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