Commuters on the air bridge between Trinidad and Tobago will soon find it much easier to get a seat on Caribbean Airlines Limited (CAL) flights.
This assurance was given by CAL Chairman Rabindra Moonan following a one-hour meeting with representatives of the THA headed by Chief Secretary Orville London yesterday (20th September 2012) at the Calder Hall Administrative Complex, Scarborough.
Moonan said he was moving to improve the fleet which serviced Tobago, adding that CAL now had pilots in France to take delivery of its fourth ATR. “We are committed to having five ATRs in the fleet; we have three right now in Port of Spain, this will be the fourth and during the course of October/November we expect the fifth one to come on stream,” he said.
He explained that the Dash 8 which serviced Tobago right now was rather an ageing fleet resulting in a lot of breakdowns. He said the airline was hoping to dispose of that fleet early next year once the ATRs were properly working.
He said with the receipt of the fourth ATR the first two in the fleet would be taken out of service for six to eight days to do some reconfiguration to the cabin without disruption of the service in the short term while in the long term and with the coming up to the peak season in December CAL expected to have a much more efficient service.
Representatives of the THA and CAL will meet on October 26 at 9.30 a.m. in Tobago to direct their minds to see how it could happen. “That is one of the mantras we want to use here, how we could make it happen because for too long we have been engaged in talk shops. I expect when we meet together something will happen,” Moonan said.
Moonan said he came to the meeting with London with an open mind to get information, not to defend any position but to determine how CAL could partner with the people of Tobago through their representatives at the THA. “I have given the assurance to Mr London and his team that we at CAL would move assiduously to listen to their concerns and to see how best we could put it as to a work in motion in the shortest possible time.
London described the discussions as encouraging and said it was the first time in 11 years that representatives of the THA had the pleasure to meet with the chairman and representative of the board of directors of CAL. “We were very heartened with the tenure of the discussion. It started off with us putting on record our displeasure with CAL’s performance over the years and the fact that there is on record a Motion approved by the entire House of Assembly indicating our concerns about CAL’s performance visa vie Tobago, both with respect to the domestic air bridge and international travel,” London said.
London said Moonan gave the assurance that he was prepared to take on board all those concerns, many of them quite longstanding, some of them operational, some of them having to do with policy decisions. He said one of the most important decisions coming out of the discussion was an agreement for the decision makers in the THA and the decision makers in CAL to meet in Tobago on October 26 2012 at 9.30 a.m. at a venue to be decided. He said this meeting will be preceded by an exchange of information “so that we come to that meeting prepared and hopefully in a position where we can treat with some of those outstanding issues and alleviate some of the concerns which have been affecting the industry and of course distressing Tobagonians over the years”.
“We are also hoping that we will remain in communication with one another because even communication with CAL has sometimes been a challenge. We will communicate with one another in the next month and try to treat with the immediate issues, among them the vexing question of the reservation system which continues to create a great deal of frustration among perspective commuters between the two islands.