Tobago chamber detonates CAL on airlift | Local company

Tobago Chamber of Commerce President Martin George has called on Caribbean Airlines Ltd (CAL) to retract a press release it issued on Thursday, which he says appears to blame the domestic airlift for economic hardship. and airline failures over the years and make an excuse not to increase flights between Trinidad and Tobago.

‘Benefit of the doubt’

“If that’s the case, and I hope it’s not, I’m willing to give Caribbean Airlines the benefit of the doubt to clarify that point…so I take great umbrage at that, not just in as president of the Tobago Chamber of Commerce, but also as a citizen of Trinidad and Tobago, because we all know that this airline, since its inception, has been characterized by losses,” George said in a press release yesterday.

CAL said in Thursday’s statement that its domestic operation was characterized by consistent losses (US$9,613,100 as of June 2022) and other critical variables such as subsidized flights, high operating costs, low prices which do not reflect actual market value and a one-way ticket. peak periods outside the July-August school holiday period.

The airline said that as of June 2022, its total operational costs for the airlift were $18,777,648, while the cost per flight hour was $17,306.

He noted that the high costs were due to the frequency of flights and the short distance (52 miles) leading to undesirable low aircraft and crew utilization and maintenance costs.

Considerable constraints

“Caribbean Airlines is aware of the need for an effective air bridge between Trinidad and Tobago and the company continues to manage it closely, bearing in mind the considerable constraints described above,” the airline continued. .

But George claimed that CAL’s financial difficulties had “nothing to do with the domestic airlift”.

“And it’s not fair for Tobagonians or Trinbagonians in general to seek to blame it (on the airlift),” he stressed.

“We have seen in the past the catastrophic disasters and failed investment failures, the failed ventures of Caribbean Airlines in all sorts of fancies and other costly financial advances, which only ended to their detriment,” did he declare.

“So please don’t even think about it. And I’m asking them to clarify that position, or withdraw that statement, where they seek to blame and castigate the domestic airlift as being characterized by constant casualties, as if to say that’s the reason you can’t do more flights. It is appalling and it is degrading for Tobagonians to take this position,” he said.

Constitutional right

Speaking in his capacity as a lawyer, George continued: “You are talking about something which is a fundamental human right. This is part of our constitutional right in the sense of freedom of movement. If it’s that you don’t have sufficient access to transportation, whether by ferry or air between Trinidad and Tobago, then your movement is restricted, your movement is restricted. And I don’t mean just for people who come from Trinidad for a vacation or to relax in Tobago. I’m talking about Tobagonians who need the essential service on the airlift.

“You may have to come downstairs for a medical appointment. You may need to travel for surgery, you may need to travel for an interview, you may need to travel for business as many official government transactions cannot be conducted in Tobago. So please do not insult the intelligence of the people of Trinidad and Tobago with this childish and pathetic statement you are making here.

George pointed out that there was a huge need for more airlift flights.

He said the Tobago Chamber of Commerce, as well as the THA, were willing to work with CAL to increase domestic airlift flights.

THA Chief Secretary Farley Augustine recently indicated that the THA was willing to pay the $5.6 million a year needed to keep ANR Robinson Airport open until 2 a.m. to facilitate the increase in flights to Tobago.

“Actually the cost can no longer be the issue because Mr. Farley Augustine has publicly stated that the THA will foot the bill… so please CAL we do not accept and totally reject this attempt on your part to seek to slander and to deflect problems,” George said.

He added: “We call on the Prime Minister as head of the country, head of cabinet, head of government, we also call on him in his capacity as Tobagonians, please do not ignore the fate of your fellow Tobagonians and Trinidadians stranded at the airport. Sometimes can’t get a reservation for a flight. We need more flights on the domestic route, plain and simple. There’s no other way to get it. say and there’s no way to water it down or get around it.

“We’ve seen CAL try to engage in things that I think are questionable at best. They want to talk about having a Tobago to Barbados route, they want to talk about having a Tobago to New York route and you can’t even fully service the Tobago to Trinidad route? Come on, CAL, I think you should do better than that.