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Friday, December 06, 2013
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
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CAL, Guyana discuss airline’s flag-carrier status
Executives of Port-of-Spain-based Caribbean Airlines (CAL) have held talks with the Guyanese government and members of Guyana’s private sector on a number of issues including the airline’s flag-carrier status and airfares. In addition, the talks also centred on security checks for Guyanese nationals in-transit to North American destinations at the Piarco International Airport, according to a Government of Guyana statement. CAL chairman, Phillip Marshall said the fact that the delegation is meeting with the government and private sector representatives points to its willingness to forge new partnerships.
He said one of the critical means of accomplishing this is to establish a formal communication structure through which important concerns can be quickly directed to the senior management of the airline. He said regarding airfares, the airline would be reviewing the situation. The statement said that Tourism, Industry and Commerce Minister Mohamed Irfaan Ali and Minister of Public Works and Transport Minister Robeson Benn as well as members of the private sector met with the CAL executives over the weekend. Ali said the meeting was “critical” in combating the negative perceptions perpetuated against Caribbean Airlines and assured the airline executives that the Guyana government recognises the role played by the airline in attempting to fill the gap in Guyana’s airlift capacity.
But Ali also called on both parties to improve the partnership and to formulate a strategy that would define the way forward in the best interest of all stakeholders involved. Last month, CAL applied to the US Department of Transportation (DOT) for the right to fly directly from Guyana to destinations in North America without first having to stop off in Trinidad. A lobby group representing US airlines has objected to the application by CAL, claiming that the majority T&T-owned airline is benefitting unfairly from fuel subsidies. Responding to Guardian questions last week, CAL said: “While Caribbean has not received notification of any ‘move’ by US airlines to do so, we are aware that part of their opposition to our application to the US DOT referred to the fuel subsidy.” CAL said the a delay or rejection by DOT of the airline’s application would have a negative impact of passengers travelling to and from Guyana.
According to the airline: “While Caribbean can continue to operate its flights POS/GEO/JFK/GEO/POS, the delay or refusal to grant us permission to operate the direct flights will mean that the flexibility to improve the total value offering on the route (and to reduce fares) will be lost or delayed. “The whole purpose of Caribbean’s application is to improve the travel cost and options for the Guyanese public interest. In the event of the application being rejected, the airline will continue, wherever possible and viable, to offer passengers connectivity with key North American ports. “During the interim period, Caribbean Airlines continues to find innovative ways to serve the Guyanese traveling public with non-stop flights to North America in addition to the many daily flights via Port of Spain.”
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