Anna-Lisa Paul and Bobie-Lee Dixon
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New AATT board tackles security
The Airports Authority of T&T (AATT) has changed its board members many times in the last two years and following his official installation yesterday, new chairman Jason Julien said it was time for the board to “get back on track”. He admitted that the previous board had been in the national spotlight often but “not for the right reasons”. A ceremony to hand over the instruments of appointment to the new board was held at the Ministry of Transport, Tower D, International Waterfront Complex, Port-of-Spain. Transport Minister Stephen Cadiz has asked the board to look seriously at the issue of airport security “to make sure that we are always on top of our game and we never let our guard down when it comes to issues of safety”. He did so just days after a terror alert issued by United States authorities on Caribbean Airlines flights from Guyana.
Cadiz also used the opportunity to announced that JetBlue will begin flights to T&T next week. “Early next week, we are welcoming JetBlue flying out of New York, in the first instance, and then out of Fort Lauderdale in the second instance. I also received a letter yesterday from Copa Airlines where Copa had the second flight coming in from Panama only five days per week, and that is going to be extended to a full seven-day schedule. “In the last two years, we’ve had three new international flights coming into Piarco. We are really and truly looking to open it up. There is a lot of slack time at Piarco that we can really and truly utilise a lot more efficiently.” Asked whether JetBlue has been given any assurance about security measures in T&T, Cadiz said: “Before JetBlue or any new airline would want to come to T&T, they would do their own investigations, they would do their own audit and I’ve not had any indepth discussion with Jet Blue. They came down here with a team of about ten people, including a high-level security team, and would come unannounced and go through the airport and they would judge for themselves the level of security that the airport provides.”
The minister added: “What was in the media recently with the CAL issue, airlines everyday are subjected to all kinds of calls, some of these calls are serious some are not. It is not a place that any aviation practitioner would want to be in, that’s where we are at internationally. It’s not only about T&T. Both Piarco and ANR have a high level of security at all times. We don’t wait for a perceived threat.” While there are many projects to complete at both airports, Cadiz said he hoped that in the next budget the AATT gets more funding to complete its work. “We have major repairs going on at ANR Robinson—it’s about getting those repairs effected and completed on time and within budget. We’ve had some issues with maintenance in Tobago. The other area would be the hiring of a new executive which I think is crucial to any organisation. “At Piarco we have the commercial park that needs to be commercialised we need to get tenants onto the park. We need to do some reconfiguration, we need to create a better feel, a better atmosphere, a better passenger experience, more comfort for passengers, from car parking come back. I think it’s something we need to be aware of.” The new members of the AATT board are: Jason Julien (chairman), Rajive Dipnarinesingh (vice chairman), Ruthven Goddard, Judith Baliram-Ramoutar, Maria Gonsalves, Premchand Sahadeo, Rishi Mahadeo, Colonel Lyle Alexander and Carlisle Marks.