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A PROUD 70-YEAR TRACK RECORD?

Published: 
Monday, August 8, 2011

There are, quite obviously, a lot of questions concerning the Caribbean Airline (CAL) crash in Guyana in the early hours of Saturday morning that can’t and won’t be answered until the investigation by the American National Transport and Safety Board is concluded. One thing is certain, the Americans will not allow any cover-up and we will all sooner or later learn the truth. I suppose that we ought to be grateful for small mercies. However, one of the questions that can and should be answered right away is how come CAL says that it has “a proud 70-year track record” of being accident free? Let’s start from the beginning: First of all, the International Civil Aviation Organisation defines an aviation accident like this:

“An aviation accident is defined in the Convention on International Civil Aviation Annex 13 as an occurrence associated with the operation of an  aircraft which takes place between the time any person boards the aircraft with an intention of flight and all such persons have disembarked, in which a person is fatally or seriously injured, the aircraft sustains damage or structural failure or the aircraft is missing or is completely inaccessible.”

So, it is quite clear that, according to the best definition from the highest aviation authority in the world, the CAL aircraft suffered an accident...and a serious one at that...on July 30 in Guyana. Also, it is also clear that BWIA never had an accident in its proud history. So, I can hear you say, what’s the problem? The problem is that CAL is not a 70-year-old airline with a 70-year-old track record. It is only four years old and as fledgling airline has had what you might call a “fledgling” accident. You can test this assertion fairly easily.

If CAL is simply BWIA rebranded and is “a rose by any other name,” then CAL would be liable for all of BWIA’s debts and prior responsibilities. But CAL is not liable for BWIA’s debts and obligations. Ask the former employees of BWIA, many of whom feel that they were unfairly shafted when the last Government shut down BWIA and threw many of them out on the street. These former employees were told that they could sue the defunct BWIA if they wanted, but that nothing from nothing was nothing and CAL was a brand new airline. In other words, the Government took what it wanted from the old BWIA and created a new entity that was CAL. Heck. It even sold the BWIA landing slots in London. (And that’s yet another scandal waiting to explode.)

Now, it may be that CAL’s safety procedures are similar, or even identical, to the defunct BWIA. It may also be that CAL has taken a lot of good things from BWIA, including but not limited to some of its old employees (like pilots and engineers). But it is not BWIA rebranded. It is a brand new airline. It does have various different procedures and ways of doing business which may or may not be better than BWIA’s. But it is disingenuous, to say the least, that it has a “proud 70-year-old track record.” It doesn’t. It is not BWIA and those who are trying to piggyback CAL’s safety record onto that of BWIA’s are not doing that now defunct airline any service, nor are they being fair to the former employees of BWIA or the travelling public. Frankly, they are being dishonest. CAL’s track record is only four years old. No more and no less.

And you know what? The people who have to make decisions concerning insurance and viability are not going to be fooled by the people who are spouting this “70-year” nonsense. But then, I suppose those people, because they have no respect for us and believe that trying to mislead us has no consequences whatsoever, know that they can get away with nonsense like this. And you know what? Maybe they are right. That’s what makes this all the more galling.

THOUGHTS

•If CAL is simply BWIA rebranded and is “a rose by any other name,” then CAL would be liable for all of BWIA’s debts and prior responsibilities.
• But CAL is not liable for BWIA’s debts and obligations.
• Now, it may be that CAL’s safety procedures are similar, or even identical, to the defunct BWIA. 
• But it is not BWIA rebranded. It is a brand new airline.

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