Caribbean Airlines will seek legal advice concerning the lease agreement it has in place for a batch of Boeing 737 Max-8 planes to boost its fleet in December.
Acting Prime Minister Colm Imbert yesterday said the airline had been instructed to review its options concerning the agreement given the safety concerns raised in the wake of the latest air tragedy involving one of the planes in Ethiopia recently.
"Caribbean Airlines has been authorised and instructed by me to get the best advice in the world with respect to these leases and also to put contingency arrangements in place with the aircraft leasing companies with respect to alternative aircraft in the event that as we get closer to December, the FAA decides that there is a permanent problem with the Max-8," Imbert said during the post-Cabinet media briefing.
In a release yesterday, CAL once again clarified it did not currently have any Boeing 737 Max-8s and would not introduce the plane to its fleet if it did not meet international standards. CAL had planned to add the Max-8s to its fleet through a lease in December.
The Trinidad and Tobago Civil Aviation Authority issued a prohibition order to all operators of Boeing 737 Max 8 & 9 aircraft on Wednesday, hours after the United States officially grounded those aircraft after several other countries took similar action.
The grounding of the planes globally led to scores of passengers being stranded at the Piarco International Airport on Wednesday, as American Airline flights to Miami were cancelled. AA used the Max-8 plane to service that route. Two of the airline's three daily flights were again cancelled yesterday as a result of the Max-8 grounding.
Among the persons affected by the cancellation of the flights was Trinidad and Tobago sprinter Khalifa St Fort, who was due to return to Florida yesterday morning.
"I planned to be back in time for school and training today (yesterday) but my flight was cancelled and rebooked for Friday (today) morning. I missed school and I will miss training today (yesterday) but it’s okay, they are just focusing on safety," St Fort told Guardian Media.
While many passengers who were turned back at the departure gate on Wednesday expressed frustration at the lack of information initially available from AA, St Fort said the airline updated her about the situation promptly.
"They were very informative. They let me know that my flight (was) cancelled via email at 5.30 pm (Wednesday), which gave me adequate time to make arrangements. They also sent the next available flight as soon as it was available," she said.
The airline's 3.25 pm flight to Miami was able to go ahead as scheduled, as the Airline used a 737-800 to conduct the trip.
"Clearly, they value the Trinidad business and the Trinidad leg of their flight operations, they very quickly substituted an aircraft. They're now using the same aircraft that Caribbean Airlines uses," Imbert at yesterday's post-Cabinet briefing.
Minister of Works and Transport also said the airline gave the assurance that they would be back to regular service by the weekend.
"American Airlines have confirmed to us this morning that they are going to operate two flights today (yesterday) and tomorrow (today) and their service should come back to normal by Sunday," said Sinanan, who said persons affected by the grounded flights on Wednesday were also accommodated by Caribbean Airlines and Jetblue.