Despite Caribbean Airlines (CAL) reporting losses and having seven chief executive officers in ten years, the workers and the brand were able to weather the storm and be resilient.
CAL’s chief executive officer Garvin Medera commented on the airline while delivering the feature address on the first day of the annual International Finance and Accounting Conference, hosted by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of T&T (ICATT), at the Hyatt Regency yesterday. The theme of the conference, which ends today, is “Charting a Resilient Future”.
Medera, who became CEO of the airline in October 2017, told the audience that when he started there was no plan for the airline’s future, and his first five years were spent building out a strategic plan and turning around the day-to-day business.
“These efforts were done with the entire team; we were all in this together. What we did not get right, we failed to predict that COVID-19 would shut down the travel industry. Overall, our plan has been essential, in so many ways, by keeping us on track and maintaining consistency and focus even in the face of unforeseeable challenges,” Medera said.
He noted that the brand has developed over the years and customers now have more confidence in the airline.
“Talking about customers, the overall experience was on my priority to-do list. Our reputation was mixed and to create resilience, we needed consistent quality, choice, and attentiveness. We created our first customer experience team, and we adopted a net promoter score to better assess our progress,” CAL’s CEO outlined.
He said the airline’s profitability is expected to return in its 2023 financial year.
“In 2018 and 2019, we had an operating profit for the first time in seven years, and in 2020, as a result of the pandemic, we made a US$109 million loss. When we announce our results in 2023, we expect to show an operating profit again. The government also backed us, and I think they made the right choice,” he mentioned.
Touching on the issue of risk for the business to grow, Medera said that so many CEOs are brought into struggling businesses to cut costs, tighten up and reboot, but more needed to be done with the airline.
He said two critical areas that needed to be addressed were technology and growth, to be more resilient.
“Economies have scaled, and we needed to cover our fixed costs and our network also needed to be bigger to truly support the Caribbean region. The airline also decided to diversify our revenue streams, such as Jet Pack, upgraded cargo, and in-flight commerce,” Medera disclosed.
He also told the audience that every business is different, but assessing the environment, culture, and task is needed before one assembles its tool kit.
Giving remarks was ICATT’s president Dwayne Rodriguez-Seijas, who said having approved ICATT’s 2022-2025 Strategic plan, the Institute’s council and secretariat have embarked on a robust journey to advance the profession and ensure its greater relevance and impact across business, industry, and economy.
In giving some insights as to what ICATT has achieved over the year, Rodriguez-Seijas said it contributed to the strengthening of public finance management to broaden the accounting profession’s reach in the public sector which is a significant opportunity to advance the profession’s public interest mandate.