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 Commentary: CAL’s Fate in Covid-19

Commentary: CAL’s Fate in Covid-19

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By Neil Gosine

CARIBBEAN Airlines (CAL) is in a serious financial state and on the verge of collapse.

This as Government implement more measures in Trinidad and Tobago to try to curb the upsurge in Covid-19 cases. These measure include prohibiting in-house dining at all restaurants, bars, cinemas, reducing gathering in public spaces to no more than five and closing all beaches to the public.

Caribbean Airlines which operated more than 600 weekly flights to 18 destinations in the Caribbean and North and South America was the pride of our region.  It is a state run airline that can boast of an impeccable safety record.

The airline is jointly owned by the people of T&T and Jamaica. Their headquarters in T&T.


Now the airline is seriously cash strapped after implementing salary reductions for all staff in an effort to keep afloat.

As this lockdown continues, the management cannot see a way out of the debt and to manage keep the airline in the air.

Globally, airlines have faced challenges to continue to survive during the Covid-19 pandemic and CAL is no different.

Salaries for most of CAL workers have been reduced by 5%  to 20%. Most of their pilots have been put on no-pay leave even though the airline has tried to resume limited flights to countries with open borders in the Eastern Caribbean, Guyana and Jamaica. This is just not enough.

They have tried everything as initiating charter flights for some clients and offering harebrained schemes as buying off rows of seats while portraying their high Covid-19 safety regulations.

Nothing seems to work in these trying times despite all these promotions, cuts to working staff and salary reductions for extended periods.

No matter how much management tries, it just cannot see any light at the end of this tunnel.

Before this pandemic the carrier was beginning to increase its operations and fly-high again, then it was forced to suspend everything, and that dealt a massive blow to its revenue.

The Government is running out of time to save the airline. Another state-owned company about to bite the dust as they focus on everything other than what is in plain sight, in front of us.

Economic downturn, crime rate rising, people on the breadline and failure after failures. The Government cannot even recognise that our airline is on the verge of collapse, even after the company has done everything humanly possible including minimising staffing to perform essential operations.

Still this is just not enough.

We must not ignore the issues at hand –  the energy sector weakens, a vaccine rollout drive that leaves much to be desired, we wait for WASA to be  restructured, the foreign exchange availability remains a problem and many more crises we are forced to endure.

We are bankrupt of ideas and with funds running extremely low as foreign currency is in minuscule supply, I wonder how will we dig ourselves out of this hole?

Without proper leadership with new innovations and initiatives and the will to action them, say goodbye to another state run company, say goodbye to jobs, say goodbye to freedom of movement and say goodbye to CAL.

The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are not necessarily those of Complete Image Limited of which is a division.


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