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Return of T&T Express,T&T Spirit not yet known

Friday, April 6, 2018
Passengers outside Caribbean Airlines’ offices awaiting a flight back to Trinidad at the A.N.R Robinson International Airport, Crown Point, Tobago on Wednesday. PICTURE SHASTRI BOODAN

As ferry passengers continue to complain about long waiting times at the airports in travelling to and from Tobago, no dates have been given for the return of the T&T Express and the T&T Spirit to the seabridge.

Works and Transport Minister Rohan Sinanan said the T&T Spirit was scheduled to undergo a sea trial yesterday and once all criteria was satisfied, certification should follow.

However, plans were still in the making for the T&T Express to be taken to the dry dock for repairs.

Meanwhile, the Water Taxi Service’s Trini Flash, which sustained a fire while transporting passengers to Tobago last week Tuesday, remains out of commission. Only the Cabo Star, which has a capacity of 90 seats, was available to ferry passengers.

In a Facebook post yesterday by Nafeesa Mohammed, a former advisor to Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley, she stated: “ This airbridge has really collapsed. Since midday yesterday, folks have been waiting to get on a flight to return to Trinidad. At midnight last night, they said no more stand byes, you have to come back and validate your ticket then put your name on the list again.

“Since 4.45 am, waiting in line to get into Caribbean Airlines office to renew the tickets. 70 people ahead of you and you haven’t reached to the counter to get your name on a list. Meanwhile, you can’t even hear or see a plane coming in. Who is really monitoring and helping to deal with this crisis? Why can’t arrangements be made to send a jet to clear the pile up once or twice during the day? This is not rocket science! This is a serious indictment on the management of the affairs of our country. I will be criticised for speaking out, but too many people suffering. It is totally unacceptable and inexcusable! Power is ephemeral and the writing is on the wall for all who have ears to hear and eyes to see. You cannot run a country on the basis of public relations ... This is madness!”

Calls were made to Mohammed’s phone yesterday but there was no answer. In responding to the issues, Caribbean Airlines (CAL) head of corporate communications Dionne Liguore said people have to understand the logistics involved in the airlines picking up the slack of the sea bridge. Ligoure said that given the small area they operate at the ANR Robinson International Airport, it would mean that the lines would seem long. CAL also has five employees operating at the airport.

She said in addition to their core schedule, additional flights were added to clear up any backlog and that at 11.51 am yesterday, there were no ferry passengers at the ANR Robinson International Airport.

Currently, the airport closes at 1.30 am and reopens at 5.45 am meaning the standby passengers, those who had not made a previous reservation, would not necessarily get on a flight before the airport closes.

“At this time, Caribbean Airlines continues to closely manage the airbridge. As the public is well aware, the airline has been supporting the operation of the sea bridge by increasing capacity to enable persons to travel between Trinidad and Tobago.

She said that between March 29 to April 2, the airline operated 283 flights on the air bridge, which provided 20,964 seats of which 16,583 were utilised.

“With respect to the issue of the long lines, by virtue of the space in which we are operating, by sheer logistics and the high volume of persons, there are lines because there is a process that has to be observed that is in place where customers must be issued with a valid travel document. The public may not be aware that airline tickets are auditable documents and the airline operates in a highly regulated industry.”


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