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T&T to discuss CAL restructuring with JA Govt in June

vasant bharath

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad May 15, 2013 - The Government of Trinidad and Tobago says it has responded to the concerns of the Jamaican Government regarding the 50% reduction in flights to the island and a high level team will be travelling to Jamaica in June to discuss the way forward.

This is the word from Minister of State in the Ministry of Finance Vasant Bharath as he spoke to reporters following the launch of the Caribbean Investment Forum at the Hyatt Regency hotel in Port of Spain, Trinidad yesterday.

“What we have agreed is that I will lead a high-level team to Jamaica in June and will discuss the way forward with them,” he said.

He said the intention of a CAL/Air Jamaica merger was to have a pan-Caribbean airline. 

“It has not worked as inten­ded and, really, that’s because of the intervention of a number of low-cost carriers to the market place and usurped a lot of passenger traffic,” he said. 

He added that regarding the bubbling dispute between CAL and the region’s other carrier LIAT over CAL’s Government-funded fuel subsidy, it would be premature for him to comment, until LIAT’s chairman and St Vincent Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves and Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar met to discuss the situation further. 

“When CAL was initially set up (in 2007), there was an initial grace period of five or six years that the airline, during its restructuring, was going to be given a subsidised fuel price. So we are that stage now. We are now reviewing the airline,” Bharath said. 

The junior Finance Minister said the impression he has received from CAL chairman Rabindra Moonan and vice-chair Mohan Jaikaran is that Caribbean Airlines should finally be able to break even by the end of 2014 and this would follow restructuring proposal for the cash-strapped airline over the next 24 months.