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‘Crew constraints’ cause delays and cancellations on Tobago air bridge

News day / It was reported in the media on Friday that Caribbean Airlines pilots had decided not to operate the company’s ATR aircraft because of technical problems and that customers should expect delays.

CAL corporate communications manager Dionne Ligoure in a telephone interview with Sunday Newsday was asked about the threatened strike and responded that flights were cancelled due to “crew constraints” which led to delays and some cancellations.

She said their operations team responded in order to minimise disruption to their valued customers and one of the methods was by up gauging of aircraft whereby the flights on smaller craft were cancelled for the larger 737 jets. She said that she did not have confirmed numbers on the number of passengers affected by the situation.

She reported that they were managing confirmed passengers and trying to accommodate everyone within a particular time frame. She expressed hope that the crew constraints would be alleviated in the “shortest possible time frame” so they would be able to provide the kind of service needed by their valued customers.

Ligoure apologised on behalf of CAL due to any inconvenience caused due to the delays and thank customers and stakeholders for their support.

Sunday Newsday visited the Piarco International Airport yesterday and met a number of passengers who had been waiting on standby, some since the previous day.

Samantha Neverson from Long Circular said she had been on standby since 6am and every hour she was being told the flight would be the next hour. Neverson explained that she was scheduled to attend a wedding in Tobago at 2pm; it was after 3pm when Sunday Newsday spoke to her.

She said that has never experienced anything like this while traveling.

“Whoever running this thing don’t care about nobody.” A Scarborough businessman, who asked not to be named, came to Trinidad for a two hour a meeting on Friday and was at the airport on standby. Unable to get a flight he had to get a rental car and stay at a hotel. He returned at 8am yesterday and still could not get a flight.

“This situation cannot continue. No one seems to care.” He said that he travels regularly and the issues with the air bridge had been getting progressively worse with this weekend being his worst experience yet.

He added that he had family visiting from the US who wanted to go Tobago for Heritage Festival but those plans had to be scrapped.

Rennie Ramoutar, a businessman from Cunupia, said that he had been at the airport since 7am and he had a van in Tobago with $30,000 worth perishable goods to be delivered.

“I cannot go to deliver it,” he lamented.

An elderly lady from Tobago said she had a ticket for Sunday but was on standby and was hoping to leave yesterday. She said she runs a hotel and restaurant in Tobago but they were “suffering” to get sales.

“She said that both the airlift and ferry service between Trinidad and Tobago “stinks.”

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