Friday, December 15, 2017

No support for second airline


WARM WELCOME: Arthur Lok Jack, third from right, Associated Brands chairman, speaks to Zhang Linbo, from left, of Huawei Technology; Heidi Nobie, sales manager, Teleios Systems Ltd; Zhu Shouchen, executive secretary, All-China Journalists Association, Chinese Ambassador Huang Xingyuan and Prof Miguel Carrillo, executive director, Arthur Lok Jack Graduate School of Business, during yesterday’s Trends and Opportunities seminar at the school’s Mt Hope campus. —Photo: AYANNA KINSALE

Mark Fraser

A SEPARATE airline operating on the airbridge between Trinidad and Tobago will be more detrimental than beneficial to the country’s economy and should not be considered.

This was the view of business leaders in South Trinidad yesterday who said more problems will be created if an additional airline is allowed to use the current airbridge route.

On Monday, Tobago House of Assembly (THA) Chief Secretary Orville London said the use of a separate airline could bring better management to the Trinidad to Tobago route.

However, Minister in the Ministry of Finance Vasant Bharath said the route (currently operated by Caribbean Airlines) was already heavily subsidised and an additional aircraft would result in increased airfares.

Daphne Bartlett, president of the San Fernando Business Association said yesterday: “We are Trinidad and Tobago. (Caribbean Airlines) does not belong to Trinidad alone. As the minister said it is heavily subsidised. Where would we get money to start a whole new fleet of aircraft for Tobago?

What the Government should consider is increasing the fleet because flights are usually booked up when you want to travel to Tobago. We know and appreciate that it is heavily subsidised but we feel that on weekends there should be more flights to Tobago so that commuting between both (islands) will be easier.”

Keith Sankar, president of the Siparia Chamber of Commerce, said many airlines belonging to Caribbean countries were operating at a loss.

He said: “I would not see an airline coming to compete with CAL on that airbridge. It wouldn’t even be profitable for them to come into that.”

He said both the inter-island ferry and airline were operating at a loss and increased vessels or aircraft would result in heavier deficits.

He suggested using larger aircraft during peak travel time.

Sankar said: “Where there is a heavier demand on the traffic, one or two of the bigger planes could be used. It is not feasible to run bigger planes for short periods but that will be able to carry more people on a flight rather than on a small plane.”

Bartlett and Sankar also said they were not in support of an increased airfare if reservations were made.

A ticket to Tobago costs $300.They said Tobago depended mostly on local tourists and all efforts should be made to improve travel between the two islands.