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CAL leases aircraft for stranded passengers

By Juhel Browne CCN Senior Multimedia Journalist  

Caribbean Airlines communications manager Clint Williams says the State-owned carrier has leased more than one Boeing 767-300 aircraft to get all of the 300 passengers stranded in New York since Friday back home.

"I can't confirm that all who were affected initially have returned but we are in the process of bringing everyone down, so yes, the scheduled service is gonna be back up quite quickly because the 767 aircraft we are using to facilitate this have quite a high capacity," Williams told TV6 News last evening.

He told TV6 News on Saturday night that Caribbean Airlines was able to "secure another aircraft from" the company it leased the 767-300 aircraft that experienced mechanical problems that caused the delay.

That company is US-based Omni Air International and the 767-300s it is leasing to Caribbean Airlines can each carry a total of 272 passengers.

Williams confirmed on Saturday the replacement aircraft was "being positioned to New York as we speak" and most if not all of the 300 passengers would have returned home yesterday.

The replacement 767-300 was set to leave the JFK airport in New York at 10.30 p.m (T&T) time on Saturday and was due to arrive at the Piarco International Airport yesterday at 2.25 am….before a flight back to New York was to occur later in the day.

Caribbean Airlines passengers travelling to New York were also affected by the situation.

But the daughter of two of the affected passengers told TV6 News her parents returned home on a flight that landed at 4 a.m. yesterday and not 2.25 am.

Asked about this last evening, Williams said, "You're catching me away from my laptop to be able to access all of the specific times because it's a number of flights but I do know that we came in this morning and we have another flight scheduled coming in later today, another 501, and the 500 going out this afternoon."

Caribbean Airlines offered meal vouchers and some passengers accepted hotel vouchers from the airline while they were stranded.

Williams would not say whether Omni Air International could be fined for situations where its aircraft suffers mechanical problems.

"Well I would prefer not to discuss the inner workings of the contract and the performance standards we have with many contracts that we hold with many of our suppliers but rest assured that there are standards that are to be kept and there are considerations for all of these things," he said.

Williams said Caribbean Airlines reviews all of its contracts on "an ongoing basis".

He confirmed the delay in New York also affected Caribbean Airlines connecting flights in the region but said those challenges are also being addressed.

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