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Moonan moves into CAL chair

By Anna Ramdass anna.ramdass@trinidadexpress.com

Transport Minister Devant Maharaj yesterday announced that businessman Rabindra Moonan is the new chairman of Caribbean Airlines Ltd (CAL), and insisted that he has had no falling out with former chairman George Nicholas.

In an interview on WinTV, Maharaj had rated the performance of enterprises under his purview, including CAL, as "five out of ten".

Nicholas subsequently cited Maharaj's statements about his performance as the reason for his resignation.

Speaking at the post-Cabinet press conference at the Office of the Prime Minister in St Clair, Maharaj said he was surprised that Nicholas took his comments to heart.

"I was quite surprised by his resignation...I didn't expect that from him and I didn't think it was personal. In fact, last night I watched over the programme...and no way was it personal at all, so it was unfortunate that he felt it so personally," he said.

Maharaj said he had a good working relationship with Nicholas and they communicated frequently with respect to the development of the airline.

He said he gave the five-out-of-ten rating to all boards "in the context of the level of neglect that the boards met from the previous administration and the amount of work and resources they have and the fact that there's always room for improvement. It's unfortunate that Mr Nicholas took it personally, but I have no regrets and this point in time."

"I have had no run-ins with Mr Nicholas; even on this occasion there wasn't any collision of any sort," said Maharaj, who added that there were no allegations against Nicholas.

Maharaj said only Nicholas can explain why he chose to tender his resignation to the Finance Ministry as opposed to the line Minister. What was important, said Maharaj, was that the resignation was accepted by Cabinet.

In August 2011, Nicholas had tendered his resignation to Maharaj, which was not accepted.

Asked why was it accepted now, Maharaj said: "We felt that having regard to Mr Nicholas' expressed interest to no longer serve the country as chairman of Caribbean Airlines on this occasion, within the context of having a previous resignation from him, we accept it at this point in time."

Maharaj thanked Nicholas for his service and contribution to CAL.

According to Maharaj, Government has confidence in CAL's new chairman Moonan who was a temporary Opposition Senator and worked at the Central Bank.

"We are confident Mr Moonan possesses the skills and aptitude that is required to carry Caribbean Airlines in this very trying time for the aviation industry, globally. We feel he has the interpersonal skills that are required to hold the board together and to chart these yet very treacherous skies in terms of the competition and regulatory requirement that is demanded from the aviation industry," said Maharaj.

He said although Moonan has no experience in the aviation industry he brings his strong business acumen to the fore.

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