Long walk to freedom!
Jet bridge withdrawn from Caribbean Airlines at NMIA; thousands in unpaid fees pile up
WESTERN BUREAU: In the last 48 hours, Caribbean Airlines passengers were forced to walk on the ramp and carry their hand luggage up the stairs of the Norman Manley International Airport (NMIA) owing to no access to the jet bridge. Passengers also...
In the last 48 hours, Caribbean Airlines passengers were forced to walk on the ramp and carry their hand luggage up the stairs of the Norman Manley International Airport (NMIA) owing to no access to the jet bridge.
Passengers also had no stanchion while checking in and had to tread far distances to reach the boarding gate as airport operators withdrew some critical services from the Trinidad-owned carrier.
Caribbean Airlines Limited (CAL) reportedly owes hundreds of thousands of dollars in fees collected on behalf of the Airport Improvement Fund. It is unclear whether that debt had any bearing on the withdrawal of amenities.
The airline has had no access to the jet bridge since last Saturday during the departure of Flight 15 from NMIA to John F. Kennedy in New York. Similar withdrawal of services affected the aircraft on the return leg to Kingston.
On Sunday morning, there was no change to the situation, and passengers who turned up at the airport were forced to walk long distances to reach the boarding gate and also carried their hand luggage up the stairs on to the aircraft.
In response to queries regarding the absence of the jet bridges, chief executive officer of Desarrollo De Concessiones Aeroportuarias, operators of NMIA, Fernando Vistrain Gap, said that jet bridges were available and function.
“They are a facility that all airlines can avail themselves of at a cost,” the CEO told The Gleaner on Sunday.
Vistrain Gap acknowledged that CAL’s operations were affected for a short time but said he was unable to explain why, offering to check with the airport’s management on Monday.
Efforts to get answers from Caribbean Airlines were not forthcoming on Sunday as Dionne Ligoure, head of corporate communications, stated that she could not guarantee the requested information up to press time.
Caribbean Airlines has been haemorrhaging long before the COVID-19 pandemic, and the closure of Trinidad’s borders for close to two years has not helped.
Pilots who asked not to be named said they agreed to a pay cut of 57 per cent to help reduce costs being incurred by the airline. The cut was scheduled to last until June 14 but was extended for two more months, pilots told The Gleaner.
The pilots said on Sunday that the airline had severed ties with 14 Jamaican pilots recently. They said that approximately 20 remained with the carrier.