[Caribbean Airlines] Sit-in protest as Tobago flts cancelled

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[Caribbean Airlines] Sit-in protest as Tobago flts cancelled

Unread post by bimjim » Fri Dec 29, 2017


Airbridge calamity:
[Caribbean Airlines] Sit-in protest as Tobago flights cancelled
Miranda La Rose
28 December, 2017

Standby passengers, led by Tobago House of Assembly Minority Leader Watson Duke, staged a vociferous sitting protest yesterday at the Piarco International Airport as they sought to get on to Caribbean Airlines Limited (CAL) flights to Tobago.

The protest, which included overseas visitors, began after Duke, also the president of the Public Services Association, showed up at the airport and spoke with angry standby passengers who did not get onto any flight the day before as standbys. He quickly mobilised them to chant “unacceptable” as passengers and visitors using other airlines looked on.

Meanwhile, Caribbean Airlines Limited in a press release said, “Due to aircraft constraints” the airline consolidated and rescheduled some of its services on the domestic airbridge for yesterday.

The consolidated services were being operated by the airline’s Boeing 737 jet fleet.

The release said, as a matter of priority all passengers holding confirmed bookings for yesterday were accommodated and all customers with confirmed tickets were so advised. The seats scheduled on the airbridge for yesterday was 2,448, but the airline increased the capacity to 3,108 to minimise inconvenience to its customers.

The release said the airline’s 737 fleet was being used to support its domestic operations as required, and the ATR fleet was expected to be fully restored and in service within 24 hours.

CAL reassured its customers that contingencies were in place, and thanked all travellers for their support and understanding.

Meanwhile, a passenger told Newsday she tried to get onto a flight on a standby ticket on Wednesday afternoon but was told to return yesterday at 3.00 am. She was unable to get onto the flight and remained at the airport until afternoon when she was hopeful she could have still been accommodated on one of the flights.

She said when she attempted to make enquiries at the desk, the staff had no information to give. While standbys protested, she said, they laughed as though it were a joke.

On the contrary, another passenger said, “All they giving you is excuses. Every time you go to the counter, they give you a different story.”

The two passengers, who were part of the protest, were convinced that Duke was travelling to Tobago on a confirmed ticket. Newsday was unable to contact Duke who was not answering his cell phone to confirm whether or not he was travelling.

However, a CAL source at the airport told Newsday, “ I am one million per cent sure that Watson Duke was not scheduled to travel. He had no ticket to travel.”

The source said, “Watson Duke heard that the prime minister was scheduled to travel (yesterday) morning and found himself in the airport. That is why he was at the airport making all this bacchanal. You all understand the politics of this. CAL is a political football. His bacchanal had very little to do with CAL. He went there to confront Keith Rowley.”

The source said all the confirmed passengers were moved to Tobago yesterday afternoon along with 154 passengers who had standby tickets. “By the end of the day we would have exceeded moving over 200 passengers on standby tickets. It was not one jet we put on, it was about seven jets we put on,” the source said.

The jet holds 154 passengers and when there were many standbys at the airport, the source said, “it makes sense to put on a larger aircraft.” The ATR that went in for scheduled maintenance should be back in the air today. All confirmed passengers who were confirmed to travel on a ATR that developed a problem late Wednesday were contacted. They were moved yesterday morning. No standby tickets were issued. The protestors, the source said, included people who “were not even standby passengers as they had not yet bought tickets.”

During the protest, Duke was heard saying in video clips made available to the media that the situation with the standby passengers were “unacceptable.”

He claimed that six flights had been cancelled without any excuses being given, that passengers were made to stand for about eight hours, and were not even provided with water. “This is the level of care here. This is unacceptable,” he said.

Passengers who were confirmed on previous flights and paid the $50 penalty for cancellation of their flights, he said, ought to be refunded their money as they did not get onto the flights as standby passengers.

“We have tourists who could not travel all night. This is the level of chaos taking place at Piarco airport today,” he said, adding “Where is (Kelvin) Charles? Where is Rowley? They are the ones to address this.”

In the video clips Duke spoke with several passengers including a mother with a baby who tried to get onto a flight the day before on a standby ticket. She was yesterday afternoon still trying to get on to a flight.

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