While the terminal setback caused minor disruptions at Piarco International Airport, Crown Point’s Tobago operations got off to a shaky start on Caribbean Airlines’ first day on the airbridge after the acquisition of Tobago Express.
The terminals at the western end of the bank of counters at Piarco, which Tobago Express occupied up until Sunday, the airline’s last day, were decorated with Carib-bean Airlines banners but passengers were directed to the eastern end, where agents were located to check in flights to Tobago.
Across in Tobago, flights were on schedule and operations at the check-in counter ran smoothly, but the two-teller system over at the ticketing office proved to be inefficient with lines extending outside the office, much to the annoyance of customers who had been waiting for more than an hour.
Newsday was told that most of Crown Point’s Tobago Express staff members who had accepted the three-month transition contracts were on training in Trinidad for the week.
The Crown Point check-in counters were manned by Servis Air staff wearing Caribbean Airlines’ colours while a Carib-bean Airlines official from Trinidad familiarised the reservations staff with the new system.
The computers that were utilised by Tobago Express staff the night before, sat unmanned and an official explained that they had not yet been converted to the system used by Caribbean Airlines.
Caribbean Airlines marketing director, Francois Pariseau, yesterday explained that Tobago Express used a different terminal system which was being converted to the global distribution system which Caribbean Airlines uses.
He said the five 50-seater planes which were operated by Tobago Express are being repainted with the Caribbean Airlines logo and would soon be back in operation on the airbridge. He reiterated that these planes would service the route regularly while Caribbean Airlines Boeing jets will be used at times when there is additional demand.
Pariseau added that as of 1pm yesterday, between six and seven flights to Tobago left on time from Piarco with over 300 passengers.
However, Crown Point customers were not as patient about the transition of staff members and several verbally expressed their displeasure with the slow pace in the ticket office and the fact that there was no number system in place to indicate order.
“Only the sign on the door change but it seems like the same slow operations and even a little worse. I was actually here earlier but left and came back and it seems like the line has gotten longer and the machines working slower,” said one passenger.
Some passengers left the airport for Scarborough to purchase tickets for the 5 pm fast ferry sailing.