Prime Minister Perry Christie, was reported in the Bahamas press to have said in Nassau in mid-January, “I have spoken with the Trinidadian government with discussions to be held between BahamasAir and Caribbean Airways (sic) that flies internationally.”
According to the press report Christie also said, “Really with a view to seeing whether there are any advantages to Caribbean Air (sic) stopping into New Providence as a hub, whether on the way to Europe or on their way to different points in the United States of America, so that’s in train.”
But when Business Day spoke to CAL’s chairman Phillip Marshall, he said, “I do not know anything about that.” Senior members of the airline’s management team at Iere House in Piarco also said they knew nothing of any such discussions. These responses have led Business Day to conclude that the talks are still at the political level
However, it must be remembered that Prime Minister Christie was one of the special guests who travelled on the CAL B-767 aircraft that was chartered by Prime Minister Kamla Persad Bissessar to and from South Africa for the funeral of Nelson Mandela late last year. Neither Prime Minister Persad Bissessar nor line minister Finance Minister Larry Howai has made any public statement on any discussions with Prime Minister Christie relative to CAL becoming involved with BahamasAir.
Caribbean Airlines is still suffering greatly from the acquisition of Air Jamaica two years ago and aviation sources are wondering about the State-owned airline flying into another merger or takeover of any airline.
Since Prime Minister Christie said last October that his administration was “seriously considering” privatisation of the airline, he said that a number of applications had come in from representatives with an interest in some form of partnership with BahamasAir.
He also said, “We have had a number of applications from people who had heard his speech and who are now making representation that would wish to either enter into a relationship with BahamasAir in some form or the other or some form of partnership or collaborative marketing arrangements. Those are matters that are in train.”
Prime Minister Christie said his government was looking at ways to decrease the amount of subsidies it awards BahamasAir. He said assistance to the airline over the last few years stands in the region of some (US)$500 million.
Meanwhile Business Day has learnt that Caribbean Airlines would not, like it did in its successful summer schedule, be leasing any airplanes for the Carnival season.
One source said that at the moment the load factors from US cities are running high, but he added, “If it becomes necessary we would see about setting up extra sections to accommodate those additional passengers, who would like to come to Trinidad and Tobago for the Carnival.”
Also, there is still no definitive word on who the new Chief Executive Officer for the airline would be, but the latest word from a well-placed source is that a selection has been made and the matter was now in the final stages of negotiations with a foreign candidate.