Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : April 6th 2018 Contents CAMILLE MCEACHNIE
There were inally some signs
yesterday that Caribbean Airlines
may have cleared up the back-
log of passengers who were left
stranded on the island following
the rush to get back to Trinidad
following the long Easter week-
Chaos had reigned at the ANR
Robinson Airport following the
Easter weekend as hundreds of
passengers travelling on the do-
mestic route complained of hav-
ing to wait long hours for flights
back to Trinidad.
The situation was worsened as
a result of CAL having to cater for
ferry passengers as well due to
the suspension of the inter-island
ferry service by the Port Author-
ity of T&T due to the unavailabil-
ity of the T&T Express and T&T
CAL organised a lease arrange-
ment with LIAT to pick up the
slack, but this did not seem to
make a difference over the Easter
weekend---one of the busiest
times of the year for Tobago.
Irate people who faced long
waits either as con irmed or
standby passengers took to tradi-
tional and social media to voice
By Tuesday morning even
prominent citizens were using
social media to highlight the sit-
Former advisor to Prime Min-
ister Dr Keith Rowley, Nafessa
Mohammed, reported: "The air-
bridge has really collapsed."
Mohammed explained the frus-
tration she and other passengers
were facing since Tuesday as they
had been forced to wait at the air-
port to secure seats on a flight.
She also described the long wait
in the CAL ticketing line to change
their tickets or get their names on
a list so they could travel to Trini-
dad, being told at midnight there
were no more flights and having
to return yesterday to face the
process all over again.
"Why can't arrangements be
made to send a jet to clean up the
pile-up?" Mohammed's post read.
By 10 am a CAL jet arrived and
took most the stranded passen-
Other passengers, like Nalini
Roopnarine from Sangre Grande,
who was with a group of 15 peo-
ple back at the airport yesterday
morning, chose to return to their
guest houses or hotels rather
Roopnarine told Tobago Today
they were tired and hoped to re-
turn later yesterday evening to
try to board a flight to Trinidad.
When Tobago Today visited
the airport on Wednesday, many
passengers, including the elderly
and children, were seen lying on
the ground as they waited for the
chance to leave Tobago. Some
passengers admitted they were
waiting for as long as 24 hours for
a flight, while others ventured to
the airport as early as 3 am, some
three hours before the scheduled
opening time of the counters.
Friday, April 6, 2018
Easter hotel occupancy rates dismal
Tobago Hotel and Tourism Asso-
ciation (THTA) president Chris
James says hotel and guest house
occupancy rates for this year's
long Easter weekend were a "dis-
mal 38 per cent in comparison to
its usual 100 per cent at Easter."
Noting that the igures were
still somewhat anecdotal and
inal statistics will be tallied by
today, James told Tobago Today
it was customary for all hotel and
guest houses to be fully booked
this time of the year.
"This year, not only were the
bookings late but many guests
called to cancel their reserva-
tions," James said, adding he
felt the "absence of a passenger
ferry on the seabridge as well as
the lack of con idence in return-
ing home when you want on the
airbridge" had resulted in low
stakeholders expected the Easter
period to give them some much-
needed revenue as things have
not been good," he said.
He said he also does not ex-
pect the domestic tourism mar-
ket to improve soon.
"Nothing will happen until, at
least, the Galleons Passage is on
The vessel is scheduled to
arrive here by the end of the
month and James said he hopes
" it will be here and operating on
the seabridge before the July/Au-
Despite the dismal Easter
business, James sees hope from
a possible increase in interna-
tional tourist arrivals if a new
plan by the Tobago Tourism
"The Tobago Tourism Agency
(TTA) showed us a proposal
which will result in an increase
in international arrivals during
the winter months, which begin
in November," he said.
The proposal includes in-
creased seats on WestJet Airlines
from Canada, JetBlue Airlines
from the USA and Apollo Airlines
from Scandinavian countries.
Attendance at festivals
Organisers of two signature
events on Tobago's Easter calen-
dar, the Mt Pleasant Sports and
Family Day and Buccoo Goat
Race Festival, said large crowds
attended their festivals.
PRO of the Mt Pleasant event
Barbara Baynes said gate re-
ceipts showed more than 3,500
people attended Monday's event
in comparison to 2,500 last year.
She noted that people outside
the venue were not counted.
"The streets were illed,"
Facility Manager of the Buccoo
event, Stephen Rewan, said the
Buccoo Village Council's Goat
and Crab Racing Festival was
"Our gate receipts showed
that more than 2,500 patrons
showed up. That igure does not
include the hundreds that lined
However, he said the attend-
ance dropped from 5,000 in
2016 to 3,500 in 2017.
"Still, we are satis ied that the
festival did well given everything
that is happening."
First- time attendees at the
Buccoo event, father and son
Francis and Keston Homer, from
Arima, said the festival was "fan-
tastic" and "beyond expecta-
They arrived on the airbridge
on Monday and are not sure
when they will return as they
have no con irmed booking on
Caribbean Airlines (CAL) to re-
"We will enjoy Tobago until we
can get back," Francis said.
A release from CAL said the air-
line carried 16,583 passengers on
283 flights and provided 20,964
seats over the Easter weekend.
CAL slowly clearing backlog at ANR Robinson Airport
CAL's head of Corporate
Communications Dionne Ligoure says
CAL is doing its best to facilitate the
travelling public on the Tobago end of
She said the problems being
experienced on the airbridge were
not down to "inefficiency as stated by
many people. It's sheer logistics and
"PTSC buses show up with hundreds
of ferry people and we have a small
space and four counters, so that
crowding situation is expected in
Tobago even if people are in a line,"
she told Tobago Today.
Ligoure said analysis of the overall
situation which occurred must include
whether the ferry passengers who
attempted to secure flights were
booked to travel on the day they
showed up at the airport, followed
the required process with PATT
officials and were prepared to wait to
get on board a flight.
"It's also a symptom of impatience
with the process, as everyone
wants to show up and leave right
away. LIAT's plane only carries 68
passengers," she said.
Noting that the airline business
is "highly regulated," she said the
process of checking passengers must
be followed "to the letter."
"A plane ticket is an auditable
document... and we have to dot our I's
and cross our t's," she said, adding that
if the correct process is not followed
CAL will be "in plenty trouble."
She asked passengers to "exercise
patience, as CAL will move all
passengers between the two islands."
Her statements came even as CAL
released statistics earlier the week
showing there was excess seating
capacity over the Easter weekend.
A CAL release showed that between
March 29 and April 2, it had carried
16,583 passengers on 283 flights.
However, it said 20,964 seats were
made available during the period.
Passengers wait outside the CAL ticketing office to finalise their travel arrangements on Wednesday.
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