Minority Councillor Faith B Yisrael has described as a “a slap in the face to Tobagonians,” the result of Chief Secretary Kelvin Charles’ meeting with Caribbean Airlines officials on the airline’s $50 Change Fee on the domestic air-bridge from December 12.
Speaking at a press conference at James park on Tuesday, Yisrael, suggested that the decision “to add this $50 penalty to Tobagonians” was a Cabinet decision made several months ago and they did not have the courtesy to inform the Chief Secretary.
“They did not have the courtesy to consult with him since this is affecting Tobago more than it is affecting anyone else,” she said, adding that the result of the meeting was that “practically nothing changed, he (Chief Secretary) came out with a committee being set up.”
She had several questions:
“We are asking ourselves what exactly does this committee mean, what exactly is this committee supposed to do? What are the benchmarks that this committee supposed to use to determine whether this $50 change is working or not? Have they identified variables that they are going to measure, is there a call -in number that they have put in place to know whether this is actually working for the average Tobagonian? How are they going to know if this is actually working, how are they going to know when it's time to pull the plug?
Yisrael contended that the committee was simply the Chief Secretary admitting defeat.
She also denounced the timing of the Change Fee.
"Having this happen to us in Tobago at this particular time continues to cripple the economy and it seems like that is the plan. It seems as if they are doing everything in their power to ensure that Tobago businesses and the average Tobagonian experience as much hardship
as absolutely possible. Particularly at this point where we are having inter-island ferry issues…” she said.
Following a November 30 meeting with CAL chairman Shameer Mohammed and other officials, the THA and CAL agreed to set up a joint committee to monitor the efficiency of the new changes for review at a later date. It was also announced that $50 change fee (one-way) for domestic flights will be implemented on December 12, as previously announced, and that the sale of open tickets, which ceased on November 29, also remains unchanged.
Assurances were given that passengers seeking same-day or emergency travel and who were not in possession of a ticket or reservation could go to the airport and place their name on the stand-by list for that day. Once a seat can be assured by CAL for the passenger, payment will be taken by the airline from the passenger to purchase a ticket without charge. CAL also said if it was responsible for a passenger’s change of travel due to delay or cancellation of a flight, “the passenger will be allowed to make a new reservation and no change fee will be charged.”