CARIBBEAN Airlines (CAL) says it expects to provide a minimum of 83,648 seats on 1220 flights on the Tobago air bridge in March.
In a statement, the airline said it provided 88,600 seats on 1,222 flights on the domestic air bridge for February.
The number of passengers carried totalled 77,284 while on-time performance within 15 minutes was 87 percent, according to the airline.
CAL advised passengers on the air bridge to ensure that they hold confirmed tickets for their intended travel dates and those with confirmed bookings who do not plan to travel on the dates and times listed on their reservations, should advise the airline of their intent to not travel. “Caribbean Airlines continues to closely manage the air bridge operation and remains committed to providing consistent and reliable service to its valued customers,” the statement said. The airline was called into action last month to accommodate displaced sea bridge passengers on the air bridge, in the absence of the TT Express ferry which had been out of commission.
The TT Express was expected to return to service on the weekend, Works and Transport Minister Rohan Sinanan said in Parliament on Friday. The boat – the only vessel doing duty on the TT sea bridge– was taken off the inter-island route after a rough seas bulletin, which the TT Meteorological Service has since lifted.
The boat’s class certification had also expired on February 8, further complicating its ability to run. The licence verifies the boat’s seaworthiness and is granted by international accreditors, the Norwegian-based DNV.
Port Authority chairman Alison Lewis told Newsday, foreign inspectors visited the boat this morning and the port is awaiting the official confirmation from Oslo that approval of the licence has been granted.
Sinanan also said in Parliament that the cost to the Port Authority to accommodate displaced sea bridge passengers on CAL flights was $500,000. From February 8 to February 16, CAL added over 4,000 seats and three additional flights daily to supplement the sea bridge.
The port also provided a shuttle service to ferry passengers between the Ports of Port of Spain and Scarborough and the Piarco and ANR Robinson International Airports, respectively.
Also on Friday, the National Infrastructure Development Company (NIDCO) provided an update on the delivery of the MV Galleons Passage, which is expected to service the domestic sea bridge. The statement said, having left the shipyard and cleared customs, the MV Galleons Passage left Hong Kong and was on its way to Hawaii.
The boat is expected to stop in Shanghai, China, on Tuesday to pick up fuel storage tanks, which is a requirement for the trans-Pacific and trans-Atlantic crossings. The statement said transport company, IMS, chose to obtain the tanks in Shanghai because of availability and cost. Finance Minister Colm Imbert on his Twitter account said the Galleons Passage was making good progress at 14 knots and was expected to arrive in Shanghai for refuelling on March 6. As the vessel continues its journey to TT, there is also a planned layover at the Damen Shipyard in Cuba for ten days to carry out additional works.
These additional works include: Sealing the gap between the ramp door and the hull of the vessel; installing a canopy on the vehicle deck to protect against sea spray; installing additional anchor rings for securing vehicles on the vehicle decks.
These will be paid for by the seller. The government is expected to pay for the installing and outfitting of full canopies over the sundeck; installing and outfitting of additional male and female washroom facilities on the sundeck; installing of cafe/bar facilities on the starboard and port side of the sundeck; remodelling urinals in the men’s washroom __ this entails the removal of the existing trough urinals - and the installing of fixed rains for new seating on the passenger deck, which entails replacing the bench seating with passenger contoured seats. These additions are expected to cost the government US$350,000 ($2.35 million) and Imbert has been reported as saying that the country has received value for money. The ferry was purchased for US$17.4 million.
Nidco said the work for the seller’s account were identified during pre-purchase inspection of the vessel and noted in the memorandum of agreement for purchase.
“It was also decided that we would seize the opportunity for additional retrofitting while the vessel is on layover in Cuba. Our main objective was to carry out works that would enhance utility, passenger comfort, safety and ambience of the vessel.”
Nidco also said that the boat was designed with a sundeck to satisfy the requirements of the “previous end-users.”
“However, we did not require that feature. It was therefore decided to convert the sundeck space into an additional and enhanced seating area for passengers.”