The news that an ATR aircraft used on the airbridge had been involved in a maintenance related accident was bad news indeed. A full investigation into the accident, which happened last week while the aircraft was being moved for service, is still to be done and made public. But early reports suggest that there were no passengers on board, that the nose of the craft was severely damaged, that the damage would remove it from service for three months and would cost an estimated US$1 million. Photographs of the badly crumpled nose of the aircraft were widely circulated and demonstrated quite clearly that the aircraft’s shell, designed for aerodynamics, was no match for the brick wall it collided with.
The link between Trinidad and Tobago has been fragile enough for more than a year that another kink in that transportation connection is very unwelcome. The only upside in this troubling incident was the announcement that an additional ATR was in negotiations for wetlease duty during the Easter and July-August vacation period. Unfortunately, that doesn’t really solve the problem that the THA requested additional service to solve and the airbridge is likely; as a result, to remain a constrained resource when staycation tourism would have been welcomed in Tobago.
This is also bad news for CAL, which has been working vigorously to be a self-sustaining business and will now be hit by significant additional costs and a diminished capacity to earn revenue through an accident that’s likely to damage its business projections as well.
Last week, the airline’s CEO Garvin Medera told Newsday that his objective was for CAL to be “the most efficiently run and sustainable airline in the region.” So confident was Medera that he announced a soft advertising campaign, dubbed Caribbean Identity which he described as showcasing the authenticity and uniqueness of the Caribbean region with advertising and promotion that he planned to take to all the airline’s 20 destinations. The company also has plans to acquire a new fleet of Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft to replace its aging complement.
Underwriting CAL’s efforts to refresh its reputation is a legacy from predecessor company BWIA, a long history of being committed to safety in its operations. To the airline’s credit, it was up-front and clear about the circumstances of the accident and its consequences for its business.
That speaks well to the current management’s commitment to upholding the importance of its most valuable resource, a reputation for customer care that begins with the mechanics working its maintenance floor.