[UPDATED] TT students at UWI Mona to return home Saturday

FILE PHOTO
FILE PHOTO

SEVERAL TT students at the University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona, scheduled to return home on Saturday, feared being stuck in limbo on Thursday morning as they were yet to receive a “confirmation certificate” from the Ministry of National Security. But after raising these concerns, they were granted a "blanket authorisation."

The students were initially told about the repatriation flight on Tuesday. In an e-mail from senior assistant registrar, Althea Gordon, students were told Caribbean Airlines said the one-way flight will cost US$400 and is scheduled for Saturday.

Students had told Newsday they found the cost too high and the notice too short.

Gordon said, “We are also advised that, due to the pandemic, the TT Ministry of National Security will have to provide permission for re-entry. To facilitate this, we will need to submit a copy of the data page in your passport."

But on Wednesday night, Gordon sent another e-mail saying the date was since confirmed.

The flight is scheduled to leave the Norman Manley Airport in Kingston at 10.20am and arrive at the Piarco airport at 2.05pm. The cost was also reduced to US$325.

“You may call or visit the Caribbean Airlines reservation office in Kingston in order to pay for and secure your seat. It should also be noted that passengers will be required to wear face masks throughout the journey from check in, at the gate and onboard the aircraft.”

But on Thursday morning, several students told Newsday they were unable to pay for the flight, as Caribbean Airlines told them they need a “confirmation certificate” from the ministry first. The airline’s representatives seemed stumped that this had not been organised prior to telling the students to visit to pay.

They told students they had only sent out flight information under the assumption that these certificates were issued.

One student had told Newsday, "I just called the international students’ office and they said my name is on the list and they’ve sent my information to the ministry, but they (the representative) said the ministry is ‘taking their time’ with the e-mails. I was a bit frustrated this morning because we can’t even pay without that confirmation and a lot of the students haven’t gotten it.”

By Thursday afternoon, it appeared the issue had been rectified.

Students were told they no longer need the certificate after the airline engaged in discussions with TT's High Commissioner to Jamaica, Deryck Murray.

When Newsday contacted Murray, however, he had been unaware such arrangements were made. The discussions were made with his representative.

Newsday tried contacting National Security Minister Stuart Young and Caribbean Airlines’ corporate communications manager Dionne Ligoure but all calls and messages went unanswered.

The returning group will undergo a 14-day quarantine at the UWI, St Augustine campus.

This story was originally published with the title "UWI students in Jamaica hit snag while trying to come home and has been adjusted to include additional details. See original post below.

SEVERAL TT students at the University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona, scheduled to return home on Saturday, are worried they may be stuck in limbo as they’ve yet to receive a “confirmation certificate” from the Ministry of National Security. Without this, they cannot pay for their flight.

The students were initially told about the repatriation flight on Tuesday. In an e-mail from senior assistant registrar, Althea Gordon, students were told Caribbean Airlines said the one-way flight will cost US$400 and is scheduled for Saturday.

Students had told Newsday they found the cost too high and the notice too short.

Gordon said, “We are also advised that, due to the pandemic, the TT Ministry of National Security will have to provide permission for re-entry. To facilitate this, we will need to submit a copy of the data page in your passport.

“Please note that the proposed date of travel is Saturday June 13. This has not yet been confirmed but we are working to have all arrangements finalised in case this is a possibility.”

But on Wednesday night, Gordon sent out another e-mail saying the date was since confirmed.

The flight is scheduled to leave the Norman Manley Airport in Kingston at 10.20am and arrive in at the Piarco airport at 2.05pm. The cost was also reduced to US$325.

“You may call or visit the Caribbean Airlines reservation office in Kingston in order to pay for and secure your seat. It should also be noted that passengers will be required to wear face masks throughout the journey from check in, at the gate and onboard the aircraft.”

Gordon added that, as opposed to the regular allowance of two checked bags and one carry on, students will only be allowed to check in one bag along with a carry-on and personal item.

But on Thursday morning, several students told Newsday they were unable to pay for the flight, as Caribbean Airlines told them they need a “confirmation certificate” from the ministry first. The airline’s representatives seemed stumped this had not been organised prior to telling the students to visit to pay.

They told students they had only sent out flight information under the assumption that these certificates were issued.

A few students have gotten it thus far, but the majority say they feel like they are in limbo.

They added that the airline has been “impossible to reach” by phone.

These certificates are unique and differ for each student. There is no general confirmation certificate for the entire returning group.

One student said, “I called the international students’ office and they said my name is on the list and they’ve sent my information to the ministry, but they (the representative) said the ministry is ‘taking their time’ with the e-mails. I was a bit frustrated this morning because we can’t even pay without that confirmation and a lot of the students haven’t gotten it.”

Newsday tried contacting National Security Minister Stuart Young and Caribbean Airlines’ corporate communications manager Dionne Ligoure but all calls and messages went unanswered.

The returning group will undergo a 14-day quarantine at the UWI, St Augustine campus.

More as this becomes available.

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"[UPDATED] TT students at UWI Mona to return home Saturday"

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