CAL responds to ultimatum by CJIA
PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad (CMC) – Trinidad state-owned Caribbean Airlines (CAL) says it must comply with all regulatory directives of the sovereign states into which it operates as it sought to deal with a deadline given by the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA) in Guyana.
CJIA says it is prepared to cancel an agreement it has with the Trinidad-based airline unless the carrier remedies a situation involving passengers and duty free concessionaires about their duty free items being dumped in Trinidad once bought in Guyana.
In a letter to CAL last week, the CJIA has given the carrier 21 days to “remedy the situation” with the CJIA warning that it “will be at liberty to proceed to cancel the Air Carrier Agreement under Article 9.3”.
The airport stated that passengers and duty free concessionaires have been complaining about their duty free items being dumped in Trinidad once bought in Guyana.
But in a statement, CAL said Guyana is an important destination for it and remains “committed to our loyal Guyanese customers whom we have consistently served with reliable service since our start in 2007”.
But the airline said that while it has been designated the carrier for Guyana for the Toronto and New York destinations, carrying over 350,000 passengers to and from Guyana annually, “as an international air carrier, Caribbean Airlines must comply with all regulatory directives of the sovereign states into which we operate, as do all other airlines.’
“One such regulatory body is the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) which governs the security processes and conducts audits for all carriers flying into the United States of America.”
CAL said that in light of screening rules which are in accordance with TSA measures being applied at any Last Point of Departure (LPD) to the United States, and a recent TSA audit, a restriction on the entry of transit duty free into the sterile holding areas of all transit airports has been imposed.
“Consequently, customers departing from Guyana or any other Caribbean destination with duty free items who are connecting on flights to the United States on any airline cannot enter the sterile holding area of any airport through which they transit en route to the United States.”
The airline said that it sought to balance its regulatory obligations “with our customers’ desire to make duty free purchases. Unfortunately, this proved to be challenging as it resulted in damage to fragile items as well as items remaining unclaimed at the final destination.
“Customer comfort and convenience are top priorities of Caribbean Airlines and we continue to collaborate with stakeholders, including the Civil Aviation and Airport authorities to achieve a workable solution to ensure we remain compliant with the TSA regulations and provide quality service to our valued customers,” CAL added.