Tag Archives: journalist

Outside looking in, or through the looking glass

Inquiring minds want to know:

1 – What are the economics of the proposed government-sponsored, Caribbean Airlines corporate/executive jet service?

2 – What are the current arrangements for government travel? Where do ministers et al go that requires the use of a jet leased from Guardian Holdings? How much does that arrangement cost? Why is it preferred to flying commercial services, either local or international?

3 – From Ria Tait’s Trinidad Express article on March 4 2008: “On allegations by Opposition Chief Whip Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj that CA received $350 million from the Government for the venture before Cabinet held discussions on the proposal last Thursday, Lok Jack said Caribbean Airlines did get money because “we had to begin negotiations and make downpayments”.” Caribbean Airlines had to make downpayments on an aircraft that hadn’t even been approved yet? Really?

4 – From the same article: “[Lok Jack] declined to say exactly how much money Government advanced to the airline or how much the service was estimated to cost on a monthly basis, saying that the airline was in a competitive situation.” Is anyone looking into this? We have a right to know how much our government is spending on this. And with whom, exactly, is CA “in a competitive situation” in the business of providing private jet travel to the government?

4 – Ibid: “Lok Jack said…the Government was “very interested” in being able to go on transatlantic trips and to travel African countries and therefore CA chose an aircraft which had the range to make such flights.” Why the focus on African countries? How much does a long-haul flight from Trinidad to Lagos (say) cost, in terms of fuel and wages for the pilots, etc? Are there no commercial alternatives?

5 – Ibid, but jumping around a bit: “[Lok Jack] confirmed statements in a Caribbean Airlines press release that Government would be underwriting the cost of the venture, eliminating “the commercial risk” to Caribbean Airlines.” Who owns Caribbean Airlines, exactly? What is the equity structure?

6 – In Juhel Browne’s Trinidad Express article on March 2 2008, Prime Minister Manning says a Caribbean Airlines jet service would be a cheaper air travel option for the State: “Right now, when some of us, when the Prime Minister travels in the region now, we do so by contracted private jet services. It costs a lot of money,” Manning said. Contracted jet services for regional jet travel? Seriously? Exactly how much is a lot of money? And again, why are commercial alternatives rejected?

7 – Who will have use of the services? Government only? Friends, family members, well-wishers? The Opposition? At what cost? Who pays what?

The relevant company insiders are fairly high-profile types who should be reasonably easy to track down. I’m tempted to make some calls.