One Jamaican represents island’s interest in CAL

Jamaican Dennis Lalor will be the voice of accountability, balance and stability when the new board of directors of Caribbean Airlines (CAL) convenes its next meeting.

Named with the new interim chairman, Phillip Marshall, the new replacements will be tasked with revamping and implementing cost-cutting policies at the airline.

Allegedly, CAL has accumulated heavy losses of more than $100 million.

The exact figure was reportedly closer to $110, a figure which includes $40 million in government subsidies.

Trinidad’s Finance Minister Larry Howai said much of the debt was incurred when the airline purchased planes.

He said he recently instructed restructuring of the balance sheet and added that the airline would have to borrow and replace cash in order to remain solvent.

In order to fulfill this he announced replacement of the board of directors of the airline.

Howai said the new board will have to outline measures to reverse the downturn in revenue. Howai blamed a chunk of CAL’s losses on routes served by Air Jamaica.

He attributed the preliminary unaudited figures of $32 million of the $70 million hemorrhaged on Air Jamaica routes and particularly the London route. He added that the latter reason accounted for a major part of the losses.

To remedy some of the problems Howai said: “On the Jamaica route, it has cut flights to Jamaica and on the London route it has terminated the wet-leasing arrangement.”

Those radical decisions he said will “significantly reduce the losses of the airline during this year”.

“It is better to leverage the asset rather than leave it unencumbered while having the company incurring significant debt obligations.”

Many Jamaicans expressed disappointment and regret at the demise of Air Jamaica — the national carrier which was acquired by Trinidad & Tobago in 2011.

Although the government of Jamaica maintains a 16 per cent stake in the twin islands, state-owned carrier, continued losses since its acquisition by Caribbean Airlines (CAL) recently forced a revamping of its board of directors.

Howai said the $40 million fuel subsidy which applies to Air Jamaica and CAL remains the same as last year. That subsidy he said will end in 2015.

Earlier this year, a small group of business investors launched Fly Jamaica. With a fleet of only one Boeing 757-200 aircraft, the only airline using the national banner began operations on Feb. 14 servicing a clientele of passengers boarding from New York and Kingston, Jamaica.

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