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$200M profit for CAL

By Clint Chan Tack Tuesday, November 15 2011

click on pic to zoom in
ARRIVAL: A new ATR 72-600 turboprop plane does a flyover Piarco International Airport before landing. This is one of nine new planes which will be add...
ARRIVAL: A new ATR 72-600 turboprop plane does a flyover Piarco International Airport before landing. This is one of nine new planes which will be add...

STATE-owned Caribbean Airlines (CAL) will close this year with a profit of $200 million.

This was disclosed by CAL chairman George Nicholas III at the arrival ceremony for the first of nine ATR 72-600 turboprop aircraft at Piarco International Airport yesterday.

Against this background, Nicholas said CAL is moving full speed ahead to acquire new aircraft (turboprop and jet) for its fleet; expand its routes (including resuming flights to London next June) and holding merger talks with other regional air carriers. CAL currently has a merger agreement with Air Jamaica.

Addressing an audience which included Transport Minister Devant Maharaj, Nicholas declared: “We have made the first ever consecutive profit in Air Jamaica’s 50-year history of several million US dollars. As to CAL, we will close around a profit of $200 million profit this year, even with reduced fares and increased flights.”

He added, “Accordingly, we are able to put millions into the treasuries.”

The relevant documents are expected to be laid in Parliament soon.

Referring to Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar’s announcement last week that CAL donated US$5 million into the Children’s Life Fund, Nicholas said, “We are pleased to be giving US$5 for every passenger to the Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago’s Children’s Life Fund, a life-saving programme we call ‘Under our Wings.’ ”

He explained that soon CAL will add ways for passengers to participate by making in-flight donations if they choose to do so.

With respect to the first ATR plane and the other eight to arrive later this year and next year, Nicholas said these planes were fully paid for “from our internal cash flow.” The total cost of these planes is US$200 million.

The plane which arrived yesterday will begin flights to Tobago in two weeks time. The other ATR 72-600’s will be used to fly from Trinidad to Guyana, Grenada and St Lucia; an internal domestic service between Kingston and Montego Bay in Jamaica; Santo Domingo and Cuba.

Announcing that CAL will resume direct flights from Trinidad to London through Gatwick International Airport in June 2012, Nicholas said two Boeing 767-300 aircraft which CAL will acquire from LAN of Chile are being considered to fly that route. Those planes are expected in the country in April or May 2012.

Nicholas said CAL is preparing to start direct flights to Mumbai, India this year. Also under consideration are direct flights to Johannesburg, South Africa, Nigeria, Brazil and two new US gateways, Chicago and Atlanta. Speaking afterwards with reporters, Nicholas said CAL was in merger talks with another regional airline but that airline is not Liat.

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