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CAL set to axe London route, staff reductions imminent

Caribbean Airlines is set to discontinue its route to London Gatwick, effective 10 January 2016, according to an internal memo issued today by CEO Michael DiLollo. The information was subsequently relayed to the media after lunch.

CAL’s London route not only serves Trinidad and Tobago passengers but also travellers from Venezuela, Suriname, Guyana and elsewhere in the Caribbean. If executed, it would be the second time the route has been closed, after a similar stance between 2007 and 2010.

Photo: A Caribbean Airlines plane prepares to land. (Copyright Lyndon Thorley/Planespotters.net)
Photo: A Caribbean Airlines plane prepares to land.
(Copyright Lyndon Thorley/Planespotters.net)

An airline insider, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, pinned the blame on old airlines purchased during the term of the People’s Partnership, which have not been retained after their leases expired.

Wired868 was informed that CAL already lost the use of three Boeing 737s earlier this year and are now set to hand over two Boeing 767s as well. It allegedly leaves the airline with just nine working aircraft.

In the memo, sent in the immediate aftermath of the Budget, DiLollo warned that staff reduction is necessary but did not say whether there would be retrenchment.

“There will be reductions,” stated the memo, “but this will be done predominately through term contract expirations, retirements, voluntary unpaid leave and split working blocks to the extent possible.”

The following is the full memo issued today to staff:

Photo: Caribbean Airline's CEO Michael DiLollo (centre) was appointed in 2014. (Courtesy Hebdosregionaux)
Photo: Caribbean Airline’s CEO Michael DiLollo (centre) was appointed in 2014.
(Courtesy Hebdosregionaux)

Dear Team,

Caribbean Airlines is in a mode of transformation. During the last year we have conducted a detailed review of our operations as we work towards improving our financial performance.

After intense consultations with two of the world’s leading aviation consultancies, certain strategic initiatives were recommended. One of the recommendations is simplifying our fleet of aircraft and withdrawing the two Boeing 767 airplanes from our operations.

As a consequence of this change, Caribbean Airlines will have to discontinue service to London Gatwick, effective January 10, 2016. This has not been an easy decision, since our customers have loyally supported the London service especially in the peak periods.

Unfortunately, the costs associated with maintaining the Boeing 767 aircraft operation has led us to the decision of simplifying our fleet and focusing our limited resources to build connectivity in the North American and Caribbean markets.

Photo: New Minister of Works and Transport Fitzgerald Hinds. (Courtesy Power 102FM)
Photo: New Minister of Works and Transport Fitzgerald Hinds.
(Courtesy Power 102FM)

Simplifying our fleet will positively impact our bottom line as we transform into a self-sustaining entity. The strength of strong corporate governance is one where difficult decisions are needed to bring success in a fast paced and evolving business environment.

Many of you may have questions and concerns, and your Management Team and I are happy to provide feedback. Below are some answers to some of your immediate concerns.

Q & A

Q: How will the removal of the 767 and fleet reduction impact jobs?

A: There will be reductions but this will be done predominately through term contract expirations, retirements, voluntary unpaid leave and split working blocks to the extent possible.

Photo: Former CAL chairman George Nicholas III.
Photo: Former CAL chairman George Nicholas III.

Q: What will happen to customers who are already ticketed to travel after January 10, 2016?

A: Ticketed customers where both the departure and return between POS and LGW is after January 10, 2016 have the following options:

1. Full refund

2. Re-allocation to other services where possible

3. Contacting our Call Centers for alternative options

Ticketed customers who will have commenced travel before January 10, 2016 to POS or LGW have the following options:

1. Full refund

2. Refund for your return portion only

3. Contacting CAL Call centers for alternative options

Photo: Former Minister of Works and Transport and ex-FIFA vice-president Jack Warner. (Courtesy UK Telegraph)
Photo: Former Minister of Works and Transport and ex-FIFA vice-president Jack Warner.
(Courtesy UK Telegraph)

Q: Why would Caribbean Airlines stop the London route now, recognizing that London is a major gateway to Europe for many Caribbean travellers?

A: Our fleet complexity costs are significant and the investment required to update the cabin interiors of the 767 to make them competitive is significant and unrecoverable over the remaining lease period (end 2017). The current competition provides for “beyond travel connectivity” which is a significant advantage over CAL. The competition also receives incentives and support to operate certain routes, CAL does not and has not benefited from this form of support.

Photo: CAL aircraft.
Photo: CAL aircraft.

CAL is in a positive place, but there is still work to be done:

Transformation is no easy task, but we have made positive strides in a short time through several initiatives. While there is still much work to be done, our performance indicators are quite encouraging.

These indicators are showing:

·       significant cost reductions

·       on-time performance that is above the United States industry standard

·       decreased duplication and

·       the elimination of non-value-added processes.

We celebrate these accomplishments. However, these achievements did not occur by chance, they are the result of consistent, structured, focused initiatives geared towards improving efficiency in all areas of our operations.  We must continue to persevere with passion to ensure our sustainability in the long term.

We all want to see and feel the pride in Caribbean Airlines, as a high performing and profitable entity. If you have additional questions please send them to Dionne Ligoure and you will receive feedback.

Have a safe and productive week.

Sincerely,

Michael DiLollo

Chief Executive Officer.

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55 comments

  1. I saw it in “airliner world” at the newsstand

  2. ……yip….as I mentioned to u since June Cherrise……

  3. I don’t use them. Never have Michelle Scott. I get a flight to Tobago and then one to Piarco. I still pay less than 400 quid for that and it has always been return flights. Sod them and their greedy arses mate

  4. Wow this announcement came like a thief (aka bailiff) at midday after he called ahead to say he was coming and then rang the door bell, came in and said” l am taking this because if you are really honest with yourself you know you can’t afford to keep this unless you want to lose the entire house. Sigh.

  5. Cal is too small to have three hill types in its fleet. End of story.

  6. Well, the counter agents could all be staffed through one staffing agency for the entire airport like how they do it in Canada and also TnT.

    Mechanics i eh sure about.

  7. CAL eventually sent a release after the internal memo was sent to Wired868 this morning. The new information is the date given for the closure of the route, what it means for passengers and staff reductions.

  8. Leaked when this was mentioned to happened since before the elections ?

    • Thank you. Clearly these people have very short memories. The former UNC government has run all of our state agencies to the ground. They need to be held accountable.

    • The new information in the memo was not just the timeline and what it meant to passengers. But also confirmation of staff reductions.
      We certainly haven’t blamed Minister Hinds for CAL’s problems over the last five years.

  9. The sad thing is there has been no mention of CAL from the PNM government since they took office or even in the budget. Is the airline placed under MOWT or is it still under the MOF (as in the previous) administration . It just seems that decisions are being made without the line minister having any word in what the government is doing for CAL. In the meantime the board and CEO from the previous government is still there making decisions were set out by the former.

  10. Stupse. The UNC was aware that the London route was non- profitable but in 2010 they re instated it. Check devant Maharaj and kamla for the money!

  11. Why did we sell the slots again? I remember those in charge at the time.saying something about it will be beneficial blah blah…

  12. And they recently signed a code-sharing agreement with Emirates

  13. i’m seriously between the devil and the deep blue sea with this one yes…..on the one hand I can understand the financial position the airline is in…..but I’m not entirely sure our gateway to Europe should be totally dependant on foreign carriers

  14. CAL should now be shut down or privatised as this last trip was my worst ever on this airline. Night flight from Toronto, plane cold, no blankets. Handles of the seats taped up with masking tape. I coulda done without the food too – turkey sandwich, luckily for us it was hot.
    I have always been a BeeWee/CAL supporter cause I know what it felt like seeing that colourful aircraft on the tarmac across the world. Once you boarded that aircraft at Heathrow you could hear the sound steelpan and you knew you were home already, but this is now taking the pi$$. When those Heathrow slots were sold for next to nothing that was the decline of us.

  15. but we all knew this was coming……

  16. I got it before it went public. But thanks Nicole Ulerie. I got the internal document this morning. And it looks like they sent it to press this afternoon.
    Which is fair enough. It is bound to get out anyway.

  17. The sale of the Heathrow slots will forever haunt us…brilliant decision by those who profited from it!

    http://airwaysnews.com/blog/2015/08/10/caribbean-airlines-to-axe-london-to-retire-767s-from-fleet/

  18. This has been in the news since August and denied too.

  19. Scotty Ranking

    Chickens coming home to roost. I hope the previous government is content with seeing the bitter harvest that we citizens have to reap from the seeds they gleefully sowed.