CAL staff angry as top executive orders US$20,000 trip for 19 ‘friends’

 

The directive caused raised eyebrows among management, as two weeks ago there were reports that the national carrier had once again turned to the Government for funding, to the tune of $100 million.

 

Jaikaran, however, denied the airline was facing money woes and instead insisted it was “heading in the right direction.” T&T Guardian learned that last week, Jaikaran, who is also the chairman of WIN Communications Ltd (WINTV), gave instructions via e-mail for the tickets to be booked free of charge. The T&T Guardian learned loss of revenue for the tickets was estimated at approximately US$20,000. Only taxes were paid on the tickets.

 

Checks at the airline yesterday revealed that a ticket from Piarco International Airport to John F Kennedy International Airport during the month of May costs US$725.80, and a flight to Toronto’s Lester B Pearson International costs US$345.20 for the same period. The concert, which is being advertised on the Web site of the television station, takes place on Saturday at Double Tree by Hilton Hotel near the Toronto Airport and on Sunday (Mother’s Day) at Jamaica Avenue, Richmond Hill, New York.

 

Performers include Raymond & Dil-E-Nadan, Ravi B & Karma, and KI & 3Veni Band. Jaikaran is listed as a co-promoter of the event. Attempts to get a comment from Jaikaran yesterday were unsuccessful, as telephone calls and text messages went unanswered. Up to yesterday, nine of the 19 tickets had been confirmed and the other ten were awaiting flights and times before being confirmed.

 

CAL officials said yesterday this was not the first time such a directive had been issued by a high-ranking CAL official, adding that the company was being denied thousands of dollars in revenue at the same time it was depending on the Government for help. “Proper procedures are not being followed,” a top management official told the T&T Guardian. “Directives are just being given. The relevant parties are being bypassed and this is not how it is supposed to be.

“What we are having are upgrades free of charge and people receiving free tickets to travel around the world. People are being upgraded from economy to first class by a telephone call.”

 

The official added that sponsorship deals to WINTV were also being queried by employees. The deals were said to be more than $200,000 for last year alone. As a result of the recent developments, senior CAL staff has expressed frustration over the present management style and may protest today, when the board is scheduled to meet.

 

Sources said yesterday that acting CAL CEO Robert Corbie, who had butted heads with some executives over recent decisions, had gone on seven days’ leave. Staff are now calling on line minister Chandresh Sharma to investigate the operations of CAL. In response to a text message sent by T&T Guardian to Sharma yesterday, asking if he was aware of the request for the complimentary tickets, the minister said, “No.”

 

Telephone calls to CAL chairman Rabindra Moonan were also unsuccessful as he did not return calls or messages left. While the airline struggles to stay afloat, T&T Guardian investigations showed a 50 per cent discount was approved on 25 airline tickets to Toronto.

 

The ticket request was for the 2012 WINTV Chutney in the Park at the Caribana festival. The T&T Guardian also obtained copies of invoices showing that for 2012, the airline also contributed to:


WINTV pageant—$2,500
WIN Radio spots closing and opening credits—$48,000
WIN Communications package for NCIC Indian Arrival Day celebrations—$28,750
WIN Web site banner—$51,117.50
WINTV T20 Games held in Fort Lauderdale (four confirmed economy tickets)—$50,000
WINTV Chutney in the Park Caribana (50 per cent of 25 tickets)—$48,000
WINTV Divali Queen show —$50,000
Maracas New York City Liberty Avenue Divali 2012 (two tickets to a Caribbean destination as a door prize)—$8,694
WIN Radio Wet Fete (January 13, 2013 and Green Event February 3, 2013)—$30,000
WIN Radio live link-up from New York 10.30 am to 11.30 am (January 20-December 31)-$72,000

 

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