CAL exec orders US$20,000 in complimentary tickets

PORT OF SPAIN — Vice-chairman of Caribbean Airlines Ltd, Mohan Jaikaran, is proving the state enterprise is not cash-strapped, as he has requested 19 complimentary airline tickets for a Mother’s Day concert scheduled for New York City and Toronto this weekend, of which he is a co-promoter.

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”. Last week, Jaikaran, who is also the chairman of WIN Communications Ltd, gave instructions via e-mail for the tickets to be booked free of charge. The 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 said. “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 have expressed frustration over the present management style and may protest today, when the board is scheduled to meet. (Guardian)

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