T&T sacks CAL board

Outgoing CAL chairman Rabindra Moonan.
Outgoing CAL chairman Rabindra Moonan.

PORT OF SPAIN — The wings of Caribbean Airlines’ board have been “clipped” and a new board is on the horizon, expected to be announced shortly, government officials said yesterday.

The development is now in the works after yesterday’s weekly Cabinet meeting, they added. The new board is tipped to include certain business and professional people. However, former BWIA CEO Conrad Aleong is not among them, a source said.

The first CAL board appointed by the People’s Partnership administration in 2010 was headed by George Nicholas III, who resigned in April 2012. He was swiftly replaced by current chairman Rabindra Moonan.

In 2011, board members Allan Clovis and Susan Smith were also dropped from the board. Smith was replaced by an Air Jamaica representative. The current board listed on CAL’s Web site comprises the rest of the original board, including Mohan Jaikaran (vice-chairman), Gizelle Russell, Avedanand Persad, Venosh Sagewan-Maraj and Dennis Lalor. CAL was expected to be the focus of discussion at a certain Cabinet level yesterday, after Finance Minister Larry Howai’s stance on the recent incident in which a senior CAL executive reportedly requested 19 complimentary tickets for friends to attend Mother’s Day concerts in New York and Toronto. The request, which raised concerns among CAL management and staff, was allegedly made by Jaikaran, also a co-promoter of the concert event, and was reported exclusively in the T&T Guardian last week.

On Tuesday, Howai expressed deep concern about the way the matter was handled. He had said CAL board directors should not be involved in any deliberations where a company of theirs is doing business with the state-owned company.

The impending removal of the board also comes as CAL attempts to restructure its way with new initiatives out of an $800 million loss for 2012, and amid complaints by Caricom neighbours of preferential treatment for the airline by the Government. At yesterday’s post-cabinet media briefing, Communications Minister Jamal Mohammed said discussions on CAL did not arise at yesterday’s session. However, after the meeting, Government officials confirmed to the Trinidad Guardian that the CAL issue had been concluded, the current board was on its way out and a new board was overhead.

They said Howai is expected to meet today with the outgoing board and incoming board. They said he would then make a comprehensive statement on the situation at a press conference today or tomorrow. A senior official explained that the CAL’s board was perceived as “weak” and had not come up to scratch in terms of technical competence or experience for the airline industry. The board members, the official said, would “by now have expected” to be replaced, since the board largely comprises people who were appointed in 2010 and their term would have been up “by now anyway.”

Around 5:30 pm yesterday, letters were being drafted for the new board members. (Guardian)

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