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CAL again? Yes, CAL again

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February 21, 2015 by Fensic

In de first few days ah February, regional newspapers report dat Caribbean Airlines, CAL, bleedin like BWIA an lorse $60 million US in 2014. Since carnival was comin, de story had ah shorter shelf life dan normal fuh T&T. Now carnival done, ah whole set ah udder stories now in de limelight. Since nobody eh wine on CAL, dat $60 million story dead.

I revivin it.

Between larse year an now, I travel on CAL what, one, two . . . eight times. Dat right dey qualify me tuh tork about tings CAL could do tuh cut costs, increase income an avoid BWIA’s fate. Granted ah never travel on Bee-wee. During dem days eef ah next airline was chargin $10TT tuh fly tuh Piarco I was orn it. Bee-wee was too expensive fuh me.

Eef mih number ah trips on CAL not enough qualification tuh open mih mout den ah could toss een dat after mih studies ah was plannin tuh be de governor ah de Central Bank. Ah still remember some principles ah economics.

Eef dem two tings not enough den ah go have tuh ask who damn blog dis is. Who does buss dey behind every week tuh come up wid ah topic? It better not come tuh dat.

Let mih put mih bias on de table early: I like CAL.

I so like CAL I more dan willin tuh put it up against any US airline. Dat eh mean ah doh look fuh ting tuh wonder about when ah orn ah CAL plane eh. So far dey flight attendants attention tuh detail an dey pilots’ abilities tell mih dey is first class.

Ah swear dis story true. On ah flight tuh Tobago from Piarco recently, mih burner phone start ringin just when de flight attendant tell everybody tuh turn orf dey phone. I couldn’t figure how tuh do dat since ah did just get mines an wasn’t familiar wid it. Not wantin tuh see mih name in no papers ah panic. Ah manage tuh open de phone an pull de battery out. Not once de flight attendants pick orn mih or nuttin, dat is how professional dey was.

Accordin tuh dey own website, CAL was incorporated in 2006 in T&T. At de time I tort de airline name was dotish; ah Trini airline name Caribbean Airlines? Ah change mih mind when de PNM, de govahment at de time, went after Air Jamaica.

On one ah mih first trips orn CAL, ah notice how empty Piarco was compared tuh US airports dat always have planes takin orf or landin. Right dey ah ask mihself how ah airline could survive wid so few flights. Since den ah check just how few. On ah Saturday CAL have like 7 flights from JFK tuh Piarco, one from Miami an one from London. It have about 32 between Tobago an Trinidad. I would ah continue countin buh ah was gettin confused. Mih initial question valid doh because I wonder what kind ah economies of scale CAL does get. JetBlue fuh example does fly udder places besides T&T so de cost ah operatin ah plane lower fuh dem.

Ah have tuh acknowledge one ting CAL goin an start doin—chargin fuh checked baggage even eef is de second bag. When yuh check een at dem udder airline counter dey hand does be open as soon as yuh put yuh fuss checked bag on de ting dat does weigh de bag. Heaven forbid eef dat bag overweight; is two hands dem clerks does have open.

De larse time ah was in de airport waitin fuh CAL tuh start boardin people headin tuh Piarco, ah couldn’t help but notice how dismissive passengers was wid de carry orn bag limit. Some had like four bags dey was plannin tuh carry orn. I was rehearsin mih cussin eef I did get orn dat plane an it eh had no room fuh my one carry orn while udder passengers hog de overhead bins. Dey person ah was wid does embarrass easy so ah did done tell dem pretend dey eh know me eef it did reach tuh me havin tuh get orn bard. Lucky fuh everybody de plane was huge. Still, CAL was leavin money orn de table, just like dey was wastin it in how dey does serve meals.

I eh suggestin CAL give up it identity.

Keep de nice touch ah playin West Indian music low while passengers boardin de plane. Keep recruitin flight attendants reflectin de range ah ethnic beauty only de Caribbean have.

Orn my flight CAL give each passenger ah lil ting wid ah napkin, ah packet ah sugar an ah lil spoon. Den dey come arong an ask what yuh want tuh drink. Eef yuh eh say coffee or tea dat packet get wasted like mines. People shouldn’t be usin white sugar anyways, ent?

Den it have de lil fancy cardboard ting advertisin de region. Dey cyar achieve de same goal wid someting more disposable, cheaper too?

Next was de extra hard plastic dolly-house cutlery. Doh get mih rong eh, dat spoon, knife an fork real durable. Far more dan dem bigger ones ah does tief at dem functions ah does go to.


Let mih try dat over: Far more dan dem bigger ones from dem functions ah does go to an stuff mih pocket wid multiples of.

Charlene Ogle? You would never have let me get away endin any sentence with a proposition. Begin your eternal rest knowin what you taught us Trinity boys has not gone to waste. Best, most professional, most committed English teacher ever. RIP Miss Ogle.

De question ah tryin tuh ask CAL is eef anyting dat is single-use should be as durable as dat cutlery.

Eef CAL was tuh take mih advice, even give mih ah lil someting someting out ah de savings an increased revenue, I tink only part ah dat $60 million would disappear. Economies ah scale again. However it could be de start of ah mindset dat might not have been arong in de BWIA days. Yes, ah never travel wid Bee-wee buh ah can attest tuh first rate customer service from CAL. Once, dey suggest ah different combination ah flights tuh save mih money.

It hard tuh beat de mixture ah dat kind ah service an de pride in knowin is people who come from where you come from who providin it.

Ah cyar see de future so I eh goin an make no predictions about CAL long-term. First an foremost CAL is ah business in business tuh make ah profit. It have tuh find ways tuh expand. Becomin de region’s undisputed airline would help. More efficient processin of incomin passengers at Piarco would keep people usin CAL but dat might be outside what CAL controls.

While ah cyar see CAL’s future, ah more dan ready tuh do my part tuh help carve it out. Can I handle de pride knowin CAL makin money while flyin wid de big dorgs?

Who else curious about dey own ability tuh handle dat?

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February 2015
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