Trinidad-owned Caribbean Airlines (CAL) has responded to an ultimatum delivered by the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA) in Guyana as it seeks to beat a deadline imposed by the South American country’s airport authorities.
CJIA has threatened to cancel its agreement with CAL unless the carrier rectifies a situation impacting passengers and duty free concessionaires over duty free items purchased in Guyana being dumped in Trinidad.
CAL has been given 21 days to “remedy the situation,” with the CJIA warning that it will be “at liberty to proceed to cancel the Air Carrier Agreement under Article 9.3.”
Passengers and duty free concessionaires in Guyana have been complaining that duty free items are being dumped in Trinidad once they were bought in Guyana, according to media reports.
In a conciliatory statement, CAL responded that Guyana is an important destination and the airline remains committed to “our loyal Guyanese customers whom we have consistently served with reliable service since our start in 2007.”
The Trinidad-based airline nevertheless noted that while it has been designated the carrier for Guyana for the Toronto and New York destinations, carrying over 350,000 passengers to and from Guyana annually, it must comply with all regulatory directives of the sovereign states into which it operates, as do all other international airlines.
It pointed out that one such regulatory body is the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), which governs the security processes and conducts audits for all carriers flying into the United States of America.
The airline added that in light of screening rules which are in accordance with TSA measures being applied at any Last Point of Departure (LPD) to the United States, and a recent TSA audit, a restriction on the entry of transit duty free into the sterile holding areas of all transit airports has been imposed.
“Consequently, customers departing from Guyana or any other Caribbean destination with duty free items who are connecting on flights to the United States on any airline cannot enter the sterile holding area of any airport through which they transit en route to the United States,” the airline indicated.
CAL noted that while it sought to balance its regulatory obligations “with our customers’ desire to make duty free purchases,” this proved to be challenging as it resulted in items remaining unclaimed at the final destination, as well as damage to fragile items.
“Customer comfort and convenience are top priorities of Caribbean Airlines and we continue to collaborate with stakeholders, including the Civil Aviation and Airport authorities, to achieve a workable solution to ensure we remain compliant with the TSA regulations and provide quality service to our valued customers,” the statement added. (Caribbean360.com)