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Caribbean Airlines postpones rebranding as crew members quarantined

Caribbean Airlines aircraft will be forced to cancel many of its flights

“At Caribbean Airlines we have a 100% commitment to our customers to provide the best possible care in their travels and to do all we can to keep them safe, especially with the threat from COVID-19 virus. The requirements on our operations escalated over the past week, particularly, with the new US travel restrictions announced last week Wednesday. Consequently, the company wanted to be 100% focused on meeting our care commitment to customers and running the operations of the airline. On that basis, a decision was taken to postpone the brand refresh event last Thursday.”

Those were the words of Head of Corporate Communications, Caribbean Airlines Ltd., (CAL) Dionne Ligoure, in an email communication with THE NEW TODAY on Monday.

CAL was forced to postpone its planned ceremony to unveil its new brand in an abundance of caution, amidst confirmation that one of its aircrafts had transported a passenger during the first week of March, who tested COVID-19 positive.

THE NEW TODAY was one of six media houses throughout the region to be represented by having a reporter fly into Trinidad to cover the rebranding, which would have marked a new era for the Trinidad-based company.

It was scheduled to take place at Caribbean Airlines head office in Piarco last week Thursday but hours before the expected start, our reporter Nisha Paul along with other colleagues were contacted and informed of the last minute cancellation.

According to a press statement issued to members of the media on March 12, the carrier took this decision after it was revealed that the 52-year old woman, whose name was withheld, travelled onboard Caribbean Airlines flight # BW521 on March 7, from John F. Kennedy Airport in New York, transitioning at the Piarco International Airport on to Guyana, where she passed away on March 11.

CAL confirmed reports coming out of Guyana that a test was conducted on the woman’s body after she died, indicating that she indeed had the virus.

The company took immediate action to quarantine the 13 crew members who worked on board the flight that transported the Guyanese woman and announced that Public Health Authorities in the neighbouring island are in the process of contacting all persons who were on the same flight and may have been possibly affected.

The carrier also sought to give assurances to all stakeholders that it is actively monitoring and responding to the evolving COVID-19 issue in an effort to ensure the safety and good health of its customers and employees, noting that its “aircraft are cleaned daily at all ports in keeping with industry standards.”

“The airline remains in close contact with the Public Health Authorities and its operations team has activated its contingencies for any impact on its flights,” the statement said.

Trinidad & Tobago has five confirmed Covid-19 cases up to early Tuesday morning.

The Covid-19 crisis has now resulted in the government of Trinidad & Tobago enforcing a total lockdown of the country and announcing that all non-nationals will be prohibited from entering the twin island republic for 14 days from midnight Tuesday.

“We are disconnecting ourselves from the international community for the next 14 days,” Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley told reporters at Monday’s post-Cabinet media briefing held at the Diplomatic Centre in Port of Spain.

“… We have to isolate ourselves from the supply of the virus from the source outside of TT,’ he said.

Dr Rowley disclosed that the travel restriction will have far-reaching consequences for the national airline Caribbean Airlines (CAL) but said that his government will ensure the country still has an airline and a staff after this period.

He stressed a number of countries were late to come to the realisation of how serious the Covid-19 situation is.

“We are in a crisis. We are in an emergency. There is no gainsaying that.”

The TNT Prime Minister noted that Italy, which is considered to be developed, has a health system that a US Presidential candidate said the country should copy, but even with the “perfect system” the city of Milan has been overwhelmed by the virus.

“I know there are those in TT who believe that our system is the worst. I can tell you our system is as good as many and better than most. And we are lucky that we have, in our population, some of the best healthcare givers and we are now putting that as a strength,” he said.

Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley – took far-reaching action on Monday to combat the Coved-19 virus

Dr. Rowley acknowledged that the restrictions will cause some inconvenience and some pain but the actions were to ensure no citizen was left behind.

He warned that panic buying will not help but will simply worsen the situation.

“Panic is the worst state to be in if you are going to respond to this situation. Let us keep a level head, let us be reasonable and let us be our brother’s keepers and we going to get through this,” he said.

Dr. Rowley was asked if Government was considering a state of emergency with a curfew but he replied Government was not.

“Will a state of emergency make you wash your hands?”

The country’s National Security Minister Stuart Young said non-nationals will not be permitted entry into Trinidad after midnight Tuesday and this included by yachts and by boats except there is an exemption granted.

He pointed out that nationals included citizens and people with permanent residency but all of them will still have to tell authorities where they are coming from as part of the health protocols.

He said that the Works Ministry is looking at the ferry service in terms of social distancing, which would require a reduction in the number of passengers and an increase in daily sailings.

The National Security Minister added that cargo ships will continue to be allowed entry into TNT, but they will be subject to all the protocols and there will be no disembarkation of the crew.

THE NEW TODAY understands that most of the cargo boats that ply the weekly Grenada to Trinidad route have remained at home.

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