George Nicholas to stay on as CAL Chairman

(Trinidad Express) George Nicholas will stay as chairman of Caribbean Airlines (CAL) after Transport Minister Devant Maharaj did not accept his resignation.

A statement on Wednesday night from the Ministry of Transport said the issues that led to Nicholas’s move to vacate the chairman’s seat at the State-owned carrier were resolved.

“Minister of Transport Devant Maharaj held discussions (Wednesday) with board members and the chairman of Caribbean Airlines to resolve matters which had come to the fore over the past forty-eight hours,” the statement said.

“The board was in full support of the chairman on the issues before it, and Minister Maharaj pledged to iron out the challenges regarding what was described as overbearing bureaucracy that has, in the airline management’s view, stymied the decision-making process required for the airline’s management.”

It added: “In light of the minister’s intervention, the issues raised by the chairman and board of directors of Caribbean Airlines are resolved. Details on the way forward are due to be worked out at next week’s meeting with the airline’s executive and Minister Maharaj.”

Speaking with reporters at the post-Cabinet news briefing at the Office of the Prime Minister in St Clair yesterday, Works Minister Jack Warner said he had nothing further to say on the matter.

“I have said what I have to say about Mr Nicholas, and for me, that issue is closed. I am not line minister in that matter. I said what I had to say and I stand by that, but for me, I have nothing more to add on that,” Warner said.

On Wednesday, Warner told reporters he was not surprised that Nicholas tendered his resignation.

He said then, “I am not surprised at the turn of events with regard to Mr Nicholas and CAL. It had to come. Look, there are some things in life you can run from, but you can’t hide from it. I first made the call that the board should go. Mr (Winston) Dookeran, following me, made the same comment. The board has been dysfunctional from since it has been appointed, and we have to admit that sometimes we make errors.”

Attorney General Anand Ramlogan told reporters at the post-Cabinet news briefing yesterday that Maharaj did not disclose the reason for Nicholas’s resignation.

Ramlogan said Cabinet was informed of the decision not to accept the resignation at yesterday’s meeting.

“If the chairman of any board tenders their resignation they do so firstly to their line minister who is free to accept or reject and if the line minister accepts that resignation then he brings a note to Cabinet saying that he has accepted that resignation and he nominates a replacement,” he said.

“That did not happen today in Cabinet and the line minister advised the Cabinet that he did not in fact accept the resignation of Mr George Nicholas. He did not think it would be in the best interest of the airline in this particular time and that Mr Nicholas has agreed to continue to serve so he remains chairman of Caribbean Airlines.”

Aviation sources said on Wednesday issues around Nicholas tendering his resignation had to do with a request by CAL to purchase Boeing aircraft which would cost millions of dollars.

The request was turned down by the government, sources said.

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