Caribbean Airlines VP of Operations demoted

(Trinidad Express) Vice president of Operations at Caribbean Airlines (CAL), Thomas Lawrence, has been demoted and chief pilot Jagmohan Singh is now acting in his position at the State carrier.

An internal memo was sent to airline employees on Tuesday advising them that Lawrence had been replaced as vice president and was returning to his previous role as a pilot.

Sources close to the airline’s operations confirmed yesterday that Lawrence was removed over a contentious issue of recruitment of foreign pilots for CAL as it prepares to start service from Port of Spain to London in June.

Sources familiar with CAL’s management said Lawrence and the company had disagreed over a proposal to hire pilots and flight crews from Europe to operate CAL aircraft.

It was suggested that hiring European flight crews would be too expensive for the airline right now since it is already struggling to repay debts to National Petroleum (TT$29 million) and the Airports Authority of Trinidad and Tobago (TT$60 million).

The disagreement over recruitment was said to have led to Lawrence being moved.

Aviation sources said the move it came as a surprise to many at the airline.

The internal memo sent to CAL staff members made no mention of the issue of pilot recruitment.

Lawrence has been working with Caribbean Airlines and its predecessor BWIA for over 30 years

Last July he piloted the CAL’s 737 aircraft from Port of Spain to Florida when the airline launched its Orlando service.

TV6 obtained a copy of the CAL memo to staff which read: “Today Caribbean Airlines appointed Captain Jagmohan Singh to the position of (Ag) vice president Operations. Captain Singh replaces Captain Thomas Lawrence who returns to his love of flying.

“Captain Singh started his pilot career in 1979. He has performed as training officer for the pilots, check airman, executive manager Flight Operations and brings 33 years of industry experience to the airline. In his new role he will be responsible for systems operations control, in-flight and flight operations.

As we seek to build a world class airline we have full confidence in Captain Singh’s ability to lead the team forward. We thank Captain Lawrence for his contribution and we wish him well.”

TV6 contacted Minister of Transport Devant Maharaj by telephone yesterday who said CAL chairman Nicholas should be contacted for details on the matter.

Nicholas could not be immediately reached by phone yesterday.