(Trinidad Guardian) CAL doesn’t need a bailout just yet.
That’s the declaration of its chief executive, Michael DiLollo. He said the airline had benefitted from extremely patient shareholders for years and believed the airline was strategically positioned to break even in three years.
In early February, then finance minister Larry Howai told Parliament that unaudited accounts for 2014 showed the airline made a loss of US$60 million, inclusive of its Air Jamaica operations, and the airline planned to break even by 2017.
Howai had also told the Parliament that a five-year strategic plan had been completed and currently was being approved for implementation.
It outlined the transformation of the business model through reassessment of the product, including fleet and network planning, revenue management, pricing and customer service.
Speaking yesterday to members of the media at CAL’s Piarco headquarters, DiLollo said:
“When I look at the investment that has been afforded to the airline and compare that with my experience in the private sector, it is absolutely astounding.
‘“All of the shareholders, whatever the political affiliation, have been extremely patient and extremely committed to this airline over the years.
“I am humbled and grateful that they (the shareholders) did it. However, in the current context we need to do better. We need to do better for the shareholders. We need to do better for the people of T&T.”
Asked whether the airline planned to seek a bail out, he said: “We are trying desperately to minimise that to zero as quickly as we possibly can but obviously returning value for shareholders in socio-economically balanced manner.”
DiLollo, a pilot, said he was ready to land the airline in a break-even financial position and that the airline was “well on our way, very well on our way to achieving that target.”
Asked what he meant by “well on our way” he said: “We are about 35 to 40 per cent of the way there. There is much work to do. In the next month as all of the initiatives come into play (it would) add considerably to that progress.
He added: “It’s a dynamic environment. We have deployed 32 transformational projects in the company that are starting to yield very positive results. We are very happy with those results today.”
While not specifically stating the need for the ticket price to increase for inter- island travel, he said the price of the ticket was not at a suitable rate to attract profitability.
He said: “The airbridge at current ticket prices which date back to 1992 is not something we can look at in today’s inflationary realities and say that the T&T (inter-island) route is a positive contribution to CAL.
“It is an essential service that we must take very seriously and obviously would require some funding under the current pricing. We just can’t make that work under the current pricing scheme that exists. The T&T airbridge obviously requires some level of assistance.”
• The London route would be dropped effectively on January 10, 2016.
• The decision to drop the route comes after the findings of two consultants.
• The diaspora will be well taken care of.
• Not ruling out a code-sharing agreement with any carrier.
• Assessing the risk/rewards options concerning picking up the Georgetown/Jamaica route. No decision made.