(Trinidad Guardian) The damage to one of Caribbean Airlines’ (CAL) ATR aircraft will cost the State US$1 million to repair, a cost which the acting Prime Minister Colm Imbert has described as a “preliminary estimate.”
Imbert gave the figure at yesterday’s post-Cabinet media briefing at the Diplomatic Centre in St Ann’s, as he addressed issues surrounding the accident which damaged the aircraft’s nose. He said while the cause of the accident is yet unknown.
“I have received a preliminary report…it would be premature at this point in time to venture speculation as to what caused the accident there could be many reasons,” he said.
Imbert said the collision into the wall of the terminal building at the Piarco International Airport caused damage to the
aircraft’s nose and other parts of the engine.
Imbert said the aircraft, which was servicing the local airbridge, was being taken to the hangar for maintenance when the accident occurred, adding that it will be out of service for the next three months. He added that the Civil Aviation Authority and CAL are in the midst of a “very in-depth investigation to determine exactly what transpired and of course also to assess the damage to the aircraft.”
Asked what damage the building sustained, Imbert said he was not told but suspected that it would have been minimal as he explained the area at the front of the aircraft was “soft.”
However, Imbert pointed out that before this latest incident Tobago House of Assembly (THA) officials had visited him and asked the Ministry of Finance to consider financing to lease an additional ATR aircraft for the Easter season and July/August vacation.
“CAL had already reached quite far in this exercise…they are engaged in discussions with LIAT who has a similar aircraft that is available to what CAL operates…similar ATR aircraft. I have asked them to accelerate and finalise that arrangement, whether it is LIAT or another provider, so that the airbridge would have its full complement of aircraft in the shortest possible time and also the aircraft would be available for regional services,” Imbert said.
“This does not address the issue that the THA raised with me, this is just a substitution, so I have asked Caribbean Airlines to see whether we have to look at another aircraft for peak periods but the information would come in short order. THA had asked for a wet lease of another aircraft for Easter, which we expect to bring on board before the end of this month.”
According to the head of CAL’s corporate communications Dionne Ligoure, via a release, the incident occurred at about 11.15 pm on Wednesday and involved one of its ATR-72 aircraft, 9Y TTA. Ligoure said the aircraft was being taxied from the ramp to an aircraft hangar when it came into contact with the terminal building’s wall. The aircraft was not in active service and there were no passengers or crew on board.
“The extent of damage to the aircraft is being assessed and it has been withdrawn from service. There were no injuries to any personnel,” the release said.