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600 more CAL seats to Tobago for Easter
Government has added 600 seats to the Tobago air bridge for this Easter weekend’s anticipated traffic, Transport Minister Devant Maharaj said yesterday. He updated reporters during yesterday’s Senate session at the Waterfront’s Parliament building.
Maharaj was responding to concerns expressed recently by the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) on the need for for additional airlift. Maharaj said: “I invited the THA to a stakeholders’ meeting on more than one occasion, but they declined to attend, due to the presence of other stakeholders who they find offensive, namely Ashworth Jack (TOP leader).”
He said a similar recent stakeholders’ meeting resulted in extending airport hours and adding over 600 seats to the service for Easter. Last year, Maharaj said, the air service had approximately 5,000 seats for the Easter weekend. “Now it’s close to about 5,500 seats, so we are moving to meet the increase in demand in Tobago,” he added.
On Port Authority capacity for Easter, Maharaj said the port was trying to improve ferry seating following complaints. He said the port may have no choice but to take one vessel off the service to install new seats, material for which has to be imported from Australia.
Maharaj added: “I asked why we could not use local material, but I am advised by the chairman you can’t go into an upholsterer and put on just any leatherette material on the seats. “The material has to be fire-resistant and meet certain international standards, and because T&T bought the vessels from Australia as a result of Mr (Colm) Imbert’s wisdom, so I’m advised we can only get the material from Australia.”
He said port chairman Joseph Toney—now on a business trip to Holland—would advise him on the cost of the Australian material. On THA calls for a new terminal at the ANR Robinson Airport in Tobago, Maharaj said he would hold another stakeholders’ meeting, which he hoped the THA would attend.
He said Government was constrained by financial parameters and would try to work within them. Maharaj, however, attributed THA moves for a new terminal to politicking for the upcoming THA election, since he said plans for a new terminal were drawn up by the past PNM administration in 2007 (costing half a billion dollars) and THA Chief Secretary Orville London had been silent on airport development then.
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