Caribbean Airlines board responds to Trinidad minister

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by Caribbean News Now Staff

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad — Caribbean Airlines board of directors, led by chairman George Nicholas, said on Sunday that they were told by Transport Minister Jack Warner that their concerns about the purchase of ATR planes were of "no consequence".

The Trinidad Express reported that the board said in a statement that it was not its intention to engage in a public debate with its line minister because this was "entirely unacceptable".

But it said its relative silence on issues involving Caribbean Airlines created the impression that it had something to hide.

The board said that it had not sought to terminate the arrangements between the airline and ATR.

"As a newly appointed board, while it was selected and not elected, being fully cognisant of its statutory and fiduciary obligations and liability, it sought an opportunity to review the transaction and to satisfy itself that it was in fact the best option in keeping with the operational requirements of the airline. This it did in correspondence to its line minister on November 22. Sadly it appears that its attempts at good governance have been misconstrued.

“Instead the Board has been accused of flouting the decision of Cabinet and the line minister. The board was summoned to a meeting by the line minister on November 24 and in the presence of the management team and third parties was told in no uncertain terms that its concerns were of no consequence when compared to the collective experience of the management team in spite of its questions regarding safety and fitness for the mission of the airline," the board said.

“Contrary to statements made in the press that the meeting with the line minister concluded at 9.45 am and that Captain Brunton was fired by 11 am, neither the board nor the chairman of the board took any steps to, nor did they dismiss Captain Brunton as a consequence of the meeting or because of the instructions of the line minister to execute the ATR agreement,” the statement went on to say.

"In fact, on November 24, 2010, the day of the meeting with the line minister, the purchase and sale agreement was still being negotiated with ATR and up to the date of the dismissal of Captain Brunton on November 26, 2010, its terms had not been settled. Captain Brunton’s employment was terminated on November 25, 2010, following a unanimous decision of the Board of Caribbean Airlines on November 25, 2010," the board said in its statement.

Warner said in a statement on Saturday that the government had to decide between himself and the airline’s board on the issue.

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