is the last of a four-part requiem to BWIA, the flailing 66-year-old
national airline. I start with two comments from readers:
was a soulless act, one in which our children will suffer the consequences
for a long time to come.
is ironic that we chose to close down the national airline in what is
described as one of the richest times in the history of our country.”
CEO, Peter Davies, must have known for some time of the airline’s
impending closure. My question is, knowing the end was near, why did he
sign a US$20 million advertising contract with a British firm (Cagney plc)
he is talking about marketing the new Caribbean Airline aggressively. It
seems to me that he is working for these advertising companies.
why should Caribbean Airline be any better than BWIA?”
a first person response from Dionne Ligoure, head of corporate
communications at BWIA.
with unions came to a close September 26, and some 1,800 BWIA employees
started signing up for their VSEP packages from October 1.
have grown up in BWIA and feel a real closeness with my co-workers. It’s
as if we speak a common language and share a bond that people looking on
the outside don’t understand.
time we see a plane in the sky, we know someone’s mother, husband,
child, or wife is in there. Planes don’t fly themselves.
is loading baggage, checking them in, doing safety checks, flying the
airline business is seen as glamorous, but there is little glamour when
you get a call at two in the morning saying: ‘There is a disruption, and
you need to be here now.’
you work here, there are chances you will miss your anniversary.
may miss your child’s graduation; you walk out of a major argument with
your spouse because you need to get a flight off the ground.
you call in sick, you might jeopardise a flight involving hundreds of
passengers, so you get yourself to work, no matter how you feel.
2004, when we had a problem with baggage-handlers, when we were flying
planes without bags, our airport manager was in the cold, in the snow in
New York loading bags.
and many other employees spent Christmas morning in 2004 in Piarco away
from our families. It was a bad, bad time.
were getting cursed. For many of us, it’s never been about the money.
It’s about the passion of being in this business.
all operate with the built-in dysfunction of this business and get on with
it. That’s our bond.
CAL will have that BWIA never had (with its antiquated systems) is a
positive balance sheet, with equity rather than loans, which will allow it
to improve technology, set up modern-day systems.
fleet will be smaller; the Washington route discontinued. CAL will fly to
New York, Miami, Toronto, London and current Caribbean routes. There is
value in the BWIA brand.
respect to safety, CAL will be held to the same exacting and high
standards with stringent built-in checks and balances.
is free to apply to CAL, which will employ some 500 workers.
British firm Cagney Plc was initially contracted to do a BWIA revamp, but
will now market CAL.
major concern is that this first lady of the Caribbean is put to rest with
dignity, and those who have served her well will be treated with the
dignity and respect they deserve.”