Diane Hadad

Camille McEachnie

Chairman of the Tobago Chapter of the Trinidad and Tobago Chamber of Industry and Commerce Diane Hadad is making a public appeal for stakeholders in domestic air and sea travel to have a structured and organized post-COVID-19 recovery plan, to meet the business sector’s needs.

She told Guardian Media on Wednesday domestic travel should increase. She says although the government is opening the economy in phases, domestic travel is not increasing proportionately and negating the government’s efforts.

“I will really like, on behalf of the chamber, to see Government reopen both the port and domestic travel in a much better way.”

She said the government’s stimulus package, which gives $100 million to credit unions and $100 to First Citizen Bank for small businesses, could not be properly used as people could not get to and from the islands.

She said Caribbean Airlines scheduled four flights per day, one each on mornings and evenings.

Hadad said just over 100 passengers travel daily as the airline is still carrying only 50 per cent of its flight load.

She said the chamber feels more flights, with an increased capacity, will improve the existing situation.

“If you are bringing out the staff to do one flight, they can do at least three rotations on a morning and three on an afternoon and more people can sit on the plane,” Hadad said.

She said the sea bridge has similar problems noting that passengers could not get tickets to travel as the vessels continue to run at 50 per cent capacity.

She alleges passengers were given preference based on whether they are part of the essential services.

Guardian Media reached out to port officials on this issue.

Vilma Lewis-Cockburn, Manager, Marketing, and Public Relations of the T&T Inter-island Transportation Company, said the port has no policy giving preference to persons in the essential service.

On the issue of the sea bridge capacity, Transport Minister Rohan Sinanan said the sea bridge is currently operating at “excess capacity.”

“Once the demand increases, they will make the adjustments on the sea bridge,” the minister added.