I really cannot believe this! It has finally happened! A mysterious (for now anyway) group has developed the courage and conviction to oppose and expose the skullduggery in which BWIA indulges; the same with which they have always escaped unscathed.
For now, the entire affair is being kept behind closed doors and I am not sure when or if the airline will divulge any information to the local media. Since I am very close to BWIA, I gathered some information and given the way I feel about them, I frankly believe that the action taken by the party is warranted.
We understand that sometime yesterday, (or at least that was when we got wind of it, although if something of this magnitude was received some time ago, we would have known about it since then) the President and CEO, Conrad Aleong received a letter. The details have not been revealed to the public but insiders have gleaned that an organized group has expressed intense dislike (to put it mildly) over the way in which the airline is striving to literally chase other carriers from Trinidad, in the hopes of establishing a monopoly, while service is being compromised. I couldn’t agree more. (As an aside, if you look at the local telephone, water and electricity companies, you will understand the negative effects of a monopoly existing in such a small island.) Anyway, I know as much that the mystery party also presented some very personal and privy information about BWIA (probably fleet, operations, questionable deals made etc.) that could not have been found out unless it has penetrated itself into the airline’s fibre or has advisors within the airline.
In any event, the ultimate threat may stir up the insiders. I understand that the enigmatic party has expressed plans of targeting the safety of the most important BWIA flights (that would mean the Miami and New York routes). I’m not sure if the "group" is just some pranksters whistling dixie or not, but I doubt it because BEFORE the letter was received (assuming it was yesterday), there were some bizarre equipment withdrawals from the fleet, which led to a negative domino effect for other flights, especially the Miami and New York ones. Also, all that happened at the end of August when BWIA petitioned for a halt to the opening of the new airport complex, because of the volume of passengers they had on those days. BWIA also said that the end-of-summer period is one of the most important times for them (which is known to be true, anyway) in terms of additional flights (solely to “compete with” the charters) and an increased volume of passengers etc. Because of the equipment withdrawals, flights ended up running late. In previous years, around this time, the BW hanger would be practically clear.
Anyway, here is a quick list of the happenings:
1. August 31- (Independence Day and incidentally, the day in which BW had an extra flight to Miami, beginning in Tobago and via Trinidad. It was to depart Trinidad at 5:00PM) – MD-83 withdrawn from service. After a Boeing 738 arrived from Washington, it had to sub for the MD-83 trip to Tobago. After the return, the B738 then left for New York (via Barbados) more than two hours behind schedule. Of course, the extra Miami flight had not yet been done. After another MD-83 returned from the scheduled Miami flight at 8:15 PM, it had to be turned around to Miami at 9:15PM, which meant that the extra Miami flight had now departed more than four hours late.)
2. September 2- Boeing 738 withdrawn from service. After arriving from Toronto, another B738 finally left for New York (via Barbados), five hours behind schedule. ( I’ve never heard anything wrong with the new B738s except the time the glide-slope indicator went dead, while one was on final approach, and scheduled equipment withdrawals won’t be made in the peak time of travel, with other flights being affected.)
3. September 3- MD-83 withdrawn from service. The morning flight to Miami was delayed. An L1011 was deployed for the route, but first had to be prepared. After clearing discrepancies with the flight plan, the L1011 departed for Miami, four and a half hours behind schedule.
4. September 4 & 5- Dash 8-Q300 withdrawn from service while an MD-83 subbed.
5. September 10- MD-83 withdrawn while a Boeing 738 substituted on the New York (via Antigua) route. Since no other aircraft was available at the time, BW had to wait until a second B738 returned from Toronto (via Barbados) to return it to Toronto as the flight the first B738 was originally assigned to.
6. September 11- MD-83 still withdrawn. 7:00PM MD-83 service to Tobago delayed until 9:00PM using another MD-83 that arrived from Miami.
ETC. ETC. ETC.
Of course, none of this was and would be broadcast on the local news. They reserve such reports for when an American Airlines A300, for example, returns to the airport because of low oil pressure. Only then is it front-page news.
Of course, its no surprise that someone or –ones would wish to see BWIA pay for the injustices they get public support for.
Let’s look at a quick example……..
Consider one of the many addresses made by the CEO about regional airline LIAT, who he’s out to get. “…..let them be stronger in the northern Caribbean, we need to be stronger here in the south……..”
Okay, so after the territorialization move, in all fairness, to give LIAT the strength to operate in the northern Caribbean, BWIA withdrew 2 of their 4 flights from Antigua (LIAT’s main base and headquarters) and added 3 more. There is now a total of five (2 B738, 2 MD-83 and 1 L1011). They have absorbed Helenair, which operates as far north as Dominica (just two major islands south of Antigua). All poor LIAT operated and continues to operate out of Trinidad is 4 Dash8 flights. Once again, BWIA is the defenseless victim, right?
It seems that even the forces of the universe are at work, in light of some recent “freak” incidents to some of the fleet. It so happens that whenever they occurred, it was to an additional flight that BW added to its schedule, with malicious intent.
1. BW 428 (additional flight to NY) – on Saturday 29 July, at JFK New York, a cargo trolley reversed and collided with the parked MD-83, damaging a portion of the aft section of the aircraft. The flight was delayed until the next day until another MD-83 could be deployed to relieve the stranded passengers.
2. BW 420 (additional L1011 flight to NY) – Saturday 26 August, just after take-off from Piarco Int’l Trinidad, the captain announced a destabilization problem, which they could do nothing but monitor. They went to the east coast to dump fuel before returning to the field, but the problem corrected itself, so the flight continued on to JFK.
3. 9Y-THR – this is the only MD-83 that has been re-garbed in the new airline livery. They had done that to deploy the a/c to Miami, but Air Jamaica (with the stunning paint scheme) came to Trinidad, gained favour and upset their plans. Since the MD-83 has been painted, it has been sent to Jamaica EVERYDAY WITHOUT FAIL, for obvious reasons. On September 3, a poor bird was ingested by 9Y-THR so the flight was delayed. AND the strange thing is, on the ONE OR TWO days that THR was sent to Miami instead, the flight was delayed for over two hours, because of a problem that I haven’t found out.
Anyway, back to the letter. Although the safety of the passengers is a serious consideration, it is heartening to know that when I disagree with the antics of BWIA, I am not imagining things or being vindictive. There are others out there who I don’t even know, who are apparently willing to make BWIA wake up and smell their greed and deception. So, I guess all we have to do is wait and see what’ll transpire from this. I still don’t believe that someone went to that extreme but when you look at the track record of BWIA, I guess it's no surprise!