CAL makes triumphant first trip to Cuba
Toasting to CAL: From left CAL CEO Garvin Medera, Ambassador to Cuba Dr Lancelot Cowie, CAL Chairman Shameer Mohammed and Trade Minister Paula Gopee-Scoon
Caribbean Airlines landed at the Jose Marti airport in Cuba ten minutes ahead of schedule on Saturday morning as it made its first flight to the Spanish island.
As the inaugural flight taxied down the runway to applause from its passengers, it received welcoming showers of water sprayed on either side of the plane.
Just after midday, the flight left Cuba with 110 Cubans bound for Guyana, Loop was told.
Aboard the BW476 flight into Cuba were: Trade and Industry Minister Paula Gopee Scoon, Shameer Ronnie Mohammed, Chairman of CAL, Garvin Medera, CEO of CAL, Dietrich Guichard, CEO of ExporTT, media and travel agents as well as passengers who booked their flight for the inaugural trip.
The dignitaries were met by Dr Lancelot Cowie, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, Embassy of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago in Cuba and Guillermo Vazquez Moreno, Cuban Ambassador to Trinidad and Tobago, among others.
In her address, Gopee-Scoon said the flight landed "with the confidence that we have the product quality and the tested relationships to ensure success on this intra-regional route."
She said the mutually rewarding bilateral relationship nurtured over the years between T&T and Cuba has been characterised by mutual respect and sustained cooperation in diverse areas such as health, sport, education, disaster risk reduction, culture, agriculture and now air transportation.
"At present, we are working on another dimension to our relationship by pursuing collaboration in the area of tourism," Gopee-Scoon said.
She said the potential for complementarity in the area of tourism was recognised by the signing at the CARICOM-Cuba Summit in December of a Memorandum of Understanding on multi-destination tourism between CARICOM countries and Cuba. In this regard, she said, the Summit identified air and sea transportation as an area requiring priority attention.
"Caribbean Airlines accepts its mandate to connect the Caribbean to itself and the world. In so doing, the airline opens the way for others to find opportunity for trade, education, health services, leisure, cultural and scientific exchanges and, in general, the building of a regional community. That is a responsibility that Caribbean Airlines does not take lightly," she said.
In his address, Cowie, T&T's Ambassador to Cuba, said while he does not have a crystal ball to predict CAL's success on the route, he foresees a brilliant future replete with sustainable achievements for both countries in spite of the imminent challenges.
CAL will operate a twice-weekly service from T&T to Cuba with connections to and from Barbados, Guyana and Grenada among other islands.