The issue was raised on Monday by Chairman of the JSC on State Enterprises, Senator David Small, who said he noted that over 25 percent of the pilots employed at Caribbean Airlines (CAL) are either of retirement age or are approaching it, potentially blocking the way for other young pilots seeking employment.
Small said based on the information supplied, many of the pilots employed at the company are due to leave soon, and asked how this is being managed by the airline.
“You have 28 percent of your pilot body in the age group 56-65, so a little over quarter of your pilot body is either due for retirement or past the retirement age.”
“You did your last hiring in 2015, so you’re virtually overdue for another hiring right now, what is your plan?”
CAL Human Resources Vice President Hyacinth Guy said however that 11 surplus pilots were retained based on calculations of projected turnover, six of which were due to be reabsorbed into the schedule.
“We had a small surplus and projected over a three-year period what our resources would look like in terms of pilots.”
“We saw a small surplus but decided to retain those pilots given the turnover we knew we would have over that three-year period, and we know it takes a long time to train a pilot.”
“We said no useful purpose would be served in sending them home, and we can work them into the schedule, and that has quickly been absorbed.”
She said in 2016 it was decided that six more pilots were needed, which was taken from the group of surplus pilots, however, the process has been put on hold pending a manpower audit, which they aim to complete by May 2017.
Airbridge booking problems to be resolved soon
Senator Small said the airbridge is consistently plagued with problems and asked how this is being dealt with.
“There must be some strategy that the company is recognising that perhaps we need to increase the available supply, not just at the peak periods but generally. I did an exercise over the weekend and tried to book a flight over the Great Race weekend from today to now, can’t get a seat.”
However, a quick check of available flights online (see image below) did show available flights for August 20-31, 2017.
CAL Vice Chairman Michael Quamina said the issue is connected to the booking system, which is being reviewed.
“The booking system in place is allowing people to book flights, don’t turn up, turn up whenever they wish, get into the standby, it’s a booking issue.”
“An advanced booking system has recently been put in place and it seems to have resolved this issue but it has not been implemented to its full extent, and we are looking at that very closely in order to prevent the abuse in terms of the booking.”
He also mentioned the issue of change fees and the need for this to be implemented.
Vice chairman Michael Quamina said the airline must now analyse its profitability but says he is confident the airline will soon become financially self-sufficient.