Caribbean Airlines ATR

IN FLIGHT: A Caribbean Airlines ATR flies over the Camden airstrip.

SURINAME, still peeved at the treatment meted out to its nationals by majority State-owned Caribbean Airlines (CAL), is reported to have denied the airline’s request to resume flights to the Dutch-speaking Caribbean Community (Caricom) country.

“As long as Caribbean Airlines does not fix its issues with its passengers and the travel agencies, it will not receive permission from me to resume operation. Suriname is a country where rules apply and order prevails,” said Albert Jubithana, the Minister of Transport, Communication and Tourism.

CAL has been announcing the resumption of flights to several of its destinations since last year, has so far not yet responded to the allegation by Suriname.

Suriname said that the airline, unlike others, did not look after it passengers who were stranded here when the airspace was closed to regular commercial flights in March 2020, as part of the measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.

Media reports here said that since Suriname re-opened its airspace and regular flights have resumed, several international airlines have resumed their operations, but that Caribbean Airlines has not yet received permission to resume flying the route.

“She never came back to pick up her stranded passengers. She never spoke again, not even a letter. SLM and Fly All Ways made sure that the stranded people could leave,” Jubithana, was quoted as saying by the online publication, dwtonline.com.

He said that CAL is indicating that it will resume flights between the Zanderij and Piarco International airports on January 18.

“The company is promoting without Suriname’s permission to resume flights,” said Jubithana, noting that the Brazilian airline, Gol had also sought to emulate the Trinidad-based carrier, after also leaving its passengers in the cold.

The Minister said Gol “wanted to return just like that, without solving the problems it had created” and that the authorities have told the Brazilian company that as long as there are no proper agreements between it and the travel agents, there will be no return to Suriname.

Jubithana said he expects the situation to be resolved soon as the airline has started talks with the Association of Surinamese Travel Agents (ASRA).

He said the Panamanian airline, Copa Airlines, has resumed flights to the Dutch-speaking country after the Association of Surinamese Travel Agents had informed the government that it has no objection to the resumption of the flights.

Contacted for comment on the story by the Caribbean Media Corporation, CAL spokeswoman, Dionne Ligoure, said: “Caribbean Airlines has filed all of the necessary paperwork with the authorities in Suriname and the company is awaiting feedback on same.”

She confirmed that she had seen the story from the regional wire service.

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