PORT OF SPAIN –– Chief executive officer of Caribbean Airlines (CAL), Michael DiLollo, has quit after just 17 months on the job. The 48-year-old Canadian national, citing personal reasons, resigned with immediate effect. His resignation has been accepted by the state-owned airline’s board of directors.
CAL staff were informed of the resignation via a memo from the airline’s chairman Phillip Marshall, who also announced that chief financial officer Tyrone Tang would act as CEO until a permanent replacement was found. DiLollo was appointed CEO in May, 2014, following the sudden resignation of Robert Corbie in September, 2013.
In an interview with T&T Guardian earlier this month, DiLollo said CAL did not need a bailout just yet. He said the airline had benefited from extremely patient shareholders for years and he believed the airline was strategically positioned to break even in three years. In early February, then Minister of Finance Larry Howai told Parliament that unaudited accounts for 2014 had shown the airline making a loss of US$60 million, inclusive of its Air Jamaica operations, and the airline planned to break even by 2017.
Howai had also told the Parliament that a five-year strategic plan had been completed and was in the process of being approved for implementation. It outlined the transformation of the business model through reassessment of the product, including fleet and network planning, revenue management, pricing and customer service.
Speaking to members of the media, in early October, DiLollo was confident, giving no hint of any issues affecting his term of employment, saying: “When I look at the investment that has been afforded to the airline and compare that with my experience in the private sector, it is absolutely astounding.
“All of the shareholders, whatever the political affiliation, have been extremely patient and extremely committed to this airline over the years.”
DiLollo, a pilot, said then he was ready to land the airline in a break-even financial position and that the airline was “well on our way, very well on our way to achieving that target”.
In November, 2014, Parliament was informed that DiLollo was being paid a US$33,000 (TT$211,000) monthly compensation package. Then prime minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar defended the sum saying this was in keeping with salaries paid to former CEOs and was necessary to acquire that level of expertise.
Persad-Bissessar said then that DiLollo received a salary of US$28,000 and a housing allowance of US$5,000. He also received a travelling allowance of US$1,600. Former government ministers Vasant Bharath and Howai had also defended DiLollo’s salary, saying it was comparable to salaries paid to former CAL CEOs.