Although Caribbean Airlines staff worked overtime for the Easter long weekend to fill the gap of the collapsed ferry service, transporting over 13,000 passengers on the domestic airbridge, there were still scores of ferry passengers who had to camp out at the airport in Tobago for hours to catch a flight.
Scores of passengers, including children, were seen sprawled across the floor lying on pieces of luggage at the ANR Robinson International Airport, Crown Point, Tobago when Guardian Media visited after 3 pm.
Most of the passengers who were waiting said they had been at the airport in Tobago since early yesterday and said they were holders of valid ferry tickets. They said they had been “left suffering for hours.”
Recalling her ordeal to the T&T Guardian, Lenore Olliverre, of Palmiste, Longdenville said she and her family members were initially scheduled to travel on the T&T Express passenger ferry.
She added that when that vessel was pulled from the seabridge operations they were told to report to the airport to have their ferry tickets exchanged for airline tickets but as standby passengers.
Olliverre said they went to the Scarborough Port early yesterday and they were told that their vehicles had to be left there for Port staff to load on the Cabo Star. She added that they were told that they would have to collect them at the Port of Port-of-Spain this morning.
The woman said she thought it would have been “smooth sailing” from there after she and her family boarded a shuttle to the ANR Robinson International Airport.
She said that when she and the other busloads of passengers arrived at the airport they were told that they had to wait as a standby passenger for a flight.
At about 2.30 pm Olliverre and her relatives, including young children said they were so tired of waiting that they resorted to lying down on the airport’s floor.
“They told us that we may get a flight by 5 pm (yesterday) and some may go tonight (last night),” Olliverre said.
“This is the worst, people ‘fraid to come here, is like we stranded in our own county,” she said.
Another passenger, who asked not to be named, said: “I feel like a refugee here, this was never so, the bad thing is that we are not getting any information.”
Contacted for a response, CAL’s head of the corporate communications at Caribbean Airlines (CAL), Dionne Ligoure said: “Flights to move ferry passengers were on from 1 pm and continue…so your information could be old as I am being advised that people are being moved.”
CAL in a release issued yesterday stated up to Sunday night, out of the 16,372 seats provided by the airline, only 13,053 passengers were transported onboard 224 flights.
Yesterday, there were 56 scheduled flights with a proposed seat accommodation of 3,980. (Trinidad Guardian)