In a shock twist that dashed the hopes of Jamaican students seeking to go home from UWI Cave Hill, Caribbean Airlines has cancelled their return flights with no indication the airline is willing to refund students’ tickets or repatriate them on flights bound for Bridgetown and Kingston to take Trinidadian students home.
The students have been told to make individual claims to the airline in order to determine whether or not they qualify for refunds.
The airline’s head of corporate communications Dionne Ligoure was responding to Barbados TODAY queries on behalf of the Jamaican students who are in some cases facing eviction while running out of food and money.
On Tuesday, Jamaica’s Honorary Consul in Bridgetown Ella Hoyos revealed that authorities in Kingston had not committed to assisting with a charter flight on Fly One Caribbean airline totalling more than $60,000 (US$30,000).
Instead, Hoyos demanded to know whether CAL, whose flights have mostly been grounded by shutdowns at Piarco International Airport was willing to foot the bill for its Jamaican customers to get home. Failing that, the Honorary Consul suggested that the regional airline refund the students so they could afford a portion of the chartered flight.
In response to the queries, Ligoure, however, indicated that Caribbean Airlines is guided by established “fare rules”, despite the peculiar circumstances resulting from COVID-19.
“No date change penalties will apply. However, there are fare rules, which will guide the details of the refund. The airline would need the particulars for each student,” the CAL representative told Barbados TODAY.
According to the airline’s website, “schedule changes” such as flight cancellations do not incur penalties, but “processing fees” may be applicable. It is still unclear whether the Jamaican students will qualify and refunds are processed in 7-20 working days after they are requested.
When asked about the possibility of the Jamaican students being airlifted out when Caribbean Airlines flies to Kingston to collect the Trinidadian students, Ligoure replied: “Should the flight referred to operate, the information will be disclosed accordingly.”
President of the Cave Hill Guild Thacher Loutin on Tuesday painted a grim picture of the realities facing stranded Jamaicans, who are becoming even more disheartened as their colleagues from other CARICOM countries are taken home as their future remains uncertain.
“It doesn’t make any sense if the Caribbean Airlines flight leaving from Trinidad to pick up the Trinidadian students at UWI Mona and students in Jamaica and leaving us here. We want to go on that flight or as soon as possible. The stranded including those who aren’t students need to go home… We are just two hours away from Jamaica. They need to show some care for citizens in the Caribbean countries who need to come home as well,” she told Barbados TODAY. [email protected]
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