Trinidad and Tobago: The Airports Authority of Trinidad and Tobago, also known as AATT, revealed that Caribbean Airlines owes them around $35 million after they met with the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament on Wednesday, 10 January.
The amount of debt was revealed after the Public Accounts Committee observed the financial statements of the Airports Authority from 2013 to 2019. Caribbean Airlines is given the time of 60 days to pay all the debt; otherwise, action will be taken against them.
It is said that the Airports Authority of Trinidad and Tobago needs to collect the debts of $72 million, out of which the major percentage is of Caribbean Airlines.
Carmela Wallace, financial controller of the Airports Authority, said, “Cabinet approved a write-off for Caribbean Airlines of $205 million, which is 2007 to 2019 debt to Airports Authority for rent of hangar space and head office of Caribbean Airlines.”
Hayden Newton, the general manager of the authority, said, “Current receivables of the Airports Authority are better than what it was between 2013 to 2019. Submission of the Airports Authority to the Public Accounts Committee noted substantial write-offs. The major write-off was to Caribbean Airlines.”
James Philbert, the deputy chairman of the Airports Authority, said, “Airports Authority of Trinidad and Tobago lost about 95 per cent of revenue in the pandemic but was back to 90 per cent of the pre-COVID figures and for fiscal 2023, had a $2.8 million surplus.”
The authority said that they share a good relationship with Caribbean Airlines, especially in the matters of debt repayments. The airport authorities are hopeful that they will settle the repayment of all debt, which counts to around $72 million.
Wallace said on the possible choice of debt cancellations, “Cabinet had also approved a write-off back in 2017-18 of approximately $15-16 million out of $30 million related to BWIA 1995 Ltd. That was older debt than the year 2000, when BWIA would have changed. So those would have been very old debts. Then we’d have had other airlines that went bankrupt like Guyana Airways, Air Caribbean and Liat—Liat had an old debt also.”
“So debt, prior to the year 2000, all of that was written off with Cabinet approval in 2017 and 2018 to try to clean up the receivables of those very old airlines and very old debts. That’s in 2018.” She added.
The discussion over the payment of debt is under the discussion involving both side Airports Authority of Trinidad and Tobago and Caribbean Airlines.
There is no such major update seen from the side of Caribbean Airlines on the issue officially.
It will be seen that the amount of $35 million will be paid by the Caribbean Airlines to the Airports Authority of Trinidad and Tobago, or they will get any special relief as the amount is not so small.
The experts quoted that the issue will not turn into a big controversy, and both parties will settle the matter by agreeing on mutual understanding, which can be beneficial for both. Where on second thought, there is also the possibility of the matter turning to the court and going on for many years.