Wednesday 5th March, 2008


State pays $65m on private jet

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A down payment of $65 million has already been made on the private jet being bought by Caribbean Airlines to initiate its new private jet leasing company.

This money, it is understood, was wire-transferred last Friday, after a Cabinet decision on Thursday.

The aircraft has been identified as a Bombardier Challenger 605 and is at present being built at the Bombardier’s facility in Montreal, Canada.

It is an adaptable aircraft that can be configured to accommodate as few as four passengers or as many as a dozen and has a range of close to 6,000 miles with its lightest load.

However, sources close to the board said not all the Caribbean Airlines directors agreed with the decision to purchase the aircraft and at least one member of the board did not attend the meeting.

As a matter of fact, it is understood that the board had prepared a press release to distance itself from the purchase decision, but this was later vetoed.

According to chairman Arthur Lok Jack, the plane would be ready for delivery to Caribbean Airlines in the last quarter of this year.

The specifications of the jet, sources said, called for it to be painted in Matterhorn White with diamond silver metallic and royal blue designer accent stripes.

It will be powered by two CF34-3B engines and will have a state-of-the-art avionics system.

The main cabin will be outfitted with four executive chairs forward, three place berthable divan belted for four passengers strategically placed opposite two executive jets.

The forward galley will be furnished with a ten-cup coffee maker, a high temperature oven and a microwave oven.

The entertainment system is expected to feature two 20-inch monitors mounted on the forward and aft bulkheads and a ten-CD player, two DVD players and headsets for each seat.

According to Lok Jack, the new leasing company would be operated separately from Caribbean Airlines and would actually be a subsidiary of the national airline.

He added that the Government was “very interested” in making transatlantic flights as well as trips to countries in Africa.

But in the midst of all this, there were calls from many quarters, including the opposition United National Congress (UNC) and the Congress of the People (COP), as well as business organisations, to stop the deal or at least explain to the nation the feasibility of having Caribbean Airlines operate such a service. (See Page 9)