Trinidad and Tobago's flag carrier Caribbean Airlines (CAL) is to enter a partnership deal with Qatar Airways, according to reports.
The potential collaboration follows a Trinidadian delegation, headed by Prime Minister Keith Rowley, who was recently in Doha to participate in the Sixth Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GECF).
The delegation also included the Chairman of CAL, Shameer Ronnie Mohammed who met with officials from Qatar Airways last Wednesday, exploring opportunities for enhancing relations between the two state-owned airlines.
In a press statement, Rowley stopped short of committing CAL to flights, but suggested that an air services agreement was imminent, especially in the areas of passenger and cargo operations. While Mohammed was quoted as saying in a statement: "I am delighted to be a part of this delegation in my capacity as chairman of Caribbean Airlines. The meetings held were productive, and the impending signing of an air services agreement will enhance the mutual interests of Trinidad and Tobago and Qatar."
"It increases the potential for Caribbean Airlines to expand its connectivity, offer greater choice to its customers, and increase trade and cargo movement for Trinidad and Tobago and the region."
The chairman added that Qatar Airways "serves all six continents, and is the world's fastest-growing airline, connecting more than 140 destinations globally."
However, the move was criticised by the president of the Tobago Business Chamber, Martin George who called on the government to instead prioritise improving flights to Tobago and was quoted by Loop News as saying: "I'm making an appeal to Caribbean Airlines they need to increase the number of flights to Tobago. It is unacceptable, they need to fix it here first."
Based in Trinidad and Tobago, CAL is also co-owned by the Jamaican government, with the latter aspiring to become a major aviation hub connecting the Middle East to the Caribbean and South American region. The UAE's Emirates Airlines is currently involved in a second round of talks with Jamaica's Minister of Tourism, Edmund Bartlett, who had first-hand discussions with the Chairman of Dubai World and Emirates, Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al-Maktoum.
"The objective was to follow-up on our first meeting, which was very positive, and to get a second response at the level of Chairman to enable Jamaica to determine the possibility of a very early connectivity," Bartlett explained.
The discussions follow similar meetings with officials from Saudia, Qatar Airways and Royal Jordanian Airlines.