Saturday, April 14, 2012

Opinion/Letter: Nicholas should not have resigned at Caribbean Airlines

Dear Editor,

With regard to your news item titled ‘CAL Chairman resigns‘ (SN Apr 5), credit must be given to Mr George Nicholas for accepting responsibility for what he interpreted as criticism of his leadership of Caribbean Airlines and tendering his resignation.  It is not my view that Mr Nicholas was a failure at CAL. On the contrary, I think his leadership has been the best in CAL/BWIA’s history.  But the Chairman deemed the rating given to him – five out of 10 – as a failing grade and thought he had no option but to resign. In ordinary circumstances, especially in a first world country say, like the US, the leader would accept responsibility and resign.  In third world countries, like Guyana or Trinidad, individuals have used failed ratings not to do better or to accept responsibility for a failure, but to get a promotion.  Not Mr Nicholas, however, a Harvard educated MBA, who felt it necessary to resign and let the government decide whether to accept it or not.  The government accepted his resignation and appointed a replacement.  All the Board members remain in place.

The line Minister, Mr Devant Maharaj, in rating CAL five out of ten, said his rating did not apply specifically to Mr Nicholas, and that he only meant that the Board, like all other boards under his watch, needed to do better.  Mr Maharaj was disappointed that Mr Nicholas resigned as Chair because he had so much to offer the airline.

I don’t know Mr Nicholas.  But I know CAL has performed creditably under his watch. He is most competent and efficient at what he did. I don’t think he should have accepted personal responsibility for the Minister’s rating and resigned.  But he is a first world business leader who did not take kindly to the rating and does not want to submit himself to third world behaviour.

Readers need to be reminded that CAL got international awards last year under Nicholas’s chairmanship. It received an international award from over 200,000 travel agents worldwide, ahead of AA, BA, Virgin, Delta, United, and 20 other airlines.   Also, Mr Nicholas handled the Guyana CAL crash well last July flying into Guyana and offering compensation, etc, to distressed passengers.

Revenues at CAL, according to reports, increased threefold over the last 18 months, as did the number of passengers using CAL. Tobago saw an increase of 17% in passengers last February compared to a year earlier.  And last carnival, CAL carried some 220,000 passengers doubling that of the previous carnival in Trinidad. CAL is expected to fly into London in June and possibly Mumbai next year – all his ideas. So Mr Nicholas must be given credit for his work.

I wish the new Chair, Mr Barendra Moonan, whom I know well as a politician, all the best for the challenges ahead and hope he can tap into the expertise of his predecessor.

Yours faithfully,
Vishnu Bisram


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