BWIA have been dealt another blow after International Leasing Finance Corporation seized another aircraft in Miami.
Last night, as BWIA
made frantic attempt to retrieve the two aircraft, its chief executive officer Conrad Aleong denied it tried to deceive Government into putting more State money into the carrier.
ILFC yesterday seized a BWIA Boeing 737-800 aircraft, following similar action on Tuesday, in an effort to get BWIA to clear what Aleong says is a US$4.3 million debt.
Both aircraft are now detained at the
Miami International Airport. The action has left BWIA with four of its six 737s.
With BWIA chronically short of cash, Prime Minister Patrick Manning
yesterday gave no guarantee of another State bailout to retrieve the two seized aircraft. He said the airline’s representatives were not being “forthright” with the Government.
Interviewed at the BWIA Sunjet offices in Port-of-Spain last night, Aleong was asked if the airline had ever lied to the Government. He said, “We’re denying it.”
Manning signed a US$5 million letter of comfort on Wednesday to clear BWIA’s debt to ILFC and retrieve the first seized plane.
Aleong said the BWIA Board directed him to only speak with Public Administration Minister Lenny Saith, the head of the Inter-Ministerial Committee now reviewing the airline.
The review is part of negotiations for a $116.8 million State loan, out of which emerged the US$5 million letter of comfort.
“I think the Prime Minister may have been misinformed. I know he had not spoken to Dr Saith and there may have been some misunderstanding,” Aleong said.
He called Manning’s comments “very unfortunate.”
ILFC is a wholly owned subsidiary of American International Group Inc which owns Algico. An AIG subsidiary has shares in BWIA.
The second BWIA aircraft was seized by ILFC as it was preparing to leave the Miami airport at 1.50 pm.
BWIA spokesperson Clint Williams said the affected passengers were transferred to two American Airlines flights and were expected to return to Trinidad last night.