Blimp misses Superbowl
February 6, 2012 · 0 CommentsThe Skyship 600 blimp which was purchased by the TT Government for US$15 million and sold to an American company, late last year for US$50,000 , was supposed to be used at yesterday’s Super Bowl final at the Lucas Oil Stadium, in Indianapolis, United States.
However, a late payment by the US company which purchased the controversial skyship caused the blimp to miss the Super Bowl.
The Super Bowl is the annual championship game of the National Football League (NFL), the highest level of professional American football in the United States culminating a season that begins in late September of the previous calendar year.
The New York Giants and the New England Patriots made it to yesterday’s finals, watched by millions around the world.
Well placed sources revealed that the delay by an American-based company to pay the full cost for the blimp resulted in the skyship not being released in time for the Super Bowl game.
The name of the company which bought the Skyship 600 was not revealed.
The blimp was to be used by an advertiser to hover over the Lucas Oil Stadium during yesterday’s Super Bowl finals.
Newsday understands that the company, which purchased the blimp late last year through a tendering process with the Central Tenders Board, paid only US$25,000 as a down payment.
The company was expected to pay the other half to secure the release of the skyship ahead of yesterday’s Super Bowl finals.
The money was not paid in time and the blimp remained in its hanger at Camp Cumuto yesterday.
Newsday was told that despite this setback, the company which purchased the blimp intends to have the skyship shipped to the United States, next week, as they are still interested in the blimp.
That company, Newsday was also told, has a contractual arrangement with organisers of the Super Bowl to provide blimp services.
The blimp’s new owners will be assisted by officers to pack up the skyship. The blimp was purchased by the former PNM administration five years ago and late last year a decision was taken by the Kamla Persad-Bissessar regime to sell the helium-charged, Skyship 600.
Following the tendering process, the decision was taken to sell the blimp for US$50,000.
According to the People’s Partnership government, the cost of keeping the blimp at Camp Cumuto – which was previously used by the Special Anti-Crime Unit of TT – was too exorbitant. Sources aid Cabinet agreed to sell the Skyship 600 and a note was sent to the Finance and General Purpose Committee (FGPC) for approval.
Since September, last year, the skyship has remained in its hangar. Maintenance work was expected to be done as it began to show signs of wear and tear and was rusting in some places, but this was not done as the present government decided to sell to the highest bidder.
It was last used in July for the opening up of the Priority Bus Route on a request by Works Minister Jack Warner.
Sources told Newsday, the blimp’s air surveillance equipment has been removed.
The blimp was bought by the Patrick Manning administration from Airship Management Services. Two Fridays ago, National Security Minister Brigadier John Sandy said it was costing government over TT$1.4 million, or US$225,000, per month to maintain the blimp.
The former regime had purchased three skyships. The first was at a cost of US$12 million. Soon after it was bought, it began experiencing problems and a decision was taken to lease a used blimp at a cost of US$100,000 per month.
After the lease was up, the PNM government purchased its third skyship – the Skyship 600- at a cost of US$15 million. An additional US$15 million was used to outfit the third blimp with surveillance equipment.
Source: Nalinee Seelal, Newsday
By USPORTT Desk