Barbados Senator Says Regional Tourism Will Suffer If LIAT Closes

LIAT Crew and Staff POS

(Barbados Today)

If the rumblings of LIAT’s imminent demise become reality, Barbados’ tourist arrival numbers could take a significant hit, warns a Government senator.

This morning Chief Executive Officer of the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association Senator Rudy Grant, says he is troubled by recent revelations by Chairman of the LIAT Shareholder governments Dr Ralph Gonsalves, who revealed countries which use the carrier services are not responding favourably to the airline’s request for US$5.4 million to ensure its survival.

“LIAT is a very important carrier for Barbados and it is also a very important regional carrier. Last year Barbados received approximately 110,000 Caribbean visitors and I would imagine that a significant portion of those visitors would have been on LIAT. In fact, in 2018, the Caribbean represented the third largest source market for Barbados. So, you can see just from that basic information that LIAT significantly assists us in the development of our tourism industry,” said Grant.

The BHTA head questioned why LIAT should be struggling to receive support from regional governments when the same countries already provided support to international carriers.

“We also need to look at the regional importance because for many CARICOM countries, LIAT is responsible for transporting the majority of their visitors. Many of these countries provide support to their international carriers. We are talking, Virgin, British Airways, Air Canada, JetBlue,” he said noting that support for these carriers are provided by way of a minimum revenue guarantee, cooperative marketing or a combination of both.

Grant also noted that the hotel sector would also feel the pinch of a LIAT grounding, especially in the months outside of the winter tourist season. He pointed to the fact that the hotel sector has recently ramped up promotions to attract visitors from the region during the off-peak periods and therefore airlift will be critical to this endeavour.

“Every year we participate in a staycation programme during the summer period. Summer represents a challenging period because tourist arrival numbers are not as high. The BHTA and IHG [Intimate Hotels Group] have extended this programme to the rest of the Caribbean because we do recognise the importance of our regional visitors to our tourism development,” he said.

During a recent radio interview in Grenada, Gonsalves, who is the prime minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines, a major shareholder of LIAT, explained that due to the lack of financial input from the other shareholding countries, LIAT’s closure is imminent. Barbados is currently the largest shareholder of LIAT, followed by Antigua and St Vincent

Gonsalves said that LIAT has a complement of ten aircraft – seven are leased and three are owned by the Barbados-based Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) due to monies borrowed and a decision will soon have to be made on the way forward.

“We probably will have to ask the CDB to sell those three aircraft and operate seven of them and then get other smaller airlines like One Caribbean to fly between here and St. Lucia, rather than get LIAT to fly on one of the routes which is going to Trinidad which is not economical to cut”, he remarked.

“… The governments have not been responding so the shareholders are reaching a critical point now and if you ask me, what is likely to happen … there will be a transitional restructuring leading to a closure of LIAT,” he said.

The Vincentian prime minister revealed that a new airline would then have to be the next option for the region if LIAT is closed.

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  1. A document was relaease about a Barbados based carrier when LIAT folds. What became of that option?

  2. There is a saying “when one door closes another door oPens”. I am not willing to believe in doomsday theory when and if LIAT closes. I believe many are waiting for the oPortunity to jumP into the void that LIAT would leave behind. Today we have more investors than when Stanford was here. We need to stoP the sentimental argument about LIAT. It will not be the end of Antigua and Barbuda. It will be the end of a new beginning. And the best thing is to get PrePared for that. We just need to stoP Pouring money in a bottomless Pit.
    The thing is the demand for air travel between the Islands will remain and need to be filled. Therefore the entrePreneurial sPirit will take advantage of this oPPortunity. When Lester Bird thought the closure of LIAT was imminent he turned to Allen Stanford for helP. Stanford Placed an offer on the table for the shareholders. They rejected the offer. Lester and the than Liat Management encourage Allen to start his own Airline Promising him that LIAT would not last three months. The then CEO and CFO Presented Allen with a business Plan. As a consultant to Stanford I was given the Plan for my review. I advised against it as I knew that LIAT would never be closing anytime soon. Governments are continuous and they will carry the losses of LIAT for years to come. But like with everything Allen does what Allen wants. I then had a meeting with the CFO Mr. Davis and he also agreed with me that Allen would be loosing lots of money. But he said Allen is confident that he has deePer Pockets than all the shareholders combined. That Proved to be not true. In an effort to stoP the Price war between Carbbean Star and LIAT Gonsalves constructed a clever trick. Offering Stanford a joint venture. Caribbean Star Assets would be taken over into the new LIAT and Caribbean would liquidate. This Allen swallowed hook line and sinker. Because he had enough of throwing away monies. After Caribbean Star liquidated Liat did nothing to commence the Joint Venture. I believe Stanford should have sued the shareholder government at that Point. But Allen didn’t bother. Anyway things turned for the worst for Allen and the rest is history. The Point I wish to make is that it will never get better with LIAT. We really need to come to griP with the reality that the region is not untied around an airline. We are not even united against the USA when it comes to Cuba or Venezuela or China for that matter. It’s everyone for themselves and God for us ALL. We need to ensure that we have an airline that can take Antiguans and Barbudans to where we want to go as much as Possible, That means if the load is not there to fly to lets say Trinidad, than sorry we will not fly to Trinidad. Passengers wanting to go Trinidad will have to fly to Miami or Puerto Rico and catch a flight going to Trinidad. in other words Each route must be a Profitable route. Other than that sorry no airlift.

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