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Former LIAT pilot, Neil Cave, voiced that the ‘death’ of the regional airline carrier would have a “spin-off effect” on industries such as entertainment, freight, and tourism.
Cave was speaking on Wednesday to reporters outside Parliament Building after the former Barbadian employees submitted a petition to Prime Minister Mia Mottley calling for intervention in their severance dispute.
The pilot, who has over two decades of experience, held that it was cheaper for regional Governments to fix the regional airliner than to rebuild it from scratch.
“When you allow the infrastructure to erode of an entity like LIAT 1974 Ltd — despite its many flaws — when you allow that to erode, it would have cost you a $100 million to fix that problem, to fix the manage problems, to fix the root problems and the infrastructure problems, it will cost you $400 [or] $500 million to rebuild that to get all your leases back on those aircraft.
“I know as a pilot that when the engineering from LIAT signs off on that book and says that generator is fixed, that engine is fixed…I know it is fixed and I can fly the 400 miles down to Guyana safely during hurricane season.
“When you lose those resources, money can’t buy them back because they are going to places like Dubai, like the US, they are going wherever they can to make a living and the salaries quite frankly are higher for them over there,” he contended.
Cave added: “The spin-off effect is the entertainers that have to travel, it is the business people that are going to have to travel, it is the goods that are going have to move between these islands and the longer you wait to fix this aviation problem, the worst it is and the more expensive it becomes.”
Recently, Vincentian soca artiste, Skinny Fabulous penned a letter to the regional carrier on Instagram saying, “Please come back to us. I miss you”. The artiste spoke of the difficulties entertainers were expressing with regional travel with pricey flights and scheduling challenges.
Referring to the inconveniences expressed by the regional entertainment fraternity, another pilot, ‘Linda’, argued that they should also come to the forefront, in offering their support to former employees.
“A few persons like Skinny Fabulous, King Bubba who would have been in a video recently and spoke of LIAT as well as artistes from places like Antigua, [and] Dominica. All of them that are accustomed to performing in the various islands, I think they should lend their support to us former employees of LIAT who have not received their severance. We would have served them for many years. They know they travelled the region and would have encountered our ground staff, our flight attendants, our pilots, our engineers and we would like them to jump on board and support our cause,” she stated.