Gonsalves says there are weaknesses and limitations with LIAT

7

Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves says while the regional airline, LIAT, has made an invaluable contribution to Caribbean development, the Antigua-based airline has been challenged by some weaknesses and limitations.

Gonsalves, who is chairman of the shareholder governments, told reporters that he feared that “if we don’t seek to enhance those strengths and possibilities and simply get the weaknesses and the limitations out of the way we are not likely to have something which is sustainable”.

Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves (second from right) flanked by the prime ministers of Barbados, Antigua and Barbuda and St. Lucia at LIAT news conference

He said that this is not “just fancy words this is a reality check”.

Shareholder governments of the regional airline met here on Monday to discuss its future amidst concerns that the underlying premise of the discussions is that the travelling public must be better served and intra-regional travel encouraged.

The meeting was also expected to discuss a number of options intended to secure the future viability of the regional carrier.

The major shareholders of LIAT are Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

“I believe that we all recognise that governments across the region face many awesome challenges,” he said, noting that the new Mia Mottley administration in Barbados “had to take some very courageous decision”.

Bridgetown has had to lay off hundreds of public servants and has entered into an Extended Fund Facility agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for nearly US$300 million in a bid to turn around its ailing economy.

“We see it happening in other countries in the region including the OECS (Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States), those of us who are shareholders. So it would be strange indeed for us to be taking all these serious decisions, take them in very challenging circumstances (and) that somehow LIAT is a sacred cow and is exempt from what applies to other institutions,’ Gonsalves said.

Gonsalves, said it was for that reason that shareholder governments decided to establish a technical committee, which presented a report regarding aviation in the Eastern Caribbean sub-region with an emphasis on LIAT.

“They have made certain recommendations as to possible options and at the last meeting of the shareholders, a few months ago, the principal shareholders accepted the recommendation of one of the options as possibly the most viable of them…

“That is to say an option other than an option for a private sector takeover which was not realistic in the circumstances and the second option, closing the airline and start a new one. It was felt that it had some challenges, particularly in a transitional period, possible and doable but difficult,’ Gonsalves said.

But he told reporters “we have done difficult things before and there were some other options which would open the way for private sector involvement but with other shareholder governments coming to have possible commitment.”

Gonsalves said that St Lucia and Grenada are willing to commit to the restructuring, providing that it is carried out in a particular manner that will garner the support of their respective parliaments and country.

He said that while LIAT has made an “immense contribution” to the region, despite its weaknesses and limitations, if a significant change is to be made, then there must be cooperation from all involved, including stakeholders, unions and workers.

“LIAT has made an immense contribution to this region and continues to make an immense contribution but there are weaknesses and limitations despite its strengths and possibilities and I fear that if we don’t seek to enhance those strengths and possibilities and to simply get the weaknesses and limitations out of the way, we are not likely to have something which is sustainable and this is not just fancy words, this is a reality check,” Gonsalves said.

He said that there are other steps to be taken in the restructuring process, which includes consultancy on matters within the report, so as to generate timelines and give detailed information.

The meeting here was also attended by the President of the Barbados-based Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), William Warren Smith.

CLICK HERE TO JOIN OUR WHATSAPP GROUP

7 COMMENTS

  1. It is a shame that only four caribbean islands invest in liat, but liat still service the entire caribbean. Liat needs to setup a load subside system, similar to the subside system small islands sometimes pay to large international airlines to have them put on flights, with the islands who desist from investing in the airline. These islands such as st kitts, st lucia etc cannot continue to have their cake and eat it too.

    • Only one owner at CAL, yet they serve many islands and don’t complain. Because ownership is irrelevant, what matters is that they have competent management who charge the right fares to cover their costs.

      If LIAT had ownership which did not constantly interfere, a Board which had the first clue about aviation, and a management which knew which end of an airplane went forwards perhaps LIAT would not be such a subsidy drag on its shareholders – might even break even.

      But Comrade Fat Boy has his toy, and nobody will take that away from him. You see, when LIAT loses $100 million, he only has to find $11 million – Barbados has to find over $50 million, Antigua has to find $35 million. Perfect situation for a Marxist control freak.

      LIAT has not made its annual accounts public for over 50 years – what are they hiding? Now the shareholders have had THREE meetings and are still blowing hot air instead of telling us what the real story is – again, what are they hiding?

      The new PM of Barbados campaigned on transparency – but in all things now refuses to be transparent. How are WE supposed to look at her now? As a blockhead? As just another lying thieving politician?

      TELL THE PEOPLE WHO PAY FOR ALL OF THIS THREE-RING CIRCUS WHAT IS GOING ON.

      OR GET THE HELL OFF THE POT.

  2. Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah.

    PLENTY talk, but say NOTHING. Wheel and try again, Fat Boy.

  3. Gonsalves fulla fart. He thinks he is the god of the Caribbean. At the risk of stating the obvious he has made himself out to be a bafoon. What about his son and Yugge Farrell??

  4. IF one of LIAT’S problems is MONEY, why them representatives of the shareholding countries always a get up and fly to DISCUSS ITS FAILURE? CAN’T THEY DO LIKE THEY SAY CCJ DOES – TELECONFERENCING? OR THE SELF BENIFITS MORE THAN WHAT IS GOID FOR LIAT AND THE CARIBBEAN?

  5. They went and bought planes they can’t afford. They cut most of the northern routes hence cutting revenue. What about the cost of losing that hangar in the fire? Not a person held accountable up to this day. Top heavy and sluggish company so that’s why they can’t make any money. When a company has to reduce the academic qualifications in order to get a particular manager in the job, it tells you why they are in this position. The fish rots from the head Ralph. Start the cleaning from there.

  6. Instead of constantly threatening workers with talk of shutting down the company, why don’t you guys get a grip and actually try to run the company properly? People are tired of your excuses. The management has failed and needs to be replaced.

Comments are closed.