Gov’t should privatize LIAT within Antigua and Barbuda

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DEAR EDITOR:

The Antigua and Barbuda Government should privatize LIAT (1974) Ltd within Antigua and Barbuda and not seek a Caribbean partnership for LIAT. CLICK HERE TO JOIN OUR WHATSAPP GROUP FOR NEWS UPDATES.

The Antigua and Barbuda Government should get out of the airline business. The fact of the matter is that Governments are not good at running business, in particular airline business, and I think that Caribbean Governments should be no more than being facilitators of a future LIAT.

Giving the Barbados Government majority shareholding in LIAT was a big mistake. Let us not repeat that mistake.

LIAT is based in Antigua and Barbuda and mostly employs Antigua and Barbuda workers. I think LIAT can start small again and expand rapidly throughout the Caribbean, but the airline should be owned within the Antigua and Barbuda Private sector, and the Antigua and Barbuda Government should move quickly to engage the local Private Sector, and hand over LIAT with all its problems to the new owners.

A future LIAT should also be run by a Private Company and not go public until the appropriate time. A new LIAT will also have to move quickly to acquire ownership of real estate property – I mean own an office building – so that it can approach a local bank for financing, such as overdraft to carry it through the slow season, as required.

Caribbean Governments can then become facilitators by imposing reasonable landing fees and ticket taxes, if they really want to accommodate LIAT.

Once LIAT (1974) Ltd is being privatized and Government is out of the airline business, it will now be the responsibility of the new owners to reemploy former LIAT workers and assume responsibility for past severance and other compensation payments, as part of the deal.

There is no need for past severance liability to be settled before LIAT returns to operation under Privatization arrangements. Infact, former LIAT employees who are owed severance payments can be offered shares in the new airline as part of the liability. The most urgent thing now is for former LIAT employees to return to the job site, and start earning money as soon as possible (ASAP).

PAPA JACK

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2 COMMENTS

  1. Before any decision can be made the “Fake” American accented ole fowl who does no work and act as a hindrance to the development of the airline, needs to go. What a useless so called Director?!

    She along with the other two have dragged the company through the mud and continues to do so. I say. get rid of her now.

    And that so called Pilot directa? He who knows it all? The new LIAT is doomed to fail.

  2. Another so called un-educated un-qualified advise from a unknown writer who it seems has no knowledge of the airline business whatsoever. I mean, as an editor, you just publish any letter that has been send to you. Sad. real sad. What point do I debate the writer on? Yes, he/she has an opinion. But that opinion is not based on any study. It’s not for lack of trying. Liat does have private shareholders. But they are not in the majority. And no investor in their right mind would get into LIAT. Not even into the airline business in our region. It is not a lucrative business. Why you think the American Eagle left. Why do you think Caribbean Star left? Why do you think Express left? Lester Bird encouraged Stanford to start Caribbean Star and Sun. But they both failed. Not because he ran out of money. But because it proved not to be a lucrative business. And he told the staff and demonstrated that at one meeting. He called the staff and took one hundred thousand dollars in banknotes and threw it up in the air and said to them, this is what I lose daily with this airline. All over the world airlines are suffering the same. The government always must bail out airlines. Caribbean Airways had to be bailed out by the Trinidad and Tobago government. Butch Stewart run the airline as best as he could. But even he couldn’t manage. And we know Butch is one of the Caribbean most successful businessman. Even now Caribbean Airlines is struggling big time. This tells me that the governments of the region must make up their mind. Inter-regional travel must become a necessary government service and must be subsidized. And as our PM says we must find an equal share of the burden. No free rides. Lester Bird was the one who talked about subvention. But he too was ignored. And just to bring it closer to home, Barbudans cannot be asked to pay these extraordinary fees to come to Antigua. They have the right to affordable travel to and from the sister Island on Government subsidized transportation. Same way you have bus, train and subway transportation carrying you from one state to another at very affordable rates. Same way the government controls the bus rates on Antigua. Caribbean people must be served by affordable, and government subsidized inter-regional travel. If there is room for the private sector, it is for upscale luxurious travel. When I go to the USA and use their subsidized inter-regional travel, I don’t wonder how they can afford it. I know the taxes that the people pay allow that. And it is also true when you travel to Europe or Asia or Australia. Regional travel is highly subsidized to allow the citizen to move freely. It shouldn’t be more affordable for one to go to Miami or New York then it is to go to another Caribbean Island. This needs to stop. Caribbean Integration depends on that. And small Islands should not be marginalized against big islands either. We must work out a formula that gives each and everyone the same burden to carry according to its size and economy.

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