Prime Minister Gaston Browne has suggested that LIAT could begin operating limited flights, even as he revealed that the Administrator will be looking to send home more employees.
“One of the possibilities that the Administrator could look at even before the end of the 90 days, even before the completion of the reorganization, is whether or not LIAT should have some presence and maybe to offer some limited flights in the interim,” Browne said on Saturday.
“So it’s not inconceivable that LIAT could be back in the air prior to the 90 days as we anticipated.”
Extremely low demand for travel
The Prime Minister pointed out that the demand for travel at this time is extremely low and many regional airports remain shuttered.
“My understanding is that even CAL [Caribbean Airlines] that they have found themselves doing flights with very low load factors — nine people, 10 people — so there’s no need for LIAT to be at full capacity at this time,” he said.
“But the fact that there are three planes that are owned by LIAT — though charged to the Caribbean Development Bank, of which the Governments of Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados and St. Vincent and the Grenadines are paying — it may make sense to fly those in the interim while the administration is taking place, because the deterioration that will take place will be significant.
“If they’re able to turn a profit in the interim they could help to service the outstanding loans. But I’m pretty sure that three planes at this time would be more than adequate to carry the load for the next few months, assuming the Administrator takes the decision to operate those three planes and I don’t know what his final position will be,” Browne added.
The Prime Minister said while the decision is to sell the three planes, in the meantime, “just to have them sitting there makes no sense. Planes are made to work and to be maintained regularly.”
More staff cuts
Meantime, the Prime Minister said LIAT employees should brace for more staff cuts.
“The Administrator too obviously will have to further reduce the staff complement,” he said.
“There are a hundred and something people who are still employed by LIAT, but based on the fact that the company is not trading, he has to now go through that hundred plus individuals to determine who would be required in the meantime.”