PM defends symbolic LIAT flight saying promotion received justifies cost

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Pointe Xpress: Prime Minister Gaston Browne has dismissed suggestions that the November 1 LIAT flight from Antigua to Dominica cost $150,000 and was a waste of money.

The Independence Day flight was the first in six months for the Antigua-based airline after its entire fleet was grounded and almost all its employees at all levels laid off due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Late in the day on October 30th, LIAT was notified that authorities in Dominica had doubled down on their rules for admitting incoming air passengers who now need a negative PCR test for COVID-19 prior to arrival.

This meant that passengers on the November 1 flight would not be able to disembark as sufficient time was not available to complete the required testing.

LIAT decided to proceed with the flight, for its inspirational significance and marketing impact, which triggered debate over whether the flight should have been cancelled in order to save money which is already a scarce commodity for the airline.

The flight, which departed Antigua with fewer than 10 persons who did not disembark in Dominica, was also unable to board passengers wanting to depart on the flight’s return to the V.C. Bird International Airport.

Said PM Browne, “There are some people who felt that the fact that LIAT continued with that flight, which was initially intended to be a commercial flight, there are some who are trying to argue that it’s a waste of resources. Let me place this issue into context.

“Generally speaking, based on the fact that LIAT has reduced its overhead costs tremendously, to include its lease payments, staff costs and so on, a flight to Dominica ordinarily would [cost] LIAT about EC$10,000 return. We had a number of individuals booked. My understanding is that LIAT can now break even with about 12 passengers, but because the protocols were changed in Dominica and they would have to get a COVID test almost overnight, it was impossible to pursue the commercial flight.”

According to the prime minister, by October 31, LIAT had made all required preparations “and all of the costs associated for that flight into Dominica, barring maybe, the petrol, there would have been some costs that were already incurred and could not be recovered, so their only additional costs would have been the fuel.”

Browne said information he received indicated that the fuel consumption for the Independence Day flight amounted to between US$800 to US$1,000. He concluded that the publicity and promotion LIAT received as a result of that flight was more than worth the minimal costs involved.

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19 COMMENTS

  1. Browne you now prove your a few sandwiches short of a picnic basket but I say if there is an idiot in power,it means those who elected him are well represented.good luck Antigua and Barbuda u guys better learn to speak Chinese very soon.

  2. I agree with the PM….

    It’s called investment….to make money you must first spend money….

    LIAT to the world….Go liat go…

    • Stupidity is an earthly gift.You do not invest into a latrine hole.You would know the results before you invests and still do so.

  3. Come on Prime Minister I expected better from you. I am sure not even FROM THE SIDELINE or BEEF would agree with your assessment that the LIAT flight to Dominica provided good publicity. What publicity and to whom? Even one of your biggest supporters and perhaps apologist PETER WICKHAM said it was a waste of time and that view was also echoed by ORVILLE GRANRT. We all know that the government of Antigua and Barbuda is trying to get LIAT back in the skies. I personally support any efforts to support that objective. However, given the dire financial situation of LIAT and also the government, the $120,000 spent on the ceremonial flight to Dominica was a total waste of time and money. Perhaps the flight was undertaken so that the pilots that have been unemployed for months could brush up on their aviation skills. I hope anytime such a hair brained activity is supported by your government again that the safety of the flying public may not be at risk.

    • Tabor I have answered you on this topic before. The person who makes the decision is the Administrator and not Browne. And Mr. Seaford explained his rational why they continued with the flight. In case you did not hear him go and listen to the past recordings of the Darren Matthew-Ward show.
      You and I agree that the PM has no business to talk about LIAT. The court has appointed an administrator let him do all the talking.
      What is so difficult for you to understand what Mr. Seaford said.

      • Fire the damn Administrator.He seems to be in over his head.The Court appointed him the Administrator on the recommendations of Gaston A.Browne,Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda and of LIAT1974 & 2020 LTD. What a set of jokers. Squandering of scarce taxpayers money.They should be made to pay out of their pockets for such an idiotic decision.

      • FROM THE SIDELINE it is really you who seems to have a difficulty in understanding. Do you really believe that Seaforth can override any action of Gaston with respect to LIAT. It was Gaston’s idea for the ceremonial, useless, wasteful flight to proceed since it satisfied his wish that LIAT would take to the skies in 90 days. For your information FROM THE SIDELINE, the 90 days was the very day the ceremonial flight took to the skies. Please understand it is Gaston who determines what happens to LIAT and not Seaforth so stop using Seaforth as the fall guy and act as if you have good sense.

        • Poor you. As an officer of the court you behaving very foolish with your conspiracy theories. When it suits you you will say Gaston cannot order police to lockup anyone. But when it suits you suddenly Gaston runs the show. I have told you from day one that Cleaveland is a professional not tied to any political party. The government may have made representations to the court about two firms and the court has chosen the one they think can do a better job. Have you even listen to the explanation that Cleaveland gave for his decision to go on with the flight. You think Gaston has any power to fire or remove Cleaveland. If so we do not need a judiciary. When the Stanford receiver didn’t pay the Stanford workers timely enough and the PM wanted to interfere on their behalf, they told him straight up that they do not report to him. And this is the same thing.
          But again read what Cleaveland said and then you will understand. A plane has to be flown from time to time. You cannot leave it idle on the ground. Pilots has to fly they have to make their hours in order to retain their license. So whether you like it or not the planes will go in the air and the pilots will fly with or without passengers. That is part of the operation of an airline. You just don’t get up one day and start your engines and tell people you’re ready to go. Stop being blinded by hatred for the man and use your marbles with the God given talent that you have. You really sound stupid when you make those foolish arguments.

  4. When are the Social Security Pensioners in Antigua and Barbuda going to be paid for October,2020.Today is 9th November,2020.Those persons have worked and paid into the system for many years.It is their monies held in trust by Social Security for them.Now those monies seems to have been squandered and or lacked proper investments.The program seems to be BROKE. By the way this has nothing to do with Covid-19.There were issues way before then.This Administration with all those so called brightest people in the Region.They could not lead a blind horse to the drink.What a waste of funds on that so called flight to Dominica by LIAT.That was funded by those taxpayers who cannot be paid on time monthly.

  5. This fool must think all of us are idiots. Thousands of dollars burned in fuel all for a show and in the meantime, the company can’t pay what’s owed to the staff as well as all the ticket holders. And mental Gaston has the balls to say what they did was a good thing.

    All of you who continue to support this dictator are all part of the demise of our country. Keep on voting him in until he completely gives away our country to foreigners, your children will be happy to be slaves to the new masters.

  6. Well, they say to start off how you mean to carry on.

    Start off splurging/wasting money while the hundreds of workers are home near starving.

    Good advertisement for a carrier with no working travel bubble OR a slap in the face to those workers who haven’t gotten a penny.

    Guess you can choose to look at it how you please. Who feels it knows it.

    Kinda like have to see your rapist still in prominent government position. It STINGS, but who cares really eh?

  7. Well Mr. Brown, for your information from the time Dominica opened it’s ports for commercial activities after the covid-19 shut down a negative pcr test was required for all passengers. So there was more than enough time for passengers to get tested.

  8. FROM THE SIDELINE just one comment to show the fallacy and illogicality of your comment. You said “so whether you like it or not the planes will go in the air and the pilots will fly with or without passengers “. Now, FROM THE SIDELINE does that make any sense to you. I hope for LIAT going forward that your quote does not become a part of its operating philosophy. Stop being so BLINDED my friend.

    • Tabor. There are a few persons that irritates me since I was in school. Children that kept us back in the class, because they could not understand a topic the teacher was explaining and total ignorant/stupid people. I have taken so much of my time to explain to you the rationale of the administrator who is guided by the advise of the technicians and the pilots themselves. You cannot leave a plane grounded too long it has to be flown. Just like some cars you cannot leave them sitting in your garage for years and then come one day to start them whether they are new or not they will cease up. Ask a generator mechanic about the same principle why on a monthly basis he comes and runs the generator to keep the engine lubricated. The plane must go in the air every now and then. Then there is the issue with the pilots, its like doctors having to do their Continuing Professional Development. Even Accountants have to do that. No insurance company would cover the airline if the pilots don’t have certain flying hours in a particular time on a specific plane that he wants to fly. So pilots needs to fly the planes from time to time. So having taken all of these things in consideration the management and the administrator, not the PM, decided to go ahead with the flight anyway. The majority of the cost was already made and all that was left was the fuel cost. But regardless that cost will have to be made anyway for practice purpose and to keep the engine pristine. I don’t know why you cannot take of your blinders of hate and absorb the information given to you with a clear mind. There is a cost of keeping the airline open even if there is no commercial flight. There is a cost of keeping a selective group of pilots and mechanics. And so one and so on. They have to go for training overseas to the manufacturer from time to time.

  9. What the opposers of the government needs to do, is to look back on the some of the actions taken by the previous government and see if there’s any wasted money spent during their leadership. 10 years of patching roads rather overhauling with new roads… Money wasted. I would have liked to park across from APUA in that eye sore of a building when I come into town, but again, money wasted. So done get caught being hypocritical people!

    • That’s the problem we have in Antigua and Barbuda, people who only see Red or Blue and not the Gold, white and Black that’s also in our National flag. How can you try to justify a wrong by looking and highlighting another wrong? Are you saying the reason why the Red was Voted in, in 2014 was so that they could do some not so bad ‘wrongs’ than what the Blue’s did? SIR/MADAM WRANG A WRANG WETHER RED OR BLUE DO UM!

  10. The thing about learning on Oct 30th that Dominica requiring a PCR test and doubling down on Covid 19 protocols, is a BIG FAT LIE 🤥 because Dominica have always required a negative PCR test in order to enter their Borders since they have been open. I know persons who travelled to Dominica from Antigua, at the end of September that had to pay $300 to have their Covid test done. And even had to purchase a thermometer in the airport so the He could call in his temperature on a daily basis while on self quarantine. AThem too LIE

  11. FROM THE SIDELINE I do not promulgate conspiracy theories. Yes Seaforth is the Administrator of LIAT appointed by the Court, but even the BLIND, DUMB and DEAF would know that Gaston Browne calls the shots with LIAT. If you do not appreciate that point then you are also BLIND, DUMB and DEAF. So please don’t repeat to me that Seaforth is the Administrator of LIAT. I know that.

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