(L-R) LIAT Chairman, Dr Jean Holder; Barbados Prime Minister, Freundel Stuart and his St Vincent counterpart and chairman of the shareholder governments, Dr Ralph Gonsalves during last Thursday's press conference in Hilton Barbados. (A. Miller/BGIS)
By Julie Carrington
BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (BGIS) -- LIAT will be cutting some of its unprofitable routes over the next three months as part of a programme to fix the cash strapped airline.
Chairman of the regional airline, Dr Jean Holder, made this disclosure last Thursday, following a meeting with the four shareholder governments in Barbados.
He said the recovery plan for structural change would last 100 days, citing the serious need to ensure the airline’s future viability.
“We’ll have to take a very hard look at our schedules and the profitability of our current routes. We have brought in some experts to assist us in looking more deeply into the route analysis issues. However, it is clear that we cannot provide essential social services to 21 countries in the Caribbean and only four countries put any funds into this operation,” Holder pointed out.
The chairman said the shareholder prime ministers of Barbados, Antigua and Barbuda, St Vincent and Grenadines and Dominica agreed that “we must take a very hard look at making this airline not only a commercially driven airline, but one which recognises the need for high standards”.
Meanwhile, chairman of the shareholder governments and the prime minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines, Dr Ralph Gonsalves, said LIAT had borrowed US$65 million from the Caribbean Development Bank to do a US$100 million refleeting of the airline. He lamented that Dominica was the only country that had come on board to pump funds into the operation.
Gonsalves also revealed that LIAT had been unable to sell its old Dash-8s since there were no proper records of their ages to present to buyers following the burning of Antigua’s hangar.
“I’m putting public pressure on my friend Kenny Anthony (prime minister of St Lucia) and Denzil Douglas (of St Kitts Nevis). We serve those countries very well… Dr Keith Mitchell in Grenada also has to come to the table,” Gonsalves underlined, while noting that several regional governments had enjoyed a “free ride” for too long.