Antigua’s PM responds to Chastanet

By THG Network

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(THG NETWORK) – We received this official response from the Prime Minister of #AntiguaandBarbuda, Honorable Gaston Browne.

The Prime Minister made some comments over the weekend as it relates to #LIAT and the PM of St Lucia pushed back at statements that PM Browne did not make. Please see the statement below by Prime Minister Browne on his position on LIAT.

“They have signalled that they are willing to come onboard to provide some financial subsidy to LIAT.”

The above are my precise words. Please forgive me for interpreting St Lucia’s final agreement to meet to address the issues affecting LIAT, as a signal to come on board to support the sustainability of LIAT.

Talk can not resolve LIAT’s insolvency problems, it requires the commitment by the various governments to include a possible cash subvention, lower airport fees, capital injection or all of the above.

We accept that LIAT must be operated efficiently and along commercial lines. Those are conditions precedent. However, the market structure, (small market and a capital intensive business), high debt, inadequate assets and under capitalization, would make the prospects of a sustainable profit unlikely.

If LIAT was making a profit, it would not require any support from any government. It would fund its operations and expansion from retained earnings and its positive cash flow. So the notion that LIAT should first become profitable to get support is a misaligned proposition.

It’s instructive that the very government’s that are reluctant to participate have subsidized foreign carriers from wealthy countries in order to guarantee profitability and the attendant service. Some even subsidise cricket teams, that contribute less than LIAT to their economies, to the tune of millions annually without murmur.

Air transporatation is quintessential to the the integration movement. LIAT therefore is an absolutely essential service to the region. In fact, many of the airports in the OECS would look like ghost towns without LIAT. LIAT also contributes significantly to the economies of these countries and with increased support could contribute more with the movement of tourists within the region.

Subsidizing LIAT in the interim is inescapable and it requires the commitment of all, in order to effectively move goods and people within the region. With the participation of all countries that LIAT serves, this subvention will not be burdensome and it will ensure greater reliability and connectivity.

I am not bullying anyone.

I genuinely believe that a model of shared burden and shared benefits is required to sustain LIAT. I trust that the upcoming meeting to place LIAT on a sustainable path, will result in the commitment of all countries contributing to the sustainability of LIAT.

Antigua & Barbuda stands ready to subside a realigned LIAT and I implore my colleagues to join us, along with Barbados and St Vincent & the Grenadines, to place LIAT on a sustainable path in the interest of all.

Gaston Browne

SEE PM CHASTANET’S RESPONSE ON TUESDAY

(14)(7)
This article was posted in its entirety as received by stlucianewsonline.com. This media house does not correct any spelling or grammatical error within press releases and commentaries. The views expressed therein are not necessarily those of stlucianewsonline.com, its sponsors or advertisers.

23 comments

  1. All those mal comments about LIAT needs to be directed to the other Airlines which offers terrible services to the Caribbean. It seems to me that we always at alms to support our own. Why is this? Yall are soo unfair.
    All the house slaves from St Lucia will always support AIR MASSA or MASSA Airlines.

    (3)(3)
    • LIAT is our own? Since when? Are you stark staring mad? Which part of LIAT do you own, jackass? The delays?

      Do you have even the faintest idea what ownership means in a business, idiot?

      It means having shares in the company. Besides, if you are a typical Saint Lucian, up to now, you may too damn scared to own any part, or invest money or buy shares in any company, good or bad.

      Wise up you damn fool.

      (3)(3)
  2. Begging your pardon, Mr. Browne, but the political solution that has been imposed on LIAT for the last 40+ years never did work, is not working now, and will never work. The faces change, but the incompetence never, ever varies.

    Only a committed narcissistic capitalist Marxist could look at an airline with a virtual MONOPOLY, protected by its government owners, and say "This could never break even, we MUST pour hundreds of millions in taxpayers money down its black hole of a budget".

    I have been intimate with LIAT's operations since at least 1980, and the performance of the Board and management only varied from bad to terrrible to abysmal, and then back to terrible. Every retarded fool who was a friend of a Prime Minister has "tried a ting" to run LIAT, whether they had any prior experience with aviation or not, and all sank the airline further down into the quagmire of dismal and awful.

    You say you accept that LIAT must be operated efficiently and along commercial lines. You say that if LIAT was making a profit, it would not require any support from any government. You say that it would fund its operations and expansion from retained earnings and its positive cash flow. YET in the very next sentence you also say that very same agreed statement is a "misaligned proposition".

    Perhaps you should take some time off and make up your mind one way or another.

    As you should now, governments spend their money where they will get the most return on investment. (Well, SOME of them anyway, some others just bathe in the trough and suck out all that is contained therein.) If a seat subsidy with Delta or American works for Grenada and LIAT just sucks and sucks - and sucks with poor service - then it is understandable that Keith Mitchell will want to be re-elected and not lose his position through LIAT's sheer incompetence.

    So you cannot blame other governments for NOT doing what YOU insist on doing, they have freedom of choice, and that choice is clearly for LIAT to stop drainiong their country's resources..

    If LIAT is serving ANY country and charging less for a seat than is commercially viable, then it is NOT that country's fault. Instead, look to the incompetent, unqualified and useless management that YOU installed. That same incompetent, unqualified and useless management could be adding on a seat subsidy whether the non-participationg country knows or likes it or not, to ensure that the airline is viable. BUT THIS DOES NOT HAPPEN, NOR ANY VARIATION ON THAT THEME.

    Subsidising LIAT _WAS_ inescapable, but at some point in time it is - or will be - necessary to pull the politicians, incompetents and parasites out of LIAT's flesh, to relinquish the political stranglehold on the airline, install professional help and allow it to be run commercially.

    And until Comrade Ralph is burned out of his nest inside LIAT's backside there will be no relief for the shareholders of LIAT - NOT for the Prime Ministers, but for the TRUE shareholders, the long-suffering taxpayers who continue to empty their savings into the many bottomless pits created by our regional governments through sheer incompetence.

    (8)(3)
  3. That statement side-steps quite glibly, the repeated calls for the rationalization of "the hub and spoke system" that locates all major decisions around Antigua's needs. Nice try!

    Basic knowledge of geometry reveals that radius is half the diameter in distance. If the place, the hub or the centre of the circle is in Antigua, and the furthest point or spoke is Guyana, the radius now becomes the length or distance from Antigua to Guyana.

    Now if the repairs or the servicing hub were located in Barbados, the parts and replacement assets would have to travel much shorter distances to the most extreme parts of the service area. We would have Barbados to Antigua and Barbados to Guyana. That would be an automatic saving of wait time and of money, in terms of the volatile and unstable cost of fuel. This is simpler and easier to understand than the coding that toddlers are beginning to do.

    Antigua can preach Paul.

    Right now, the punitive ticket costs overwhelmingly penalizes end-users of LIAT services whose governments are not shareholders. There are no backdoor paybacks like "jobs for the boys".

    We in the rest of the Caribbean are sick and tired of subsidizing political foolishness by scheming politicians. We find such specious arguments repugnant.

    We do not wish, in any form or fashion, to integrate or to subsidize foolishness.

    We are not all dumb!

    (4)(3)
    • Too much like "LIAT to Barbados at any cost".

      FACT: It is NOT practical, for hundreds of reasons, to put LIAT's Head Office in Barbados - and in case we misunderstand each other, there is already a pilot base in Barbados. Aircraft do not contain concrete nor rebar, they are mobile. So, if more services are needed in one particular area it is SCHEDULING that needs to be changed, NOT the Head Office location.

      Also remember that CSME means that the existing employees in Antigua would have every right to move with the Head Office (at LIAT = taxpayer expense) - so you would NOT be creating a huge chunk of jobs in Barbados by moving it, you would just be creating a massive financial and logistice problem. Add two hangars, at US$15 million each, and the cost moves towards staggering - right at a time when you are trying to cut costs.

      If you want to tear somebody down over fares and taxes, hammer the politicians, they are the ones who 1. set those taxes and fees,and 2. install the horrendously incompetent Board and management out of their friends and Party bases. And keep hammering the politicians, because shouting at and through the newspapers and internet does nothing, nada, zip, zilch, RIEN.

      MORE THAN FOUR YEARS AGO Kenny Anthony told Marxist Fat Boy Comrade Ralphie Gonsalves to clean LIAT up and they would reconsider. NOTHING HAS CHANGED. Now Comrade Gaston has been seconded to pressure his OECS Comrades into coughing up their taxpayers funds to pour down LIAT's black hole.

      Gaston says setting LIAT on a commercial footing and installing professional management will not work. But all the PM's horses and all the PM's men have not been able to get Humpty Dumpty out of the swamp in 50 years - so is the plan now to float it out with a flow of cash? And tell us, who gets the kick-backs? Enquiring minds want to know.

      Here's another demand, M'sieu Gaston: OPEN THE LIAT ANNUAL ACCOUNTS TO THE TAXPAYERS WHO PAY THE BILLS - including the ones which have been buried in the Top Secret graveyard for the last 40+years.

      (2)(0)
      • The relocation costs were boldly made with
        no supported financial cost comparisons. That was not even given passing mention. Therefore, it is clearly unsupported. It is fake.

        There is grave doubt that the writer above has any great exposure to comparative financial analysis experience. Or, a conscious decision was made to ignore or suppress this issue. Not to make even passing mention is an exercise in pouring out hot air.

        Perhaps too, this is one of the very unqualified board members on the defence team doing the talking here. Additionally, there seems to be an absence of any acquaintance with the impact of eco-systems.

        LIAT as currently structured carries a burden of an antiquated pension system. We have people boasting of having legacy pension benefits, far surpassing by those being hired today with better technical skills and qualifications.

        Such lopsidedness in compensation benefits from legacy systems is what present day users are paying for, receiving no value for all the money forked out to pay for their tickets.

        That is unjustifiable. That is blatantly and revoltingly unfair.

        (0)(1)
        • I can't believe one person could talk so much shyte - I guess using "Anonymous" as a name works to cover your ass for all the nonsense coming out of your mouth.

          I worked at LIAT for 16 years, and all pensions I knew of - most retirement benefits were actually Provident Funds - were fully paid up... except of course for the ones where (contrary to a formal court decision) management illegally stopped putting contractual employer AND employee contributions in so that could use it for operating capital.

          Management then shut the biggest one down after they were found out, and those employees lost every missing penny. Many managers were politically connected, so not a single question was asked and no prosecutions ensued.

          So "antiquated pension system", my big fat red ass - you can take all of your comparative financial analysis experience and shove it where the sun don't shine. And I am not about to start wasting space here spouting numbers which nobody else understands anyway.

          It is clear that the person here who has no feckin clue what they are talking about - despite the long words gleaned from some fancy report - is YOU, "Anonymous" fartbucket. Now go take a long walk off a short pier, and don't come back.

          (1)(0)
        • Some workers have been on LIAT's payroll for over 30 years when LIAT had equipment like the BAC-111. That goes way past 16 years.

          Did the pension issue hit a VERY raw nerve? Did it? Well, tough.

          "Believe half of what you see and a quarter of what you hear, for things are not what they seem".

          Who the hell are some people trying to fool? They hide the numbers, and then in turn, try to hide behind them?

          (1)(0)
          • More nonsense out of your keyboard.

            There is a reason it is named LIAT (1974) Limited - and that new company out of LIAT's bankruptcy came into being a year AFTER the Courtline bankruptcy. LIAT never owned BAC-111s, they belonged to Courtline and disappeared the day Courtline did.

            In other words, there are NO employees who have been continuously on the LIAT payroll since before 1974 - now 44 years ago, even if they had been just hired fresh out of school in 1974 they would be over 65 - and over retirement age - by now, and there are NO employees I know of who would take THAT amount of LIAT management abuse and boolshyte for that long.

            On pensions/Provident Fund, I am unhappy on behalf of my fellow employees who lost out. I had medical retirement and was paid out in full. In my long experience, employee retirement benfits should be sacred, kept apart from operating balances (and General Fund), and the grubby, greedy, nasty hands of both politicians and management.

            LIAT management stole a huge chunk of employee money and got away with it, the government pensions I get now are out of General Fund - and are subject to devaluation and any other vagaries of political abuse.

            (0)(1)
        • They want all people and governments to be emotionally supportive of a company named LIAT.

          After all the LIAT brand destruction being caused by rotten customer service, among other things, they want others not belonging to the Leeward Islands to support Leeward Islands Air Transport (LIAT). If you are not from the Leeward Islands how can create affinity for a brand named "Leeward Islands Air Transport".

          Relays of Board Members and owners seem to know nothing about being customer-centric, and then are totally clueless about marketing. They continue to blow hot air about their assumed monopoly, calling it integration, perhaps seeking to enforce that by political manipulation and customer exploitation .

          Saint Lucia is right on target not to countenance ever pouring money into LIAT's non-disappearing financial blackhole. Blackholes belong to outer space.

          Myopically oblivious to the realities of our modern-day world, technology and competition are continuously disrupting what was once a totally secure market for LIAT.

          This is no longer so. Today, LIAT is at risk at having mainly the senior officers of Sagicor, and Massey making frequent inter-island trips.

          (0)(0)
          • In my knowledge - and for at least 40 years - LIAT has had a Board and management who are utterly incompetent at airlines and at aviation. LIAT has for at least four decades been led by political appointees and friends, and the entire current Board is worse than useless - as clearly proven by their blanket rubber-stamping of the ATR purchases.

            Let me also remind you that LIAT's Top Secret annual accounts have not been seen by ANY public taxpayer for some 40 years.

            My proposition is...

            1. for LIAT to be taken out of the hands of the SMALLEST and most corrupt power-mad shareholder who is responsible for merely 11% of losses - one Marxist Comrade "Fat Boy" Gonsalves - and put it in the hands of a shareholder Prime Minister Committee which meets at the HoG Summits and dictates the broadest of mandates as necessary. Enough with small-village medal-covered El Presidente Maximum Leaders using LIAT as their personal kicking toy for however long they are the shareholder Chairman, and...

            2. for LIAT to have appointed a Board of West Indian citizens from the shareholder countries WHO ACTUALLY HAVE AN EMPLOYMENT BACKGROUND AND / OR REAL PRACTICAL QUALIFICATIONS IN AIRLINES AND / OR AVIATION, and that once appointed they elect a Chairman from among them, and...

            3. for the Board of Directors to REMOVE the entire existing executive of LIAT and hire suitably qualified and experienced individuals to nreplace them. Management have - or should have - no tenure, no permanence. If the new Board wish to allow the current executive to re-apply for their jobs that would be their prerogative, and...

            4. for the Board of Directors to pass on to the new executive of LIAT any mandates handed them by the shareholders, as well as any mandates they decide would be suitable, and in a broad format - without details or specifics, and...

            5. for the new executive of LIAT to have a period of three months to prepare a short-range plan for the airline, and at the same time to prepare a long-range (5-year) plan for the airline to be presented to the Board at six months, and...

            6. for the new executive of LIAT to meet with all unions after three months to explain the plan going forward and how employees will be affected. I would fully expect there to be a contraction of staff numbers initially, but as the airline is dragged to break-even and through to profitability - and hopefully into expansion - those same experienced staff would be needed again and should hold seniority numbers for recall.

            I will not get into specifics and details, because at this high level of planning such would be a futile and time-wasting exercise.

            At such time as LIAT breaks even or becomes profitable, the three outstanding EC countries will have ample reason to be happy to join the LIAT Club - again - and not only ensure its success but perhaps also enjoy the fruits of that Club through profits shared back to the shareholder governments.

            LIAT is now a heavy burden on taxpayers in several countries. Run properly as a professional airline business model, without political interference, which sees economy and efficiency in the provision of air transportation (not to mention in a monopoly situation where there is little or no competition) I say it is easily possible for LIAT to be turned around. But that will NOT happen with a half-assed book-keeper who is a personal friend of the current chairman as CEO, and political friends calling ALL of the shots.

            As they say in Antigua, "Ah whey de money gorn???" But how would WE the people know, since the accounts have been top secret for decades.

            Can you spare a dime, brother? LIAT took my last penny.

            (0)(0)
  4. Why bother subsidise, just reduce or remove the taxes. People would travel in the region more frequently, then LIAT would have revenues to tax or govt held shares would be worth something.

    (10)(0)
  5. Caribbean Nationalist

    Dear Mr. Browne

    We in the Caribbean hear you loud and clear, in fact we know what LIAT needs to do for it's sustainability.
    I do hope that you understand that the rest of the Caribbean cannot continue to prop up the economies of share holding countries of LIAT just because LIAT is needed for caribbean integration. We must negotiate a plan which is fair to the travelling public and the company.

    It is not fair that a tax burden be placed on us to fund LIAT and then finally when we have to travel, we are forced to pay high taxes in each Island that the flight touches.

    Why must I be made to pay taxes in Barbados, St Vincent and Grenada when my flight interest is from St. Lucia to Trinidad? If I have no business in those territories why am I forced to stop as connecting flights and pay taxes there. In my mind that is extortion and illegal.
    So please in the interest of all, let us be fair to each other. LIAT cannot be profitable if all it only gets is US $50- 70.00 to cover it's cost per passenger per flight depending on the destination and the Governments get upwards of $200.00.
    We have to find a new model not just for the survival of LIAT but other new entrants in the industry in order to improve regional travel. For Gods sake we are family.

    (4)(2)
  6. LIAT is essential to the region, this, I admit. Some of the more uninformed among us will deride LIAT then wake up the next day and go to their government job, where they leech upon more productive sectors of the economy.

    LIAT affords 3-4 flights out of Saint Lucia per day. No other airline will afford you this kind of convenience at this price point and it is simply something we as a region cannot give up. It is critical to the regional integration effort.

    What we must do is try to reduce the burden of LIAT on the OECS. The airline needs to be restructured. The restructuring cannot be a "profit model" as this will never happen, public goods are scarcely profitable. LIAT needs an efficient subsidy model with a very lean organizational structure.

    (5)(3)
    • Demand creates its own supply.

      Look at how futile the USA has been using laughable plans like Ship Rider. Its population has gone way past this from cocaine and ganja to opioids.

      They are left still fighting yesterday's drug dependency war. Demand creates its own supply.

      There are other perhaps ,even more effective business communication options. If only we did not have so many old foggy politicians without a vision speaking to a past, but dominating modern day politics.

      (1)(2)
  7. Mr. Chastanet has alway maintain that he will not put money in LIAT until it is being managed properly. Why did you ever think that agreeing to come to a meeting meant agreeing to finance?

    (8)(3)
  8. An airline with these type of planes need a maximum of 35 employees per plane. Liat has about 600 employees for just 9 planes. 1 plus 1 equals 2.

    (4)(1)
    • Actually, that 35 employees per aircraft is an American model. And it is high time we stopped slavishly following what Americans do.

      Fact is, the number of employees per aircraft is more a ratio of local salary levels to fares - more influenced by the usual income-expenses calculation. In Africa or India, where salaries are very low, you might be able to perform a community service and employe twice as many people for the same cost.

      But for such calculations there needs to be a professional suite of executives installed at LIAT, not any old non-aviation friends of the shareholders "seeing what they could do".

      (0)(0)
      • LIAT IS SYMPTOMATIC of what is wrong with Caricom governments. They have captive populations that they rule over like serfs. They tax them mercilessly and lavish spending on themselves and on their lackeys, sucking on the government's tits. Read, purse.

        (0)(0)
  9. very "plane" to see you not so bright Poleon.

    (3)(1)
  10. They need to get a better plain to fly to the as countries liat is no Google they fly when they want always belaying don't have direct flights have to sit in Antigua for too long come on get better than that

    (5)(9)

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