Cash-strapped LIAT wants hurricane aid too

By CMC

LIAT’S CEO, Julie Reifer-Jones.

(CMC) — A senior official of the financially-strapped regional airline, LIAT, says the struggling Antigua-based carrier should also be considered for assistance as the region emerges from the devastation caused by the passage of Hurricanes Irma and Maria through the Lesser Antilles last month.

LIAT’s chief executive officer, Julie Reifer-Jones, made the suggestion on the side-lines of the presentation of a US$550,000 cheque by CIBC First Caribbean to assist with evacuation flights and other forms of relief for seven storm-battered territories, namely Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas, the British Virgin Islands, St Kitts and Nevis, St Martin and Turks and Caicos Islands.

She said LIAT had suffered substantial losses as a result of the passage of the two hurricanes adding, “frankly the discussions about relief efforts going forward should include relief efforts for LIAT.”

She said that the loss to the carrier’s network as a result of the recent storms had been estimated at more than US$4 million and that LIAT, to date, had completed 54 relief flights to affected countries that were mostly “unfunded”.

“We are still in the process of refining these numbers but I would have to say between four to six million US dollars,” she said, adding that “we have been severely impacted by the removal of literally four territories out of the network overnight.”

Prior to the hurricanes, the regional airline had reported that it expected to record an US$9.2 million loss at the end of this year.

Chairman of the airline’s shareholder governments, Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves of St Vincent and the Grenadines, said LIAT’s budgeted total revenue for 2016 was US$34.4 million, with a small net profit of US$1.85 million reported up to August last year.

However, Gonsalves had also stated at the time that shareholders were considering a request to provide an additional EC$5 million for the airline, which, once approved, would be divided between Barbados, St Vincent and the Grenadines, and Antigua and Barbuda, who along with Dominica are its four major shareholders.

But Reifer-Jones acknowledged that with the airline’s total bookings now down 24 per cent, a review of LIAT’s operations was necessary in the wake of the hurricanes.

“We are still in the process of doing an assessment of the full impact [of the storms]. But, I can tell you that it is substantial,” she said, adding that “we will have to step back and review how we go forward in terms of air transportation for the region.

“The issue for us, and this is based on our experience with hurricanes over the years, is that the recovery at the market is not immediate.

“So, it’s not just about the hurricanes. What you have to do is to look at the impact covering the next six to nine months,” Reifer-Jones said, while indicating that it had taken Dominica nine months to a year to return to “a normal state” for travel after Tropical Storm Erika struck the island in August 2015.

“So, during that time the amount of flights we had to Dominica were reduced from five to two and over time we increased to the normal levels,” she said while highlighting the need for a robust regional disaster planning system.

“We need to have a mechanism in place,” Reifer-Jones said, noting “these things have a cost on the regional air transportation services”.

 

(2)(11)
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18 comments

  1. LIAT always begging for money... The Airline has no contingency planning, no reserves, pitiful labor relations, and inefficient management. It's like a fat boy trying to catch up to his school bus sweating and wheezing. Disgraceful.

    LIAT needs to shed its fat and streamline its operations. There is no other way. Unless the Airline shows some sign of managerial and political will to become better, it will not win the support of the CARICOM public or their heads.

    (2)(0)
    • Liat has always been dubious, shame there is no other option in the Caribbean. I live in the UK and bought 4 flights to Tortola from Barbados when we are on holiday in Barbados. The recent storms have destroyed our hotel in Tortola. With no where to stay on Tortola Liat has refused to refund the flights. We have now booked a hotel in Grenada and Liat wishes us to buy 4 completely new tickets to Grenada. How can this be justified. I travel around the world frequently and I will be telling this to everyone who will listen.

      (0)(0)
  2. Now is the perfect time to finally shut down LIAT!!!

    (0)(0)
  3. Corporate welfare? Is that how LIAT stays in the air? All those forced to fly on this miserable airline pays a significant price for the employment of people whose government are the major shareholders. Is there an end to all this shameless nonsense?

    Governments that do not know how to govern and managers who do not know how to manage. That is the spectacular LIAT record and history.

    (0)(0)
  4. LIAT is it's own enemy. So when they're on strike every Christmas in Antigua or Barbados they can't see it's revenue that is being lost. You asking for relief ? that contract should have been given to the Venezuelan Plane because they were already in the Islands giving free service. How many free flights LIAT gave to the battered Islands? Go on strike again December this year LIAT !!!!

    (2)(1)
  5. Well just have more flights to the unaffected islands. I guess you don't want to come to SLU because we not throwing money down your tubes. At long last LIAT will have to work for every damn dollar.

    (3)(1)
  6. LIAT HAS BEEN INCURRING LOSES YET SO MANY CHANGE OF CEO ,S TO DEFUNCT MERGERS THAT ENDED WITH ONE CARRIER OUT OF BUSINESS..ITS SO SAD AFTER SO MANY YEARS LIAT SHOULD BE THE SHINING STAR IN CARIBBEAN AVIATION ITS NOTHING BUT A RUSTY LICKING ROOF..I BLAME THE GOVERNMENT OF THE EASTERN CARIBBEAN THAT BEEN FINANCING LIAT FINANCIAL DISASTERS WHICH BEEN WORSE THAN A HURRICANE..WHAT A FIASCO WHEN LIAT COULD HAVE BEEN PRIVATISED AND SHARES SOLD TO FOREIGN INVESTOR'S GREEDY LIAT WANT MOST ROUTES CANNOT PROVIDE SERVICE WITH SHRINKING CAPITAL..WHAT A WAISTE

    (4)(0)
  7. Those liat personnel dont have shame. Lol . wasnt the miney given to liat to lift the people. As far as i see the country that benefitin from liat should cut them some money. Antigua. St vincent.

    (11)(0)
  8. The nerve of some people . Just get out of the business, god dam it.

    (13)(0)
  9. They are at a loss because their prices are ridiculous.... Service is shitty and too many overpaid workers sitting behind big desk doing nothing

    (14)(0)
    • Their prices are ridiculously high because of governments like ours paste high taxes onto the ticket prices. In fact, these taxes are always higher than the actual cost of the ticket.

      (6)(2)
  10. Wonders never cease. Imagine that a business entity that is supposed to show a profit, a profit mind you, feels emboldened to beg for relief. Isn't it relief from gross incompetence that they should be asking for?

    Now if management is in very fine form, with its mendicant approach to management, when do you expect this airline ever to turn the corner and show a profit? When?

    LIAT is a joke. It is only that the riders are not the ones laughing. In fact, they have never laughed.

    (12)(1)
  11. Go cry the governments that are majority stakeholders , spineless rats ........

    (7)(1)
  12. My store has incurred losses as well.......I guess I ought to qualify for relief.
    Take a salary cut and remove the privileges and perks that the executives enjoy. Perhaps it is about time that the bottom of the pan falls off. Sometime entropy is best.

    (10)(1)
  13. No shame LIAT.

    (17)(2)
    • Please forget your bias and try on some objective glasses. The lady is very right to ask for governmental assistance. If Liat has provided relief flights, and that would be on behalf of the various governments (including ours), unfunded even, why shouldn't it ask for assistance? In this case, she is very bright!

      (2)(12)
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