Despite financial problems LIAT says it will continue to operate

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Despite financial problems LIAT says it will continue to operate
Chief Executive of LIAT, Julie Reifer-Jones
Chief Executive of LIAT, Julie Reifer-Jones

ST. JOHN’S, Antigua, Mar 1, CMC – The financially strapped regional airline, LIAT, Friday said it would continue to operate across the region and has sought to re-assure passengers that it would continue to operate in a “safe and efficient manner”.

The airline’s chief executive officer, Mrs. Julie Reifer-Jones, responding to reports that the airline is facing severe financial problems and could possibly be grounded in the coming days, said that while the Antigua-based airline is in a challenging financial situation, “LIAT has continued flying through the region with support from its principal shareholders”.

The major shareholders are the governments of Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley on Thursday night said while his country has a “miniscule” shareholding in LIAT, “it is not the intention of Trinidad and Tobago to get involved in any ownership or subsidy arrangements with LIAT.

“However, the heads of government (at their summit in St. kitts-Nevis earlier this week) were informed that LIAT is in serious financial difficulties, meaning within a matter of a fortnight an injection of a minimum of five million US dollars is needed in order to keep flying.

“Now if LIAT ceases to fly, I need not tell you the economic and other impact that would have on the region. While Trinidad and Tobago does not rely heavily on LIAT for transportation the other territories are virtually at the mercy of a LIAT service,” Rowley told reporters, adding that the meeting noted “this is a matter for the shareholders of LIAT”.

Earlier this week, Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne said shareholder governments would need to do what is necessary in order to save the financially strapped regional airline, LIAT.

“Whatever is necessary to save LIAT will be quintessential for all stakeholders to cooperate. It does not matter the sacrifice that is required, we all have to make sure that we play a role to keep LIAT in the air,” he said.

Mrs Reifer-Jones said that the airline has also been operating to destinations where there has been no support from governments and authorities to ensure that critical connectivity remains.

She said that the current discussions with regional governments are intended to put in place new arrangements which provide a basis for sharing the burden amongst all the countries currently benefitting from LIAT’s services.

The chief executive officer said that all stakeholders, whether labour, suppliers or financiers will be called upon to make adjustments aimed at achieving a viable airline operation.

The airline has already been working to improve its On-Time Performance, and she indicated that 83 per cent of the airline’s flights were on time in 2018.

The airline is currently undergoing a restructuring exercise which is expected to improve the operations of the airline as the company moves to build a sustainable model.

LIAT currently operates 491 flights weekly across its network of 15 destinations.

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  1. I guess this is what happens when you elevate a hotel book-keeper to a senior CFO position in an industry they know nothing about - and then elevate them further in the same industry FAR past their level of incompetence.

    What's the problem with LIAT? The same thing that has been pointed out THOUSANDS of times over the last 50 years, but those in power who can make a differe4nce4 simply never listen.

    Now the leaders of majority owner Barbados have the means and the opportunity to set LIAT on the path to recovery, and what do they do? They arrange meetings with the same unqualified peope who are destroying the airline from the inside and seek their advice.

    So here it is again:

    1. REMOVE the current shareholder Chairman from the top position at LIAT, and install the PM of one of the islands who actually give a damn about LIAT's survival.

    2. REMOVE the entire Board, including failed tourism "author" Holder, and INSTALL instead people who have at least a fraction of a clue about how an airline should operate.

    3. REMOVE all of the top management who had NO training or experience in aviation and airlines before they came to LIAT. If all you know about running an airline is what you learned at LIAT, then you will never be an asset towards helping LIAT change and survive.

    4. INSTALL professional management, with real airline experience and training, the wider their experience the better. DO NOT install executives from some other industry and (yet aqain) ask them to "see what they could do". An airline is NOT a telecommunications business, it is NOT a haberdashery or hardware store, and it is NOT a hotel or tourism venture. NOR are LIAT executive management positions places to learn about airlines.

    5. MOST IMPORTANT, extract all politicians, political appointees and political insiders from the airline, stop micro-managing the airline from ANY Ministers Offices, and allow the airline to be run on a commercial basis.

    6. EXPECT there to be some lay-offs - but remember that, if it is run properly and without interference, there will be expansion and those same people and skills will be needed again.

    7. Direct the CFO to assemble and make available to any person who asks for them all DETAILED annual accounts - NO REDACTIONS. Taxpayer money of at least four countries has supported LIAT for DECADES to the tune of hundreds of millions of US dollars, and the public has a FUNDAMENTAL RIGHT to review the accounts of the past.

    8. LIAT does NOT need more shareholders, what LIAT needs is professional management who are left alone to get on with the job.

    For Heavens' sake, pull ALL of the politicians and political appointees out of LIAT's ass and let it be an airline for the first time in over 50 years.

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