Pay up or lose LIAT service, Barbadian banker advises

By Barbados TODAY

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Barbados TODAY – A local banker who was instrumental in raising nearly BDS$50 million through a regional bond issue to ensure LIAT’s survival over a decade ago is advising shareholder governments to withdraw service from Caribbean countries that refuse to pump cash into the struggling airline.

“The easiest thing for LIAT or any airline company to do is to say, ‘I am cutting that route’. If you cut the route to Dominica, for example, what will happen?” former president of the Barbados Bankers Association Horace Cobham said.

At present, only Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica and St Vincent and the Grenadines contribute financially to the cash-strapped carrier.

Some Caribbean leaders, including Dr Keith Mitchell of Grenada and Dr Timothy Harris of St Kitts and Nevis have made it clear they would not invest in LIAT.

The St Lucian prime minister Allen Chastanet recently joined that list, making it clear his country would not put a dollar into the regional airline.

Without making reference to any of these countries, Cobham told Barbados TODAY some tough decisions would have to be taken if LIAT were to be made into a viable entity.

Among those decisions, he said, was to stop serving the countries that did not contribute financially.

“Some routes aren’t commercially viable. So if you are saying at the political level we need LIAT to fly there, then you will have to pay for it and that is where the problem exists in LIAT. Because it is called a Caribbean airline, they feel that it has to fly there even if it has just ten people, and if you don’t fly there, the politicians will get up in arms,” he said.

Cobham made it clear LIAT was playing an important role in Caribbean aviation and was “not something you can get rid of”.

However, the former CIBC and Royal Bank executive told Barbados TODAY the airline needed to improve its internal operational structures and hold management accountable.

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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.

11 comments

  1. Goodbye Liat! There are other airlines. And you know u need our money.

    (1)(0)
  2. LIAT.... has always been a Barbados and Antigua Airline let them spend money on it..chupss

    (1)(0)
  3. LIAT is too fat! Too many inefficiencies that are too costly to fix now. Let the airline go bankrupt and then rebuild it.

    As for that banker's statement...utter nonsense. If you cut St. Lucia, Trinidad and Jamaica isnt that suicide?. I understand you are trying to defend your reputation which hinges on that big 50 million dollar bond offer you did but now its time to wake up and smell the coffee. LIAT is a money pit with little returns to show for it.

    You aint getting a single lucian dollar. Cut us if u will I use Caribbean airlines anyway.

    (1)(0)
  4. That is the beginning of the issues we have with LIAT. It is impossible that an airline who makes multiple stops who charges exorbitant fees such as list for 20 minute and 30 minute trips, stopping and making double money along their routes is failing. Why? This is the question! I could fly to the USA and pay US$450 return...I will fly to St.Maarten from SLU and pay US$450 when the flight is 1/6 of the time. Does this make sense? I need to know what is the fleet size and why can't we dedicate one aircraft for each island and allow that aircraft to make maximum two trips a day, on time, on schedule each day.....let's see what the results would be.
    The inefficiencies stem from the hotel fees which must be paid each time a connection is missed because management has not schedule the flights to ensure that there is a few hours lay away. I think an aircraft for each island is the key, with set times. Management remains incompetent and that needs to be dealt with as well.

    (6)(0)
  5. You all so called big island people still believe we are stupid. Aren't you aware that we still pay what is called "air fare" and to travel on LIAT, from St Lucia, this air fare is extremely high? When our tax money is used to guarantee a loan for an ill operated company we will be the one to pay the loan. Will the air fare go lower? NO!. So why should we pay that guarantee?

    (4)(0)
  6. LIAT being operated like a damn crooked sou-sou. As such, it has already been arranged who will get the pay-offs. Saint Lucia is not one of those. All that we are doing is paying exorbitantly high airfares to keep up employment levels in the hubs, where the shareholders reside.

    (3)(1)
  7. Crash the route. Crash the route. Keep it crashed for two whole years! By this, LIAT will be made viable. At one time, if one wanted to travel to a country in the Caribbean basin, one had to go to Puerto Rico, St. Maarten, Miami or Caracas. We have been there and done that, bloke!

    (1)(0)
  8. in Antigua 500 Liat employees ??? whouw! I wonder what they have to do.

    (11)(0)
  9. so this guy thinks that LIAT flyin only to "Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica and St Vincent and the Grenadines" it would survive??? haha think again LIAT would crumble even faster. and you cannot force other islands governments to invest. each island has its own issues to deal with. and if the four of yall as countries cant sort it out... u rather drag other islands down with u. like the end of the article says LIAT has to do a major overhual from within. the company is not being run properly.

    (13)(0)
  10. Hahahaha what a stupid statement by a so called educated donkey living in the dark ages. Liat needs the islands more than they need LIAT. If they cut the route guess what? They lose money and will be further in the red. All the countries who don't contribute are some of Liat's best money making routes. So go right ahead and pull out someone else will come and fill the gap. It's about time our leaders act responsibly with the tax payers money and I agree with My PM Chastanet along with Grenda and St.Kitts NO TAX PAYERS MONEY FOR LIAT!!!

    (35)(7)
  11. I don't know the nitty gritty details of this, but is pumping money the answer to LIAT's problems?
    I honestly don't think governments should continue to pump money into LIAT as over the years it has been cited as a failure and continues to be plagued with issues, that contributions from governments cannot seem to remedy.

    What really is driving the inefficiencies and incompetence of this airline? What really is the root cause of their issues? Is Antigua the best hub, will it be better managed if the hub is in another island?
    Must the government provide money simply because it is LIAT serving the Caribbean?

    In my opinion to continuously pump money in something that does not appear to be improving is plain foolishness unless something is actively being done to minimize some of the identified inefficiencies.

    (30)(1)

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