Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit wants countries in the region to invest in intra-regional travel. He believes that governments’ investment in air transportation in the region cannot be supplanted by the private investment sector only.
He made the disclosure during a press briefing on Monday.
According to him, Dominica is prepared to play its part financially. The Prime Minister referred to Leeward Island Air Transport (LIAT), indicating that it should be complemented–but not replaced–by the private sector airlines to give the kind of service that is really needed in these islands.
“The governments must invest in intra-regional travel,” he stated. “Because intra-regional travel for so many islands is really a public good that, while you want these entities to run professionally and greater accountability and greater transparency, there are certain things that you don’t expect from them.”
He continued, “Because they have to fly into areas that a commercial airline running as a private investment will not want to go into and that’s where LIAT was important.”
Skerrit added, “So I would rather I was declared to be wrong by history than I am correct by history.”
This he said is affecting “all of us badly, pointing to the dramatic effect on the economy since the departure of LIAT from the regional scene.
He asserted that this is why in most parts of the world, no matter how developed, the country’s treasury plays a role financially in the running of these airlines, “because of the greater good to the economy.”
The Prime Minister went on to defend his government’s decision to invest in LIAT.
“I hear people complain, including our own citizens about how difficult it is to travel intra-regionally. But I recall when I took the decision on behalf of the government to invest in LIAT. The political opponents of this government and some people in this country criticized me for investing money into LIAT…saying LIAT is a failed company and it makes no profit,” Skerrit argued. “And I cautioned Dominicans, I cautioned those people.”
He said, “If LIAT doesn’t come into Dominica for one day we will have a problem.”
Skerrit said further that he recognizes as Prime Minister of the country the important and unprecedented role that LIAT has played and was playing at the time in terms of intra-regional travel.
“And recognizing our investment, LIAT was most helpful to Dominica, especially after disasters,” he stated. “And I do not believe that there is any other entity that can reasonably be expected to replace the functions of LIAT in the region.”
Skerrit argued that in everything he does there will be people who will oppose him.
“Even if they are thirsty and I give them a glass of water they will have a problem with that,” he remarked. “We have to elevate the content of our discussion in this country.”
He went on to state that, “we cannot do without LIAT for one day, far more for its eternal departure.”
“We just cannot travel,” the Prime Minister stressed. “We can no longer book a flight this afternoon for tonight. You have to book a flight months in advance.”
The Prime Minister explained that to travel from Dominica to Grenada, “you have to go through Miami. And how many of us have a US Visa?”
He said this is a “regional emergency.”
He thanked Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, Gaston Brown for his heroic effort in at least having a couple of the planes flying and providing the service.
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Must correct Darwin Telemaque’s statement on mr. Peltier’s radio programme on Q95 this morning. Intercaribbean Airways has no financial participation in British
Airways. They do have an interlining agreement with BA. The airline was founded by its owner and C.E.O. Lyndon Gardiner, a pilot who used to fly for Air Turks & Caicos. It is a private enterprise.
Unfortunately, many of the sycophants who are responding to this article either do not travel frequently or are so imbedded with the Roosevelt led DLP that they will say almost anything without performing any basis analysis of this situation. For starters, most if not all the Caribbean islands cater to international tourism, vs. regional tourism. Their prices are listed in either US or Euros. For example a five day stay to include travel and hotel to St. Vincent and the Grenadines is US$600.00. If we multiply that price by the exchange rate to the EC$2.70 we have a total of EC1 620.00 per person. If we multiply that price by 4 persons assuming that the two children are 10 years or older, we have a total of EC$6480.00 for a family of 4 to vacation in St. Vincent 5.5 days. Given the GDP of the islands, there are very few people in most of the Eastern Caribbean islands who can afford this price for vacation. And that’s the financial reality of this situation.
This was not always the case. I am old enough to remember people going to neighboring islands for a week’s vacation, not necessarily to stay at a hotel, but to hang out at a friend’s home. But in more recent times the various governments have treated passengers as cash vows imposing all kinds of fees, including airport improvement fees to name a few.
There is a reason why budget airline all over the world fly into smallet airports close to major metropolitan centres ( where possible).
These very same governments have commissioned studied that have told them the fees and taxes are sniffling travel, but they ignore the findings because it goes against what they have been doing.
As someone who has worked in the private sector where one has to pivot when a practice is not working, I cannot understand the mode of thinking of these governments.
Hey boy, let’s ask for help to fix Roseau, nuh! It’s a miracle that a tourist haven’t filed a lawsuit against your government for injury from a Broken “sidewalk”.
LIAT’s problem is the expectation of the shareholder governments. It tried to please their demands for so many flights a day to each island, even if it meant flying empty and hop to multiple islands on one flight. If it can rid itself of politcal interference, streamline the number of daily flights, and the island hopping, it could become a profitable and self-sustaining airline. Also, governments must reduce all the junk fees on tickets to encourage travel.
The Prime Minister explained that to travel from Dominica to Grenada, “you have to go through Miami.
That is a lie.
Everything he says s a lie, you should be wise by now!
Indeed! This man just thrives on lies
I checked this and did not see any “going through Miami”
Lies as always however I do have a problem with the travel time to Grenada. Arrival between 8pm and 9pm that’s just crazy. Grenada is just down the island chain
If lies were water, the entire world would have been flooded by now by Lying Roosevelt.
He has lied about the coup d’ etat, electoral reform, the bogus doctorates, ROSS replacement, the missing $2.5B, leaving the palatial castle, new cruise ship facilities, agricultural boats, revitalization of Roseau, etc.
He even lied by omission of Melissa’s qualification and academic fitness as a parliamentarian.
I want to offer this bargain to Roosevelt. If you stop telling lies, I will stop telling the truth about you.
They all have international airpots which service their tourism industry. The bulk of their air travel passengers are international tourists. Inter-island travel is not a priority for them unlike Dominica with no international travel is desperately dependant on the inter-island carrier! Elementary my dear PM, and kakarat Dominica stay there!
We should have had an international airport two decades ago, you PM Skerrit and your $1 Tourism Minister at the time cancelled, terminated, and delayed the international airport! Too late shall be the cry!
I am in TOTAL AGREEMENT with you. He listens to those that are advancing their Islands and I think they’re laughing at him because he sucks it all in. Getting a flight to Dominica from Miami, we have to go to SC, ATL, TX, even as far as NY. He doesn’t realize people don’t go home because of that issue. People from all of the other Islands can go to their home in as simple as 1, 2, 3. Can’t wait for that International Airport that they broke ground, when again?
Government has no business investing in an airline. On the contrary it should help airlines coming here to bring money spending here by lowering landing and handling fees and taxes on airfares. If so many governments in the world financially support their airlines I challenge him to list those countries and airlines and not come with blanket assertions, which are blatantly untrue. Come on Roosevelt, be specific and name those countries and airlines, come on!
I supported Dominica’s investment in LIAT because it was a wise decision. LIAT is valuable and useful infrastructure in the Caribbean. As the PM says, it is a public good. LIAT does not have to be financially profitable for it to be a sustainable venture. As long as the losses are sustainable, LIAT will be fine. But the shareholder governments must seriously consider making the airfares more affordable. The prices and fees were ridiculous.
No intelligent person would invest in a busy that is associated with chronic failure perennially. Throwing the poor tax player’s money in LIAT is like throwing well baked steak in a stable populated with horses.
You and thebPM do not know what a pubilc good is. Roads & radio are examples of a public good; it is free to everyone. An airline is not because its flight is a service that can only be enjoyed by paying customers.
Most people cannot afford to fly regionally. These lazy governments have made intra-regional travel so expensive that whether it is LIAT or a private sector airline, operating an airline in the region is very challenging (because the respective governments made it so).
Skerrit and Gaston Browne are taking a very myopic view of intra-regional travel. If Gaston was so concerned about ease of travel within the region, let a business case be made where it made the most sense to move LIAT out of Antigua and see how he responds. Gaston is only interested in regional travel provided LIAT is headquartered in Antigua. His interests are not in alignment with Skerrit’s, but Skerrit cannot see that. He continues to be bamboozled by Gaston Browne.
It’s like Donald and Vladimir. Donald said if he was in office Vladimir wouldn’t invade Ukraine because he, Donald, would give Vladimir what Vladimir wanted. Roosevelt is giving Gaston and the others whatever they want, which is promoting their Islands while Dominica remains in the gutter. That’s what the people on the Island refuses to see.
Once bitten, twice shy. These cash strapped governments will be fools to throw hundreds of millions in an eerily constructed bottomless well.
The reality is a good regional airline liat can help to really make the Caribbean region the most beautiful place on planet earth 🌏. The Caribbean is beautiful 😍 but the struggle to get fro. One island 🏝 to the next is so off putting it is unreal. Caribbean governments have to trust the process and believe that they will all benefit in one way or another if we have cheap inter island 🏝 air travel..we Caribbean people wort together to achieve something there’s nobody on the planet that does it better for a better outcome.
Utopia Dedits. This presumes that all the islands have a common goal and interest when in reality they each paddle their own canoe. Is their a regional government with a common budget with one finance minister? No. Everybody wants to be a hero and a champion while meanwhile we begging developed countries to finance this project and that project. And where does that aid end up if it is disbursed someone who insists he runs things. OK Dedits, you’d better keep believing in Father Christmas.
There is an urgent need for improved intra island travel in the region as the downsizing of LIAT has left a monumental void. A new dispensation is required as LIAT comes to the table with too much baggage.
These governments should not be managing any airline as this industry is so fickle and competitive. Leave this to the private sector. Give them the necessary breaks and incentives to not only survive but to flourish.
If all the heads of government in the member states of the OECS were to apply for a job in the private sector, just a cursory glance of their performance in government, their application would be dismissed forthwith without the customary formalities.
“A new dispensation is required as LIAT comes to the table with too much baggage.”
In my experience, LIAT usually arrives with not enough baggage!
Great one! I burst out spontaneously after reading. You will make a brilliant comedian. Chris Rock and Kevin Hart have nothing over you.
I am in total agreement with PM Skerrit. It is really a most difficult feat trying to get from one island to the next. There were so many people who wanted to travel to Dominica for carnival and could not go because there were no flights available. LIAT travels to St. Thomas on Sundays only. The inbound flight leaves St. Thomas at 2:40pm one stop in Antigua and then to Dominica. Return has to be on a Saturday with an overnight in Antigua or travel to Tortola and catch the ferry to St. Thomas. LIAT may not make much profit but helps to boost the economy of the islands.