Motley: LIAT doomed under current ownership; fellow leaders not on same page

Barbados Prime Minister, Mia Motley, has insisted that LIAT – the regional airline jointly owned by Barbados and three other Caribbean governments including Dominica– is “doomed” under its current ownership, declaring her fellow leaders are “not on the same page” on the future of the cash-strapped carrier. Motley was speaking at a recent Public townhall meeting entitled “CSME – What’s in it for me?” in Barbados.

She has also said that the airline’s viability is not the sole responsibility of CARICOM, even as she declared that sustainable, reliable and affordable air travel is necessary for the region to grow.

She instead explained that is the issue of three or four governments needing to have shareholder discussions.

Mottley, who has lead responsibility for the Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME) in CARICOM’s quasi-cabinet, was speaking as a panelist at a CARICOM Secretariat-sponsored town hall meeting at the University of the West Indies (UWI), Cave Hill campus.

In a series of frank assessments of the fate of the 63-year-old carrier, she maintained that if the success of LIAT was left in the hands of the shareholder Governments alone, the regional carrier was doomed.

She did state, however, that it was important to be united on the future of the airline, which this year – despite a series of challenges in upgrading its fleet, control costs and manage a huge payroll – became one of the top on-time carriers in the region.

She hinted that the breakdown in negotiations between Barbados and Antigua and Barbuda on the sale of Barbados’ majority shares occurred because of their inability to come to an agreement.

Mottley reiterated the need for a minimum revenue guarantee policy to be implemented at LIAT, noting there was a similar policy at international carriers American Airlines and Virgin Atlantic Airways – again, stressing that in its current format, LIAT was simply not sustainable.

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  1. Francisco Etienne-Dods Telemaque
    November 9, 2019

    Any  Airline with a limited Route such as LIAT has is compelled to fail! 

    LIAT has been a failed entity from way back in the 1950’s  way back from it’s inception, it survived when there were no International Airports in Grenada, St, Lucia and St. Vincent!

    True it went as far  as Guyana doing Island hoping even to Barbados.

    Whereas all of the Islands except Dominica between North & South America have International Airports even with connecting flights to the islands in the Caribbean, and North America, and Europe; the payload capacity of LIT has shrunk more drastically since its heyday!  

    There is no point of any government wasting money on LIAT as long as as the serving routs remain the status quo!

    If after sixty years in service LIAT does not have a single international flight; it is obvious the problem arrives from politics.

    Government cannot operate an airline effectively.

    Even if Gaston Brown buy LIAT it is destine to fail.

     Burden Roosevelt with…

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1
  2. bimjim
    November 7, 2019

    PM Mottley…

    With all due respect, you refuse to defecate, so get the hell off the pot. Almost two years ago you had LIAT in the palm of your hand, you received advice to make LIAT a commercially, professionally run entity to remove the financial demands on the shareholders, and you did NOTHING.

    In fact you took a negative steps – despite being told that the current LIAT team (from shareholder Chairman down to CEO) had proved themselves over DECADES to be a waste of time and money, those are the only people you consulted – three times.

    Then you had a chance to sell the LIAT shares to Antigua for EC$40 million, yet your team demanded EC$44 million and I understand when that was refused they then walked out of the “negotiations”. So PM Browne has offered to inflate his country’s own shares by putting that amount into Antigua’s shareholding.

    So who won? Cash-strapped Barbados lost a potential BDS$30 million (US$14.8 million) added to the Treasury, and Barbados will lose…

  3. Jack Sparrow
    November 7, 2019

    When, not If, Liat folds, to get to St. Lucia we will have to go through the US.
    To get to Barbados will have to go through the US same day flight
    To get to Antigua will have to go through the US same day flight.
    However, to get to Dominica, we will have to go through the US, take a flight to Guadeloupe, Overnight, buy a ferry ticket, and come by boat. wayyy papa.

  4. Shaka zulu
    November 6, 2019

    The bottom line is you need volume and inter island commerce. CARICOM struggling with integration there is not enough inter island travel and every country build international airport. As a result the most frequent travelers to the Caribbean, the tourist dont need liat when they can travel straight to thier destination. Sell the Caribbean tourism destination as a package. Antigua does not have Mountain and volcanic. The all inclusive hotels can do day trips to Dominica as part of package. That would help liat by increasing volumes and increasing revenue whithin the tourism sector. We are still maintaining the island mentality in our plans. The hotel chains need to start building partnerships within the island and sell bonds to public to raise funds for project so they can be part of growth and build wealth. We need vision in this region.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 21 Thumb down 1
    • Pa Tat
      November 6, 2019

      That’s the kind of forward thinking we need in the Caribbean and more so in Dominica

    • foreign observer
      November 7, 2019

      In the early 1990s, LIAT did offer day trips – out of Barbados – to the other islands, including Dominica, St. Lucia and Grenada. Arrive on the early morning flight, tour island, leave on the late afternoon flight, back to Barbados. I certainly took advantage of this opportunity to dispatch visitors for day trips, so that they, too, could discover the beauty of other places. And they all loved Dominica as it was at the time!

      Of course, that was before the LIAT schedule was so badly adjusted that it became impossible to have a day trip from Barbados to Dominica (as the schedule the last time I was with you, the last flight back to BGI left before noon).

      I was a regular traveller on the old 5:30 pm flight to BGI from Melville Hall, and I continue to wonder why the flight schedule became so restricted. Certainly not advantageous to Dominica, despite Dominica being a shareholder.

      Perhaps this is an adjustment that needs consideration.

      Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0
      • Shaka zulu
        November 8, 2019

        It tells me we are a regressive society and i think this is largely due to massive brain drain in tbe carribbean. I know most of the thi gs we are talking about doing we once did especially when under the British. The islands were mostly under the British so movement inbtw was more frequent. The cari should have been given independence as a block not individual islands. No country should have taken independence untill all the others were independent. That way we would have a Caribbean federal government. What it did was weaken us and maintained that dependency on the crown. Britain was deliberate, and so they set up tbe commonwealth as a way of passive control. The short sightedness of our fore fathers are biting us in the butt today. It is up to us the youth to correct. Liat is a victim of that dynamic and so to is CARICOM. A reigion of over 40 million not including millions in the diaspora, bauxite oil, minerals and the large marine resources. No reason we cannot be economically free

  5. jamie
    November 6, 2019

    Liat is a waste of time and money,i can never fly this incompetent airline,This lady is right on point,Antigua is the sole benefeciary of this airline.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 1
    • lmckoy
      November 8, 2019

      Sometimes I wonder if flights are scheduled to force some passengers to overnight in Antigua – allowing the country to benefit from the extra cost for hotel, taxis and food, at a minimum.

  6. Nature Isle
    November 6, 2019

    I agree that LIAT needs an operational change. Perhaps citizens can be encouraged to invest also. We need an influx of private investors and skilled managers to make it more efficient. I just wonder if they can really do that. Presently, the fares are still too expensive inter island, so not certain where the input from the 3 Governments is going. Either way, a change is needed.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 1
  7. TJ
    November 6, 2019

    LIAT is one of Antigua’s major employer.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 1
  8. bimjim
    November 5, 2019

    Antigua expressed interest in the majority of Barbados’ shares, Barbados agreed in principle to sell them – and then got greedy. I was told the Barbados team walked out of the negotiations.

    More than a year ago Mottley had the power, the shareholding, the professional advice (in writing) and the opportunity to convert LIAT into a commercialy viable airline with qualified airline professionals at the helm. Instead she chose to consult three times with the same team who have brought it to such losses – from Marxist PM Gonsalves through Jean Holder, the Board and the CEO – and of course all they know is more of the same.

    Yes, LIAT is a necessary resource in our island chain, but it has been mismanaged for DECADES with nobody at the top particularly interested in change.

    So WHEN LIAT folds, you will know who to blame. People below the top cannot make such decisions on their own authority, it is the politicians who have kept LIAT as a burden on the the shareholder Treasuries.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 3
    • Shaka zulu
      November 6, 2019

      Liat is just a reflection of how our leaders manage islands. Politic and benifits for friends will the organization is a total failure. Mia motley pointed out the dissapointed performance of the island and current trends will make us the poorest region in the world. Well liat is an extension so i am pazzled that we expect liat do well.

      Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1
  9. DAPossieMasse
    November 5, 2019

    Can you imagine what would happen to air travel in Dominica if LIAT folds? Hmmmmmmm what a calamity.

    The over and over again promises of building an international airport has come to fruition.

    • Pipo
      November 7, 2019

      Is that a justification for charging us exorbitant prices?

      Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0
    • November 7, 2019

      It’s not like LIAT is the only airline in the region. If they fold, there would be opportunity for airlines like Air Antilles, WinAir, and others to offer more flights. We’d probably be better off, not worse.

      Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0
  10. dee
    November 5, 2019

    just couldn’t say she don’t need LIAT to bring in ROSS students . They catch direct flights from the USA to Barbados and , this is what is important .She don’t particularly want them to visit the other islands on their summer vacation, but rather stay in Barbados we welcome you .
    Go Girl Go , not even Skerrit tears she will help wipe , I sure .

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 17 Thumb down 4
    • bimjim
      November 6, 2019

      This is a very narrow, superficial view. Over 98% of LIAT’s passengers are regional citizens. LIAT has no dependence on foreign students or passengers.

  11. Kurt Harris
    November 5, 2019

    Allan Chastnet has be saying that for over a decade now

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 1
    • bimjim
      November 6, 2019

      Chastanet is just one. Many others – aviation professionals and hotel owners throughout the region included – have occasionally tried to get the politicians to see the reality of their stupidity, but at LIAT there must be no changes. At least four years ago St. Lucia PM Anthony before him made it clear that SLU would not be investing unless there were changes to the way LIAT was managed… no changes, no investment. Of course, the Marxist approach of Comrade Ralph Gonsalves requires that citizens support national institutions with their tax dollars, so over the years some Billion US dollars have been flushed for the LIAT toilet.

  12. Gary
    November 5, 2019

    Prime Minister Mia Motley if you are dissatisfied with the current ownership of LIAT sell the shares your Government own and stop playing politics with innuendos.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 4 Thumb down 6
    • bimjim
      November 6, 2019

      She got greedy and wanted more than Antigua was offering. So she lost the income and now PM Browne is putting his offer directly into LIAT shares.

  13. The Calabash
    November 5, 2019

    I am struggling to understand the issues here. Wish the PM would have provided more explanations, rather than ‘minimum revenue guarantee’. What does that mean? What are the issues?… High costs of operations, regional government taxation, traffic volumes, lack of cooperative agreements with international airlines, more regional routes to larger islands ….??? What?

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1
    • bimjim
      November 6, 2019

      These are measures foreign airlines came up with to make more profit – AA started it in Grenada.

      If LIAT were run as a commercial entity, 1. the costs would not be as high, and 2. where the cost of a particular sector was not normally covered by an adequate number of passengers, the fare would be higher. That’s just business.

      But Marxist Comrade Ralph (with just 11% of the losses) demands that the shareholder taxpayers should foot the bill, so they have transferred that approach to LIAT.

      It makes NO difference who owns LIAT or does not own LIAT, the fares have nothing to with shareholding. Fares are a reflection of the operating cost, not what a taxpayer can be squeezed for.

      If Barbados-Grenada costs more than they are earning now, then raise the fare. It really is that simple. But to know if any particular route is profitable or not you MUST have “metrics” involved in every area of your airline – that is, accounting for every expense and tracking where those expenses…

  14. Ibo France
    November 5, 2019

    The collapse of LIAT and no immediate replacement will be a huge economic hit to the Region. Just like Dominica, LIAT needs a fresh start with new leadership. You can’t be doing the same thing repeatedly and expect change. For the stability of the economies in CARICOM, I pray for common sense and successful negotiations to prevail. If LIAT happens to fail, Dominica goose is cooked. Bad leadership brings terrible consequences.

  15. zandoli
    November 5, 2019

    Why is the issue of exorbitant regional taxes and fees not factored into the viability of the airline. When these governments recognize the detrimental effects of high taxes and fees, only then will LIAT have a sliver of a chance of surviving. That is to say LIAT’s management is doing the best to drive toward profitability.

    The best these governments can do is, reduce or eliminate the high taxes and fees on airfares, allow an arms-length company to run the airline with no direct government interference and judge the management team on performance – on-time performance, customer service and most importantly profitability. These are the metrics by which they should judged. But the politicians must first get out of the way.

    Airlines are difficult beasts to run at the best of times. When you have incompetent politicians sticking their noses in the day to day running of the airline, it is doomed to fail.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1
    • bimjim
      November 6, 2019

      Most politicians have become the scum of the earth. In the Caribbean they used to be lawyers, educated people, these days we even have one who has no legal training but calls himself a lawyer – and he is the loudest bully in the EC.

      They have decided that departure taxes and fees are a cash cow, to the point where those extra charges now exceed the air fare charged by the airline.

      It only took one greedy bastard leading an EC country to jack up their fees, now all the other partly-educated insensitive popularity hounds have done the same. I think if ONE of these countries reverses course and becomes the cheapest country to fly into and out of – such as Antigua – that will become the preferred hub for most travel in and out of the region.

  16. Bwa-Banday
    November 5, 2019

    Lol we did not need Mia to tell that to us the uneducated people of Dca. Hopefully Dr. Smell-E-Deek was listening and he got the message and quit dumping our money in this failed experiment.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 4
  17. Bring back the kidnapped Dominican parrots
    November 5, 2019

    If L I A T is cash strapped where are they getting the money for maintenance of the planes? This means that their aircraft are not safe to fly and anyone taking a trip on their planes are putting their life in danger. The whole airline needs to be shut down for safety reasons.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 4 Thumb down 4
    • Gary
      November 6, 2019

      Why are you making such comment. Do you have evidence or facts to support what you are saying. What happened to your usual rhetoric calling for investigation from Interpol.

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 1 Thumb down 8
      • Child of Itassi
        November 6, 2019

        @Gary. It is a known fact in the aviation world, that whenever an airline is in financial trouble, safety is always compromised to some extent. Being strapped for cash, an airline is unable to employ top notch pilots, maintenance crew, etc. The possibility of using sub-standard parts and equipment when funds are low is also worthy of an investigation.

        LIAT’s last ICAO country audit (which includes safety parameters) was 5/8. I sincerely hope by your request for “evidence or facts” you are not inferring that safety should not be a concern until an incident or accident occurs.

    • Ibo France
      November 6, 2019

      I usually agree with many of your posts but for this one I vehemently disagree. That’s a very serious allegation that you have made about maintenance. It is a colossal falsehood. How do I know? LIAT has probably the best safety record of all airlines in the world. Your fingers are too loose on this one.

  18. Looking
    November 5, 2019

    Everybody knows that, even a baby knows too.

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