Is LIAT a competitive predator?

St Lucia’s Tourism Minister Allan Chastanet

A regional civil aviation minister has criticised LIAT for its “high prices” and policies and he  is convinced that change is needed if the region is to make any headway in the  sector.

St Lucia’s Tourism Minister Allan Chastanet, who attended a ceremony to mark the introductory flight of St. Lucian-based airline CARICOM Airways here yesterday, expressed dissatisfaction with LIAT’s decisions and operations which he is convinced have  only negatively affected the region. Chatanet noted his comments were not intended to be derogatory.

Chastanet told media at the ceremony that he believes that LIAT has displayed a predatory approach to operating, which needs to be stopped.

“There are things that happen in this region and I felt it was important to mention because when WINAIR started its operations in St Lucia, the next day LIAT started a flight between St Lucia and St Maarten. And ironically WINAIR decided to pull off that route and LIAT has pulled off that route. This is the kind of behavior that we must stop. So, CARICOM Airlines is not coming on this route because WINAIR is coming off the route. There has been no collusion between the two airlines,” he said.

He further stated, “That is the level of collaboration that we need. We’re fighting too many enemies on the outside to be spending time fighting with each other here and I would like to think that down the road that these smaller airlines will be working in collaboration with LIAT and that LIAT does not feel threatened by them because LIAT by itself is a great airline, it has a long history.”

Chastanet said that LIAT should consider joining forces with the other regional airlines in order to create a stronger competitive front against the rest of the world.

“It (LIAT) cannot do everything by itself and it must stop having this territorial and ‘predatorial’ attitude towards people who’re coming into this region.We need all of us. We need to put ourselves in a much more competitive position against the rest of the world,” he stated.

Chastanet also spoke against high fares in the region.

“This is what we have to change, and again, I’m not saying anything derogatory against LIAT cause a lot of times when I say things people think I have something about LIAT. I don’t. What I have is about being competitive and making sure that this region is competitive.

“I have not seen any major strategic changes at LIAT to give us any comfort that the cost is coming down anytime soon. And its on the basis of that that we are gonna continue to support the entry of any new airlines in to our region,’ he added.

He also blasted the airline for what he said is its lack of respect for customers.

“More importantly, it seems to be the lack of respect of the individual consumers.  I was very disturbed as the minister of civil aviation. I certainly made these points well known to both LIAT and to other operators involved in LIAT, and the pilots, in particular, going on strike during a Christmas period or Easter period right now considering the dependence of this region on one airline to me is not an option, and for anyone to be using that as a threat to be able to improve their own position really is unacceptable considering the dependence that we have on aviation,” he added.

He mentioned that travel among Caribbean people in the region has decreased by 50 percent since 2005 from 100,000 to 50,000 a year.

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31 Comments

  1. Dorette Alie
    December 15, 2010

    I pray Caricom Airways give LIAT the competition they so richly deserve. Liat has been fraudulent for too long; offering sky high prices, unreliable service, and extremely rude and unfriendly agents. GO Caricom Airways!!!

  2. Bougla
    December 15, 2010

    Why cant winair operate night landing from antigua and barbados . Looking at the flight schedule winair lands in DA at 7.05pm from st marteen. Can some one explain what is going.

    • bimjim
      December 15, 2010

      Winair JUST started operating a night flight into Dominica. You can’t expect any airline to ramp up services from anywhere and everywhere just because you decide it should be so. Unless, of course, you are personally willing to pay for it, in full.

      LIAT did proving flights into Melville Hall several months ago, and between them and the DCA they came up with a night Approach. then LIAT decided it was not the kind of thing they were4 ready to handle on a daily (nightly??) basis, and declined to start just yet.

      You must understand that, to most Caribbean airline pilots, landing in either Melville Hall at night is suicide, an accident waiting to happen, and it has been implemented by political will, not because it makes sense.

      Most airline pilots will eventually have to do it if their airline insists, but they do not want to, it’s just too dangerous. If it was a logical and normal thing to do, it would have been started decades ago.

      Night services will start into Melville Hall, by airlines who want the business, regardless of how unsafe the pilots think it is. And you may bet on the entire idea – and the hundreds of millions of dollars already spent – being just so much garbage the very first time there is an accident and 50 or more people are killed – as has been forecast. And I hope the blame is laid squarely on the appropriate political shoulders when that happens.

      Flying an aircraft is not like driving a bus, you can’t park by the side of the cloud and pull up the handbrake when an engine quits or something goes seriously wrong. And treating an airline like a bus service to force it to do things that are not safe will have the appropriate consequences.

  3. bimjim
    December 15, 2010

    Comparing a bus-service inter-island turboprop and a medium-range jet is like comparing grapefruits with bananas. Start with the number of passengers… in a jet the costs are shared between 150 or more passengers, and the cost per mile is lower than a turboprop because of non-stop flying and efficiency at high altitude. The inter-island turboprop has to deal with higher costs, higher maintenance, and share it between 30 to 50 passengers (or even less, if the loads are down that flight or that day).

    For the distance the jet has travelled, LIAT would have paid more than 25 landing fees, Customs fees, salaries of countless workers at each airport to handle the aircraft, and so on.

    As for attitude, my hat is off to the front line employees of LIAT who deal with harassment, shouting, verbal and physical abuse day in and day out for their entire working lives from uneducated and entitled locals who think an airline ticket is an excuse to get drunk and a right to abuse everyone at the airport (except the Police Immigration Officers, of course!!).

    LIAT’s costs are very high for the simple reason that fuel costs are high, its equipment is used so hard, and it flies in the salty air which deteriorates the engines and equipment. Jet equipment spends much less flight time in the “salt layer” and requires much less maintenance.

    Another fact is that much of the fares also include government taxes. If you want a break on fares, hammer your politicians for the taxes they impose on travel – and not just those included in the ticket, but when you get to the airport, across the Caribbean there are a range of fees and taxes you then have to pay as well.

    Intra-Caribbean travel? Yes, the politicians say they all want to be seen as one, but they furiously resist the actual integration process. And while they are stabbing you in the back they also profit tremendously from your travel needs by all the taxes they impose – as always, you are a captive audience and must pay the cost, whatever they decide that should be.

    As for foreigners using our inter-island bus service, we don’t have the economies of scale or the government financial support you enjoy in your larger countries, and we can’t get in a car or a bus and do the trip that way instead, like you can. So if you want to travel between the islands just try to understand that we are in a different situation. Try to deal with the same inconveniences we have to deal with, and stop insulting us with your nonsense and invalid comparisons. Just because you come from a wealthy country is no reason to look down on and criticise us.

    • to binjim
      December 15, 2010

      it seems that you are working for LIAT so tell me something about the delayed and lost baggages????????
      :-D have a good day

      • jah yute
        December 18, 2010

        delays more times that not is because they a waiting for caribbean ppl who think they should show up for a 3:15 flight at 3:10. as for missing bags they want to buy everything they can pick up when they go abroad and pay no attention to liats baggage policies.

  4. Anonymous
    December 15, 2010

    Despite the fact that Liat has been in the region for over 50yrs or whatever it is and they must be commended. The fact still remains the fact that the prices need to be reviewed they are too high for the close proximity of the islands. It is just the realty of the matter.

    People reluctantly choose liat only because they have no other choice… you got to to what you go to do.

  5. saura
    December 15, 2010

    chastanet, why dont you clean up your business in st lucia before you just start talking on liat.

    your and your government is making a mess in st. lucia.

    liat have been with us over 50 years, and have done well considering all the forces they have to deal with.

    why dont you help out liat by starting to remove some of st lucia taxes on the ticket,

    after the tropical storm, when your country was cut off in two,you and your governemnt was very happy to get liat to operate flights between your both airports.

    oh lord help you.

    • bravo
      December 16, 2010

      It sounds to me you are a member of the LIAT board bombarding us with more excuses.
      If not, well at least one person is happy to pay high prices for a rubbish service.
      By the way, non of the European airlines get financial support by the government anymore. Nowadays they are forced to compete in a very competitive market or go under

  6. Dominican Tourist
    December 15, 2010

    Isn’t it true to say that two of the major shareholders in Liat, Barbados and Antigua, are only too happy regarding the pricing policy of the airline. All they care about is a good return in their investment. Both have an international airport and, unlike Dominica, are not really dependent on Liat as far as bringing tourists to their islands. So much for solidarity in the Eastern Caribbean. As far as Dominica is concerned, wouldn’t it have been more sensible to invest the money, that was wasted for upgrading Melville Hall for night landing, into founding a small airline that just serves the interest of the Dominican tourist industry in as far as providing reliable and convenient connection flights from Antigua, Barbados and St. Lucia into Dominica. This airline should operate as a non-profit making enterprise. I am sure the numbers of visitors by air to Dominica would increase threefold and would benefit the country and their citizens hugely.

  7. Paul Robinson
    December 15, 2010

    We fly at least twice a year from the UK to Dominica. Gatwick to Antigua and return with Virgin at about £550.00 for an 8 hour flight with good service. Liat to Melville Hall and return at US$270.00 for a 35 minute flight. As far as price is concerned this says it all!
    Now you need to consider what you actually get for the US$ 270.00:
    a) long wait for connection flight to leave Antigua
    b) long wait at Antigua airport to go through customs and immigration
    c) rude customs and immigration officers at Antigua airport
    d) rude and unhelpful Liat staff at Antigua airport
    e) delayed or cancelled Liat flights
    f) dirty seats in the Liat aircraft
    and the list goes on and on.
    If it’s not the global economic crisis to bring Dominica to it’s knees, in the long run it will most certainly be Liat that will manage to do so!

    • Deam
      December 16, 2010

      i fly from Antigua to Canada my ticket was us $400 and from Dominica to Antigua US $275 also when i reach in the airport my ticket was cancelled by misytake and still had to pay and extra money to catch a next flight, the staff still cant explain to me what happened nor refund my money!!!!!!! so for me LIAT is just INCOMPETENT

      • jah yute
        December 18, 2010

        you sound really ignorant. the only way you’d have to buy a new tktk on liat is if you allow your departure date and time to elapse and not call to cancel your reservation you have effective forfieted your tkt therefore you have to buy a new tkt. and its not just liat american, bwia, continental ,jet blue and the list goes on. you have to cancell on or before your departure date. and if it was cancelled by liat someone has to call and that persons name will be taken as the one calling to cancel booking. another senario if you have a fraudulent booking it will be cancelled.

        if you want a reason post your reservation code or date you travelled and flight number and i’ll give you a reason for the cancellation and reason you had to buy new tkt if indeed u buy a new tkt.

    • jah yute
      December 18, 2010

      i come accross those you talk about and for you to try to compare it with that of liat is just isane.
      those tkts are almost like buying a staff tkt on an airline. have you ever get stranded at one point and try to use those virgin tkts on another airline? no you won’t be able to cuz its an escurtion fare.(discounted) and if you want to compare prices st croix is about 20 minutes from st thomas both us territories and the fare there is more expensive to fly between those 2 countries than flying to the us mainland and they are served by american airlines. liat fares were alot cheaper but over the years the governments have signifacantly increased its taxing and therefore liat has no choice in reducing fares.

      why did carib airlines pull out of flying from the caribbean after less than a year flying in the caribbean back in the mid 90s?if you didn’t know they were a subsection of british airways who came to compete with liat offering cheaper fares and quickly realise that its way easier to talk about offering cheaper fares as appose to sustaining an airline on those fares when taxes continue to inc rease.

  8. Lorri
    December 15, 2010

    It really, really irks me when these politicians run their mouths about LIAT’s fares. Slash all the taxes nuh fellas. Passenger Facility Charge, Security Charge, Environmental Charge blah blah blah.

  9. hello
    December 14, 2010

    Liat has done the caribbean well….even though they had many downers but definetly
    they have by far the Best aircrew/ground staffers includes mechanics and engineers etc..

    Management has definetely hamper Liat throughout the years as a lack of Proffessionalism network wise,but Liat has a over 50 year reputation and they arent no push overs!!!

    Liat hats off to you Guys…

  10. Devoted Dominican.
    December 14, 2010

    LIAT MUST GO. LIAT IS A RIPOFF AIRLINE THAT SUCKS THE BLOOD OF IT’S PASSENGERS. AN AIRLINE TICKET ON AMERICAN AIRLINE FROM NEW YORK TO SAN JUAN COST $680.00US ROUND TRIP WHICH IS FOUR HOURS LONG ONE WAY. A ROUND TRIP TICKET ON LIAT FROM SAN JUAN TO DOMINICA IS $620.00US WHICH IS AN HOUR AND FORTY FIVE MINUTES LONG ONE WAY. ALSO, WHY DOES LIAT AFTER LEAVING SAN JUAN HAVE TO STOP AND DEPLANE IT’S PASSENGERS IN ANTIGUA, WHERE THE PASSENGERS AND THEIR LUGGAGES ARE SEARCHED THEN HAVE TO GO THROUGH SECURITY ALL OVER AGAIN? THIS SHOULD NEVER HAPPEN FOR ANTIGUA IS NOT THE FINAL DESTINATION FOR THOSE PASSENGERS WHO ARE BEING SEARCHED. TO ME, I THINK THAT ANTIGUA IS GOING THROUGH THE SEARCHING PROCESS SO AS TO SEE WHICH PIECE OF LUGGAGE HAS ANY VALUABLE ITEMS IN THEM SO THAT THEY CAN LATER TAKE THEM BEFORE PUTTING THAT PIECE OF LUGGAGE BACK ON LIAT. WHY ARE SO MANY PEOPLE LOOSING THEIR BELONGINGS IN ANTIGUA? CAN’T DOMINICAN GOVT DO OR SAY ANYTHING TO THAT EFFECT? LIAT AND ANTIGUA, ENOUGH IS ENOUGH.

  11. l.i.a.t
    December 14, 2010

    look before we go around saying things about liat is that airline here to stay ? many have come and go liat is still there we w willing to give u a chance but come good and dont trash the other one cause when u leave us hi and dry is liat that will still be there good luck and we welcome u

  12. Dominican Man
    December 14, 2010

    and we talking about regional integration, it will never happen not in my lifetime cause we have too much of the Crab in a barell mentality. Too many self serving and me first amongst us.

    • only
      December 14, 2010

      Unfortunately, that is the way the the globalists have molded unknowing populations into this mind-set. People have been conditioned through the educational systems to be only concerned with themselves and their own little worlds, oblivious to other people or what is happening in the world.
      This makes a ripe situation for communism.

  13. Cassandra
    December 14, 2010

    I agree on both counts:

    – Because of its monopoly position and protection by shareholding govts. LIAT is not much better than Aeroflot was under the old soviet regime.
    – we made representation to the U.K. govt. for increasing tax on long distance flights, harming in particular the Caribbean tourism business. Quite rightly so. However, it is very much a case of “the pot calling the kettle black” as our local taxes are even more punishing on a pro-rata basis and we would do well by taking the initiative and reduce these disincentives to travel.

  14. A Voice
    December 14, 2010

    All I know is that I try to avoid LIAT at all costs…

    • jah yute
      December 14, 2010

      until you need a favour then you run to liat with your tail between your legs

  15. Anon
    December 14, 2010

    I checked the fares for a flight from Dominica to St.Lucia on Liat. The Dominica to St. Lucia leg is US129 for the fare and US22.55 in taxes. The return leg is US$80 plus US$35.82 in taxes. That’s almost half the fare. For comparison, I checked Barbados to St. Lucia. The first leg is US$103 for the fare and an additional US$53.40 in taxes, while the return leg from St. Lucia is US$96 and US$48.12 in taxes, over half the actual fare. It seems clear to me then, that Mr. Chastanet can do something about high fares by getting his government to reduce the taxes.

    Some time ago, Mr. Chastanet paid American Eagle to put on a flight between St. Lucia and Barbados. Although he was paying them, their flights turned out to be more expensive than Liats and the service did not last six months. Go figure.

    And, is Chastanet blaming the airline for pilots going on strike? Did he say Liat did not care about customer service because pilots went on strike at Christmas. He can’t possibly be serious. Or maybe he thinks Dominicans are stupid

    • jah yute
      December 14, 2010

      man i wish everyone could would do like you and check out the amount of taxes they pay on their tkt before they run their mouth bout liat being expensive. what killing me is them government ministers know the reason for such high fare is as a direct result of all the taxes they put on. what do they expect? are they expecting liat to absorb those taxes and offerate at a loss to come begging them for cash injection everytime?

  16. I wonder
    December 14, 2010

    I wonder why the man himself indicated that Liat and it’s pilots are disrespectful??? Because is true!!!
    LIAT, and all the staff, even the ground staff in all countries are a bunch of selfish people. All they care about are themselves and the money they get. One major airline in the region and pilots striking? Some ppl well want jobs muchless to be striking when they have one. nonsense man. Caribbean star was the best thing that ever happened to the Caribbean. Liat is a government airline so they will always win… that’s why they don’t care about their passengers. Not even a free drink on a trip for all the money you spending, muchless for respect.

  17. Anonymous
    December 14, 2010

    I understand that what we are being offered are 2 derelict twin otters which have not been certified and which have not been serviced for quite some time.

  18. T. Winston
    December 14, 2010

    Liat is simply taking advantage of the Monopoly which they possess
    The worst thing to happen to aviation in recent times was the sale of caribbean star to Liat
    This sale only helped Liat to reclaim it’s Monopoly and do as they please since there is no alternative in most Islands

  19. Mystikal
    December 14, 2010

    LIAT is a rip off indeed.
    It cost me about EC$600 for a one-way ticket from Trinidad to Dominica. This EC$600 is what is cost to flight from Trinidad to Miami on Caribbean Airlines. Miami is more than 4 times further away from Trinidad. but we have no other option from Trinidad to Dominica. so we have no choice but suffer the high cost.

  20. SiangUK
    December 14, 2010

    Chastenet, needs to take a close look at the ticket price of LIAT, before pointing fingers.

    A significant part of the ticket price, is TAX of various kinds, which can be between 30% and 40% of the price.

    So before he talks about high ticket price, Chastenet must tackle WHAT he is going to do to bring down the level of TAX that goes to make up the ticket price.

    • jah yute
      December 14, 2010

      hats up to you. wish more of those uninformed person commenting here would do some research of their own before posting comment and not just go by what they hear on the roads

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