Chairman of LIAT, Jean Holder, is calling for a special meeting of CARICOM Heads of Government early in the new year to discuss air transportation in the region and its role in supporting the Caribbean Single Market and Economy.
In a statement issued to major shareholder prime ministers of LIAT on Friday, Holder said the meeting should focus on getting regional air transportation right. “The focus of the meeting must not be about blaming the airlines which have given a total of 200 years of service to the region and the countries which have subsidized the rest of the region,” he said. “It must be about what is needed to get regional transportation right and what and how much each country which is a beneficiary of the services will contribute to the cause in its own best interests.”
Based on this, he said the concept of CARICOM airline alliances must be examined as a matter of urgency. “That the idea of CARICOM airline alliances must be once more put on the table and a committee, including representatives of the management of the carriers be established, without delay, to examine the feasibility of this concept,” he said.
He said the agenda of the meeting “must be wide enough to include a number of aviation issues which are related to the proper functioning of regional air transportation.”
LIAT’s major shareholder prime ministers met in Barbados on Friday. Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit attended the meeting for the first time after it was announced that Dominica had finalized its shareholder status with the airline.
Holder’s lengthy statement to the major shareholder prime ministers covered a wide range of topics from challenges faced by LIAT to competition to costs and subsidies. He discussed better communication, cooperation and alliances between Caribbean carriers, the existence of an efficiently run and reasonably priced transportation service that meets the passenger and cargo needs of CARICOM, that Caribbean carriers should take hard decisions needed to put their own houses in order, among others.