Since late last year the company has been in the process of converting one of its three Dash 8 (100) aircraft into a full-fledged freighter.
In October 2009 the aircraft was sent to Canada for a C Check (an aircraft maintenance check performed every 12-18 months or a specific amount of actual flight hours as defined by the manufacturer) with the expectation that it would be returned in November for the planned December 2009 start-up of the freighter service.
However, once it arrived in Canada, technical requirements of the aircraft coupled with the unavailability of parts at the manufacturer’s warehouse resulted in a significant lengthening of the time it is taking to have the C Check completed. This has led to a slippage in the delivery of the aircraft back to LIAT.
While LIAT is still awaiting a firm date for its return, indications are that the aircraft should now be available by mid February.
Once the aircraft has been delivered, final approval will be required by Transport Canada and the Eastern Caribbean Civil Aviation Authority (ECCAA).
The company has now set a new target date of March 1, 2010 for introduction of the cargo service.
Over the past several months LIAT has been training cargo staff in preparation for the start-up of the cargo service. New cargo software programming has also been installed and is being initiated throughout the LIAT network.
Once the new cargo service comes on stream, customers for the first time will be able to book cargo on LIAT. Already, there has been considerable interest by regional manufacturers, agricultural exporters and other traders in the start-up of the service.
LIAT views this as a very important project which realizes the long standing wish of the Caribbean people for an indigenous air freighter service as well as being central to the airline’s efforts to maintain itself as a viable carrier serving the people of the Eastern Caribbean.