Is There Really Any Long Term Future For LIAT?


Just during a period when LIAT should be maximising its revenue, in the height of the summer season, yet again the airline is thrown into chaos, its passengers off- loaded from over booked flights and ‘hundreds of people being stranded for days’.

This time it’s the industry action taken by LIALPA, the Pilots Association who are trying to reach agreement on new conditions of work.

LIAPLA Chairman’ Michael Blackburn, stated ‘We are the ones flying the airplane. I’m the one that’s going to have to do an instrument approach at night in St. Vincent and I’m not doing it repeatedly after 15 hours of duty’.

Adding ‘Recently, there is empirical, unambiguous evidence which proves beyond any doubt that the number of accidents occurring which are the result of pilot error, have been occurring at the end of very long duty periods where there has been inadequate rest’.

No sensible Government or aviation regulatory authority could condone practices that may compromise safety, but it again comes back to asking the same old question.

Just exactly how effective is the current management structure of LIAT?

How could a human resource situation be allowed to deteriorate so badly that it virtually paralyses the airline, and as a result causes it to loose yet further hundreds of thousands of Dollars plus alienate travellers that are trying to prop-up the carrier?

Another aspect of their management also greatly concerns me from a person that has spent virtually his entire working life marketing tourism.

Once we go out of August, the industry generally goes into a shoulder period from the second week of September until just before Christmas.

By now, I would have expected LIAT to have posted at least some special fares for that period, to allow potential passengers to plan ahead and book accommodation throughout the region.

Is this again, the continuation of re-active rather than proactive management?

Wait until there is a problem before responding, rather than ensuring the problem doesn’t arise in the first place.

The ‘four to six weeks’ period that Barbadian Minister of Tourism, Noel Lynch, promised we would see lower intra regional airfares has now expired, with no such reductions in sight.

Unless, at least some token reduced airfares are put into the marketplace very soon, my feeling is that the travelling public has almost turned off to the thought of a reasonably priced short Caribbean holiday.

Especially, if this planned expense could be compromised by industrial chaos.

Adrian Loveridge
2nd August 2007


Filed under Aviation, Barbados, Barbados Tourism, Traveling and Tourism

11 responses to “Is There Really Any Long Term Future For LIAT?

  1. Pingback: » Is There Really Any Long Term Future For LIAT?

  2. Wishing in Vain

    I agree with Mike wholeheartly on this one, how does management believe that these crews can perform at a 100 % level when they are being asked to operate under tremendous pressure and tight shedules, they are pushing the envelope on this one and the error will be revealed in a serious accident when it reveals that pilot fatigue set it and his judgement was flawed.
    It even extends to the maintainence and servicing of the aircraft, are they receiving the attention and care that is required to maintain them in a safe flying condition based on everything else that I have seen in this new LIAT program I honestly have my doubts about this issue.
    Here again we have Owing leading the way so who knows what is possible and at what price.
    Remember how this whole issue has evolved at the outset from a merger of the two to a buy out of Caribbean Star by LIAT does it not beg the question what did Owing and company do to screw this merger up, that Stanford has told them to buy him out ?
    There is more to this than meets the eye trust me.

  3. Crusty

    WIV: It is hard for me to understand what effect the PM might have on a decision by the pilots to go on strike immediately after it is announced that LIAT has some money coming in. Please explain.

    Looks more like tactics often adopted by unions when they believe the reward to labour is not enough and greater reward is available.

    What does Mr. Blackburn means when he refers to 15 hours of duty? It is natural for him to show his situation in the most favourable light. So what are the real working conditions?

    It is unlikely that Caribbean flight regulations are much different from those of the American Federal Aviation Authority.

    Here are the relevant American FAA regulations obtained from

    Title 14: Aeronautics and Space

    § 135.265 Flight time limitations and rest requirements: Scheduled operations.

    (a) No certificate holder may schedule any flight crewmember, and no flight crewmember may accept an assignment, for flight time in scheduled operations or in other commercial flying if that crewmember’s total flight time in all commercial flying will exceed—

    (1) 1,200 hours in any calendar year.

    (2) 120 hours in any calendar month.

    (3) 34 hours in any 7 consecutive days.

    (4) 8 hours during any 24 consecutive hours for a flight crew consisting of one pilot.

    (5) 8 hours between required rest periods for a flight crew consisting of two pilots qualified under this part for the operation being conducted.

    (b) Except as provided in paragraph (c) of this section, no certificate holder may schedule a flight crewmember, and no flight crewmember may accept an assignment, for flight time during the 24 consecutive hours preceding the scheduled completion of any flight segment without a scheduled rest period during that 24 hours of at least the following:

    (1) 9 consecutive hours of rest for less than 8 hours of scheduled flight time.

    (2) 10 consecutive hours of rest for 8 or more but less than 9 hours of scheduled flight time.

    (3) 11 consecutive hours of rest for 9 or more hours of scheduled flight time.

    (c) A certificate holder may schedule a flight crewmember for less than the rest required in paragraph (b) of this section or may reduce a scheduled rest under the following conditions:

    (1) A rest required under paragraph (b)(1) of this section may be scheduled for or reduced to a minimum of 8 hours if the flight crewmember is given a rest period of at least 10 hours that must begin no later than 24 hours after the commencement of the reduced rest period.

    (2) A rest required under paragraph (b)(2) of this section may be scheduled for or reduced to a minimum of 8 hours if the flight crewmember is given a rest period of at least 11 hours that must begin no later than 24 hours after the commencement of the reduced rest period.

    (3) A rest required under paragraph (b)(3) of this section may be scheduled for or reduced to a minimum of 9 hours if the flight crewmember is given a rest period of at least 12 hours that must begin no later than 24 hours after the commencement of the reduced rest period.

    (d) Each certificate holder shall relieve each flight crewmember engaged in scheduled air transportation from all further duty for at least 24 consecutive hours during any 7 consecutive days.

  4. Jeppa


    All of the rules you listed above are all well and good, but LIAT has been treated like a bus service by the Gov’ts of the Caribbean for too long. I remember close to 20 years ago being sent from here to one of our sister islands to do a job for one of the high ranking officials there. I was booked to come back on what was then referred to as the “milk run” ie stops in every island. They were having a party when I was supposed to be checking at LIAT. Guess what! The high ranking official called LIAT and had the flight “delayed” for 2 hours. I have never been so embarassed in all my life as when I stepped into that aircraft that had been waiting on the tarmac for 2 hours, the comment made to me by the police officer who dropped me to the airport and ensured I boarded the aircraft? “Don’t worry bout it, we do this all the time”
    Until we thimk of LIAT as an airline and not a bus service nothin will change.


  5. Jeppa

    “Until we thimk of LIAT as an airline and not a bus service nothin will change.”

    should have read “think” not “thimk” Sorry!

  6. J. Payne

    It depends what you mean…

    If you are asking will the regional air carriers be money making ventures— I believe they will be toast if they attempt that. But if you’re asking if they can be money–losing entities that fly unprofitable routes cheaply albeit with government handouts on-going, then they will do ok in that role…

    They haven’t any money to invest in their future is the problem… The US/European carriers are only too happy to come and tief away the lionshare of the money for themselves.

    The Caribbean doesn’t give Caribbean companies a level playing field. Example American Airlines can come to the Caribbean and fly a profitable route like Jamaica to Barbados if they like. or Puerto Rico to Sint Maarten, but what would be the odds say of Air Jamaica being all0wed to fly from between say- Miami & New York or London & Berlin in those markets????????? Slim to none. If Caribbean airlines can’t goto other markets that are profitable then the Caribbean airlines will never be profitable. But if the aim is the have unprofitable regional airlines that will compete against foreign competition which has access to capital from other profitable routes then Caribbean airlines will fill that role only if you continue to flood them with Government supported capital. That is the long and short of it.

    Liat, Air Jamaica, and Caribbean Star are supposed to be at the level where they’d be buying their own new aircrafts now… (And have enough cash in the bank to do so.) They should also be at the point now where they’re telling the public when they will be rolling out the new next generation planes just like their competitors (the US/European carriers are doing).

    Very soon for example– various US/European airlines will begin providing the next generation flying experience by rolling out some very high-tech in-flight gadgets to make the time flying pass by quicker… Things like MP3 players in the arm rest, flat-panel TV screens in every seat-back infront of you so that each person can watch what they like— with their own headphones…. Caribbean airlines will still be showing either nothing or the big screens way up in front which you can’t see. Meaning the tourists will likely choose the better flying experience over the primitive Caribbean flying experience. So it all depends on what role you expect of LIAT and the bunch. Will they be an ok service for moving the masses cheaply with government handouts. Sure… Will they be profitable and independent of Government hand out??? IMO. Not– with the current environment they are operating in.

  7. J. Payne

    Perhaps they can make up some slack if they merged the postal service in every CARICOM country and gave the contract to Caribbean airlines that could raise capital. And likewise if those airlines can secure powerful deals with like FedEx or UPS to fly mail between North America and the Caribbean/South America then perhaps they can swing what they are doing by making up the capital from being a postal service deliverer but—- FedEx have their own planes as does UPS so they may have to give something else to these companies to win the contract and provide them with a deal that would make them want to ground their own planes and just pay Caribbean airlines to fly the Caribbean/Latin America routes.

  8. peugeot

    jeppa u r just another idiot wat was wrong with delaying the plane after all it was only 2 hours

  9. Anonymous

    where are the inter-island hi-speed hydrofoil ferries? they can’t be more expensive to run than airplanes, can they?

  10. J. Payne

    Noel Lynch/The Nation answered my question. LIAT will made-up of a money—losing entity in the future….

    Article: Liat ‘flying full’
    Date: Sunday, August 5th, 2007
    Source: – Nation News Barbados


    If high airfares turn off travellers and put a further dent in LIAT’s fortunes, the island-hopping airline could be in line for a subsidy from its Caribbean government shareholders.

    [ . . . ]
    That’s the word from Minister of Tourism and International Transport Noel Lynch.
    (end quote)

    Don’t look for LIAT to turn a profit.

  11. Assuming that there shall long remain within our CARICOM sub-region (of course, until a PDC Government comes to office in Barbados), many of the current, outdated, and ineffective ideological, financial, governmental, and managerial systems that are still being practiced in it, it can logically be argued that there will NEVER EVER be a viable, self-sustainable, long term future for LIAT and, for that matter, any other existing or future governmental and/or private sector owned airlines that are from this CARICOM subregion and that are essentially the products of such very discredited and disgraceful systems.

    What makes it more impossible than those kinds of situations above suggest for our Caricom sub-region to at this stage establish viable, long term air-carriers, is when the circumstances of these sub-regional air-carriers operating and doing business in this sub-region, or a little beyond that, are so properly objectively observed, analysed, and juxtaposed with what is happening in the international airline business, that in realising and coming to the very adverse effects on our regional airlines of their being subject to the vagaries of the global airline business, there can be no denial that these adverse effects could only have largely come through their functioning in this international context, whereby the environment is far more volatile in the global airline industry, with the very high cost of puchasing and maintaining aircraft featuring substantially, with countless airlines engaging in serious cut throat activity in regard of flying particular destinations, and whereby the environment is far more elitist/capitalist-driven, resource wasting, etc.. Despite such endemic, deep-rooted and adverse conditions and structures facing present and future air carriers of this CARICOM sub-region, the absolute and indispensible importance and use of air travel and having an airline industry at this conjuncture in the sub-region must surely mean that this sub-region must always have air-carriers of its own.

    Moreover, the history of air transport and air travel in the sub-region shows that many airlines have been formed and have been able in the short to medium term to just about make enough revenue to remain safely in the the air, but thereafter in the long term only to inevitably buckle or take a nose-dive in their operational fortunes as a result of constantly coming under serious financial pressure, with the consequences of such being that they would have to be either bailed out, financially, esp. by relevant governments, and with or without restructuring programs being undertaken at the same time of these bail outs in order to remain in the air, or to be simply dissolved and liquidated or evolved into some thing else.

    Therefore, the general public of Barbados must by now know that the long standing but financially and corporately troubled BWIA has recently underwent a corporate evolution of some sorts and is now known as Caribbean Airlines. Hence, BWIA is no longer in existence, at least in name, having been primarily the victim, and the latest one at that, of the same odious regional and international systems that these said CARICOM governments and some private sectors seem to so much believe in. The Jamaica-based Air Jamaica, whether it has been substantially owned by the Government of Jamaica, or whether it has been substantially owned by Godon Stewart, continues to suffer very adversely financially, and will continue to do so even though it has for some time now reverted to substantial governmental ownership. Again, it is the same destructive regional and international systems that have been primarily responsible for the constant financial and other problems of Air Jamaica. As for LIAT, this too continues to suffer overwhelmingly from financial problems and issues, as well as many corporate and industrial relation ones. Again, these are based on the same insidious systems!! Hence, NO number of bail outs by the relevant CARICOM Governments that own it; NO level of increasing control of the airline business by LIAT within the sub-region; and NO amount of deliberate setting of high air fares by the said LIAT, will sufficiently help it to overcome the very deep-rooted problems that it currently faces, even as it rightly performs a very critically important function to our CARICOM people and others of the provision of of air services.

    Therefore, present and future owners of sub-regional airlines must be aware of and must be prepared to do something about the fact that the sub-regional airline business is no different from any other important industry of this said regional space in terms of, et al, the substantial increases in money costs faced by many of them and the losing of some foreign investment to other regions. There must be a serious and fundamental need, therefore, for them to reduce to a reasonable minimum the per unit costs of inputs into these industries while at the same time maximizing market share, earning and profit making capacity, and increasing our domestic investment levels, given our relative resources shortages and lack of global political and military powers. A PDC Government shall in view of the absolute need to help achieve the above objectives, and for the attainment of these objectives to assist in the growth and development of at least a truly Barbadian airline industry, and which shall involve the establishment of a viable and efficient national airline of Barbados, make sure too, and very rightly and effectively so, that, et al, Taxation is Abolished, that Interest Rates are Abolished, that Institutional Loans for productive (investment) purposes are made non-repayable, that Imports of Goods and Services are Zero-priced at all points of entry.