Aviation expert: Loveridge wrong about LIAT’s aircraft choice. ATR is the answer for the Caribbean.

ATR-600-Caribbean

“The ATR is an airplane that is built for fuel economy. Given that fuel is one of the 3 largest portions of an airlines annual operating budget this is a big deal.”

by PltFlyng

After reading BFP’s “What’s with LIAT’s choice for new aircraft?”, I have to conclude that Adrian Loveridge might be a tourism expert – but he is no aviation expert and that is certain. Let me give you some enlightenment on the aircraft choice here in question.

For one the Caribbean market is a small and fragmented. Experience has shown that the 50 seat size is about the largest size of aircraft that is sustainable on inter-regional routes. Even so there are many routes which will struggle to fill 50 seats. This is why for years LIAT continued to operate 3 Dash 8-100s. With 37 seats they could provide route frequency on certain lower density routes and still maintain high load factors. Any time you are flying around with empty seats its bad for business and flying around below your breakeven load factor just means that segment is losing money and being subsidised by other routes.

Herein lies the inherent problem with the Q400. It is a 70 seat aircraft.

Additionally it is also a turbo-prop designed as a light jet replacement what that means is that yes, while it is fast it achieves this speed by giving up fuel efficiency.  The break even for an industry standard Q400 on the high density low cost Indian and European markets is approximately 57 – 60% It is estimated that in the higher cost operating environment in the Caribbean the breakeven load factor for the Q400 would be in the range of 66 – 70% which means you would need to fill 45 – 47 seats approximately on average just to break even. This would prove difficult in the current travel climate in the Caribbean.

The other problem with the Q400 is airfield limitations. Some airfields in the LIAT network would require the aircraft to be weight limited for departure due to the field length or the proximity of terrain and obstacles or tailwinds. St. Vincent is not the only consideration. This means possibly cutting some services (Nevis for example) and that you would be limited as to how many passengers and bags you can carry out of some places.

For this trade off what does the Q400 bring to the table? Effectively nothing.    

The sector time reductions on the short routes in the Caribbean will largely be negligible,  less than 3 minutes tops on a BGI-SLU this has been proven using flight network analysis software. On longer routes like BGI-ANU, BGI-GEO or POS-CUR you might see more noticeable reduction but that’s about it and that represents only a small number of the daily flights.

Moreover, the Q400 does not bring anything new to the table it does not give you the ability to really reach any new routes. Geographically if you look at the LIAT network and the destinations they fly to and then examine the next logical destinations you find that aside from a few like Venezuela and some parts of south America via Guyana (which can be served with the Dash 8-300 anyway) those destinations are an order of magnitude further away in distance and outside the effective operating range of the Q400 for direct operations. Jamaican for example would be out of reach and would require an intermediate stop in SDQ.

Even with the Q400 in the fleet these destinations would still require the use of a jet to service effectively.

The argument for the ATR-42-600 and the ATR-72-600 is much more logical.

For starters, the ATR-42-600 at 48 seats is the only current production ’50 seat’ turbo prop.

It is an airplane that is built for fuel economy. Given that fuel is one of the 3 largest portions of an airlines annual operating budget this is a big deal. The ATR-42-600 is 45% more fuel efficient than the Dash 8-310s and 315’s that LIAT currently fly and is 20 kts faster in cruise. It is approximately 33% more fuel efficient than the Q400 all be it slower. However on short sectors (100-150 NM) which form the bulk of the Caribbean routes the sector time difference is 5 minutes or less.

Additionally the ATR option allows you to buy majority 42s to serve your core routes but also a smaller number of 70 seats ATR-72-600’s. The 70 seat aircraft can be used to serve some of the more dense routes without having to have an all 70 seat fleet. Additionally because the 2 aircraft are variants of the same type multiple pilot pools is not required. All LIAT crew will be type rated on the 72 with a differences course on the 42 making them type rated to operate either type as needed. In the same way that all Liat pilots currently hold the Dash 8-300 and 100 type ratings and can fly either.

LIAT is embarking on a full fleet replacement. Which means the argument of mixed type issues such as maintaining 2 sets of crew, parts etc is null and void. The two aircraft types (Dash 8 and ATR) will only be operated concurrently for a short time during the transition. The fleet is expected to be fully converted by the middle to end of 2014.

Once that is done, the company has stated its intent to explore the single aisle jet option (the EMB-190) for example as a means to expand its network of operations outside of those destinations now served.

ATR42-600 interior

ATR42-600 interior

Performance Issues

With regards to performance issues with the ATR based on the reports of those aircraft bought by CAL. One needs to understand what you are talking about. CAL bought the ATR-72-600. However the aircraft is available in several configurations depending on your wants and needs. The ATR-600 (both the 42 and the 72) uses PW127 engine which is available in 3 variants E, F, and M.

Basically ATR understanding that not every customer depending on their operating environment needs the full thrust of the engine so the E and F model of the engine are de-rated versions of the engine that do not produce as much thrust as the M model. If you are an operator flying in cold weather at low density altitudes into and out of long runways the E or F model is fine. CAL has the F model (and the -72) and it has proven it’s self as the wrong choice for this environment. The aircraft on order for LIAT are M models (not de-rated) and should provide much better performance.

Additionally since the SAME engine is used on both the -72 and the -42 variant of the aircraft that means that the performance boost on the much smaller -42 should be large (same engine smaller plane).

Additionally CAL for whatever reason opted for aircraft with on board inflight entertainment systems. This is really a waste as sector times in the Caribbean are for the most part too short for passengers to really get any use out of the system.

What it does do is increase the empty weight of the aircraft significantly. Now since the maximum unrestricted take-off weight does not change, what that means is you are cutting into your available weight for passenger and bag carriage this is why for example on some longer legs a lot of the time a large portion of the bags do not make it, they are taken off due to the weight restriction.

Even if you are not at max weight, an increase in weight carries and performance penalty and will impact climb performance and with the weight of the entertainment system you are essentially operating closer to MTOW (max take-off weight) and higher proportion of the time. The inflight entertainment system of course, is OPTIONAL.

Food for thought, as always the devil is in the details.

57 Comments

Filed under Aviation, Barbados

57 responses to “Aviation expert: Loveridge wrong about LIAT’s aircraft choice. ATR is the answer for the Caribbean.

  1. Adrian Loveridge

    PlyFlyng,

    Thank you sincerely for the very detailed explanation. I think that I made it graphically clear in my column that I was ‘not in possession of the full facts’ and that I was looking at the issue in ‘a slightly different way’.

    What you have done so well, is to explain the bigger picture and that will give the general public and persons like me with limited knowledge on the subject, far more clarity in trying to understand the equipment decision choice.
    Considering the amounts of taxpayers monies ploughed into LIAT over the years, I don’t consider that unreasonable and of course if the Board of LIAT had explained the decision in the beginning, I wouldn’t have had to write a column to get a more informed opinion.

  2. yatinkiteasy

    Sure wish they would have a small jet to fly to San Juan Puerto Rico direct…once a very popular destination for Bajans to shop and holiday…That is no longer possible…AA offers a flight through Miami or JFK from BGI…wow!..approx US$800 per person..Liat offers a flight with a connection in Antigua…but its still approx US$600 per person…That`s crazy. Additionally, it takes 1/2 day to get there…a mere 500miles or so away.

  3. 192

    I wish everybody who stands corrected by the facts had the same mature, reasonable response as does Adrian Loveridge…tip of my hat to you, sir.

  4. A policy holder

    Thanks to Loveridge for precipitating Pitflying’s very detailed explanation but if the bloody Governments – ALL CARIBBEAN GOVERNMENTS – would take a realistic view of the astronomical taxes charged on air line tickets, LIAT and the travelers in Caribbean may have other options. When one pays as much in tax as for the travel portion of a ticket, that’s a farce!

  5. Canadian Tourist

    Wouldn’t it be great to have Canadian made aircraft at a Canadian paid airport? Just saying.

  6. sith

    If Liats prices were more reaonable they would fill a 70 seat plane

  7. PltFlyng

    An average non discounted fare BGI-SLU (round trip) is 308 USD.
    Of that $179 USD (including the fuel surcharge) is LIAT’s “fare’ portion.
    The other $129 USD are all goverment taxes and fees levied by the airport that have nothing at all to do with liat.

    The 179 USD is round trip, so that averages out to 89.5 USD each way in airfare. I think that is quite reasonable that is approximatly 180 BDS each way. Stop and think what you can really buy these days with 180 BDS.

    Its also worth pointing out that if you are flexible on your dates liat runs a variety of specials offering certain legs at discounted prices but there again the taxes remain the same (with the exception of sales tax/vat which is % based) regardless of the base ticket price.

    Airfares in the caribbean will not come down untill consumers lobby the goverments to reduce taxes and airport fees. In some cases like St. Lucia the fee being levied on passengers using the George Charles airport has nothing to do with that airport but instead is in place to subsadise the port facility and the other airport (hewannora ) which because of the long drive from town is used mainly by extra-regional carriers and as such is under used and does not generate enough income on its own.

  8. Finally, somebody saying something more sensible about why LIAT and Caribbean Airlines decided for the ATR 72-600 and not the Q400. I agree with everything PltFlyng says. Time to do research and look at this:
    http://theflyingengineer.com/aircraft/proud-to-fly-a-turboprop-q400-vs-atr72/

  9. As I understand it LIAT’s decision to acquire the ATR 42-600s
    and ATR 72- 600s was preordained – given Capt. Brunton’s
    involvement behind the scenes. His earlier decision at CAL
    to acquire the ATR 72-600s to replace their DASH 8 – 300s
    for their ‘airbridge’ was taken on his own, with no Board of
    Directors in place (they had resigned following the TT election)
    and was pressed on the new Cabinet as ‘urgent’ due to their
    age (raising specious ‘safety’ concerns) and was for 9 aircraft
    to replace 5 (for expansion and Jamaica).

    His decision was made in a most irregular manner by excluding
    the Q400 manufacturer, Bombardier, entirely from the bid process
    about which Bombaridier formally complained to the TT Attorney
    General – both the exclusion and the complaint are virtually unheard
    of in the international airline business.

    On the appointment of a new Board Capt. Brunton was duly fired and
    pops up again behind the scenes at LIAT where the same one sided
    process I am told obtained – though not there as an ‘exclusion’, rather
    as an obvious preferment.

    The decision is a mystery to me and I have closely followed the affairs
    of LIAT for over 30 years. LIAT, since its US$ 60 million equity recapitalisation in 2007 (with funds borrowed from the CDB by its shareholders) has been consistently losing both money and, more importantly for the region – traffic, which declined from 1.6 million in 2006 to 808,000 in 2012. It would have run out of cash as well were it not for the recent insurance settlement for the ANU fire and a small investment by Dominica.

    Despite that steady traffic decline, anomalous within the Caribbean and
    caused by its high fares – close to US$1 per mile – compared to half that at most regional turboprop airlines in the world – LIAT’s new Business Plan was based around traffic growth – at the same fares – a counterintuitive proposition.

    However, even if the Business Plan were credible, the decision to re-fleet
    with brand new aircraft was not given their financial circumstances – unless it would result in a NET cost savings to them (ie rather than being justified by uncertain traffic and revenue increases against the consistent trend of traffic losses since 2006).

    Even LIAT does not clain NET cost savings with the new fleet – as it cannot.

    Their existing fleet was paid for – in part by debt forgiveness from the Canadian Government EDC, and the new aircraft ($ 16 million for the ATR42s and $ 18 million for the ATR 72s) would represent (in either debt or lease costs) 1% of the capital value per month or $ 160,000 to $ 1800,000 per month per aircraft.

    There was no question that their fleet needed to be upgraded – its average age was over 20 years, but in business as in life one must tailor ones purchases to ones budget and ones ongoing ability to pay.

    LIAT did neither – it went for the most expensive option.

    Bombardier offered them an option tailored to their needs – the complete
    refurbishment of the DASH 8 fleet and its new 15 year life extension program (at 10% the cost of new aircraft) for its core fleet going forward and new Q400s for its denser routes and new, longer routes in its plan. No serious consideration was given to this option.

    The Q400s offered were in a 78 seat configuration, were quicker (jet speeds and block times up to 500+ miles) and are very competitive on an overall Cost per Available Seat Mile (CASM) with the ATR despite an initial price of $ 19 million to the ATR 72’s $ 18 million.

    My concern is largely with the decision to go for a brand new fleet in the absence of any reasonably demonstrated ability to pay. A more appropriate response would have been the refurbishment/life extension at 10% of the cost and once the Business Plan traffic forecasted on the new routes was demonstrated the larger guage aircraft, if needed, could have neen acquired.

    Having an insolvent company committing what will be in excess of US$ 225 in capital for new aircraft verges on insanity and will surely finish of the airline.

    The real solutions for LIAT’s problems lie elsewhere – but that is another discussion
    I should finish by stating that I speak as a private individual, unaffiliated with any actors in these dramas, I hold no brief for anyone and have no economic or other interest in any possible outcome. My interest is entirely ‘pro bono publico’ – as I see it.

  10. starjack22

    @John Gilmore First of all, Brunton never excluded Q400s. They were looking at these aircraft first before switching to the ATR 72-600. Secondly i don’t why we still fussing to have the longer, faster and more expensive Q400s to operate in the region when is only short hops you dealing with. This is why, they’re more regional jet replacements than turboprop replacements. Like we forget the lessons learn from what happen to Redjet. Even if we had Q400s we have to look for longer routes but you must take into consideration, if the market would be there i.e. how to get many people to fly on these long route e.g POS – ANU or ANU – KIN.
    The ATR 42/72 are perfect aircraft because they have almost similar economies of a Dash 8-100/300 except being cheaper. LIAT says they need to get rid of their Dash 8 fleet because it’s old and being a burden on its profitability even the maintenance. ATR is quite the opposite, an airline operating these type of aircraft would save millions of dollars in fuel, maintenance and who knows ticket prices might be even cheaper since most of us complain about LIAT’s ticket prices being expensive to travel throughout the region.
    So there’s nothing wrong with Brunton going for the ATRs instead of Q400s, he an aviation expert i sure he did research before he come to this conclusion. Don’t get me wrong i do like Q400s as well but you need to look at the perception of the Caribbean market compare to the U.S. market, most people prefer things cheap and better to be connected in a short radius.

  11. Adrian Loveridge

    starjack22, In the interest of balance, was Captain Brunton dismissed by CAL and what were the reasons?

    Anyone can GOOGLE ‘Brunton ATR Q400 dismissed’ and there is a lot of media coverage about the circumstances.

  12. Mr. StarJack 22:
    My point was and remains that the ATR acquisuitions will increase LIAT’s cost on a NET basis (financial and operational costs) while the current
    DASH 8s are paid for – free and clear – and there exists a 15 year life extension and refurbishment program at 10% of the cost of a new aircraft – so there is no urgency to spend US$ 200 million on new aircraft before the ‘Blue Sky’ economics of LIAT’s Business Plan can be tested: really more traffic and revenue at the same fares given the history of losing 50% of its traffic at those fares since 2006.
    Even LIAT – though it seems to feel the regional taxpayers are but a convenient ATM – has to cut its cloth accoriding to tis circumstances – and develop from there.
    The argument about the Q400 over the ATR72 can be had when there is cash in the bank.

  13. starjack22

    @Adrian No what i’m saying is he look at the Q400 first like just to know things about the aircraft and then switch to the ATRs 72 because he’s an airline expert. What i’m disputing is like all yuh saying he didn’t take a close look at Q400s and just throw it out the door. He being fired from CAL is a big mistake made by the airline’s board of directors and the then chairman who doesn’t have any experience running a airline at that time, caribbean aviation experts would say the same thing.

  14. starjack22

    @John You should not worry about netbasis, you should be worry about LIAT operating an old fleet of aircraft with hardly any spare parts which cause rise in maintenance, having to pay more for fuel and still have to charge expensive ticket prices to people who travel on them. How could you tell me that the ATRs (especially the 600 series) which promises same operation as the Dash 8s that LIAT is operating but with low coast on maintenance, fuel efficiency and environmental friendly is going raise the cost on netbasis.Remember i’m just looking at things at a perception, but if there’s more to it then i’m all ears.

  15. 5

    @ PltFlyng thank you for an intelligence analysis if the issue! Far to often informed commentary on aviation we specially LIAT is everything but informed!

    @Adrian with regards to Brunton’s dismissal from Caribbean, it is clear that it was political and the fact is that Caribbean has suffered from his leadership.

    @John Gilmore I would suggest that you look at the total effect of a new fleet before pronouncing on this net basis! Fact is that with a new fleet a lot of LIAT cash expenditures on operations will be reduced! A new more efficient fleet with a high dispatch reliability will also reduce delays and cancellations and their associated cost! Sure you have to make payments for the aircraft however I am pretty sure that the analysis of all the options available to LI showed that a new fleet was the best option!

  16. Messrs. StarJack22 & Anonymous:
    Perhaps the term “Net” was unclear. A new ATR 42-600 will be significantly more expensive to operate than a life extended/refurbished DASH 8 300.
    That is because it will cost LIAT US$ 160,000 per month in lease payments (or in debt service cost) – a cost that is NOT offset by its lower fuel/maintenance costs or enhanced reliability even at 250 block hours per month. That is – unfortunately – fact. LIAT has lost money for the past several years and has lost traffic every year since 2006. Its Business Plan envisages more traffic at the same high fares – pure ‘Blue Sky’ economics – and that does not pay the bills. A US$ 200 capital commitment on behalf of the taxpayers of LIAT’s shareholding countries cannot be justified other than by wishful thinking and astounding patrnalism. Best JG

  17. starjack22

    Alright John, I would take you comment into consideration if you believe that is a fact. But just keep in mind its to early to speculate about what these new aircraft would do to the airline’s spreadsheet since they are not delivered to the airline yet. In my opinion, it would probably take a month or so after they arrived to know how well they’re performing with the airline.

  18. Mr. StarJack22: With over 1000 ATRs and 1000 DASH 8s in operation worlwide in all kinds of operating environments the performance, reliability and operating costs are well known – down to the cent really. There is no mystery – no need to wait. The diee is cast and the results will not make pretty reading for the taxpayers .

  19. starjack22

    @John I’m not saying that you’re right or wrong John. Regardless if this is a mystery or not, i would treat these things as speculation unless proven otherwise.Talk is one thing but seeing it is another. Please understand what i coming from.

  20. Does Paris exist – or not until you see it ? If the evidence of 1000 of both types of aircraft operating 3000 hours a year each – since 1984 is not sufficient ‘evidence’ then you presumably would not buy one without a year or two free trial. Best JG

  21. starjack22

    Well unless you could prove it then i would see it. If you rather keep talking about it then how you want me to believe it? John, i have research the new ATR 600 series for the past 3 or 4 years. I just don’t only look at the aircraft at look at what aviation experts on online aviation forum say about this aircraft and other aircraft as well. So i’m know i’m telling the truth about all of this.
    IF THAT’S YOUR POINT, I WILL TAKE IT INTO CONSIDERATION STILL, OK. But in my humblest opinion, i rather wait till these aircraft join the fleet and i know the truth. When the truth reveals and you’re right i would respect your concern about the Netbasis ok. If not then is not. Stop feeling hurt from my words, i’m just being honest or mediocre about things.

  22. Mr. StarJack22:
    Be assured your words do not hurt me – nor will LIAT’s increased losses due to this unnecessary expenditure of US$ 200 million on new aircraft when $20 million to refurbish the current fleet would have sufficed. Those
    who will be hurt are principally the taxpayers of Barbados who own 49% of the airline and those of St. Vincent, Antigua and now Dominica. It is gratifying to see there is so litle concern amongst them. JG

  23. starjack22

    Then its settle. I bow to you, your honor.

  24. PltFlyng

    @JohnGilmore,
    Do you know how many cycles Liats DASH 8’s have on them already? How does a refurbishment solve that issue and provide anything other than short term relief?

  25. This is from an article in the TT Guardian on November 28, 2011
    “..Long before the ATRs became a huge expense for Government, a report taken to Cabinet in July 2010 had revealed there was no rush to replace the five Dash 8s. The “High Level Business Appraisal of Caribbean Airlines” report was submitted to the People’s Partnership administration on June 18, 2010, and had been compiled by Conrad Aleong, former chief executive officer of defunct BWIA, former finance minister Selby Wilson and accountant Krishna Boodhai. The report revealed the Dash 8s aircraft had not yet reached their half life of 40,000 cycles and Bombardier was working on a life extension programme to extend the life of these machines to 120,000 cycles. The report revealed that if effective cost-cutting measures were undertaken the Dash 8s could have been rehabilitated at around US$13 million and the Government could save US$200 million for ATRs. The report has also dismissed the option of a shuttle service from Kingston to Montego Bay because it was not financially feasible.”

  26. Here is another from February 3, 2011
    “No need for ATRs

    Thursday, February 3, 2011

    In the past few weeks, the acquisition by Caribbean Airlines (CAL) of nine turboprop aircraft has caused its former chief executive Captain Ian Brunton to be fired and led to a public feud between CAL chairman George Nicholas and Works and Transport Minister, Jack Warner. Both men have subsequently resolved their issues and an agreement was signed with France’s Avion Transport Regional (ATR) last week.

    The Arthur Lok Jack-board had claimed that it was first focused on changing its jet fleet and was in talks to change the turboprop fleet sometime in 2011. This board was seeking five, and not nine ATRs. CAL is paying US$200 million, out of pocket, for the turboprops. The report, which was taken to Cabinet in July 2010, revealed there was no rush to replace the five Dash-8s.
    The report considered the position of Dash-8s manufacturer Bombardier and spokesperson Ross Gray.

    Gray stated that:
    1. All five aircraft have not yet reached their half life of 40,000 cycles. Since it has taken them on average 11 years to get to this point they have at minimum another 11 years of utilisation left (to get to 80,000 cycles) if they fly the same network and schedule.

    2. Bombardier is working on a life extension programme to extend the life of these machines to 120,000 cycles. So life beyond 80,000 cycles is certainly also feasible.

    3. Three of the Q300s (Dash-8s) are close to 40,000 cycles. At this point they will need to go in for a major structural check of the airframe,probably within the next year.

    4. The other typically costly maintenance work that occurs is on the landing gear and engines. For both these, the good news is that these should have all gone through their major overhauls and restorations already and so should be relatively fresh.

    In short, the upcoming maintenance activity is part of the planned checks based on the utilisation of the aircraft and it is standard for all airlines to have already been budgeted for them as part of their normal planning. They are not show stoppers by any means, and if CAL were to choose to dispose of the five Q300s they would most certainly be forced to go through this structural check prior to any sale. So the cost of the structural check is sunk cost and should not be a driving factor for a rush decision on fleet replacement. “In fact, there should be no impediment preventing continued operation of these aircraft for many many years to come. It would be our opinion that there is time for the proper evaluation process to occur on CAL’s network,” Gray stated.

    Unanswered Questions
    The report and subsequent events which unfolded raised several questions:
    1. Cabinet had the report since July 2011. Why did it choose to purchase new ATR turboprop aircraft rather than maintain its Dash8s in the short term?

    2. On whose suggestion, and what rationale, did they use to increase the fleet from five to nine ATRs?

    3. Why were no provisions made for the fuel hedge for 2011 and thereafter?

    4. What are CAL’s plans for the Dash-8s?

    The Business Guardian understands that if effective cost-cutting measures were undertaken the Dash8s could have been rehabilitated at around US$13 million and keep in pocket its US$200 million spent on ATRs. The Business Guardian also learnt that with new aircraft equipment comes additional cost: computers have to be changed, pilots have to be reoriented and spare parts have to be accessed.
    “The turboprop investment will never give you a US$200 million return on investment. You will never get that type of revenue. You get that from the big jets,” sources said.

  27. starjack22

    But if i assume what John said about Bombardier was working on a life extension programme to extend the life of these machines (then again they’re talking about CAL and not LIAT) to 120,000 cycles is correct, then is no wonder LIAT order a small fleet of ATR aircraft i.e an order for three 48-seat ATR 42-600s plus options for two 68-seat ATR 72-600 instead of replacing the whole fleet and ordering more aircraft. Five of the 68-70 seater ATR 72-600 is what Caribbean Airlines is operating.

  28. PltFlyng

    I asked you how many cycles L-I-A-T’s Dash 8s have on them. They have considerably more than CAL. Infact LIAT was one of the main drivers of the cycle extension program (to buy more time).

    Yes there is a current extension to 80,000 cycles but that is not far away for some liat aircraft. As for the 120k cycle approval as far as i am aware it was stated by bombardier that while this was in theory possible. They did not have much in the way of testing or date beyong 80,000 cycles and any operator exceding this benchmark would basically be operating in uncharted territory and doing so at own risk.

    Further more this does not even address the parts availability issue. With the Dash 8-100/300 production lines closed many of the parts are now produced by third party manufactures and are getting more expensive by the day and harder to find (smaller production coupled with the numbers of 100/300 aircraft still flying with operators that have low cycle operating patterns).

    Liat sold 2 of its remaining -100s and converted the remaining one to a dedicated freighter which flys far less largely due to difficulty and expense of finding -100 parts.

    Tell me again how the overhaul program which as far as i know was a zero air time but not zero cycle program addresses these issues?

  29. starjack22

    “Further more this does not even address the parts availability issue. With the Dash 8-100/300 production lines closed many of the parts are now produced by third party manufactures and are getting more expensive by the day and harder to find (smaller production coupled with the numbers of 100/300 aircraft still flying with operators that have low cycle operating patterns).”
    Hence the reason that i tell John that the maintenance cost is getting high especially with the lack of parts due to Bombardier discontinuing the Dash 100/200/300 production line. LIAT had to depend on using one of their Dash 8 for spare parts for their whole fleet.

  30. Adrian Loveridge

    starjack22,

    A question if I may. Knowing there was still a market for a 50 seater turboprop (at lower prurchase and operating costs) why didn’t Bombardier decide to build a smaller Q400 version? It seems they would have lost a lot of marketshare to ATR.
    Just to repeat, this is a question from someone that is trying to understand and NOT an aviation expert.

  31. The 120,000 cycle Life Extension Program would have given LIAT a core fleet of DASH 8 300s with another 15 years of life at historical usage rates – LIAT accepted this as accurate. LIAT seems to be set on a brand new fleet of 5 50 seaters and 7 70 seaters. The ATR is 68 seats – the Q400 has 78 seats in the LIAT standard -300 configuration. As for parts – with 1000 aircraft operating worldwide and the commitment of the manufacturer – parts availability at competitive prices is assured.
    As to why Bombardier ceased production of the -300s – it seems like a mistake from the outside but one assumes they had their reasons.
    Whatever way you look at the issue – an ATR 42-600 at a capital cost of US$ 16 million will cost more to operate than a refurbished DASH 8-300. That is merely a matter of fact – for LIAT or any other airline. And facts are facts.

  32. starjack22

    @Adrian Good question. As what John Gilmore said in his latest post bombardier ceasing production of the Dash 8-300 seems like a mistake. One possible reason is Bombardier focusing on the regional jet market e.g building CRJs and C-Series aircraft due to America’s addictiveness to these aircraft than to turboprops. During further research, i heard that ever since the American Eagle Flight 4184 incident :http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Eagle_Flight_4184, most Americans have feared about flying in turboprops especially in the northernmost places where the icing issue was on the forefront.
    But up until this day, most Americans rather fly in regional jets than turboprops, Bombardier takes advantage of that market and is that what repels them to the top in the regional jet sector. Yes the Q400s are turboprops as well but seeing that they operate near jet-like speeds is why they also becoming a blockbuster aircraft. Bombardier thinks that the Q400 is like the replacement to the older Dash 8s which is why they discontinued building the 50 seaters.
    And because of that the ATRs especially the new 600 series are getting massive orders across the globe proving that there is a market for 50-70 seaters when the economies of these aircraft are concerned.

  33. starjack22

    Hello John Gilmore, i think i see your point about the life cycle of the Dash 8s, but doing this is a fairly expensive overhaul and because of Bombardier’s mistake discontinuing these aircraft certain parts are also becoming very difficult and expensive to obtain especially when increasing the life cycle. Even if LIAT was to go through with this they would still have to replace their aircraft.

  34. The Regional Jets are more expensive to operate than the Q400 which has the economics + the range and speed – so it is becoming their replacement.

    LIAT will have to buy new aircraft eventually – no question – but not now and not for the next 10-15 years if they refurbish the existing fleet. So why now?

    LIAT’s planes are in the condition they are in – visually not mechanically –
    because LIAT has let them get that way – largely because they are always short of cash because they always lose money.

    To the passenger, a refurbished DASH 8 300 will look and feel exactly like a brand new ATR 42 – at 10% of the cost. While it will be a little more
    expensive to operate in fuel and maintenance – that is more than offset
    by the US$ 160,000+ a month each ATR costs (lease or purchase). On a
    NET basis the Dash 8 is the more economical option – and that is what
    a company losing money and traffic needs to focus on.

    Once you fix your system and start to make some money you can look at
    new aircraft – and indeed they may need a larger, faster aircraft to
    capitalise on the new longer routes into PR they are looking at – for which
    they chose the slower, smaller ATR over the 78 seat Q400 with jet speed.

    When we bought Air Jamaica in ’94 our plan was to re-furbish the 727s which were paid for (just as LIAT’s DASH 8s are paid for) – re-establish profitability with the lower staff levels and salary costs and then look at new aircraft when we had the money.

    We left when the NCB droped its participation in our group from 50% to 5% and we weren’t comfortable with the new prosepctive partners.

    Butch took over – bought new aircraft and essentially went bankrupt right
    away – throwing away the cost advantage he had been given by the privatisation in staff costs by the cost of paying for the new aircraft – and he screwed up their introduction as the FAA was required (with the new aircraft) to re-evaluate the CAA and it was droped to CAT 2 – meaning the new planes could not be used.

    Jamaica paid a price of US$ 100 million+ each year in subsidizing Butch’s decision to buy an all new fleet – I’m sure the customers were pleased but the airline is no longer there as a result.

    The same will happen to LIAT. They will not and cannot make money given the net cost increases that will result from paying for the new
    aircraft.

    In business – as in life – you have to cut your cloth according to your financial circumstances.

  35. starjack22

    Well regardless at the end of the day they would still have to replace their aircraft. John, its no coincidence that a majority of airlines (regional or national) worldwide are switching their fleet to the ATR 600 series especially when the time is now. Just ask airlines like Taiwan-based Uni Air why they decided to switch their fleet of Dash 8 to the ATR 72-600 instead of doing things like increasing life cycle or a net basis valuation that you so preach would do better than buying any new aircraft.
    In reality, i don’t hear airlines complaining about these things this is looking at the bigger picture. Even through research this is the less talk about thing in aviation, this is the truth.

  36. KodieUSVI

    Well written article about Liat’s ATR choice. Choosing to replace the existing fleet is indeed more expensive, but I believe that with correct execution of their renewed business model and the savings of the new ATR’s, they will be able to recoup those cost.

  37. What can one say. The airline has lost 50% of its traffic since 2006 –
    from 1.6 million down to 2012’s 808,000. It has lost money almost every year. It is now buying US$ 235 million’s worth of new aircraft that will cost it more money to operate than the ones it has on hand. Sensible ? No.
    However since everyone thinks it is a good idea I can but wish you well – and remember my warning when you have to bail LIAT out again. In 2007 it cost US$ 60 million which the shareholders had to borrow from the CDB – the next time – soon – it will be more – and the CDB will not be LIAT’s ATM again – your taxes will have to serve that purpose.

  38. starjack22

    Yea but was this loss related to the so call Netbasis you talk about. If so did it involve new aircraft added to their fleet or old aircraft that they currently using. Speculations without prove is further from the truth, that’s common sense. I would only believe you unless you bring prove especially if is from an airline and not based on hear say on the sidelines. But in the meantime sink this in
    “In reality, i don’t hear airlines complaining about these things this is looking at the bigger picture. Even through research this is the less talk about thing in aviation, this is the truth.”

  39. starjack22

    Once you bring prove, i could assure you i’ll remain quiet and stop bothering you and comment on others.

  40. PltFlyng

    @JohnGilmore
    If you actually knew as much as you claim to, you would know that Liat is only buying a few aircraft not an entire fleet. Some will be owned, some will be leased. Much the same way the current fleet is made up of a smaller number of aircraft owned outright and a larget number of leased aircraft. Also your distribution of -42’s / -72s seems to not jive with the actual numbers.

    Makes me wonder what else you are just guessing about. Do you really think the Q400 was not considered? How exactly do you think this whole excercise went down?

    Do you think Mr Brunton just showed up unpacked his stuff at Liat HQ and said “right guys, lets buy some shiny new airplanes!” and the deal was signed a month later?

    Is it not much more likely that there was, say…i dont know…a three year long study (a study that was started long before mr Bruntons arrival)conduncted internally which involved aircraft technical and financial information and a new buisness plan and a statistical route study. Isnt it very possible that multiple pitches were made by both bombardier and ATR over the course of these three years and these offers were ALL looked at and studied not just by the internal comittie but by the outside consultants brought in to do so.

    Isnt it not possible that even after ALL of that, the study even though approved by the heads of goverment in theory was sent back for RE-analysis multiple times for re-checking and increased scrutiny because hey this is a big deal and both the company and the share holder goverments wants to get it right?

    Why is it these things seem so familiar to me….hmm…nah i must be wrong…JohnGilmore is probably right and these things never happened probably just like flipped a coin or chose the one with the most shiney paint job.

  41. 118

    I suspect darker forces at work than just a ‘coin flip’. How else to explain the insanity of an insolvent airline – still losing money and traffic spending US$ 225 million that it doesn’t have to buy brand new aircraft that it doesn’t need as it has the option to spend 10% of that cost to bring the ones it has to an ‘as new’ condition – good for 10-15 more years. The complete lack of transparency is a major concern. LIAT has never released its Financial or Statistical data, as most airlines do routinely. As a result it is impossible to guage its performance or compare it to other similar airlines – I suspect because the comparisons would be embarassing to LIAT.We do know, as fact, that LIAT and CStar together carried 1.2 million passengers in 2006 –
    that LIAT bought CStar using US$ 60 million in cash borrowed from the CDB and that LIAT in 2012 carried just 808,000 passengers. We also know that LIAT has been losing money for several years. Despite the consistent loss of traffic and the losses LIAT’s Business Plan apparently forecasts a profit in 2013 – despite introducing a new fleet that will be more expensive to operate on a NET basis – NET means ‘all costs vs all expenses’.
    As for the fleet plan – while LIAT has to date ordered 5ATR42s from the manufacturer with options for 2 ATR 72s and 2 ATR 72s from ALC in San Francisco – it plans a fleet of 5 ATR42s and 7 ATR 72s – that is what they have said to the media. To me it makes no sense.

  42. 118

    PS For some reason the Web Site has changed my Name from John Gilmore to Anonymous. It remains John Gilmore.

  43. starjack22

    “LIAT has never released its Financial or Statistical data, as most airlines do routinely. As a result it is impossible to guage its performance or compare it to other similar airlines – I suspect because the comparisons would be embarassing to LIAT.”

    Exactly, so how are we gonna prove that if they order new aircraft that in your case would say it will be expensive to operate on NET basis even if they can’t produce financial data of the airline. This comes like reading a book with title but no contents.

    “As for the fleet plan – while LIAT has to date ordered 5ATR42s from the manufacturer with options for 2 ATR 72s and 2 ATR 72s from ALC in San Francisco – it plans a fleet of 5 ATR42s and 7 ATR 72s – that is what they have said to the media. To me it makes no sense.”

    You’re right, it makes no sense because i don’t hear anything about them ordering 5 ATR 42s and 7 ATR 72s.

    This is from the ATR site itself
    http://www.atraircraft.com/newsroom/press-releases-details-1204-en.html

    ” ATR and the Caribbean carrier Leeward Islands Air Transport Services (LIAT) today announced the signature of an agreement for the purchase of a total of three 48-seats ATR 42-600s. The deal also includes options for two 68-seat ATR 72-600, and is valued at over US$ 100 million. LIAT will take delivery of their very first ATR 42-600 in June 2013.

    With the arrival of these aircraft from ATR, plus additional ATR -600s under discussion from leasing companies, LIAT will progressively replace its current fleet of former turboprop aircraft. The airline currently operates a fleet of 14 aircraft over its Caribbean network, which includes main hubs at Antigua, Barbados and Trinidad, and destinations –among others-, in Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, St.Marteen, Guadeloupe, Dominica, Martinique St.Lucia and St.Vincent.”

  44. PltFlyng

    @JohnGilmore Lets play a game. You fill in the blanks.

    Excercise 1:
    The dangers of high cycle extension programs (in general are) ____________________________. Infact just last year the FAA grounded for inspection high cycle (insert type) ______________ aircraft that were part of _______________ fleet (hint: us domestic carrier) because of _____________ which was discovered and which _____________ (manufacturer) admitted occured earlier than they had anticpated. The FAA expressed their concern at the time at the high number of cycles at some of these older model ____________ still flying in the US under extension programs.

    Liats fuel bill was an estimated $___________________ last year.
    The ATR is ____% more efficent than the DHC-8-300.
    ______% of $________ Is $_________ anually which is significant in of its self.

    Excercise 2:
    The recurrent maintenance cost associated with a high cycle 15-20 year old Dash 8 is high and infact the current maintenance cost for Liats Dash is ________ than industry standard and on par with the average maintenace cost of a ________ instead. This higher maintenance cost is usually offfset by the fact that most operators own their DASH-8s outright by now and are not making payments on them. Liat however, actually only owns ____ of their aircraft.

    The recurrent maintenance cost associated with a new atr is _______% less than that.

    This equates to a $________ savings anually and also just as importantly an increase in dispatch reliability which at the moment stands at _____%. Increased dispatch reliability means less cost in cancelled flights, re-accomodating passengers, fuel wasted when aircraft have to return to ramp, and overnighting and overwise re-imbusring passengers due to cancellations. It also means less burden on maintenance which could result in a labor cost reduction and less burden on crew demands (airplane breaks down, crew runs out of duty, reserve crew has to be called out).

    In contrast the refitt option for the -300s would have seen bombardier replace ___________ and the ________ and upgrade__________ but the situation would still be the same with regards to _______________________________________________________ and even though the airframes would have been zero timed, they would not be zero cycled and going past the 80k cycle mark is a bad idea because (see exercise 1). This remains a problem because some aircraft are at approximatly ________ cycles right now.

    Untill you can directly answer questions like those with factual information and not guesses (and i suspect you dont have the actual information to do so) you should stop trying to claim informed knowledge on the subject.

    I understand if you have an opinion, everyone is entitled to one. Just say in my opinion xyz. But dont try to pass your opinion off as fact.

    ———————————————–
    Side note:
    Btw, here is an interesting section of a study that is appliciable to the topic of airframe cycle extension programs.

    http://repository.ias.ac.in/51382/1/13_pub.pdf

  45. John Gilmore

    Please just read the news. Gonsalves has said they will replace their entire fleet by the end of 2014.

  46. John Gilmore

    Mr. PvtFlying:

    I have asked Bombardier to provide me (or this discussion page) with their answer to your questions.

    I would merely say that Conrad Aleong and his team evaluated the Life Cycle Extension program on behalf of the TT Government and concluded it was a viable and appropriate alternative to new aircraft – at 10% of the cost.

    For any ‘aviator’ to suggest that an aircraft manufacturer would offer a program that is less than safe if frankly ,incredible’ – reminds me of Capt. Brunton’s statement that RedJet’s MD 80s were ‘less safe’ than CALs 737s.

  47. starjack22

    “reminds me of Capt. Brunton’s statement that RedJet’s MD 80s were ‘less safe’ than CALs 737s.

    I feel in my opinion he was questioning the age of the aircraft than the reliability of it. Either way, Redjet still made a mistake for operating these type of aircraft because they’re not really built for island hopping.

  48. starjack22

    “Please just read the news. Gonsalves has said they will replace their entire fleet by the end of 2014.”

    Well i know it is highlighted in the news about replacing the fleet but i can’t verified as yet how many ATR 42/72s they gonna operate as you said by 2014. Because what they only studying is the initial order for 3 ATR 42s and option for 2 ATR 72s.

  49. John Gilmore

    The initial order includes options on two 68 seat ATR 72-600s and they have signed a lease with the Air Lease Corporation of San Francisco for two additional ATR 72-600s for delivery this summer. In addition Gonsalves has confirmed their will have replaced the entire fleet by the end of 2014.

    On Brunton’s comments about the safety of RedJet’s MD 80s – it was thoroughly irreponsible to suggest that aircraft age reduces safety –
    safety is well regulated by the airlines and policed by their regulators. The only fleet groundings have been of newer aircraft, when warranted, such as the recent 787 grounding and in the past the DC10 when new.

    As for their appropriateness for ‘island hopping’ – one will never know as the regional governments collectively and successfully sabotaged RedJet.

  50. starjack22

    Well when Redjet was in operation it always experienced numerous delays due to problem with its aircraft, this article proves it:
    http://www.trinidadexpress.com/news/Plane_trouble_grounds_REDjet-128445518.html
    I’m not saying this because i support his (Brunton) comment although he’s half right that the aircraft are old. Even aviation experts had problems with Redjet for using the type of aircraft. Part about the safety, i’ll leave it somewhere else.

    “As for their appropriateness for ‘island hopping’ – one will never know as the regional governments collectively and successfully sabotaged RedJet.”

    Well the fact that they have LIAT (or defending it) which uses a more appropriate aircraft on every routes ( included those with shorter runways or smaller airports) that they fly is something that we know well. Perhaps if Redjet did operate turboprops instead of jets then their attitude wouldn’t be that one-sided. I’m sure when Caribbean Star and Caribbean Sun did operate in region years back they weren’t treated the same way as Redjet.

  51. John Gilmore

    When is an aircraft ‘old’ – Allegiant, with the highest profitability and lowest fares in the US – operates 60 of the RedJet aircraft – to-day.
    As for CStar – Allen Stanford has a very close relationship with successsive Antigua governments that have not yet been fully investigated (at all really).

  52. starjack22

    And funny enough, Allegiant only have two incidence with their md 80 aircraft according to wikipedia. I believe it has to do with the climate of the markets they’re serving seeing that they are are inter-united states carrier flying mostly over land. Redjet’s aircraft fly over sea. There are speculations from aviation forums that flying over sea might increase the wear and tear of an aircraft due to sea water effect on atmospheric conditions. So its no wonder they have problems with their aircraft.
    I don’t know about Insel Air or DAE that also operates old md 80 aircraft over sea as well but the probability of the problem still lies not that;s gonna happen now or later but in the future.
    As for Allen Stanford, nobody didn’t see that one coming even though he did created two great regional carriers that lasted longer than Redjet and Ezjet. This is why Caribbean aviation is failing because of politics and individuals who rather involve in fraud or bride schemes to please themselves.

  53. Anomynous157

    This has been fairly well beat to death, but I’d like to throw out some comments.
    …First, I personally suspect that Capt. Brunton was “fired” from CAL but is really at LIAT as a Trojan Horse on Trinidad’;s behalf to ding LIAT financially and bring it back for Trinidad for zero (or as close to zero as they can get it) cost. Or perhaps someone else here has an explanation who the CEO position at CAL is STILL not filled after more than two years? The Acting CEO has resigned (not retired) and now they are seeking yet another Acting CEO. Further, Capt. Brunton’s experience is with a heavy metal airline operating medium- to-long sectors who now running an island hopper with medium weight turboprop aircraft. And it shows.
    …Second, I seriously wonder how any of LIAT’s aircraft could have corrosion… any item continuously soaked in oil (so as to be continuously dripping) cannot corrode.
    …Third, Let me list some of REDjet’s problems. A foreign team arrives in the Caribbean to employ foreign managers with foreign pilots, refusing to hire more than a token number of locals. They then extract promises from government ministers for favours and extra-ordinary permissions, and go through the AOC (airline certification) approval process. Upon being handed said document they are told by the DCA (limited-knowledge air traffic controller, remember) they need no other documentation to operate into CARICOM countries, and without hesitation or asking one more question they announce Trinidad as a destination. Trinidad raises its macho head behind Caribbean Airlines and shouts :”NEVER!”. REDjet then demands US$8 million funding from the Barbados Government, who are already short of money, and are turned down. Shareholders ask the company to bring in a regional consultant to try and sort out the local kinks and perhaps save the company, and that is refused. The fait is therefore well accompli.
    …Fourth, let me list some of Barbados’ Civil Aviation problems. For almost half a century the DCA has been an Air Traffic Controller elevated to his own level of incompetence. From Leric Hunte onwards the breadth of aviation knowledge has been quickly eroded until we have recently had Directors who are only aware of their limited Barbados ATC world and virtually nothing more. They have no imagination, no knowledge of commercial aviation, and no real knowledge of how things are done in the rest of the world. The ability to innovate and motivate civil aviation in Barbados is now and has been for a long time at a big fat zero, flight training and recreation aviation almost does not exist, and aviation as a whole is deep in the doldrums with no real future in sight. The treasured Category One status which might help has been so screwed up that the FAA has told Barbados not to call again for ten years. No amount of bright outlook by anyone in Barbados will make any difference to that now. TYhe lack of category One means that no airline will start in Barbados, and few aviation business will even consider moving to Barbados because of the REDjet and Carib Express debacles.
    …Fifth, let me say something about LIAT. The long-suffering regional airline has a Chairman and Board who know little or, nothing about aviation, despite the Chairman calling himself an aviation expert and writing books about the subject. He can write all the books he wants, his performance at the top of LIAT tells a whole different story and in a completely different direction. In 40 years LIAT has gone from debt to debt, loss to loss, and the same governments and Board continue to put political appointees to do an expert’s job. And the current Chairman resigned two years ago – why is he still there? The way to heal LIAT is to appoint people with practical knowledge of aviation who can make things happen, and to set realistic standards for LIAT management to achieve – or move on to something else.
    …Finally, there will be little or no progress in civil aviation in the eastern Caribbean – or Barbados – until the calibre of people who direct it are changed. As long as politicians and their petty ignorant “yard fowls” rule roughshod over highly technical matters they know nothing about there will continue to be chaos and loss of taxpayer money.

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  55. James Lynch

    Since John Gilmore is now passed (he dead), I will merely conclude his argument with the observation that he was corresponding with people who refused to “get it”.

    LIAT is broke, always has been, and always will be as long as there is the political interference and abysmal mismanagement.

    In order of shareholding, Barbados, now with more than 50% is now unquestionably broke – and has not only now pushed itself US$200 million deeper in debt (from the IADB) but has robbed all future public pensions and social benefits to boot. Antigua is almost broke, but not as badly off as Barbados. And St. Vincent is broke, too.

    Our politicians are not rocket surgeons, but it appears they don’t seem to have any skills at all. As Gilmore said, you have to live within your budget, but politicians don’t worry about budgets, all they care about is how things look and how many voters they can fool. So LIAT is doomed.

    Brunton was fired by CAL after he forced through the purchase of the ATRs (as indicated, there was nothing wrong with the Dash-8s). He came to LIAT and bought 12 ATRs by telling the Board it was a US$100 million expense – when it was in reality closer to US$250 million. Now BahamasAir has bought ATRs (5 for US$100 million), but nobody seems to know whether Brunton was involved. That is US$500 million in this region from which kickbacks and commission will be paid to SOMEBODY in the area. Brunton? Or somebody else?

    Just as an aside, these numbers do noit compute. Trinidad: 6 ATRs for US$100 million? LIAT: 12 ATRs for US$100 million? Bahamas: 5 ATRs for US$100 million? SOMEBODY is getting ripped off – or very scammed – here.

    FACT: With uprated engines to match the Dash-8 speed, the fuel burn on an ATR is the same as – or slightly higher than – the Dash-8-300. So forget that ‘cheaper to operate” myth.

    FACT: As Gilmore told you, buying a new aircraft at US$40 million compared to refurbishing an old aircraft at US$4 million means that – no matter WHAT you pay for spares – the new aircraft will be WAYYYYYY more expensive.

    FACT: With less than a year in service the new ATRs are falling apart inside – because of cheap coverings and materials – where the 20+year old Dash-8s are still in almost-new condition. More expense.

    FACT: The shareholders cannot afford the ATRs in the first place, and LIAT is no question a losing proposition. So WHAT is the rationale for buying new aircraft. If the rationale is that they are cheaper to operate, the FACT is that they are not, and that the increased finance costs negate any savings they would have had. Point proven. QED. End of discussion.

    FACT: LIAT has less than a year to live – with HUGE losses, none of the shareholders can afford it. They refuse to make changes, streamline and make it efficient or economical, so the other PMs (rightly) refuse to join in the money-dumping. So if you are like the shareholders and expect a different outcomwe from doing the same things, better to forget about that weekend trip to Dominica you planned for next summer – unless you take a charter, there won’t be any airlines to take you there.

    So y’all go ahead. As a 45 year aviation professional I can assure you that LIAT is headed for infinity, and that the ATRs were a bad choice, probably pushed on the rest of us by a greed for kickbacks.

    I’m just waiting for LIAT to collapse under the vertical crushing weight of financial, oversight and managerial incompetence. The worst part is, nobody on high seems to give a damn. The three largest shareholders Barbados, Antigua and St. Vincent have alternatives and/or direct flights from overseas and DO NOT NEED LIAT. Antigua’s biggest concern is local jobs, not airline.

    It is obvious that the biggest losers from LIAT’s downfall will be the inter-island services to and from St. Lucia and Grenada. Dominica and St. Kitts have already replaced LIAT’s seats with Air Antilles services through a WinAir wet lease.

    Bye-bye LIAT. Don’t let those ATRs bite.

  56. starjack22

    Let we try to be in the real world for once. Why we rather see airlines in the region continue to use the old Dash 8s with parts hardly available worldwide or go for the new Dash 8 Q400s because some of us don’t think ATR aircraft are not the best choice, whether if is cheap or not. Caribbean region is full of islands, not cities like in USA, so i don’t see airlines using the Dash Q400s. They’re bigger, faster and may not design to land in some airports in the region, especially with shorter runways.Read here: http://theflyingengineer.com/aircraft/proud-to-fly-a-turboprop-q400-vs-atr72/
    Secondly, where are they gonna parts for the old Dash 8-300s ever since Bombardier shut the production of these aircraft? LIAT only have to rely on one old aircraft to get parts for its whole Dash 8 fleet, doesn’t that say something. If any mess happen at LIAT on how they run is only because of politics, not because what aircraft they choose.
    Thirdly, why are we still blaming it on Ian Brunton, the man did his homework. When he was at Caribbean Airlines, they were gonna order Q400s at first but ended up ordering ATR 72-600s. Even most aviation experts in a popular online aviation forum see no problem with his decision. The only thing he messed up is no. of these aircraft they’re gonna add to the fleet but i thought politics did play the part in that as well.
    There’s no prove that Ian Brunton even orchestrated our northern neighbors’ flag carrier, Bahamasair to go for the ATRs. That decision was made at the just recent Paris Air Show. Most media links for this story did not mention Mr. Brunton and as far as i know just like with CAL, Bahamasair was gonna go for the Q400s but end up with ATRs.
    Most regional airlines worldwide are going for ATRs over the Dash 8 Q400s or over trying to get spared parts for their old aircraft, why don’t you ask them why they decide to replace their fleet, if these new aircraft are not cheap to operate over using old aircraft which barely surviving with limited parts. I’m just looking at the reality here so what really is the problem, honestly?
    On a side note, did John Gilmore really died? I’m sorry to hear if is true, my condolences. RIP.

  57. James Lynch

    http://www.craneforum.org/viewtopic.php?t=19860

    And, as Gilmore mentioned, with over 1,000 Dash-8s still flying around the world, spares will not be that hard to come by. And we ALWAYS come back to the cost of financing new aircraft as opposed to the cost of refurbishing older ones and, as far as almost-gone LIAT is concerned, there is no comparison.

    But of course we will see, time always tells. Fumble and his roly-poly Dumble are still begging other PMs to help fill in LIAT’s financial sinkhole, and they are – quite rightly – declining because you FIX a car that is leaking gas by the bucketful, you do not beg for more money to fill the tank every two miles. PM of ST. Lucia Kenny Anthony told Fumble and his Dumble three years ago to make changes, but nothing has happened, and now the begging has turned into frantic screaming.

    The do-nothing CEO is still touring all of LIAT’;s destinations on an extended post-retirement vacation, and the do-nothing Chairman is still parked in his suite of tourism offices writing his next tourism book while the Fumble appointes yet another aviation amateur to the Board – to do nothing, of course.

    That financial choice we were discussing is the reason why LIAT has to make choices every month between paying salaries or paying leases. Fumble is familiar with the financial choice – because, as you werll know, the financial irresponsibility is well advanced in Barbados, the politicians having robbed and spent the National Insurance Fund – “sacred” pensions, NOT taxes from the General Fund – and with just about all the rest of the country’s wealth frittered away people are still waiting for tax returns from three years ago and the monies they are by law entitled to TODAY.

    Fumble and his Dumbles have gone too far, and the “regional” (not Bajan) airline LIAT is in that same bag. Even worse, he refuses to address the situations or his people – whether as a coward or a fool – and we must now ALL suffer for his lack of leadership and competence in almost any area.

    It makes one wonder whether, as I have heard, political parties REALLY put forward a Prime Ministerial candidate who is far too stupid to take control from the background political powers.

    Shades of “Yes, Prime Minister”.