LIAT Airlines reality: Empty seats across all routes

Liat Airline

Packaged flights and hotel accommodations might yield increased business!

Adrian Loveridge, small hotel owner - now selling!

Adrian Loveridge, small hotel owner – now selling!

It’s always very difficult to write about LIAT with absolute authority, because despite the Barbadian taxpayer being the single largest shareholder in the airline, the public for years has been denied sight of any business plan or annual audited accounts.

During the recent spat with a clearly dissatisfied customer and the involvement of Sir Richard Branson and the worldwide attention this generated, LIAT fought back by posting two videos on their website which have been subsequently removed. Perhaps on reflection, it was thought that it was more productive to address the issues, ie: the complaints, rather than battle with someone that has indefatigably demonstrated they are a master of media exploitation.

What really surprised me in one of the videos were the numbers quoted by the Director – Commercial and Customer Experience – who stated that the airline operated ‘approximately 100 flights each day’ and carried around ‘3,000 passengers daily’.

According to Planespotters, LIAT currently has a fleet of 14 active passenger aircraft with various seating capacities from 37 to 68, but collectively totalling 685.  So what immediately stands out is, if the overall numbers are correct, then the average sector flight carries only 30 passengers.

That equates to what could be up to 19 empty seats on each flight overall, across the fleet.

Therefore, it is logical to conclude that unless LIAT entices considerably more passengers in the immediate future, and/or changes to potentially higher capacity point-to-point routes, that number of empty seats will rise. This will happen at least until all of the ATR72-600, 68 seater and the smaller ATR42-600’s with 48 seats are fully integrated into service and the Dash 8’s are retired.

LIAT’s chairman recently commented that there must be more tour operator involvement to ‘package’ flights and accommodation. Even though this has happened in the past with trans-Caribbean travel organisations like Going Places, I fully support his call.

But LIAT must sit down with with the operators to identify routes, times and days of the week, where there is excess capacity and some room for ticket price reduction – even if this is revenue restricted to ten seats per flight. I still believe this is an enormous untapped market, not just from the indigenous regional population, but also as an add-on for our overseas visitors. This, despite increasingly deterrent taxes applied by Caribbean Governments.

By putting the component parts, flights, accommodation etc. into a one price package, it helps break down the perception that the product is overly expensive. US$150 a day including flights and hotel, sounds better than $1,000 for a week.

With Barbados taking the biggest risk in LIAT, our Government could take a critical lead in stimulating additional business for the airline by removing VAT on the airfare element, at least in the softer summer months. Some of the ‘lost’ taxes could be re-couped by levying VAT on cruises originating in Barbados, which currently avoid any significant taxation. The residue will be generated by the additional VAT collected on increased accommodation occupancy, car hire, restaurant dining, shopping etc.

For statistical purposes ‘we’ measure Caribbean arrivals as ‘Trinidad and Tobago’ and ‘other Caricom’ and it is the third largest market in terms of all our main sources. Regional visitor arrivals fell by 4,487 in 2012, when compared with 2011.

“So far this year (January-May) has witnessed the single biggest percentage decline with 6,359 less visitors, or a staggering 240 percent fall!”

Relate that to average stay and spend and you start to get a grasp of the fact, that we are not addressing the problem.



Filed under Aviation, Barbados, Barbados Tourism

9 responses to “LIAT Airlines reality: Empty seats across all routes

  1. Pingback: LIAT Airlines reality: Empty seats across all routes | Barbados Blog !


    So base on what you post , We can see why Barbados did not want to help nor back Red Jet, New planes dont mean that the public will run to pay more for a flight , The weekly pay of Persons cant reach those ticket prices, Just tooooo much money,
    Local Caribbean people cant afford those prices , St Vincent now stuck and out of funds at the PM drain the people, Many at the PORT going home because of a one day walk off or stoppage , 85 of them ,
    Well you can let go 85 if you know nothing is flowing like before.
    The People vote for she-it and they have she-it in that PM
    Barbados did the same thing and never to learn , all the planes will be parked , Until we at home get plane prices right to what we make ,
    Is better to fly to the USA New York for 202 us by Jet Blue,
    Barbados tax payers always being robed flights and VAT, when we go shopping we go shopping to pay VAT , now they VEX with VAT,, mom let go buy VAT ,,, its so much fun to pay vat
    Think of the people and the people will think of you.

  3. To the above respondent , I hope you get some help ! By calling a sovereign PM of one of the best countries of the Caribbean she-it ?

    The Vincentian public is bled dry now but joy commeth in the morning !!

    Look at it this way, I rather my government take my money than the Barbados government !! For too long Vincentian have been adding to the Barbados GDP , by over-charging at the airport expensive food and of course the ever popular flight delay !!

    The sacrifice we are making now will be rewarded once the Airport is built,
    its a win win situation, we pay our own government departure tax, and if we get charged for anything , it is staying in SVG
    Secondly even if the airport is not profit making , at least its ours and we dont have to be robbed in Barbados so you too will feel the pinch !

  4. Mary Taft

    Please can you respect my request to unsubscribe which I have processed several times Thank you

  5. Frank

    Re: “Some of the ‘lost’ taxes could be re-couped by levying VAT on cruises originating in Barbados, which currently avoid any significant taxation.” – I’m not seeing any Carnival cruises originating in Barbados any time after January next year…

  6. 139

    @ Mary

    Just don’t come into this site and please don’t post. If you don’t like BFP, don’t knock it, somebody else likes it.

  7. Anonymous

    Anyone know how the GOL flight from Brasil doing?

  8. Anomynous


    – Hon. Freundel Stuart, Prime Minister of Barbados
    – Dr. Hon. Baldwin Spencer, Prime Minister of Antigua & Barbuda
    – Dr. Hon. Ralph Gonsalves, Prime Minister of St. Vincent & Grenadines

    WHEREAS the eastern Caribbean airline LIAT has lost large sums of taxpayer money almost every year since becoming a regionally owned carrier almost 40 years ago, and

    WHEREAS one way or another LIAT continues to absorb and/or lose large sums of money and needs to be supported by the taxpayers and travelling public in multiple islands, and

    WHEREAS the majority of passengers using LIAT are regional citizens who rely on the airline for inter-island travel for trade, business, cargo, small packages, medical services, visas, education, family, friends, festivals and more, and

    WHEREAS the eastern Caribbean shareholders of LIAT continue decade after decade to appoint Board Members and management for political reasons who are clearly proven to be eminently unsuitable and unqualified, and

    WHEREAS the eastern Caribbean airline LIAT has just experienced a two-week “meltdown” inconveniencing thousands of local and regional citizens and foreign visitors by reason of incompetence of and lack of foresight by both Board and upper management, and

    WHEREAS it is pellucidly clear to everyone in the eastern Caribbean that the current status quo of the direction and management of LIAT cannot – and MUST NOT – continue,

    BE IT THEREFORE RECORDED that we, the undersigned, call on the primary shareholder Prime Ministers and governments of LIAT – ie: Hon. Freundel Stuart of Barbados; Dr. Hon. Baldwin Spencer of Antigua; and Dr. Hon. Ralph Gonsalves of St. Vincent – to perform the following actions forthwith:

    1. To REMOVE the current Chairman, Board and top management of LIAT in a timely manner, in no case longer than six months (the one exception being Gatesworth James of Antigua, who has current knowledge and experience in aviation), and

    2. To CHANGE the future quality and qualifications of individuals they appoint Board Members, away from local political appointees and to local and/or regional citizens – residing locally or abroad – who have intimate knowledge and/or recent experience about airlines and aviation, such that the Board in totality produces and provides a broad practical knowledgebase with which to guide the airline to profitability and efficiency, and

    3. To REQUIRE, from this day on, that each Board Member (including the Chairman) and members of the upper management of LIAT travel at least 600 miles (about 3 hours) on the airline’s network, at least once a month – but preferably more frequently – so that they may experience and view first hand what passengers and staff of the airline experience and view every day and seek to correct it before major problems occur, and

    4. To INSIST that all processes and procedures in the airline be reviewed annually by management and/or regional consultants to streamline or eliminate unnecessary bottlenecks, blocks and annoyances from the running of the airline and processing of its passengers, and

    5. To REDUCE AND/OR REMOVE all airport, airline and passenger travel taxes, fees and charges imposed by the shareholder governments, to set the example others may follow so that regional aviation may have yet another impediment removed from ease of movement among CARICOM nations – as is publicly postulated as part of the regional political will.