An open letter about LIAT to Prime Ministers Stuart, Spencer and Gonsalves

It’s often cheaper to charter an executive aircraft than to fly LIAT!

To:
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

Gentlemen:

by James Lynch, Twotter pilot extraordinaire!

by James Lynch, Twotter pilot extraordinaire!

Because of my Petition (about LIAT on change.org), I have been contacted by several prominent people, some of them hoteliers in the smaller islands, who are now ACTIVELY seeking alternatives to LIAT’s services for the foreseeable future in protection of their businesses.

It is my considered opinion – supported by many others, including those with similar decades of aviation experience in the region – that unless the owners/shareholders of LIAT make SWEEPING and DETERMINED changes in the way LIAT is run then the travellers of the region WILL find alternate ways of getting where they are going.

The recent month-long “meltdown” LIAT has undergone (which is in part still going on, by the way) has amply demonstrated to those who were inconvenienced that, in the long run, it is actually cheaper to charter an aircraft for a group of five or six people and know for sure that – upon arrival from the other continents – a means of travel will unquestionably be there, and that their baggage will accompany them, than to be stranded in an unfamiliar place for three days (or longer) without baggage, without connections, and without a reliable way to get where they want to go.

I would like to see LIAT continue to serve the eastern Caribbean and the reliable, and be the trusted carrier it can be, but decades of lack of serious political interest in the health of LIAT has now resulted in avery real possibility of its demise.

Years ago LIAT’s conversion from Avro to Dash-8 held no horrors. Yet this fleet conversion from Dash-8 to ATR has been horribly mismanaged and that the CEO is out of his depth. It is also publicly apparent that the Chairman and Board approves of the way CEO Captain Brunton has mismanaged the entire situation. 

Clearly, what has gone before in the overall direction of LIAT cannot continue. It is no longer good enough for the airline to roll along under its own steam, with a trailing rudder, without firm and experienced hands at the tiller. I put it to you that It is no longer good enough for LIAT to be led by people whose sole qualification for the position on the Board is that they are owed favours by the government/s.

In short, it is now past time to place your yard fowls out in the yard in the yard where they belong and can do no harm, and not to run the tractor and the plough across the land. Take a look for yourself, and you will see all haphazard zig-zags where there should be neat parallel furrows.

I also put it to you that given the lack of progress of LIAT over the last decade the current Chairman, Jean Holder, is about as much as aviation expert as a Tasmanian Devil. It is beyond clear that Mr. Holder does NOT have the slightest clue about professionally running an airline, and it is time for him to be replaced entirely on the Board.

Understand that I am not making personal attacks, I am stating FACTS.

And it is a FACT that this entire Board, bar Mr. Gatesworth James, is incompetent, irrelevant, and MUST be replaced if you want LIAT to survive.

Since it would be unwise to dispatch the current CEO in mid-stream, as it were, I suggest that he be allowed to remain until the airline stabilises… but then HE MUST GO, too.

I URGE all three of you to CHANGE the way you appoint the Directors of LIAT as PM Gonsalves has taken pains to make clear, this is NOT a “normal” business, and it demands a high level of knowledge in aviation, airlines and a range of technical matters, even at Board level.

I URGE that instead find and appoint those regionals who know enough about aviation that they are not bamboozled by smooth-talking managers or “consultants” with flashy presentations. I ask you to appoint Directors to LIAT who have the background and knowledge to ask the hard questions, to know of and point out the flaws, and to demand that nonsense be thrown in the garbage.

If you want LIAT to survive, CHANGE must be implemented.

I know you have heard all this before, but we have never experienced a “meltdown” – of ANY Caribbean airline – like this before. Potential passengers and customers of LIAT are turning away – literally in their THOUSANDS – and hundreds of foreign travel agencies are looking for alternate ways to get their clients to their destinations than by LIAT.

I URGE you to implement the changes asked for in this Petition, and to make it PUBLICLY KNOWN that you ARE making those changes.

If I can help at all, I am qualified and willing to serve, and I know of others just as qualified or even more qualified who would be willing to serve as well (such as ex-LIAT manager Brian Meade, now living in Dominica).

Thanks to incompetence at the highest levels of Board and management, LIAT is now on the edge of a precipice – I PLEAD with you to throw it a lifeline and bring it back from the brink, if for nothing else than the additional US$65 to $100 million you just recently threw down the LIAT hole if it does fail.

James C. Lynch
Ex-ATC, ex-LIAT, Airline Transport Pilot, 13,500+ flying hours
Management Experience.

Citizen of Barbados and Antigua/Barbuda
Resident and citizen of Canada

2 Comments

Filed under Aviation, Barbados, Barbados Tourism

2 responses to “An open letter about LIAT to Prime Ministers Stuart, Spencer and Gonsalves

  1. Skip J

    LIAT’s mismanagement and financial problems reminds me of The West Indies Federation, also known as the Federation of the West Indies, a short-lived political union that existed from 3 January 1958 to 31 May 1962. Various islands in the Caribbean that were colonies of the United Kingdom, including Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, Jamaica, and those on the Leeward and Windward Islands, came together to form the Federation, with its capital in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago. The expressed intention of the Federation was to create a political unit that would become independent from Britain as a single state—possibly similar to the Canadian Confederation.
    It’s recipes for financial disasters when an airline or company is own by several small island governments with different mind set and agenda, more importantly as the old saying goes “there is no honor among thieves”.
    In Sum one might say LIAT has too many chiefs and not enough Indians!!

  2. Party Animal

    I thought the DLP was running this Country , looks like it is the same people that run LIAT.