LIAT: There’s only two basic choices…

LIAT late

by Iain Edghill

As I see it, there are only 2 choices facing LIAT and its government shareholders. Either it has to be deemed an “essential service” and continue to be subsidized despite the operational inefficiencies inherent in its structure; or, it has to be fully privatized, de-politicized, and forced to be self-sustaining.

Both options are problematic. In these tough economic times, when governments are cash-strapped and are trying to figure out how to stretch their dwindling resources, many constituencies will argue that subsidizing a national airline should be very low on the priority list. Conversely, there are those who will argue, not without just cause, that LIAT is crucial to inter-island communications and commerce.

Has any study ever been done as to exactly how much LIAT contributes to the GDP of CARICOM? That is crucial to the discussion here. What would the economic impact be, in $$ terms, if LIAT were to disappear? Once that figure is empirically established, that could be used as the baseline for government subsidies, a quid-pro-quo, so to speak.

Perhaps the solution is a form of public-private sector partnership, with CARICOM governments providing a baseline subsidy, and the private-sector, with aviation professionals providing the operational expertise in running the airline, as Mr. Lynch correctly suggests, being the other half of the operational and financial equation.

One thing is for sure with regard to LIAT: the status-quo is both financially and operationally unfeasible.


Filed under Aviation, Barbados Tourism, Barbados Transportation, CARICOM

4 responses to “LIAT: There’s only two basic choices…

  1. Party Animal

    All LIAT needs, is to be ” de-politicized ” I am sure it will work, or give it to VIRGIN

  2. Mike

    Once Barbados realizes the importance of LIAT to the local economy and it’s tourism product, it should attempt to ensure effective and seamless connections to surrounding islands. This should not be rocket science but as long as Antigua continues to wag the dog, nothing will change.

    Thought of a parallel airline would repeat the Caribbean Star fiasco with two inefficient money losing carriers.

  3. John Hanson 1781-1782- I SERVE 1788- 1792 BARBADOES.

    These governments are full of Niggers and sell outs, Greed and Greedy , dont hold your Breath. Crooks liars and Scumbags Study that , Know who you dealing with , Never talk for them , They all know the wrongs they do first handed, LIAT what,,, Still LATE and needs to be the Late ,, We need RED JET.

  4. James Lynch

    Recently when having discussions with my fellow Bajans, it has become clear that a few points need to be made.
    First, LIAT has ALWAYS been based (Head Office) in Antigua, has NEVER been based (Head Office) in Barbados – no matter what the politicians may tell you. There has been a PILOT BASE in Barbados for decades – a pilot and flight atendant domicile, if you will – but not the registered “home”. Never has been. Never.
    Second, airplanes are not tied to concrete foundations by rebar or galvanised water pipes. They are scheduled and flown wherever they are needed, and if you will insist on moving LIAT lock, stock and barrel to Barbados then you also need to clearly understand that you – yes, you, the taxpayer, you personally – will pay Froon, Fumble, Dumble, whatever we may call him now, several HUNDRED MILLION dollars more for the necessary new offices, hangars, facilities, etc., AND lose access to US Territories – Barbados is Category Two, and LIAT (Barbados) Limited will approach the US government as an African-class airline with ZERO safety rating. You will also not get that many high-paying jobs – all of those are technical, licensed, experienced professionals and permanent employees such as pilots, engineers and mechanics who will just be relocated from Antigua to Barbados – all at YOUR expense. I suggest you start putting the brain in gear before you mash the pedal and burn more than rubber.
    Third, having seen LIAT from the inside, I can tell you that Holder & Co are not the only thoroughly incompetent, irresponsible, unaccountable “employees” of LIAT… the airline is riddled with political appointees and incompetents of all stripes from all of the shareholder countries. Virtually NOBODY at LIAT is at risk of losing their job for screwing up, no matter what they do (within reason, of course). Front and centre, the unaccountable and reticent political appointee Maximum Chairman Holder has led LIAT through screwup after hundred-million-dollar loss after “meltdown” after endless delays and cancellations (which are still going on, in case you were not aware) after calls for his resignation and/or removal, and for him it is all “business as usual”, nothing has changed and nothing will ever change. But he knows virtually nothing about aviation (despite his continual churning of “books” which nobody buys), so how would he know how to make the right decisions in the first place?
    Now the Marxist Comrade Ralph is AGAIN demanding that other islands start pouring some of their taxpayer cash down the LIAT dark hole too… and I agree with PM Dr. Kenny Anthony of St. Lucia when he replied – three years ago – that the current shareholders should “fix” LIAT before Lucians join the table. Nothing has been changed at LIAT, so he is still waiting.
    It seems to me that the Comrade’s shouts and demands have grown a bit louder and more desperate recently… as a result I suspect LIAT is on the edge of financial termination, and WHEN that happens, Bajans had better brace themselves for more expenses – remember, we own MORE THAN 50% of that flying political disaster, and TAXPAYERS will have to cough up whatever it takes to pay the bills, pay the severance, close off the aircraft leases, send back the new airplanes, and on and on and on.
    A couple of days ago I wrote an “Open Letter To The Majority Shareholders Of LIAT”, and circulated it to the shareholder PMs and a bunch of newspapers. In it I tried to set out a case for how LIAT should be handled. But I expect that – as usual – nobody is listening, and LIAT will most probably be gone in less than two years.
    Bye bye, LIAT…
    Best wishes, as usual.
    Jim Lynch