Category Archives: Aviation

Tomas Chlumecky: LIAT should tell the truth

Editor’s Note: This article was written prior to the recent announcement that David Evans had been hired as LIAT’s new CEO. Will the change at the top make a difference? The rot goes deep, as this article by Tomas Chlumecky shows…

LIAT late

As LIAT continues to drain tax payers money, is it not time for the tax payers to ask for action and accountability from their politicians?

As an Airline Consultant, I thought I have seen it all, but LIAT is a very special case indeed. Experience shows that companies in decline MUST replace some of the people responsible for the decline, these people lead the company to its current position and are incapable of the mind set needed to make fundamental changes to the strategy they so blindly believed in that created the crisis in the first place. They may not see it, but they block any real changes because they are bent on defending the dying cause, therefore they need to go!

When will the Board realize that the Chairman of LIAT, Dr. Jean Holder and once again Acting-CEO and CFO Mrs. Julie Reifer-Jones are failed leaders that have led LIAT to where it is today? Any reasonable Board by now would have requested their resignation.

Recently LIAT blames the “summer meltdown” on its inability to sell its DHC-8 aircraft because they do not have the records for the aircraft up to date! One year after ordering the ATR’s and knowing full well they needed to sell them with records up to date, just the fact the records are not up to date is NOT acceptable. If they flew with records not up to date the then ECCCA needs to step in investigate. Just horrible management.

Next, the people of the EC are being told the new ATR’s are more economical and that is why LIAT went out to buy and lease 12 ATR’s. This is non-sense. The 8 ATR-72′s will cost about $US1.4 million lease payments per month! The 4 ATR-42′s being purchased cost $US 74 million at list price, so what LIAT did was substantially increase it lease obligations and debt at a time it has little money, pays salaries late and cannot even keep its maintenance records up to date. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Aviation, Barbados, Barbados Tourism

Loveridge: We should spend our tourism marketing budget where it will do the most good.

Adrian Loveridge, tourism expert

Adrian Loveridge, tourism expert

According to figures released by the Barbados Statistical Service, January 2014 recorded the second highest long stay visitor arrivals from the United Kingdom in the last 12 years, with 18,134 persons.

Only January 2009 exceeded this number with 20,911 persons.

Having said this, there is still a mountain to climb especially if you look at the situation in perspective; this lone month has to take into account recent past performance.

In 2012 our single largest market registered a decline in every consecutive month of that year, ending with an overall fall of 15,631 stay-over visitors. 2013 finished with another 4,786 arrivals down over 2012.

So over the last two years we have already more than 20,000 ‘lost’ British visitors to make up for. February 2014 United Kingdom figures continued with what hopefully will be an ongoing trend with a 10.2 per cent increase when compared with the identical month a year ago.

Sadly though, the decline across other markets resulted in an overall fall, registering the lowest stay-over numbers for any February during the last 11 years. More than any, the second month of the calendar is often the barometer of whether the winter season is going to end successfully or not.

Brits and Europeans stay longer, spend more!

We know that the ‘Brits’ and Europeans stay longer, therefore it is reasonable to assume they spend more. Based on this knowledge, should we not be spending a larger proportion of precious marketing resources in this market? Continue reading

3 Comments

Filed under Aviation, Barbados, Barbados Tourism

Robert MacLellan asks when LIAT chairman Jean Holder will be held accountable

“Real competition is brutal and the wolves are sensing and circling the wounded LIAT prey.”

“Idle threats” from LIAT’s chairman do more harm than good

by Robert MacLellan

by Robert MacLellan

The board of LIAT airline is clearly feeling the pressure of mounting ongoing criticism of its consistent inability to achieve a stable business model and to provide a vital intra regional air service in the Eastern Caribbean on a reliable basis.

Unfortunately, the announcements of 6th March from the LIAT chairman, Jean Holder, strongly suggest a strategy still devoid of any coherent business sense. Take on huge investment in multiple new aircraft but then shrink the airline’s network? “Passing strange” and “wondrous pitiful”, to quote Shakespeare. If, instead, this is Dr Holder’s idle threat, designed to panic other regional governments in to investing in an airline with such a tarnished reputation, then that also is a strategy likely to fail.

Investors seek companies with proven management expertise. Yet, in his 100 day strategy announcement last week, Dr Holder stated that the current directors and senior management have invited “some experts” to undertake route analysis of the LIAT network. Outside consultants are needed for a basic management task – even after 57 years of LIAT operations? No wonder there are accusations of amateurism in LIAT management and no wonder years of persuasion by Dr Holder have failed to elicit much new investment in the airline from other governments in the region. Continue reading

2 Comments

Filed under Aviation, Barbados, Barbados Tourism

LIAT disaster continues as Ralph Gonsalves challenges his critics to put their money up

“Put your money where your mouth is . . . . Everybody wants to talk about LIAT, but a number of these persons don’t want to have an authoritative position to speak about it. Being a chief executive officer of a company or the prime minister of a country which is not a shareholder doesn’t give you the right to talk authoritatively about LIAT,”

St. Vincent and the Grenadines PM Dr. Ralph Gonsalves in the Nation’s No place for buccaneers in LIAT says PM

Is the reality that LIAT’s failure is not about leadership, financing or equipment? Could it be that 70 years of Caribbean commercial aviation has revealed a basic truth that no Carib-based airline could ever be profitable?

Here is the fourth letter to LIAT shareholders from Dominica hotelier Gregor Nassief, urging PM Gonsalves to step aside as chairman of the LIAT shareholder’s committee.

Honourable Dr. Ralph Gonsalves of St. Vincent and the Grenadines
LIAT (1974) LTD
V.C. Bird International Airport
P O Box 819
Coolidge
Antigua

Dear Prime Minister Gonsalves:

Re: Run it like a business before it goes out of business

On the televised program Time to Face the Facts on Sunday, February 23rd, I appealed to you to step aside as Chairman of the Shareholder’s committee of LIAT. As mentioned on the program, given the respect and admiration I have for you, particularly on your stance and leadership on issues such as reparations and the cholera outbreak in Haiti, it was personally difficult for me to do this. But it is necessary.

LIAT has moved from an operational meltdown in the Summer of 2013 to a financial meltdown a mere 7 months later. LIAT drains our treasuries, operates inefficiently and stifles competition. The source of LIAT’s problem is its financial unsustainability and as with everything else at LIAT, no one is accountable. As Chairman of the Shareholder’s committee, the buck stops with you.

LIAT needs to fight the battle of its life to transform itself to be financially viable and sustainable. But you believe, and have stated so publicly, that LIAT can never be profitable. This battle, therefore, needs a different general.

Unsustainability

LIAT has lost ec$120m in the last four years. Last month, LIAT could not pay both the lease on its aircraft as well as its payroll. So it chose one and delayed the other. A leased ATR gives 36% more seat capacity than its closest Dash 8 equivalent but is double the (lease) expense. In 2015, repayments will begin on LIAT’s recent loan of us$65m to purchase new aircraft. So monthly cash outflows go up even more.

And the new inflows to cover this? Inter-island tourism is down 60% in 7 years and LIAT’s load factor is running at about 55%. The fantasy (aka “business plan”) is that the load factor will go up to 75%. The fantasy is also that LIAT will fly its way out of losses by expanding to new destinations – Jamaica, Haiti, Aruba, Panama, and eventually to cities in North and South America.  Continue reading

4 Comments

Filed under Aviation, Barbados, Barbados Tourism, Economy

Did the Thomson Airways’ Boeing 787 Dreamliner push up tourist arrivals in Barbados?

Is there some room for cautious optimism in our tourism performance?

Adrian Loveridge, tourism expert

Adrian Loveridge, tourism expert

Following 21 consecutive months of long stay visitor decline, January 2014 recorded a modest increase of 3.2 per cent when compared with the same month in 2013.

It is however important to keep this in absolute perspective…

January 2013 was down 8.2 per cent (4,331 people) when measured against January 2012 and unless we finish the end of February, 7,972 land based visitors up – we will still be woefully behind the identical period last year.

The growth largely came from the United Kingdom with 1,455 more long-stay visitors over the same period in January 2013. This in itself is encouraging because as frequently pointed out, the British and Europeans tend to stay longer – therefore usually contributing a higher per capita spend.

The higher UK arrivals were largely driven by two charter airlines.

Thomas Cook operating a new service and Thomson adding increased capacity with recently introduced B787 Dreamliner aircraft. Passengers off these flights would have included a significant number of cruise and stay holidaymakers, but both carriers offered many seats on sale at substantially reduced fares, which in some cases were less than GBPounds 300 return, including all taxes.

With such a diverse destination and a myriad range of accommodation options, these last minute ‘bargains’ present an opportunity to fill some beds at short notice.

Scheduled carrier Virgin Atlantic carried fewer passengers on the Gatwick service, but more from Manchester, while British Airways (BA) had a net gain. Again, to emphasis that these comparisons are all based on the differential between January 2013 and 2014.

Virgin’s numbers must also take into account dramatically reduced capacity as a result of equipment change from a daily B747 service to mostly the smaller A330 planes on the London route.

BA and Virgin also held an extended seat sale which expired on 28th January, with some of the lowest legacy fares available in the entire Caribbean for the remainder of 2014. Hopefully this resulted in substantial bookings, which will positively impact the arrival numbers later this year.

No Growth in the USA market       Continue reading

23 Comments

Filed under Aviation, Barbados, Barbados Tourism

LIAT Leadership Asleep At The Wheel Again

by Robert MacLellan

by Robert MacLellan

In the first month of 2014 Caribbean regional media reported that LIAT has had to choose between paying employee salaries and paying aircraft lease charges in order to maintain flight operations. Even before the news of LIAT’s latest financial crisis, the flight chaos of last summer was nearly repeated in December 2013, at the start of the Caribbean’s tourism high season, and was only averted through last minute decision changes by LIAT’s board of directors and its temporary CEO.

The LIAT fleet was reportedly due to reduce to only nine aircraft last December. At the same time, aircraft conversion training for flight deck crew was planned to be ongoing and flight deck crew annual vacations were scheduled to peak that month. With a similar mix of factors to those which caused LIAT’s summer meltdown, the potential for major disruption to flights appeared to be equally great for this winter. Unbelievably, the LIAT board and senior management had authorised this disastrous scenario to coincide with the Christmas holidays and the start of the international tourism high season in the Caribbean.

Having just avoided that mismanagement disaster in December, LIAT executives have been faced in mid January with the imminent grounding of six company planes by the aircraft leasing company.  Lease payments are reportedly tens of millions of dollars in arrears and a collapse in flight operations has only been avoided by delaying payroll for LIAT’s long suffering employees.

Ongoing disarray at LIAT     Continue reading

8 Comments

Filed under Aviation, Barbados, Barbados Tourism

LIAT Statement On Barbados Free Press Blog Post

DHC-8-300 Dash 8 LIAT V2-LGI

LIAT Statement On Barbados Free Press Blog Post

ST. JOHN’S, Antigua, Jan 21 2014 – LIAT (1974) Ltd. has taken note of the post, dated 17th January 2014, in the Barbados Free Press online blog of an Article entitled “Report of Conflict of Interest: Saint Vincent PM Ralph Gonsalves said to own 2 LIAT aircraft”.

The anonymous author concludes that “The conflict of interest arises because SVG is one of the major shareholders in LIAT. Government funds are involved and Prime Minister Gonsalves is heavily involved in decision making about the airline”.

The two aircraft mentioned in the article are owned by a publicly listed US based Leasing Company trading on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). LIAT has always had arms length negotiations with this Lessor and its relationship with this Lessor is firmly set on a commercial basis. LIAT has no Aircraft Leases with Prime Minister Gonsalves or any shareholder of the Company and categorically denies the suggestion that the Prime Minister has anything to do with the leasing of aircraft to LIAT. LIAT views conflict of interest very seriously and abides by principles of good corporate governance.   Continue reading

4 Comments

Filed under Aviation, Barbados, Freedom Of Information, Freedom Of The Press, Politics

We need to embrace airline loyalty programmes to fill almost a million empty hotel rooms

American-Airlines-Dallas-Barbados

“One of the reasons why I am so passionate about airline loyalty programmes is because existing marketing initiatives in the USA simply have not worked.”

Barbados is losing ground in our second largest tourist market

Adrian Loveridge, tourism expert

Adrian Loveridge, tourism expert

The merger of American Airlines and US Airways has now pushed the combined frequent flyer membership above the 100 million mark.

Put another way, that’s almost 33 per cent of the world’s third most populous country, the United States.

In any market it would be difficult to persistently ignore a huge segment of our second largest source of long stay visitors, but that is what Barbados has done. It defies belief, especially during times of economic challenges when holiday budgets can be among the first to suffer. It may also partially explain why some of our Caribbean neighbours have overtaken us in American long-stay visitors.

Sadly, the loss of the American Airlines direct service out of New York will further restrict the potential, previously having lost Dallas/Fort Worth and San Juan, plus Philadelphia with US Airways.

But with the miles now totally interchangeable between the two carriers, we still have daily service from Miami and currently once a week from Charlotte. Whether the re-organisation will result in a downsizing of the North Carolina hub and curtailment of this flight remains to be seen.

Route changes have yet to be announced, so ‘we’ are not fully aware of any new opportunities that it may present, but that should not stop us from exploiting what already exists.

One of the reasons why I am so passionate about airline loyalty programmes is because existing marketing initiatives in the USA simply have not worked. There has been no overall long stay visitor arrival increase from this market for six years, so surely it’s long overdue that alternative strategies are at least tried.  Continue reading

10 Comments

Filed under Aviation, Barbados, Barbados Tourism

Model airplanes master builder discovered!

Battle of Britain Bf109E

The Art! The Art!

Okay, okay, so I’ve gone overboard on the title, but the fellow who runs the Amateur Airplanes blog does some fine fine work.

Look at that battle weary Bf109 Emile above and the detail on the F100 Super Sabre cockpit below.

You know I love airplanes – big, small, real, homebuilts, warbirds and models – so when I stumbled onto Amateur Airplanes I lost a half an hour just flipping through the projects and comments. There’s no word on who this chap is, but you can see the dedication and talent – and he has over 1,500 followers.

I don’t see a DC-3 like the old one I learned to taxi with at Druxford, but this modeller could duplicate every ding and oil streak. All I’d need would be the smell of air petrol, oil and metal – and to hear the tinks as the big old P&Ws cooled. The only additions I’d like to see on his blog would be a search function in the menu, and perhaps a tag list of aircraft types and model kits.

If you enjoy airplanes, you’ll enjoy a tour of Amateur Airplanes.

10/10

Robert

F100 Super Sabre Cockpit

click photos for larger

5 Comments

Filed under Aviation, Barbados, Island Life, Military

Report of Conflict of Interest: Saint Vincent PM Ralph Gonsalves said to own 2 LIAT aircraft

UPDATED January 23, 2014: NICE Radio apologizes to PM Gonsalves for inaccurately repeating BFP story!

Hey folks, NICE Radio has apologized to Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves for claiming that the PM owns two LIAT aircraft, and blames BFP.

Well guess what: NICE Radio must have inaccurately reported our article and left out the part where we say…

“That is if Skyhigh is correct, and he is anonymous so take that with lots of salt. BFP is only an anonymous blog ya know!

But now that Skyhigh identified the exact aircraft, we think that PM Gonsalves should clear the air…

Well, Prime Minister Gonsalves… do you or any of your family have anything to do with leasing aircraft to LIAT?

Yes, or no?”

Interesting though: St. Vincent has no integrity legislation and we don’t see the PM himself making a statement denying that he or his family own any interest in the aircraft leased to LIAT. Hey… maybe it’s the Mongoose Gang that’s behind all this?

Original story published January 17, 2014…

DHC-8-300 Dash 8 LIAT V2-LGI V2-LGI (click photo for large)

“The Prime Minister of St.Vincent thinks he is Chavez but he has a long way to go… however we all know he is just protecting his investment because he owns airplanes that he leases to LIAT. (V2-LGI AND V2-GG)
So In fact if LIAT shuts down he will loose considerably…”

BFP reader Skyhigh on The not so secret LIAT Airlines incident

American Airlines pilot and Barbados Free Press reader Skyhigh says that the Prime Minister of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Ralph Gonsalves, owns two of the aircraft leased to LIAT airlines.

The deHavilland / Bombardier Dash 8 300 Series airliners carry registrations V2-LGI and V2-GG.

The conflict of interest arises because SVG is one of the major shareholders in LIAT. Government funds are involved and Prime Minister Gonsalves is heavily involved in decision making about the airline.   Continue reading

40 Comments

Filed under Aviation, Corruption, Politics & Corruption

The not so secret LIAT Airlines incident

LIAT Airlines 1985 HS748

1985: Leeward Islands Air Transport – LIAT -  Hawker Siddeley HS 748

(The HS748 was a fine aircraft: Reliable, forgiving with excellent control at touchdown…

It also served in a time when the pilot in command was GOD. If the PIC said an aircraft was not fit to fly, then by god it would not fly.

How things have changed with LIAT. Passengers beware!

BFP editor Robert)

by Peter Binose

The LIAT incident that happened November 2nd 2013, an affair that has eventually resulted in the airline receiving a penalty from the Eastern Caribbean Civil Aviation Authority, is undisclosed in fear of public backlash.

Two pilots were suspended by LIAT following the grounding of an aircraft for technical repairs.

Saturday November 2, 2013, Captain Cave, who was scheduled to fly a LIAT aircraft, was not satisfied that the appropriate test procedure was used before bringing the aircraft back into passenger operation. Captain Cave also reported discrepancies with the official paperwork.

Because of his refusal to fly the plane LIAT suspended him, disregarding his protests about safety.

Monday 4th November Cave had brought the matter to Leeward Islands Airline Pilots Association [LIALPA] and Captain Burke the LIAT Pilots Association President while acting in his capacity as Union Representative tried to intervene on Cave’s behalf with Director of Flight Operations Captain George Arthurton at a meeting on this day. Captain Burke was then also placed on suspension.

The suspending of the two pilots Captain Cave and Captain Burke brought about a general industrial dispute by all the LIAT pilots and crews.

Absolute turmoil followed with flights cancelled and passengers stranded.  Continue reading

16 Comments

Filed under Aviation, Barbados

BREAKING: Lucky JetBlue passengers stuck in Barbados for an extra week!

Updated January 3, 2014 6:50pm: Business Insider received our email and changed the headline to correctly read “Barbados” and not “Bermuda”

jetblue barbados

Let’s make a potential ‘disaster’ into a worldwide opportunity!

Bridgetown Barbados, January 3, 2014 5:08pm

This is just breaking on an Australian newswire Business Insider Australia where it is reported that severe weather in the Northeast USA has caused the cancellation of 5,000 flights over two days. It is minus -47 degrees Celsius in Canada and Northern USA!

The Australian news service interviews a few folks “stuck in Barbados” as if this is a negative. Actually they called us “BERMUDA” !!!

Barbados Tourism Authority… where are you?

There are probably hundreds or maybe thousands of tourists that are going to have flights home delayed. What is the BTA doing to ensure these people are looked after? Are we organising any events for them? Is the Prime Minister or Tourism Minister on board for some visits?

And let’s correct that headline error of “Bermuda”!!!!

Wuhloss! This is not a disaster… it is an opportunity for the world’s press to report on how we welcomed and looked after these folks! Where’s the rum producers? A few bottles here and there would do wonders! Double the tours, keep them happy.

OR… have the tourists go back home telling how they were “stuck in Barbados” instead of saying how it was too bad the weather socked in, but what a wonderful time they had.

Our choice how we handle this: BTA… where are you?

From Business Insider Australia…

JetBlue Stranded A Bunch Of People In Barbados And May Not Get Them Home For A Week (BARBADOS!)

After a snowstorm that hit the Northeast and led airlines to cancel over 5,000 U.S. flights in two days, an unlucky group of JetBlue passengers is stuck in Barbados.

Some of them may not get back to New York for a week.

Passenger Lee Cochran told Business Insider that after her Friday afternoon flight to JFK was cancelled, JetBlue rebooked her on a January 9 flight. Her sister got a January 12 trip home.

Cochran asked about the possibility of flying to another city or being rebooked on another airline, but nothing worked out. Continue reading

4 Comments

Filed under Aviation, Barbados, Barbados Tourism

LIAT Airlines operational again – sort of, maybe, if…

LIAT Airlines Crash

I returned from Barbados last night….I missed the pilots’ strike but got caught up in the back log of passengers.

I trotted up to the airport in time to catch the 12 .50 to Grenada and Trinidad,  in fact I checked in really early in case things were still pear shaped with Liat and refrained from any comment when I saw the challenging look in the check in clerk’s eyes.  Are they still called “check in clerk” these days or are they called something else?  I can’t keep up with PC names.  What they ain’t  called is courteous.  Ominously there were no Liat Superior Girls around just one Mr Jekyll.  Too intimidated to say a word I proceeded to the departure lounge and went to get some coffee and something to eat….bad mistake, (apart from the awful food). 

As I was about to receive my white styrofoam box of junk food which I had paid for, I heard my name being called over the tannoy!   Now I don’t know about you but I panic when I hear my name over a tannoy system.   I took off chased by a junk food dispenser person waving a styrofoam box and a styrofoam cup in the air…..I managed to out pace her and arrived at gate 9a convinced I had misread my itinerary.  But no,  a Liat Superior Person had decided to put me on what in all likelihood was the last flight to Grenada.  At least she saved me from severe indigestion!

The dash 8 has open seating and suffering as I do from claustrophobia, I have to sit near the front of the plane to avoid making a complete idiot of myself.  The secret is to be first at the gate and then sprint to the plane when allowed out the door.  In this way I avoid having to announce my defect to Liat Superior Persons and numerous small islanders. Continue reading

2 Comments

Filed under Aviation, Barbados, Barbados Tourism

Sad days for Barbados Tourism: Double standards by government, American Airlines cuts direct New York – Barbados flight.

American-Airlines-Dallas-Barbados

It’s official… American Airlines will no longer operate a direct flight from New York to Barbados.

Management and Accountability absent in Government handouts to tourism businesses

Adrian Loveridge, small hotel owner - now selling!

Adrian Loveridge, small hotel owner – now selling!

From a tourism perspective it was quite a revelation to read through the five newspaper pages of ‘indebted’ individuals and entities listed by National Insurance Board recently – especially when you realise that many of them either in the past and/or currently benefited from substantial taxpayer subsidies, grants or soft loans.

It seems almost incredible that, at least in some cases, limited if any due diligence has been practised between the various Government agencies involved before the monies were advanced.

Take the (TIRF) Tourism Industry Relief Fund as an example. I understand that this was purely intended to assist qualifying tourism businesses to maintain employment. I never saw it as a source of ‘free’ funds to assist in the avoidance of statutory obligations. Yet, well over a Million Dollars in TIRF monies was paid over to one named hotel alone.

Others were allowed to access preferential interest rates through the Enterprise Growth Fund, and perhaps most alarming of all, several are currently benefiting from taxpayer-subsidised Barbados Tourism Authority promotions like the Barbados Island Inclusive promotion.

For the many enterprises like ours, who have frequently struggled to pay our bills on time, it makes a mockery of those trying to do the right thing.

Almost anyone in business could contest that at some stage they have experienced some financial problems or challenges, and this is clearly understandable. But, as the Barbados Social Security clearly states the list applies to those ‘who have not made satisfactory arrangements to liquidate the outstanding debt (or) have not adhered to arrangements made’.

Again, if this disparity is allowed to continue ‘we’ are just allowing the goalposts to be modified one more time and disadvantaging others who are fighting to keep trading legitimately.

It also calls into question why is there not more communication between the various Government agencies in terms of compliance. Why is it possible to access public funds without an NIS clearance certificate, while it is a prerequisite for a licence to operate a hotel or restaurant?

Goodbye American Airlines NYC direct flight

It’s official: according to their website from 15th January 2014, American Airlines will no longer operate a direct flight from New York to Barbados. Continue reading

28 Comments

Filed under Aviation, Barbados, Barbados Tourism

Resignation of Scapegoat Ian Brunton doesn’t redeem LIAT Airlines

LIAT Airlines Crash

“There has never been a more appropriate time to end LIAT’s vicious cycle of operational and financial instability and to reconfigure an airline which can serve the Eastern Caribbean’s vital needs on a sustainable basis.

The damage inflicted has been immense, the financial outlook is grim, the time for change has arrived and the need is urgent.”

Tourism expert Robert MacLellan tells some hard truths

by Robert MacLellan

Some might believe that for the second time in only three years Captain Ian Brunton has been made a scapegoat by the board of directors of a Caribbean airline company – fired as CEO of Caribbean Airlines Limited in late 2010 and, this week, he resigned as CEO of LIAT. Indisputably, the overall operation of LIAT has continued to be disastrous during the last four months but so has the marketing / P R / communications function and yet the senior management there appears unchanged going forward. More importantly, the chairman, Jean Holder, and the LIAT board – which has authorised the strategy, business plan, operating budget and bank loans underlying the recent chaos and financial uncertainty – also appear unchanged going forward.

While Captain Brunton has resigned, Mr Holder is reportedly on vacation in the midst of the crisis. The chairman has been in position since 2004 and submitted his own resignation two years ago, although this was not accepted by the LIAT government ownership group at that time. Continue reading

8 Comments

Filed under Aviation, Barbados, Barbados Tourism

LIAT Airlines is killing tourism investment throughout the Eastern Caribbean

Liat Airline

The Caribbean Needs Radical Change at LIAT

by Robert MacLellan

During the last week of August our hospitality consultancy organised a visit by potential developers to the Eastern Caribbean. The participants on the trip – from UK, China, Trinidad and St Lucia – all experienced significant delays or cancellations on LIAT flights. I have travelled regularly with LIAT throughout the Caribbean for over sixteen years but recent events represent a new low point.

“The challenge of convincing investors to consider tourism developments in those islands, which are served primarily by LIAT, is now onerous indeed.”

Gregor Nassief’s recent open letter to the LIAT board of directors has already catalogued the airline’s worst ever performance over the last three months and called for management heads to roll. This solicited a response from LIAT’s chairman, Jean Holder, which addressed virtually none of Mr Nassief’s points and seemed only to confirm the level of delusion in the highest ranks of LIAT management. Having received a worthless and self serving response, Mr Nassief has since called directly for Dr Holder’s resignation.

In his initial response to Mr Nassief, Dr Holder refers to the “track record” of the current company leadership and so I felt the need to clarify the true meaning of those words. One dictionary provides the following definition: “Track record: 1.The best recorded performance in a particular track-and-field event at a particular track. 2. The past achievements or performance of a person, organisation or product.” The definitions seem to suggest some degree of excellence, a million miles away from the performance delivered to its customers by LIAT!

Patience with LIAT is now at an end and senior figures in the hotel and tourism industry across the region are quite legitimately questioning Dr Holder’s strategic and financial track record as Chairman of LIAT since 2004. They are equally entitled to evaluate Captain Ian Brunton’s track record, firstly, as former CEO of Caribbean Airlines and his departure from that company and, since 1st August 2012, his track record as CEO of LIAT. Captain Brunton has been responsible since that date for forward planning and day-to-day operation of the airline. Therefore, he must have been closely involved in the recent scheduling of LIAT’s aircraft acquisitions / disposals programme and the associated crew training – the apparent root causes of the recent appalling performance. Continue reading

7 Comments

Filed under Aviation, Barbados, Barbados Tourism

LIAT CEO Ian Brunton calls it quits after 1 year and 45 days

Ian Brunton LIAT

Should we blame Brunton for all LIAT’s outrageous failures?

Who can we blame now?

Perhaps the question really should be: How big a fool was Brunton to take a no-win job in the first place?

While there is still a chance that the airline’s board will not accept the resignation at Wednesday’s meeting, the faltering airline might have trouble finding the next candidate for execution, er, for the job.

Because when you really get down to it, new leadership can only go so far if the workforce is already spoiled and secure in their belief that adhering to schedules and performance standards is optional.

It will be interesting to hear what our own Robert MacLellan has to say about the resignation!

LIAT CEO Ian Brunton resigns

Caribbean airline top exec quits

The Antigua Observer is reporting that Leeward Island Air Transport (LIAT) chief executive officer Ian Brunton has resigned.

LIAT is a regional air carrier based in Antigua. LIAT’s three main shareholder governments are Antigua & Barbuda, Barbados and St Vincent & the Grenadines.

Brunton, a former chief executive of Trinidad & Tobago state owned Caribbean Airlines Ltd (CAL) was appointed CEO of LIAT on August 1, 2012.

His appointment came during a period of massive sustained losses for the airline – a combined amount of almost EC $80 million in losses from 2010 – and a deficit of around EC $344 million by the end of 2012. Brunton has been leading a US $100 million re-fleeting process from ageing Dash-8 aircraft to ATR’s – which is designed to help move the airline back into profit by lowering maintenance and fuel costs.

read the rest of this article at the T&T Guardian

3 Comments

Filed under Aviation, Barbados, Barbados Tourism

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.  Continue reading

2 Comments

Filed under Aviation, Barbados, Barbados Tourism