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