Antigua Observer:-As Liat prepares to add two new ATRs to its existing fleet of nine, the carrier’s executive has said that despite being criticized for having difficulty in strong windy conditions, the model was the best choice due to its overall versatility.
According to Liat’s Acting Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Julie Reifer-Jones, the company will have 11 of the models by the end of October.
She said that while the company did consider larger aircraft such as the Q-400, larger models would have been a poor choice to land at some of the region’s smaller runways and airports.
“Our choice was based on what was available in the market… There was another model – the Q-400 – which we did look at… but as a larger plane it would not have been able to service some of the smaller territories. Also it would have been more efficient on some of the longer trips but not the shorter trips,” the acting CEO said.
In the interview with OBSERVER media, Reifer Jones explained that the company insisted on turboprop aircraft as opposed to other engine types, “because of the size of the region and the size of the population”.
The acting CEO also said that cautious regulatory standards put in place by the Eastern Caribbean Civil Aviation Authority (ECCAA) were part of the reason that pilots could not land in high winds in places such as St Vincent and Dominica.
“When there is a new aircraft type you have to go through a process with the regulator…in terms of what they feel comfortable that you can do. Our regulator felt that they wanted to have more experience built up by the crew in handling the new aircraft type before they allowed us to transition.
“We are in discussions…and hopefully some time in the future we will get that approval to land at higher wind speeds,” she said.