Saint Lucia PM Says LIAT Must Change

Saint Lucia’s Prime Minister Allen Chastanet has again made it clear that his administration will not support the financially strapped airline LIAT, if there continues to be ‘business as usual’ at the carrier.

“LIAT must change,” Chastanet told reporters Thursday during an impromptu interview.

The former Tourism and Civil Aviation Minister spoke against the backdrop of reports that LIAT shareholder governments will meet in Barbados at month end, amid concerns of a worsening financial crisis that could probably lead to the airline being grounded.

“Obviously it’s a big concern to all of us and I am hoping that at the upcoming meeting they will be able to find a resolution,” Chastanet told reporters.

However he lamented that this has not been the case for many years.

According to Chastanet, LIAT is now confronted with the fact that it must change.

“Even how it is governed must change,” he asserted.

“I think there is an absolute need and and ability to have a successful airline in the region, but it must be able to intertwine business practices as well as its responsibility to provide air services to the countries,” Chastanet explained.

He reiterated that Saint Lucia’s position is that if there are fundamental changes in terms of how LIAT is governed, how its plans are and how the plans will be implemented, this country will be willing to support a ‘new engaged LIAT’.

“If in fact it is going to be business as usual, we would not be in a position to support LIAT,” Chastanet stated.

He said he is very confident that there are other airlines that could very easily fill the gap that is left by LIAT.

“There are other airlines – if in fact LIAT were to shut its doors, that they would be  willing to step in and  to be able make up the difference – and maybe that’s what we need. We need a fresh start,” he noted.

Chastanet recalled that LIAT shareholders were given three options – privatise; close down LIAT, or restructure.

“They have tried the restructuring now several times and the restructuring hasn’t worked. LIAT was given a complete new lease on life a couple of years ago. Their debt was forgiven; new planes were brought in and it was completely recapitalised and here we are back in the same position,” he lamented.

Chastanet noted that LIAT had complained over the years of competition.

“Well,LIAT has not had any competition for the last seven or eight years. So the fact it that it comes back to  the structure of LIAT, in my humble opinion, is what the problem is,” he told reporters.

Chastanet declared that in the absence of  LIAT there are other airlines that will ‘step up.’

He did not elaborate.

 

 

 

14 COMMENTS

  1. Loans are repaid from profit. If you are not making a profit you will be unable to comfortably repay your loans. If you are not making a profit, and your loans are up to date, the loans are being paid at the expense of something else. That something else will eventually catch up with you. If you are unprofitable and you don’t want to go into liquidation, shareholders need to put their money where their mouth is. Don’t expect other people to bail you out.

    • Exactly. LIAT has proven time and again that it is a waste. Why should my tax dollars go to rescue such an entity that would charge me exorbitant prices to use their service? If LIAT were giving us free flights, then sure. Otherwise, let it die.

      • Vaughn Blanchard, Pilot and mechanic why do people like you insist that you must make public thoughts that can only come from misinformed or uninformed persons. Some quick questions that if you all can find the answers to, then you all would stop showing that you have membership in the 43% preschooler club. (1) Are you aware of how important air travel is to the social, economic and sporting development of a region? (2) Are you aware that liat has made that contribution for over fifty years?(3) Do you know that since Liat many other regional airlines have come and gone under? (4) Do you, (mechanic) know that all these other airlines that have gone under have been private enterprise? (5) Are you (Pilot) aware that over 50% of the cost of the Liat Ticket are government taxes? (6)Do you really believe, preschoolers Blanchard, Pilot and Mechanic that if Liat goes under that a new airline would replace it within days? (7) Do you even begin to understand what would happen to business within the region in the period of no air lift? (8) Dear preschoolers, would you like to take an AA flight to Miami and then fly to Barbados? (9) Do you understand how expensive going to a cricket match within the region would be when you have a visiting team that must go to Miami to get to the next match venue? These are the serious questions the president of the preschoolers club ( Allen Chastanet) and his club members, the 43% that include Vaughn Blanchard, Pilot and Mechanic must ponder before exposing their not too bright ideas.

      • Dear Eh bien bon, i am a bit concerned about your business logic. Are you saying that if you are doing the same thing over and over and you end up with the same result you are going to continue doing it expecting something different? Are you so naive in believing that because an organization has throughout the years assisted you in your growth that they deserve the right to be continually bailed out over and over again without question? I do believe that LIAT needs to be totally restructured and removed from the hands of governments directly. That’s the only way it will survive, otherwise we will continue to throw away our monies into a sinking ship. One more thing lets stop putting politics into everything we touch, this wouldn’t help us develop into independent thinkers but rather make us followers. Lets examine each situation individually on its own merit and not by which political party is making the comment.

  2. What is the senior Prime Minister Guy Joseph saying, we’ve heard from the junior Prime Minister Chastanet.

  3. The REAL problem with LIAT is that the shareholder politicians enjoy having a major entity as a plaything and rather than allow that to slip of of their greedy fingers they would rather make a grand show of demanding cash from everybody in sight and soon enough shut it down.

    Ralph Gonsalves also has an agenda – he owns majority shares in a small new airline in St. Vincent named One Caribbean, and is hell bent on closing LIAT so his airline can replace it.

    Before Argyle was completed, certified, inspected or insured – and still had a large hole at one end where the culverts had no been covered – Gonsalves twisted arms at LIAT and had one of the new ATRs perform a flight in there for rank political purposes. Going by Murphy’s Law, had ANYTHING untoward taken p0lace and had ANYONE been injured or killed and had ANY DAMAGE been incurred, LIAT would have lost ALL of its insurance (and Air Operators Certificate), and the insurers would not have paid out a single penny.

    Further, a CAA – such as the EC-CAA – is required to be at arms-length from politics, but the current, sitting Director-General was notified what was planned and about to happen and clearly did nothing. For those who are unaware, Comrade Gonsalves is a Comrade of EC-CAA Director-General Comrade Macphail from back in Comrade Bishop days. There can be little doubt that Comrade Macphail had no intention of stopping Comrade Gonsalves from performing a LIAT instant suicide.

    What does LIAT _REALLY_ need? it needs the politics and political appointed parasites pulling out of its ass, the incompetent, unqualified and inexperienced management handed their pink slips, and PROFESSIONAL, GLOBALLY EXPERIENCED management replacing them.

    With professional management the political influences walk or the professionals do… whatever it takes, the airline would be turned around through break-0even to profitable. With profitable comes expansion, and with expansion comes the re-hiring of those who were temporarily laid off.

    This nonsense at the highest levels of CHANGE being ignored in favour of BEGGING and DEMANDING MORE MONEY simply ignores reality – but that works in favour of Gonsalves new agenda to personally own the airline serving the entire eastern Caribbean.

  4. Well said PM; if there is no profit from 1974, then ground LIAT, because after all these changes, there is still no profit; why seek loan, for a nonprofitable business?

    • Tell me zabo, how much profit did Boxing in Paradise make? So ground liat that has made tremendous contribution to regional development but give an illegal guarantee for loan of $162 million for a pajouah, a company we don’t know. Clearly, that logic is that of a 43% preschooler under the directorship of the not too bright director, Allen Chastanet.

  5. No problem with the logic. But don’t replace list with another airline connected to family friends and foreigners

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