Saint Lucia Restates Its Opposition To Providing A Financial Bailout To LIAT

Prime Minister Allen Chastanet has reiterated his country’s opposition to providing any financial bailout to the cash-strapped regional airline, LIAT.

Speaking to reporters Friday, the former Tourism and Civil Aviation Minister declared that Saint Lucia’s position remains the same.

LIAT’s commercial operations will remain suspended until July 15, 2020, due to COVID-19.

“LIAT was insolvent before COVID,” Prime Minister Chastanet observed.

Chastanet recalled that the regional carrier needed structural changes.

“I know that  they were working very hard to bring that about,” the Saint Lucia Prime Minister said.

Chastanet acknowledged the need to have air traffic among the Islands.

“I have long believed that sadly, if LIAT were not to reopen, there are other options and once a formal announcement is made by the shareholders as to what is going to happen with LIAT, at that point the government of Saint Lucia will provide its comments,” he explained.

Asked about the options he had in mind, Chastanet mentioned Caribbean Airlines as being among them.

He also observed that there are locals, one of whom is actually putting on a charter service between Grenada, Saint Lucia and Dominica.

“There is no shortage of entrepreneurship in aviation and I have no idea what discussions LIAT is having or the shareholders are having as a potential solution,” the PM told reporters.

He said it was his understanding that LIAT shareholders are supposed to meet this week.

“I don’t know if they are going to make any final decisions, but I wait like everyone else. But certainly you don’t need to be in the know or right in the room to understand that it is going to be very difficult for LIAT,” Chastanet asserted.

 

 

8 COMMENTS

  1. I agree : “liat was insolvent before Covid” according to the PM. The other truth is that “GoSL was insolvent before Covid ” as well! The never ending battle HelenAir vs.Liat.

  2. i think liat has taken advantage of its position as the only airline in the eastern caribbean. with this said, airlines all over the world are asking govt for bail outs. so its not only liat. the problem with liat is that unlike other national airlines, it ask for bail out every single year and much like the rest of the region’s politicians and people, cannot ever get their act together. but given the circumstances, chastanet has no right to personalise this. its not a good idea to go into this direction as any leader.

  3. And of course his predecessor, PM Kenny Anthony, some 8 or more years ago, said the same.

    https://www.caribjournal.com/2012/01/31 … iat-stake/
    2012 – 8 years ago – “There are burning issues of reform within the management structure of LIAT that need to be attended to and we believe that there are issues that currently face LIAT that need resolution,” Anthony said.

    Always the pressure from Comrade Fat Ralph Gonsalves
    https://www.craneforum.org/viewtopic.php?t=13093
    2012 – 8 years ago – Gonsalves tells St. Lucia to speed up decision on LIAT

    More pressure from Comrade Fat Ralph Gonsalves
    https://www.craneforum.org/viewtopic.php?t=13272
    2015 – 5 years ago – Gonsalves calls for St Lucia’s partnership in LIAT, again

    [LIAT] St Lucia not prepared to invest in regional airline
    https://www.craneforum.org/viewtopic.php?t=20159
    2015 – 5 years ago – Prime Minister Anthony said what is needed right now is to transform the airline to ensure that it is far more efficient “that it is operated strictly on appropriate financial formula that ensures losses are curtailed and efficiencies are gained. “I believe that if these things can happen that the future of LIAT will be different, but I am not going to be goaded into supporting LIAT for purposes of nostalgia that is not going to happen in the case of St. Lucia. St Lucia’s position has always been very clear that until and unless there is fundamental restructuring in LIAT, until and unless all understand that they are part of the sacrifices that are necessary fo LIAT to survive we are going to maintain our distance,” he added.

    Saint Lucia’s Tourism Minister – drastic revamp of LIAT
    https://www.craneforum.org/viewtopic.php?t=20174
    2015 – 5 years ago – Hard on the heels of an announcement by Prime Minister, Doctor Kenny Anthony, that Saint Lucia is not prepared to invest in cash-strapped regional airline, LIAT, this country’s Tourism Minister, Lorne Theophilus has called for a revamp of the carrier. “It has been said for many years that the total operations of LIAT need to be looked into or if they are not willing to do that, we look into the issue of open skies so that we can bring in the sort of competition that is necessary to ensure that the business between the Islands does not continue to suffer,” Theophilus said.

    Pressure from Gaston Browne — [LIAT] Not enough service? Put up or …!
    https://www.craneforum.org/viewtopic.php?t=20189
    2015 – 5 years ago – Gaston Browne has described controversial comments made by two CARICOM heads of government as shortsighted and contrary to the spirit of boosting intra-regional relations among the people of the region. The two Prime Ministers – St Lucia’s Dr. Kenny Anthony and Grenada’s Dr. Keith Mitchell – recently said that they have no intentions of investing in LIAT for reasons appearing to be quite shortsighted and insular.

    St. Kitts refuses too
    https://www.craneforum.org/viewtopic.php?t=20611
    2015 – 5 years ago – Prime Minister of St Kitts-Nevis Dr Timothy Harris is defending his decision not to invest in the cash-strapped regional airline, LIAT, despite a plea from chairman of the LIAT Trade Union Group, Chester Humphreys. Harris said that the consistent financial problems of the airline, which is owned by the governments of Antigua & Barbuda, Dominica, Barbados, and St Vincent and the Grenadines, do not make it an attractive investment option. He said that his administration would need to be convinced that investing in LIAT at this time would make sense. “There are decisions that have to be made with respect to LIAT. What I did say that, at this time, everyone knows that LIAT is a failing proposition and until LIAT can put a convincing plan before this government, this government will not invest in LIAT because LIAT will not waste the public’s money,” the prime minister said.

    So AT LEAST eight years of laying demands for LIAT to be more efficient and less financially dependent fell on deaf ears. NOTHING CHANGED. And St. Lucia has not changed its mind. Then the COVID came along and the airline is far out on a brink as it has never experienced before.

    Shareholder Chairman is unprepared, Chairman and Board are unqualified and unprepared, The politically appointed and Chairman-favoured book keeper CEO is unqualified and unprepared (one might say she is at sea without even a biscuit to paddle with).

    We have all known that LIAT has been run politically, as a plaything for our “leaders” in the CARICOM game. The last card was played by Gaston, who put in an IOU from Venezuela for US$18 million and never came up with the cash. Before that, Queen Mia bluffed the rest of the players by offering her shares (or part of, nobody knows for sure) for a sum vastly in excess of what they were/are worth. All along Comrade Fat Ralph has been tiptoeing around looking at everybody’s cards, then regaining his seat and shouting at everybody that he owns the whole pot. And because he is such a rough, nasty stinker they let him.

    A decade ago I would have said LIAT will be around forever – like Caribbean Airlines. Taxpayer money was no object, the tiefing politicians had long hands and could reach everybody’s wallet and small change. But like everything else, the world has changed. Now not even what were the most wealthy CARICOM countries have any spare cash, not even the OPEC Member with oil at record low levels and feeling the impact from a variety of sources other than the Arabs in OPEC. Majority shareholder Barbados was looted by the previous Administration, the current Administration seems lost in every area, and Barbados is now taking instructions from the IMF. Despite the current Prime Ministress owning every seat in Parliament, there have been few changes to the infrastructure — in fact things may have become a bit more difficult for the average Barbadian to carry on their daily lives and transactions with what have become the uncivil services of government.

    Antigua, too, is broke, threatening to delay Civil Service pay and pensions. But money appeared from somewhere and that will all go out on the scheduled basis.

    Comrade Fat Ralph and St. Vincent need not worry. SVG owns only 11% of the company and is unlikely to volunteer a penny towards the debt or refinancing.

    So LIAT does face the real possibility of closure. In the last decade the airline has continued losing money at such a rate that since buying 10 new ATR aircraft they have, one by one, been selling them and leasing them back. That impecuniary process has run out of airplanes, as it would, and now they cannot even afford the lease load. This would have been true with or without COVID. And the CDB has been left holding a US$65 million debt – backed, not by LIAT, but by the same LIAT government shareholders (= taxpayers) who cannot now afford to bail the airline out.

    The options LIAT has had, for at least FOUR decades, are simple. Revert to a professional management, composed of people who have the qualifications, knowledge and global experience to first turn it into a PROFITABLE entity, then the imagination and sweat equity to expand to become a real regional carrier, unlike the other arrogant self-congratulating carrier which serves one island, and one island alone, all the others it happens to land on are seen and treated as distinctly second class and subject to being bypassed on a whim.

    And the owners of LIAT (the taxpayers who actually fork out the cash every year, not the self-serving politicians) need to make sure that their public SERVANTS – the same politicians – make this happen. But those individuals hide behind the wall of their inner circle and refuse to speak or correspond with those who can provide them with sensible and professional advice.

  4. Liat tickets are not expensive , The government taxes plus bad management is what killing . Just take a look at a Liat’s ticket and see the amount of taxes we are paying in taxes on one ticket it is just wicked .

  5. This was just announced by PM Gaston Brown.

    It now appears that our not so be bright PM as said by the SLP , is beginning to look very bright. After been dragged to the street for not investing in a failing company, St. Lucian should say thanks to PM Allen for making a business decision. OH, how many millions would have gone down the drain. NOT A BAD DECISION BY OUR PM

    Also, after extending the SOE to Sept of this year SLP again questioned the decision indicating that no Caribbean country is going down that route. Hold and below, the great PM of Barbados announced last week that Barbados is now extending their SOE to August of this year, citing the need to do so to keep the Cuban doctors. NOT A BAD DECISION BY OUR PM

    Going ahead with most of the Capital project to stimulate the economy was called crazy and reckless by the SLP. The great PM of Barbados has announced that they are going ahead with over a billion dollars investment in the redevelopment of Bridgetown. NOT A BAD DECISION BY OUR PM

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