Saint Lucian pilot Silvanus Ernest says talk of the liquidation of the regional airline LIAT come as no surprise.
“It was just a matter of time,” Ernest told St Lucia Times.
“Even if they come up with a new airline there will be the same sort of problems until the governments take their hands out of it,” the founder of the now defunct General Aviation Services asserted.
He said it was time to keep politics out of Caribbean aviation.
“The governments – that’s the problem. They are the ones that have been controlling LIAT,” Ernest told St Lucia Times.
He said that politics is controlling aviation.
“Take politics out of aviation and aviation will prosper,” he declared.
According to Ernest, both LIAT and the Eastern Caribbean Civil Aviation Authority (ECCAA) needed to be fixed.
Ernest said he agreed with suggestions that Saint Lucia should leave ECCAA.
He noted that every airport under the authority has been downgraded.
Ernest, who is also an aircraft mechanic, recalled that he had plans to start a mechanic school and a flight school here.
But he told St Lucia Times that ECCAA had its hands at his throat.
“At the end of it the government of Saint Lucia did not see the need to come in and take ECCAA’s hands from my throat, so we ended up with no flight school here, no mechanic school,” Ernest lamented.
He accused ECCAA of being the first to try to derail his efforts to start his school.
Ernest said the school went down the drain because it took him over a year before the government gave him a permit.
“Plus I had rent up to my head,” he stated, noting that he had planes sitting at the airport.
Ernest said he had to pay the Saint Lucia Air and Seaports Authority for rent and he had no way of operating the school so he had no cash for that.
In terms of the flying school, he said many students were “lining up” to attend.
“All we were waiting for was a permit and it took the government a year and two months,” Ernest said.
He expressed the view that the authorities should have seen how his endeavours would have been good for the airports and Saint Lucia on the whole.
In May last year, Ernest has warned in an interview with St Lucia Times that it was only a matter of time before LIAT would collapse.