Saint Lucian Pilot, Silvanius Ernest, has reiterated a position he says he has consistently articulated – that it will be only a matter of time before the financially strapped regional airline LIAT, collapses.
Ernest, who is also an aircraft mechanic, says no one is paying attention.
“One of the things I want to say is I am agreeing with the Prime Minister not to put a cent into LIAT until they can fix it,” he told St Lucia Times.
But he expressed doubts that the regional airline can be fixed.
According to Ernest, the governments are to blame for the ‘mess’ in which LIAT finds itself.
“One of the problems we have is for example, recently I travelled and I paid about $700 – one ticket was $700, another was eight hundred and something dollars one way to Antigua and when I worked it out the taxes were almost the same price of the ticket,” he observed.
“Now I am saying if they can talk about helping LIAT, this is one way to help LIAT – take out the taxes. If you can take out those taxes, the ticket now will be cheaper and you can get more people to travel,” Ernest told St Lucia Times.
He asserted that people are not travelling because of the high cost of tickets.
“With all the money that has gone into LIAT, what do we know about how the money is spent?” The Saint Lucian pilot asked.
He called for a ‘bigger discussion’ about the operations of LIAT.
“When you look at LIAT is the only airline in the region from 1974. How can you run an airline for that long and not be making a profit? Something has to be wrong,” Ernest asserted.
He told St Lucia Times that LIAT got rid of its Dash-8 aircraft and bought ATRs.
“It’s just about five years you bought brand new aircraft and see the mess that you are in. Whether they needed to change the airplanes is another thing. But who is is really there to see about that?But the guys know that it does not matter what happens, at the end of the day even if we don’t make, the governments will come in.”
Ernest described aviation in the region as a mighty problem.