St Vincent-based airline One Caribbean could start regional flights by next Sunday

SourceCMC

KINGSTOWN, St, Vincent (CMC) – Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves says the Kingstown-based One Caribbean airline could begin regional flights as soon as next Sunday as part of its efforts to fill the void left by cash-trapped regional carrier LIAT.

The major shareholder governments of LIAT have, with the exception of Antigua and Barbuda, agreed to place the airline intp liquidation. St John’s has criticised the move and instead is urging support for the idea of a new company, LIAT 2020, to take over the operations of LIAT (1974) Limited, whose other major shareholder governments are Barbados, St Vincent and the Grenadine, and Dominica.

Prime Minister Gonsalves, speaking on a local radio programme, said he had held discussions last weekend with One Caribbean and a letter was supplied to him from the lessor of their planes.

“And they have immediately another SAAB 30-seater. It is really a 34-seater but they take off the back bench, so to speak, so that they can have more space for cargo so they run cargo. They accommodate 2,500 pounds of cargo,” said Gonsalves, adding that the airline operates two SAAB 30-seaters and a 19-seater aircraft.

Gonsalves said that One Caribbean could get another 30-seater aircraft within two weeks.

“One Caribbean has given us — that is to say, the government — a proposal and they want to begin to move passengers on the 12th and I think they have been advertising that,” he said, noting that he was also due to have received another proposal from the locally-based SVG Air.

Gonsalves said he is urging the two airlines to “coordinate their work” and that he had also spoken to the principals in interCaribbean Airways prior to and after the COVID-19 pandemic.

Gonsalves, who has lead responsibility for regional transportation in the quasi-Caricom Cabinet, said he had also received a call from the chairman of Trinidad-based Caribbean Airlines (CAL).

“They have sent me a document which shows that what they have at the moment. They can do 80 per cent of LIAT’s pre-COVID network,” Gonsalves said, adding that Air Caraïbes, a French Antilles carrier, has two ATRs and a number of jets that link Martinique and Guadeloupe to Paris.

He said further, there is Air Antilles, which operates outside of the Caricom Multilateral Air Services Agreement region and for which special arrangements would have to be made. But he said this has happened in the past.

Gonsalves said that One Caribbean would like to begin by moving people between St Vincent, Barbados and St Lucia and then within another week, to Grenada and Dominica.

“And I am waiting on the proposal from SVG Air to do Grenada, more or less immediately, while they continue to do that link which they have been operating in the [northern Caribbean].”

Gonsalves said he does not know when CAL would recommence flying.

Gonsalves told radio listeners that he is interested in regional travel and that is why his administration had cut by 50 per cent, its departure tax, bringing it down to US$20.

“We have assets, as I have identified, where, if there is coordination, we can move people, because I am interested, I have to be interested, in moving people,” he said.

9 COMMENTS

  1. First off st.lucia is not a major shareholder of list . John Compton didn’t invest in liar …would have been a good investment . all the other major shareholders has benefited . what will be done with list planes and other assets ? Gaston Brown is fuming that he want the new airline company headquarters to be in Antigua …ha ha

  2. Dr. Ralph, you are in a hurry to replace LIAT, but you need to take into consideration the prices. Yes, because Liat prices was much too high, so we need price control for regional airlines! who will be the watch dog? hope THAT IT IS NOT RALPHY?

  3. LIAT has had a monopoly in the Caribbean for years, if there are more airline companies with more regional route licences (landing rights) there will be competition and that will show in lower and more affordable airfare rates, that’s how businesses work, it’s not rocket science!

  4. But PIP, the high fares for liat really included the taxes for the various countries, so brining in other airlines will not see a reduction in fares unless the various governments choose to reduce on their taxes.

  5. Liat has been a disaster for more than twenty years.Nobody owns planes they are all chartered,Yasmine.This is the Caribean,If the headquarters of Liat were moved to another island for starters we could see an improvement.And end the corruption that has plagued this company.

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