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Oh no, Sir Courtney

I respond to your article earlier this week in which Sir Courtney Blackman reviewed Jean Holder’s book. Sir Courtney is entitled to his opinion, and I am entitled to mine.

Sir Courtney’s opinion is based on the performance of a fellow bureaucrat who has basically produced very little for his length of tenure. My opinion is that, if he was so smart and nationally-minded, well over five years ago, as LIAT’s chairman, Holder should have recognised his personal inability to change the airline, had his entire ineffectual board resign, and given others more able and qualified an opportunity to do the job.

Further, with his stellar lack of performance over the last eight years – and no detailed experience with aviation at all before that, except perhaps as a passenger – Chairman Holder should stop presenting himself as an “aviation expert” in any area of the world and put his head back under the blanket until his now long overdue retirement finally rolls around.

All of Jean Holder’s “exhaustive research, thorough analysis and keen insight” in his aviation endeavours have produced exactly nothing. No innovation, no substantive changes, no shining insights, no outstanding CEOs recognised and stolen from private industry, no progress at all from when he walked in the door for the first time.

Under Chairman Holder’s full range of “leadership” and “expertise” LIAT is the same money-losing company it was before he took the helm, and continues to experience the same abuses of employees and inefficiencies of scale it had for decades before. The same old quarrels, inefficiencies, lawsuits, union clashes and really stupid internal processes are still in the same places they were when I left in 1995 – and were there even when I started at LIAT back in 1980 – over 32 years ago.

Nothing special

Holder’s observations are the same as any mature teenager could produce: Get government/s to pick up the losses under the name of national protectionism, and the entity will continue to lose money. Try to remember that, in the last year, Caribbean Airlines has wasted almost a billion US dollars with that mantra – but at least T&T can afford it.

Yes, Chairman Holder’s judgments and recommendations are well seasoned by his experience with LIAT. Except, in other words, he is convinced that what has always been done at LIAT is the only way to do it – no doubt a lesson well learned from the airline’s past and current stagnant management. In Holder’s eyes, change is not an option – just keep doing it the same way, and one year there will magically be a profit.

This approach is also known among fully conscious, real-world people as one of the definitions of insanity.

Sir Courtney says: “No Caribbean person is more qualified to comment on this issue than he.”

Please, Sir Courtney, stop demeaning yourself with this silly chatter. He has been chairman of the second most losing airline in the region (the first being Caribbean Airlines, fuelled by oil money that gushes from the ground), and you say Jean Holder is more qualified to comment? In what parallel universe? This a patently ridiculous statement that clearly panders to a friend or a colleague.

And Jean Holder’s 44 years of service between the Barbados diplomatic corps, Caribbean Research and Development Centre and the Caribbean Tourism Organisation have produced what shining accomplishments? Please tell us, because we who know the more about his aviation career are seriously nodding off here.

The bottom line is that with all his “insights, qualifications,

Continued on page 41.

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