Barbados wants greater return on investment
Minister of Tourism Richard Sealy has promised that additional operations of regional airline LIAT will be moved to the Grantley Adams International Airport (GAIA), following upgrades over the coming months.
However, he stopped short of saying what operations would relocate here.
Sealy suggested that Barbadians were paying too much for the airline but getting very little benefit. He said, therefore, following the establishment of a new civil aviation facility as well as other upgrades at the GAIA in the coming months he would ensure that there was increased activities from the cash-strapped airline in Barbados.
“We anticipate, given the fact that the Barbadian taxpayers . . . are being asked to shoulder majority of the burden where LIAT is concerned, it is only natural, that as you heard only recently that LIAT is being put on a firmer [and] sounder economic footing, that there are decisions that will have to be taken with respect to LIAT that will result in increased levels of activity at this airport as far as LIAT is concerned,” announced Sealy.
He made the comments today at the groundbreaking ceremony for the new civil aviation building to be constructed in Charnocks, Christ Church.
Sealy said it was not fair to ask the Barbados to shoulder most of the airline’s debt “and yet we don’t enjoy commensurate benefit”, adding there was “plenty of space” at the GAIA.
“I am very happy to hear that Prime Minister [Baldwin] Spencer doesn’t have to lay off anybody in Antigua and he doesn’t plan to lay off anyone, but if he can make that brag, certainly we are not going to simply take all the burden for the entire Caribbean and not get some of the benefits,” added Sealy.
When pressed by reporters, Sealy said there were no immediate plans to move the headquarters of LIAT to Barbados, but he noted there were LIAT departments already here “and we have to look to see, going forward, what makes economic sense”.
“. . . We must understand that if Barbados is in a majority position, the larger shareholder, then the largest portion of that debt is over our heads. It is only obvious then, we owe them to make sure that sound economic decisions are made,” explained Sealy.