Businessman knocks plans to set up new LIAT base in Barbados
Businessman Robert Pitcher has come out strongly against plans to make Barbados the fleet base for the Antigua-based LIAT, warning that such a move would only make the carrier’s operations more expensive.
“It will only become a ground for political favours in the short term. That is what will happen, like how Antigua did,” said Pitcher in light of decisions taken at last week’s meeting of shareholder governments in Barbados to have four of the airline’s new ATR aircraft stationed at the Grantley Adams International Airport and two in Antigua.
The other two aircrafts will be based in Trinidad as LIAT seeks to strengthen its push into the southern Caribbean market, which officials say is showing strong growth.
Pitcher, a frequent flier on LIAT, who has made numerous calls for the airline to cut staff, welcomed efforts to reduce the current complement of 800 jobs by about 180, as the airline comes to grips with a projected loss of about $29.6 million. However, he questioned the reported number of employees at the airline, while suggesting that the estimated EC$13 million to be saved from sending home the 180 workers was “a drop in the bucket”.
Pitcher also predicted that unless the cuts included “middle and upper management”, and other stringent measures were put in place to cut the airline’s money losses, then LIAT could end up facing more financial difficulties in the near future with a possibility of “going under by 2017”.
“People do not want to face the reality of LIAT because we are not doing things to try to change it around at all,” he said.