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Barbados to focus instead on restructuring LIAT

Barbados is sticking with LIAT.

In an interview with Barbados TODAY, Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler underscored Government’s commitment to the regional airline as he denied knowledge of any Barbados-spearheaded plan to establish a new regional carrier to rival LIAT.

“I haven’t seen [the proposal]. If I haven’t seen it, it means it doesn’t exist for me and I haven’t heard anybody speak about it in terms of my colleagues in the Government,” said Sinckler. “For me, I can’t say there is [a proposal].”

The Government of Barbados is the majority shareholder in LIAT, which is headquartered in Antigua, but is about to relocate some aspects of its operations to Bridgetown in line with a recent decision by shareholders.

The Government of Antigua and Barbuda, which is opposing the relocation, raised the issue of a rival airline and accused Barbados of involvement in the alleged plan.

However, Sinckler said Barbados was sticking with LIAT but warned it could not be business as usual for the financially strapped carrier. He said the Freundel Stuart administration would be pushing for some “radical” changes to the way LIAT does business but a deadline was yet to be determined.

Chris Sinckler

Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler

“Something has to be done and fairly radical,” he said. “I haven’t heard any reports but what I am saying is that from the mere fact, as Minister of Finance, the person who has to work with my colleagues to underwrite much of what is happening at LIAT at present, we know that something has to be done.”

Sinckler said among areas that needed restructuring were the airline’s debt, staffing and the routing.

“We have to look at how far the airline goes. One of the goals of any such airline to be successful is its ability to reach the US mainland, even as far up as Miami. So you have to look at all those factors,” he said.

“We equally also have to look at all of the contributors and ensure that the beneficiaries of LIAT become contributors to its success. So that everybody is putting just as everybody is drawing out,” added Sinckler.

Besides Barbados and Antigua and Barbuda, the other LIAT shareholder governments are St Vincent and the Grenadines and Dominica. Other countries which benefit from LIAT’s services currently provide no financial support.

“I am assured that the regional shareholders, the regional heads of government and the directors who sit in their stead on the board of LIAT have been discussing these matters,” Sinckler told Barbados TODAY. “With something as serious and critical and sensitive as this is, there will be sensitivities on all sides but if there is one common denominator, [it is that] each one of those shareholders understands that the existing status quo cannot continue for much longer.”

Saying he was not an expert on the airline industry, the Minister of Finance said the issues surrounding the airline were of major concern to Barbados as the single largest shareholder and it was time officials stopped tinkering with the airline.

“Tinkering with a fare here and a fare there … is not going to make it successful,” Sinckler opined. “And we are learning that in Barbados and we are learning it in some instances, a painful way, but we are learning it nonetheless.”

“There is only so much you can do of that tinkering . . . if the issues are deeply structured . . . What I am saying is that fundamental changes have to take place to make the airline viable,” he stressed.

7 Responses to NO PULL-OUT

  1. darrelanderson
    darrelanderson April 25, 2015 at 1:34 am

    I can say that I may or may not know about a plan that may or may not exist. Of that – I am certain….

  2. Tony Webster April 25, 2015 at 5:45 am

    Selling, or divesting of, an airline that is a colossal white elephant, is not exactly easy. Especially if you need to simultaneously ensure a successor carrier (and a viable one too) is created. The trick is to polish-it up, so that it does not appear to be an elephant, but a graceful albatross, (painted pink), and then you look about for some idiot who has just come into money from a rich uncle, or won the Miami lottery…so to speak.
    And you will have to achieve this all the while quiety talking out the other side of your mouth, to Kamla. Or Butch. Or Sir Richard, to create “NEWCO”.
    All of the potential “NEWCO” investors will expect a “pound of flesh” by way of gurantees not to overload the fares wid taxes; plus concessions for the next 50 years; and cast-iron committments from all 26 trade unions. In each island.
    Good luck Captain…have a smooooooth flight!

  3. Veroniva Boyce
    Veroniva Boyce April 25, 2015 at 6:30 am

    By the way, was Sinc eating and licking his fingers when he made the confusing statement in the second last paragraph in the article?

  4. Alex Alleyne April 25, 2015 at 6:59 am

    Is LIAT moving back to Barbados or not ? . If the answer is YES , then tell us when .
    Forget all the back-n-forth gibbridge and just give us the facts .

  5. Donna Harewood April 25, 2015 at 7:10 am

    Please find a way to force contributions from ALL the beneficiaries of Liat. We cannot afford to allow them to piggy back on our sagging and almost broken backs any longer. These are the same countries whose nationals are laughing at our plight. I’m just saying…..

  6. James Lynch April 27, 2015 at 8:10 am

    First, let me clear up a misconception. LIAT was NEVER fully located in Barbados, no matter what any politician tells you. I worked for LIAT in Antigua from 1980 to 1996 and I know for a FACT that LIAT has ALWAYS been headquartered in Antigua.

    Nor has LIAT ever laid off any huge number of people in Barbados at any one time.

    Second, the ONLY way LIAT is going tosurvive is if the politicians de-politicise the airline. That is, get their own fingers out of the airline, replace the entire Board with people who have at least a scent of a real clue about how airlines are run, and allow them to hire (and fire) aviation professionals to do it properly.

    Third, if the management cannot perform and are not replaced, the shareholders should then fire and replace the Board Members who are supposed to deal with management. The rest of the world requires executives and Boards to perform or be replaced, why is it that in the Caribbean they can lose hundreds of millions of dollars, endure catastrophe after disaster after meltdown after screw-up, and yet the SAME people continue with “business as usual”??

    Why? Political connections and support – take that rotten garbage away and you will have performance.

    LIAT’s core problems are politics and incompetence… take the politics out and insist on the performance and accountability, and LIAT will turn around. But continue with “business as usual” and LIAT will be gone by 2017.

    I know the majority of Bajans don’t really care, nor do they need LIAT. But Froon has somehow managed to acquire more than 50% of the airline (on your behalf) and it _IS_ a Bajan problem now… don’t let Froon flush literally hundreds of millions of YOUR tax dollars down the drain because he is waiting – as usual – for LIAT to “fix itself”.

  7. James Lynch April 27, 2015 at 8:21 am


    LIAT sucks in hundreds of millions of dollars a year from its shareholders because the politicians in power refuse to run it properly. They point blank refuse to change because they think they know everything and are all-powerful.

    My own suggestion to the other governments has been NOT TO PUT ANOTHER CENT INTO LIAT UNTIL THE STRUCTURE IS PROPERLY FIXED.

    LIAT loses so much money because incompetence is expensive, and always has been. And – as I said above – if nobody wants to fix it, the bacchanal continues, and at taxpayer expense (just like in Trinidad).

    Why should St. Kitts, St. Lucia and Grenada tax their citizens more because the PMs of Barbados and St. Vincent can’t be bothered to do the right thing?

    No, you cannot “FORCE contributions from ALL the beneficiaries of Liat”, they are sovereign governments, just like Barbados, and make their own decisions.

    Otherwise, would Barbados citizens not be FORCED to pay a good chunk of Trinidadian Caribbean Airlines’ losses every year?


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