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Time to talk

PM urged to call urgent meeting of LIAT shareholders

Prime Minister Freundel Stuart is being urged to convene an urgent meeting with LIAT shareholder governments to come up with a concrete plan to put the struggling regional airline back on course.

Airline commentator and businessman Robert Pitcher made the call after again experiencing poor service from the carrier whose main shareholders are the governments of Barbados, Antigua and Barbuda, St Vincent and the Grenadines and Dominica.

Robert Pitcher

Robert Pitcher

He said he was eager to see Stuart step forward with a plan as the leader of the largest shareholder government.

“With the 49 per cent [shareholding] or so that they say that we have, we would like him to call in the other guys and sit down and say ‘look, we have to produce a plan that works’,” said Pitcher.

“Here is the first suggestion coming from me and it is to change the board and to appoint a statistician. We don’t need Barbados, because we have 49 per cent, to have four board members. We need one from each shareholding government and each government that comes on board will have a say on it,” the frequent flyer offered, adding that rather than making political appointments to the airline’s Board, the shareholders should put a successful business person to lead the charge to recovery.

Pitcher was scheduled to travel to Tortola, British Virgin Islands (BVI) for a business meeting this week, but said he was informed that the flight had been cancelled.

“They gave no reason. What they told me is that they can either refund me my full amount of money or I could go tomorrow afternoon on the late flight,” he complained, lamenting that the cancellation could have a “terrible” impact on his business.

Pitcher’s complaint follows concerns raised by St Vincent and the Grenadines’ Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves, who last week added his voice to the growing complaints about poor service from LIAT.

“If you do not get rid of the [current] board right away we are going downhill faster because the problems are now multiplying by twos and threes and all we are concentrating on is moving [the airline’s fleet base] from Antigua to Barbados,” Pitcher warned.

“That does not solve the problem at all. If the head is bad the body [is] bad. Everybody besides the four shareholder governments recognize that the board [has] got to go.” said Pitcher.

The owner of Fun ‘N’ Sun Publishing said he believed the Eastern Caribbean governments of Grenada, St Lucia and St Kitts and Nevis would be willing to invest in the regional carrier if critical changes were made.

However, he said: “They cannot afford in these harsh economic times to take up millions of dollars to pump into LIAT for LIAT to continue to destroy the money that you put
into it.”

Other problems identified by Pitcher at LIAT were staff shortages, lack of adequate training for employees and low staff morale.

4 Responses to Time to talk

  1. jrsmith September 15, 2016 at 4:52 am

    All you idiots have no idea of managing anything , bunch of educated fools , the cricket , the governments what airline , as the airline … ( Privatize the dam thing)….also most of our Barbados Government.. We have lost our title though the history is still there.. where is our (Little England ) …

    Most black people are so brainwashed that managing businesses becomes extra hard. its a massive strain on they brains..
    Lets choose 6 people as regulars from the (Today’s Forum) to manage (Liat) and other 20 to take over the Barbados Government. Come on people don’t be cowards..

  2. harry turnover September 15, 2016 at 7:50 am

    ” Prime Minister Freundel Stuart is being urged to convene an urgent meeting with LIAT shareholder governments to come up with a concrete plan to put the struggling regional airline back on course.”
    Mr.Pitcher do you REALLY expect Mr.FRUENDEL STUART although Bdos is the LARGEST SHAREHOLDER to convene and LEAD an URGENT meeting ???? when there is a certain PM ready and waiting to “‘ pelt back certain things in he face “

  3. Alex Alleyne September 15, 2016 at 9:44 am

    LIAT , WICB the same madness on both fronts coming for the same Island.

  4. BimJim September 15, 2016 at 11:09 am

    Here are the real numbers:
    Barbados 50.20%;
    Antigua 30.75%;
    St. Vincent & Grenadines 11.83%;
    Dominica EC$8 million (percentage unknown);
    The Rest – small holdings by employee groups, companies and individuals.

    As an aviation professional I would imagine the time for talk is long – LONG – past. LIAT was already in enough financial trouble when the current Board were brambled by a new CEO into believing that LIAT needed a new fleet and an additional US$100 million debt, and the same individual then ignored warnings from all sources – including the Civil Aviation Authority – and personally engineered what he himself later called a “meltdown”.

    Between all the politically-made on aircraft choices at Caribbean Airlines, LIAT and then BahamasAir, “commissions cyan done”, as we say.

    The new fleet have proved to be just as expensive to operate as the more reliable Dash-8s (the -600 engines were uprated to match the faster speed of the Dash-8), and with more restrictions (crosswind and tailwind, to mention just two).

    The new fleet are also proving to be a problem with crews, who say they are more labour-intensive and that they are far more tired after a full day of flying them than they were with the Dash-8s. Pilpots are now leaving LIAT in greater numbers than have ever seen seen at the airline, so expect the delays to get worse, not better, as they run out of pilots.

    Added to this is the FACT that our incredinbly dull Prime Minister is unlikely to spend the energy to call a meeting of shareholders, far less come to any solutions – because to do so requires making decisions, and that kind of nonsense is not in Stuart’s Do-Nothing Portfolio.

    The Board is a rubber-stamp body hand-picked by the various politicians as rewards for Party service to do as they are told… Jean Holder has no clue about aviation, confirmed by his vacuous statements when the crapola occasionally hits the fanola, when he emerges from his hole to blink at the sun, say a few unrelated meaningless words, and then retreat back into his hole again.

    Sad as it may seem, at this point LIAT I think must self-destruct to the point where it either closes permanently or the creditors force the courts to implement a bankruptcy adminisrtration and take it out of the political realm.

    Our egotistical politicians are not going to just hand it to a commercially minded group of people to operate and possibly make a profit, as did the people of St. Maarten with WinAir and did the people of the Cayman Islands with Cayman Airways.

    And the CEO position of our rudderless sub-regional airline is still not announced. Given past performance, I fully expect the choice to be the current CFO, a good friend of Chairman Jean Holder whose competence in her position is as valid as Jean Holder’s is in his.

    If so, she would be a political appointee of a political appointee – and I wish you all lots of luck with that one. Then we can look forward to yet another handpicked incompetent CFO who rises to the usual political standard of the eastern Caribbean – “good enough for gubmint werk”, similar to the Peter Principle of
    rising to their own level of incompetence”.


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