News Feed

October 23, 2016 - SSA board could face legal action, Comissiong warns Outspoken social activist and attor ... +++ October 23, 2016 - Remembering David Thompson Today marks the sixth anniversary o ... +++ October 23, 2016 - Today’s weather The Barbados Meteorological office ... +++ October 22, 2016 - Lashley urges innovation Minister of Culture, Youth and Spor ... +++ October 22, 2016 - Christmas Wonderland is back After a 12-year break, Simpson Moto ... +++ October 22, 2016 - Husbands wins St James South nomination Sandra Husbands has been elected th ... +++

Absurd solutions to costly regional travel

Grenada’s minister of tourism Clarice Modeste said something about the beleaguered regional carrier LIAT at the just concluded Caribbean Tourism Organization State of the Tourism Industry Conference (SOTIC) here that left some wondering whether she had any idea what she was talking about.

In a troubling display of brazen guilelessness, Modeste all but said LIAT had been delivering cock and bull prevarication by blaming government taxes in part for the high fares it charges.

“I am not a statistician, I don’t know a lot about figures but I know what it costs me to go from point A to point B and when I compare it, I know that LIAT doesn’t compare well. Now the governments are saying that this [government taxes] is not so and I know that sometimes they have done presentations to demonstrate this. So I will not really categorically say that it is untruthful but from the information I have it doesn’t seem so at all,” Modeste told local and visiting media.

It was a shocking and shameless display of a lack of understanding of the system of taxes applied on the Caribbean flying public.

The honourable minister is prone to put her foot in her mouth. How do we know? She said it herself in a demonstration of puerile innocence when she again addressed the media on the final day of the conference to announce that her country would host next year’s SOTIC.

The cheapest return flight from Barbados to Grenada on September 30 costs US$334 if booked tonight. The departing flight from Barbados is US$150 plus US$52 in taxes, while the return flight is US$75 plus an additional US$56.86 in taxes and fees, comprising a security surcharge of $1.25, a Barbados passenger service charge of $27.50, a Barbados security fee of $3.20, a service fee of $10, a Grenada facilitation charge of $7.41 and a Grenada fee of $7.41. There are also additional taxes on the departing charge that include Grenada bag screen fee of $3.70, security surcharge of $1.25, a Grenada concourse fee of $6.00, a Grenada service and security fee of $22.23, a service fee of $10, and if the flight happens to go through Trinidad, a US$10 fee for that country.

On their own, each tax seems small. Together, they add up. Therefore, like the goodly minister would admit, she put her foot in her mouth.

The cost of travel across the region will remain a major talking point as long as the leaders of the countries served by the airline continue to talk the talk in their attempt to bond with the common citizen but refuse to walk the walk in order to solve the problem.

It is as though all they have to offer is the most absurd and empty rhetoric paraded as solutions.

The recent public show of anger by Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves of St Vincent and the Grenadines is a clear example. Gonsalves, who is chairman of the shareholder governments of LIAT, threatened to starve the airline of funding from his country if it did not improve its service to St Vincent and the Grenadines. The genesis of his frustration was that the airline had not got his country’s footballers to a tournament in time.

Surely, the Vincentian leader was not asleep throughout LIAT’s decades of poor service to the flying public! Or was he? He must have been fully awake and alert during the summer of discontent just a few short years ago when it seemed unable to get any passenger to any destination, while maintaining its disregard for its customers. Or was he? Could it be that it never mattered until the poor service came home to roost?

In April, Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit of Dominica –– another  shareholder –– blasted the airline for cancelling a morning flight into Dominica on April 8, which reportedly affected over 40 passengers there.

Surely, he too was not asleep when passengers from other lands were being disaffected! Or was he as oblivious to the implications of what was happening as the airline itself?

These are two leaders who are in a position to do something about the airline’s poor service, its “don’t care” attitude towards customers and little grasp of the consequences of its actions. Yet it only seemed to matter when they were directly affected.

In the midst of public discontent at the flight delays and cancellations, indifferences towards customers, the absence of communication, poor customer service and the litany of woes to which we have become accustomed, Dr Gonsalves and Mr Skerrit will excuse us if we believe that their recent utterances sounded like nothing but outlandish, willful and perverse gibberish.

Maybe the Grenadian minister is not alone in putting her foot in the wrong place.

3 Responses to Absurd solutions to costly regional travel

  1. Nathaniel Samuels September 24, 2016 at 10:41 am

    LIAT needs to make a statement of intent that only those countries that contribute to the airline’s health will not have a service. So we will have Antigua, Barbados, Dominica and St. Vincent being served by the carrier. Then we will see how the others get on. They all need to contribute to the airline so that regional air travel will be better organised.

  2. Marlon Mills September 25, 2016 at 2:27 pm

    Gonsalves has made a sterling contribution to the demise of LIAT – himself an abuser of Prime Ministerial privilege. Over the years I have heard numerous allegations of this type of abuse, including changing the route of flights (while in the air) to suit his personal desires and comfort.
    I have personally experienced a one hour delay in Barbados – and this was after the flight was already one hour late – put in motion when the Prime Minister himself called the man in charge of the gate and instructed him to hold the flight. I was standing at the front of the line as we were about to board the flight when that fateful call came in and the substance of the call was repeated to the other LIAT attendants at the gate.
    It was absolutely horrifying that a Prime Minister would do such a thing considering there were persons on the flight meeting connections in other island. The irony of these particular circumstances – Gonsalves was just finishing up lunch after a very important meeting of the LIAT. Board of Directors – a meeting to discuss the improvement of services by this regional airline.

    One final thing to consider: does anyone one know if GOnsalves or any entity associated with him is/was the owner of an wor raft that was leased to LIAT?

  3. F.A.Rudder September 29, 2016 at 3:18 pm

    “And now for the rest of the story” ! That’s the general attitude of those sister states and now when asked what’s happening in tourism? they are finding all external conditions attributing to the quality of service! It’s sad to think that we are “One step forward and two steps backward”!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *