No return on LIAT investment, laments Toppin

Opposition Member of Parliament for St Michael North Ronald Toppin today told Parliament that the time had come for a serious decision to be taken on the future of regional carrier LIAT.

Toppin told the House of Assembly that even though the airline had been subsidized by shareholder governments for 42 years, it has “grossly under-performed”.

“I am really quite aware of the origin of LIAT in the context of the formation of CARICOM [the Caribbean Community], and the particular role that was envisaged for LIAT in the context of CARICOM.

“But the reality now is that the burden of the operations and the inefficiencies of LIAT have now fallen disproportionately on the shoulders of a few governments, including and perhaps especially Barbados,” Toppin said.

He also warned that “the unrelenting injection of money into LIAT” was unsustainable, while suggesting that Barbados was not getting the maximum financial returns on the “extensive sums” that successive Democratic Labour Party and Barbados Labour Party administrations have injected into the airline.

He also proposed that LIAT becomes a low-cost and efficient model carrier, a suggestion that was dismissed by Minister of Tourism and International Transport Richard Sealy.

Prime Minister Freundel Stuart also rushed to the carrier’s defence, saying it had been critical to the region’s development over the past six decades.

“Had there been no LIAT in the Caribbean, this region could not have been held together as it has been over the last 60 years.  Airlines have come and gone, and they’ve come to replace LIAT.

“They’ve come, they’ve seen LIAT and they’ve had to turn in the opposite direction, went about their business and LIAT has been with us for 60 years. And with a safety record second to none,” Stuart said.

The St Michael South MP further argued that while LIAT has not been making a profit, it was essential to the movement of people across the Caribbean where it operates 558 flights per week, with 112 departing from Barbados.

That figure, he noted, accounts for about 20 per cent of all flights out of the Grantley Adams International Airport.

He also told Parliament that the airline, with the assistance of shareholder governments, had significantly reduced its loss this year.

“I was very pleased at the last shareholders meeting to be told that LIAT’s projected loss for 2016 is going to be just nine million dollars.

“It was $50-something million in the year 2015.  And as a result of intervention by management and by the shareholders, the loss forecast for 2016, it’s going to be just 9.2 million,” Stuart said.

15 Responses to No return on LIAT investment, laments Toppin

  1. Loretta Griffith November 23, 2016 at 6:01 am

    There is nothing wrong with constructive criticism.
    When brainstorming is included judgements are not clouded.
    To Miss Bradshaw, keep up the good work and remain humble. Very important.

  2. Carson C Cadogan November 23, 2016 at 8:26 am

    Ronald, can you tell us how much return on investment did Liat make during the administration of the Barbados Labour Party Government?

    And if the answer is none, maybe if your party had gone on to make sure the Liat airline had made a good return on investment then we would not be in the situation we find our selves in today.

  3. jrsmith November 23, 2016 at 8:31 am

    The problem with (LIAT) is the politicians involvement anything black politicians is involve always ends up as failures..

    The priminister of Barbados needs to explain , to bajans , how Mr, Sinckler has discovered (Liat) accounts 100 millions dollars which have no accounting for , now lets see Mr ,Priminster when last (LIAT) was audited……….
    Must also add the (AUDIT GENERAL’S) report 100 of millions missing which there is no accounting for………………..

    • Kevin November 23, 2016 at 11:27 am

      The unaccounted 100M occurred pre-2008. Is the DLP cleaning up the mess left behind, just like another Al Barrack?

  4. jrsmith November 23, 2016 at 8:35 am

    How could barbados ever recover economically with this government , who audits nothing …………………….

  5. James Lynch November 23, 2016 at 10:55 am

    One definition of insanity is doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting a different result each time.

    If you run LIAT a certain way and lose US$50 million, you REFUSE to make changes in the face of unitaleral criticism across the entire region, and you still expect that LIAT will turn around, is that not insanity?

    If you run LIAT a certain way and lose US$50 million, you beg and threaten others to pour money into your black hole and you REFUSE to make changes when it is clearly stated that changes might encourage others to invest, is that not insanity?

    If you run LIAT a certain way and lose US$50 million, you REFUSE to replace the poppit shareholder Chairman, the completely irrelevant Board and almost totally incompetent management, is that not insanity?

    If you run LIAT a certain way and lose US$50 million, and each time something falls apart because of your own inept stupidity you blame anybody else but those who are making the decisions, is that incompetence or insanity?

    If you run LIAT a certain way and lose US$50 million, and in over 40 years you refuse to allow those who are paying the bills (the taxpayers) to see the annual accounts – or ANY accounts – is that insanity or dishonesty?

    For more than 40 years LIAT has been run and managed by clearly insane and/or incompetent people, happily losing thousands of millions – Billions – of taxpayers dollars with neither responsibility nor accountability.

    There is NO – repeat NO – private company which loses money year upon year and there is no repercussion, accountability or CHANGE in the oversight (Board) and/or management of the company. And there is NO – repeat NO – private company which loses money year upon year and survives – that is called “bankruptcy”.

    There have been no changes at LIAT because the taxpayers – like mushrooms – are kept in the dark and fed a pile of manure.

    And they have no way of knowing if their money is being diverted into private (or political) pockets or if it is simply being frittered away and wasted, because the accounts – all accounts – are Top Secret.

    Certainly the decision to change fleets to the ATRs was an unmitigated disaster, one which was proposed by someone FIRED from Caribbean Airlines, vetted by nobody who knew aviation intimately, and approved by a bunch of political appointees whose knowledge of aviation and airlines could be dropped into a thimble of propwash and slipstream and still be invisible.

    The employees – pilots included – do NOT make any of the decisions at LIAT. In fact the entire politically appointed Board barely makes any decisions at LIAT, and management merely do as they are told. LIAT is run on politics, pure and simple – and worse, it is run on the politics of a minority shareholder whose share of the losses is a mere 11%.

    In other words, there is more sand than Vaseline in the lubrication.

    Any number of people, myself included, have been advocating for CHANGE at LIAT for DECADES, and no change has been forthcoming for two reasons:
    1. because in the taxpayers those who run LIAT had a bottomless money pit to draw from, and
    2. because surely those who actually run LIAT are certifiably INSANE.

    Two words: Argyle, and Team.

    “Argyle” is an EC$ Billion dollar “white elephant” boondoggle of a useless new airport placed in an intenable location whose every expense (to the taxpayer) has been doubled and tripled paying kickbacks, now the entire airport and its accoutrements sit rusting in the salt air. Now that is sheer greed.

    “Team” is the sports team whose flight was cancelled by the same management micromanaged by the team’s own Prime Minister, who immediately had a hissy fit and threatened to do dire things to the same airline he has been micromanaging. Now that is sheer insanity.

    Ralphie, as a Jamaican reggae composer once wrote and sang, “LEAVE THE STUDIO!”

  6. Tony Webster November 23, 2016 at 1:27 pm

    We could sell it to our new Saviour and Good Friend, Butch. He knows how to run an airline…and when to sell it.

    @James Lynch, doan go raising your pressure, Sir, as de Bossman sez that “some person” give him figures showing Bim gets big bucks out of LIAT in the “big picture”. Even swallowing this at face value, does it not follow that ANY (well-run) LIAT replacement, would yield the same boon ….without tax-payers continually filing a bottomless hole?

    Gearbox once told me that there are some folks who have done very well thank you, over the years, selling spare-parts, goods and services to LIAT. Some even got fired.

  7. jrsmith November 23, 2016 at 1:44 pm

    In other words everything comes naturally with tax payers money who cant ask any question , who cant see any audits just like it or lump it..If this matter was in the (USA) lots of people would have ended up in prison as they do with political corporate corruption as they deal with the bankers.. One day people ,we all would be reward for the corruption which goes on in barbados and the region.
    See the case of the lottery scammers in Jamaica and the US, in Jamaica to a scammer a fine of $1600 , in the US pending a 20 prison term…. watch this space……

  8. James Lynch November 23, 2016 at 2:25 pm

    Butch turned Air Jamaica into his personal bus service to Sandals, claiming he was filling the Treasury with US dollars. When the airline’s finances collapsed and Jamaica could no longer fill the financial potholes they fired Butch and his entire self-serving team.

    Butch also started Caribbean Xpress in St. Lucia and ran that into the ground. His incompetent non-airline minion “manager” Chastanet whose citizenship was his ticket to operate in St. Lucia (now PM of St. Lucia and their own national aimless knee-jerk Donald Trump) was so out of the loop that when Stewart closed the airline and flew the airplanes out that night, the next morning Chastanet ran around the airport screaming that the airplanes had been stolen and reported that to the police.

    So what Stewart knows about running airlines is only what Stewart knows about feeding himself. A businessman does not give a f@rt in a hurricane about people or shareholders, all he cares about is PROFIT. And everything else he or she says is just a smokescreen for screwing everybody else over in pursuit of that aim.

    Stewart opened a Sandals in Barbados and started gutting the environment. Why? Because business does not care about the environment, business only cares about putting resources in place that will make a PROFIT. All the local protests are just annoyances to him.

    Not that there is anything wrong with profit, but a national or regional airline owned by taxpayers is not run purely for profit, and breaking even for such an entity is perfectly acceptable. Put LIAT in Butch’s hands, and guaranteed wherever does not have a Sandals will lose air service.

    Trinidad, if it bought LIAT, publicly declared that only countries which provided a profit would be served, and is why T&T was never allowed to get their hands on it. But CAL was given Air Jamaica, cherry-picked the most profitable routes, and then ran the whole thing into the ground – as they have done with the disgusting ATRs and the AirBridge – so as much as they boast about being better than anyone else in the region their arrogance easily trumps their governance and turns whatever they touch into a nasty grey oatmeal pudding.

    On the matter of “benefits”, last survey I saw indicated that foreigners (extra-regionals) only make up less than 5% of LIAT’s loads. So when LIAT loses US$50 million is Barbados REALLY getting more than US$25 million (BDS$50 million) back in hotel, restaurant and trading profits? Not merely income, but PROFITS.

    If I was originally from Antigua and came to Bados to do business, I would be stayting with a friend, not in a hotel, and I have to include a good chunk of that kind of expense avoidance simply because the phrase “disposable income” (large spare change) is an American invention and in large part does not apply to our region.

    I spent 16 years working for LIAT, have worked for other airlines, and I have been in business myself. So I can tell you that when you have an entire stream of oversight – shareholders and Board – who are micro-managing this very specialised and highly technical business and who have literally no clue what they are doing and refuse point blank to bow to real expertise, then perhaps it is time for those who actually pay the bills to start demanding answers.

    Such as, WHERE are the Annual Accounts for the last 40 years, and WHEN will they ALL be released for public inspection?

    If it is all above board then they should be provided toot sweet.

    But if there is a LONG history of teifing and dishonesty (as we all suspect there is) then naturally you would get the same response I got – which was, “that is none of your business”.

    In the names of sheer greed and incompetence LIAT is rapidly coming to the end of its unnatural life, whether we like it or not. And if we all sit around moaning about this and that doing nothing, then be prepared to pay charter prices to travel interisland for some time until somebody else finds the investment to replace it.

  9. jus me November 23, 2016 at 4:23 pm

    @ James Lynch.
    Well done.Spot on.

    Stuart never ceases to amaze me with his instant Ad Libs,
    AND I really believe he is SO badly informed he actually believes what he says or he believes that we all are intellectually deficient enough to simply absorb the idiocy.

    Does Stuart ever read what he says in the light of reality?

    Like he proposes the OTHER AIRLINES on surveying the business model of Liat and how it is run, immediately threw in the towel ,after being faced with the insurmountable excellence of the opposition.
    Never mind what they saw was an entity ,run by a clan of one eyed men from the countries of the blind, financed by the same, kept ignorant, masses.

    Lets face it Stuart is in his job ,merely by a trick of fate, a nonentity picked to fill a position , a necessary nobody.
    David who then died,without having had the time to replace Stuart.
    He must turn in his grave for that.

    We are the ones who pay, cursed with a man of low natural intelligence but linked to an education, elevated by fate from a Nonentity.
    Who learned, albeit,very slowly, that he was now, the Driver and no longer just the Hanger on..
    He has progressed to the position of a banana Republic Despot , in full knowledge that Possession in 9 parts of the Law.
    He plays with our Country and us, to feed his own, NOW VERY BLOATED ,ego.
    Certain of the fact that his face and his face ONLY will be in the trough, he is in Possession.
    A TRUE D, we can LIKE IT OR LUMP IT.

  10. James Lynch November 23, 2016 at 8:14 pm

    I have come to believe that Freundel Stuart’s Modus Operandi is based solely upon the legal Law of Tort, which offers that a person cannot be held responsible for something they did not do.

    As a result, Mr. Stuart does nothing, with the full expectation that he cannot therefore be blamed for anything.

    I have to suppose that nobody has told him that the position of Prime Minister is one which REQUIRES decisions. Or that – as a true West Indian politician – having been elected he has become an expert in every field and no longer listens to anyone else.

    Barbados owns 50.2% of LIAT – more than half – which means when Barbados hollers “JUMP”, the others are required to jump and ask how high on the way up.

    But brotherly love among politicians being the way it is there will probably be some hot air noise created, nothing will be done, and the taxpayers will just have to continue bearing the load.

    I sent an email to the Parliamentarians tonight, we will see if they delete it or take notice. Certainly if they ignore it I hope Bajans of all stripes will know how to vote correctly next election – if they do not already know from this particular Jackass Club’s performance.

    Where is Granville Phillips when you need him?

  11. Tony Waterman November 24, 2016 at 3:23 am

    Why is it that so may people are so concerned about Liat making Money, but no one seems to be interested in having LIAT NOT servr those Countries that do NOT support LIAT Finanmcially, LIKE St.Lucia, who is seeking to have Caribbean Airlines become the Official Airline of St. Lucia, Like Trinidad & Tobago, who have gone as far Refusing to let LIAT continue taking Passengers from Crown Point in Tobago to Piarco, and giving that rouite Exclusively to CAL.
    What we need are Politicians in Barbados who Have “BALLS” to Stand up to those who do NOT support LIAT by refusing to let LIAT serve those Countries for Free.

    and as for the proposed Ferry service, the “Fools” in Barbados will probably in the name of Caricom Unity, Participate in it with the Same results.

    BTE, the new PM of St.Lucia has already ruled out any St.Lucian participation in LIAT. for him it should be “No Pay NO Play.

  12. James Lynch November 24, 2016 at 5:54 am


    1. LIAT is intended to be a regional carrier. Not all of the CARICOM and OECS countries can afford LIAT’s “black hole” style of oversight and management.

    Nearly FOUR YEARS AGO Kenny Anthony told Comrade Ralph to clean up LIAT, and St. Lucia would reconsider investing in the airline. No clean-up, no investment. STILL. But The Comrade is still going around “twisting arms and breaking legs” for more money to pour into his bottomless money pit.

    2. Volume. The more destinations an airline can offer the more passengers they will carry. If LIAT keeps cutting routes do you think it will survive on only the traffic to and from the four countries of the shareholders Barbados-Antigua-Dominica-St. Vincent?

    3. LIAT _CAN_ move forward, but if you load four politicians and garbage truck on top of a turtle it ain’t going anywhere at any speed. In fact all you will produce is some well-flattened dead turtle meat.

    4. An airline is NOT a haberdashery, hardware store or construction site, it requires HALF of the employees to be experienced and licensed professionals and its “trucks” cannot pull over to the side of the highway to change a flat or fix an engine. Until LIAT sees MAJOR changes – including the REMOVAL of His Royal Exalted Highness Comrade Ralphie and the entire Board – nothing will change, despite the clearly insane expectations of of outcome by its shareholders.

    LIAT, run by professionals and without politics, CAN make money, but being top heavy with political appointees – including the CFO – has not been allowed to do so for more than four decades. As Kenny Anthony said four years ago, clean LIAT up and others will participate.

    Perhaps 30 years ago when all the islands had a hand in LIAT and all paid subventions, there was a shareholder meet8ing in St. Lucia where this exact same matter was discussed. They agreed to disagree on the amounts, and all except a few backed out of the airline.

    So LIAT has been here before, but back then Barbados was not $11 Billion in debt and the other shareholders were not nearly bankrupt.

    Having inside information information I can tell you that several of the islands are already making preparations to have their own islands served with their own or some other airline and avoid LIAT’s constant begging and threatening. If Brunton’s truie intent was to implode LIAT so that Caribbean Airlines could take over the entire Caribbean he ceretainly did an extremely good job – the “meltdown” could not have been better impemented to kick off that process.

    FACT: If the current shareholders keep kicking LIAT around and doing nothing, it WILL disappear. And WHEN that happens, I hope nobody in the EC will express surprise.

    Finally, I wish there was a movement to demand that LIAT release ALL of its Annual Accounts to the public gaze. LIAT’s accounts have been stamped TOP SECRET for over 40 years, yet has been fully paid for – in the hundreds of millions of US dollars – by taxpayer money.


  13. James Lynch November 24, 2016 at 9:46 am

    BTW, Mr. Waterman, LIAT does not serve any serve any countries for “free”. LIAT is free to transfer additional costs to the fares between those countries and shareholder countries, to have the non-shareholder countries subsidise fares in and out of their countries,or some other device.

    But LIAT is micromanaged by a greedy despot whose sole aim in life seems to be to grab as much power as possible, and twisting arms seems to give him great pleasure. He seeks any opportunity to stand on a soapbox and chatter into a microphone as if he is the guiding light for the Caribbean.

    He enjoys travelling to the United Nations to make irrelevant speeches on any subject under the sun – claiming to represent all of the EC – and to travel to all corners of the earth while his taxpayers are footing the bill in order to perform irrelevant functions.

    He just went to the Seychelles and declared his country to be a sister state to that nation. Why? He does not need a reason, he is seeing the world, is getting his tail stroked, and somebody else is paying the entire bill.

    LIAT is his pet $500 million monkey, just as Argyle Airport is his pet $1 Billion while elephant. And while he plas with his pets he makes a nice “commission”.

    What more could a short, fat, ugly, Banana Republic dictator ask of life?

  14. F.A.Rudder November 28, 2016 at 12:49 pm

    Could this be another Z- Gain Cooperation as described in the economics index of principals.


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