Pitcher: Stop pussyfooting

Stop pussyfooting and start doing what needs to be done.

That is the suggestion from airline commentator Robert Pitcher to LIAT’s management, following an announcement by the airline that it had embarked on a 100-day restructuring programme that would help to solve its current issues.

The frequent flyer told Barbados TODAY today, he was not convinced, adding that there was still significant work to be done to improve conditions at the Antigua-based airline, especially at the management level.

Yesterday following a board meeting among the four shareholder governments in Barbados, chairman of the airline’s board, Jean Holder said the company had embarked on a 100-day programme to, among other things, cut unprofitable routes and put pressure on non-shareholder governments to get on board.

Meanwhile, chairman of the committee of shareholder governments, Ralph Gonsalves, said he was “waiting to see when action would be taken” by LIAT against governments who do not currently invest in the airline.

However, Pitcher said: “I think that Jean Holder’s talk of 100 days is all because he is trying to pussyfoot the politicians that place him in the position he is in,” said Pitcher.

“But I would like to see that within 100 days that Jean Holder is no longer on the board. That the new board is in place and that a statistician is in place and between the board [and] the statistician they would be able to come up with the plan of rerouting LIAT for the Caribbean,” said Pitcher.

He said the first order of business for the airline to start being profitable was for the current shareholder governments to remove themselves from the board and appoint affluent businessmen from the region instead.

“The new direction would be to have a five-man board. You do not need to have 15 and 20 people making up a board that you pay lots of money to . . . We need to be able to replace this old management staff that does not have the airline at heart or the travelling public of the Caribbean at heart and replace them with proper staff, people who are competent in working,” added the businessman.

Pitcher said former senator in Antigua Aziz Hadeed, Barbados business magnet Ralph “Bizzy” Williams and Dominica hotelier Gregor Nassief should be among those appointed to the board of the troubled airline.

“And St Vincent should appoint a man called Sam Goodluck. Having these four successful businesspeople from the four major shareholder countries should then appoint a person from a recognized accounting and auditing firm . . . Having a board put together of this magnitude should be able to put plans in place to replace the acting CEO and pick up someone who knows something about the aviation industry,” outlined Pitcher.

Pitcher, who has been calling for the resignation of the current board for some time, also dismissed the idea of “taking action” against governments who do not currently invest in the airline as nothing but stupidness. He said what was simply needed was better planning and scheduling of flights for the routes that were deemed unprofitable.

“A statistician has got to look at the figures in each country and be able to do the routing to suit the number of people that are coming out of the country, not talking foolishness that you are going to boycott the country because they are not shareholders. You are here to serve the whole of the Caribbean,” added Pitcher.

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