Air bus

Sealy likens LIAT to state-run Transport Board

As regional airline LIAT prepares to embark on its latest cost cutting exercise in another week, Minister of Tourism Richard Sealy has suggested that there can be no running away from the planned financial restructuring.

In fact, while comparing the operations of the Antigua-based regional carrier to those of the state-run Transport Board, Sealy told industry officials and members of the media here on Monday that the promised cuts were inevitable.

At the same, he suggested that it was going to be hard for LIAT to ever turn a profit, given its social responsibility to provide air transportation to the region.

“They are asked to service a lot of routes that are just not profitable. It is really the aviation version of the Transport Board in many respects and it is not an easy challenge when, as can happen, one of your aircraft is down for routine maintenance or some unanticipated reason,” he said, while highlighting problems with the airline’s fleet.

The minister of tourism also said he had “a lot of sympathy” for LIAT’s staff and management, but he emphasized that cutting, though difficult, was necessary for the carrier, in which Barbados is the major shareholder, to move forward.

“I think that what the team is attempting to do, by looking at routes that make more sense, by trying not to abandon the social element but recognizing that we still need to be as viable as we possibly can be.

“It is not going to be a profitable airline . . . and if you talk to anyone the most costly part of a flight is the landing and the take off. That is all LIAT airplanes do all day long – land and take off. So it is a difficult task, but a necessary one, and we will continue to look to see what routes we have to cut out and what areas we need to enhance in order to see that the airline will continue to be viable,” he said.

Earlier this month, the airline announced the first two routes that it will cut “as part of its efforts to achieve greater profitability and improved efficiency”.

Back then, LIAT said it would stop servicing the United States Virgin Island from March 1, when it ends flights to St Croix. The regional carrier also plans to terminate its St Thomas service on June 14.

It also intends to suspend flights between Guadeloupe and Dominica, but will introduce a return service between Antigua and the French-speaking island in the near future.

In the meantime, Sealy said his Government was eager to cut its overall subsidy to airlines which fly into Barbados.

He believes it will still be possible for the island to attract major air carriers even if it drastically reduces that amount, which could total as much as $30 million a year.

“We support our airlines to come here. We always have but we would like very much at a minimum,” he told the gathering at a media conference at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre, adding that Government’s intention was always one of “weaning itself off of the subsidy”.

“You eventually want to get to the point where you do co-op marketing initiative and that is what we hope for. Many of our mature relationships do not have subsidies; what we do is co-marketing and we work together,” he said.

“You have to work smart and not just pull out the cheque book for the first airline that come and say, ‘I want to fly to Barbados’.

“The other thing of course is to be so compelling in your offering that the demand for the destination can drive the airlift [and] that is precisely where we are trying to get and I am seeing glimmers of it,” he added.

11 Responses to Air bus

  1. Angus Benn
    Angus Benn February 22, 2017 at 6:23 am

    I thought that liat was going to buy some new air bus aircraft like jet blue, it looks as though the company losing money. How could liat make money. Any thing that runs by government cannot make money.

    Reply
  2. Alex Alleyne February 22, 2017 at 6:41 am

    “The most costly part of a flight is land and take off”. (THAT’S GOVERNMENT FAULT WITH FEES & TAXES). If LIAT cut prices then more people will be on the airline. It’s as simple as that. Most of us will love to Island hop but LIAT prices killing we, so our neighbours are without seeing other faces regularly. MIAMI is a longer flight and cost less. P/S….When is LIAT coming back to BARBADOS?. Maybe when “cockroach cut teeth”.

    Reply
  3. BimJim February 22, 2017 at 8:45 am

    SERIOUSLY?

    LIAT just like the Barbados Transport Board?

    SERIOUSLY?

    Lord, save us from interfering politician “experts” who ALWAYS make things worse. This suggestion from the same herd of inert braying jackasses who have brought Barbados to a 12 Billion national deficit. No wonder LIAT is in serious trouble.

    What would be wrong with actually installing qualified aviation people in Board and management and letting them get on with the job? We are still waiting for a CEO to be appointed, and – in case it has been so long we have forgotten – the last (totallu unqualified and unsuitable) one walked off the job in April last year – almost a year ago – after enjoying two years of extended pre-retirement vacation from British Airways at OUR taxpayer expense.

    As opposed to unqualified and ignorant politicians “playing with” things they know absolutely nothing about and yet still expecting a better outcome?

    SERIOUSLY?

    Here’s a reasonable suggestion from someone qualified to offer an educated opinion. Pull LIAT out of Ralph Gonsalves’ short fat bumbling Marxist derriere, replace the Board with regional people who KNOW about aviation, and install CHANGE management at LIAT.

    You are NOT going to improve LIAT by treating it like a national bus service.

    There is a reason Barbados has IASA/ICAO Safety Rating Category 2 and not Category 1. That is because you are so politically and bureaucratically inept and incompetent that installing an arms-length CAA which is independent from the the smothering influence of politics and bureaucracy is unacceptable to the,politicians and bureaucrats. As a result Barbados has third-rate bureaucrats and third-rate officers running the entire Civil Aviation Department, people who can be counted on to do as they are told if they get a call from a Minister, REGARDLESS of the consequences.

    I’m willing to bet that even if Barbados installs a CAA the FAA will continue to rate Barbados as Category 2, simnply because Barbados so loves do-nothing mediocrity and is so locked up in red tape that nothing changes.

    Reply
  4. Donild Trimp February 22, 2017 at 12:42 pm

    BimJim, I could not have put it any better.

    The problem however is that rational thought, logic and common sense is frowned upon in certain areas of the Caribbean.

    You will be hated by the folks running the show there.

    Reply
  5. Tony Webster February 22, 2017 at 12:59 pm

    “Government was eager to cut its subsidy to airlines which fly into Barbados”….but no amounts, or names, or details, or even an outline of what the policy is. Presumably, indeed almost certainly, such enticements are either actually paid in F/X, or represent a reduction in charges which would otherwise have been paid BY these airlines TO government (or G.A.I.A.)…in F/X. This is just but ONE component of the cocktail which represents management of our F/X current account, and the F/X reserves.

    Therefore, the ultimate result, the wisdom, or otherwise, to the national benefit, lies ….like the devil…in the details…which are concealed…like so many “deals” made in our name.

    Reply
  6. Donild Trimp February 22, 2017 at 2:01 pm

    Tony, so true.

    All the signs of a banana republic.

    Reply
  7. jrsmith February 22, 2017 at 4:21 pm

    Nothing works in barbados which has politicians involve , they are arrogant, untrustworthy, rude , disrespectful and still carry the rum ,corned beef and biscuits mentality,they have given a very just and equal society to barbados very even, them and us right down the middle….
    They have learnt how to master the way black people are treated by the 1% of the establishment in barbados and general treatment by the white world……
    The issue of (Liat) all fall in line with the fact , that most departments in barbados hasn’t been audited in the past decade and a half.. which exposed itself when (AUDIT GENERAL) published the report showing how us taxpayers was taped for lots more than (500 millions ) dollars. barbados …..
    We cannot expect nothing other than things getting worst………

    Reply
  8. Peter February 22, 2017 at 5:54 pm

    jrsmith. You live too long in England. You’re way off course. Caribbean governments control LIAT. It’s a political football. Staff fly hither and tither for free. Even bumping paying passengers off flights so they and their family can fly. Politicians arrive five minutes before scheduled take offs and are processed in VIP manner. If this whole system is 100% privatized it will operate at a profit. Right now the best thing to do is introduce high speed twin hulled ferry services. It is done with alarming success, safety and efficiency in the Canary Islands, Hawaii Islands, The Baltic, eastern seaboard and Great Lakes. and other areas in Malaysia et. al. Go to YouTube, type in high speed mega ferries. Blow your mind. send me a feedback.

    Reply
  9. jrsmith February 22, 2017 at 6:28 pm

    @, Peter , hail, hail , thank you for this educational bit ..
    (LIAT)…….

    Reply
  10. Kermit February 22, 2017 at 8:51 pm

    Bim Jim is spot on

    Reply
  11. Tony Webster February 23, 2017 at 12:12 pm

    @Peter: those ferries also whizz between Castries and Forte-de-France, a couple times a day…and St.Georges and Hillsborough, Carriacou too. Been doing so for donkey-years now. However, effin our brand of politicos go with this idea Caribbean-Wide, the CARICOM Secretariat will most likely undertake a few ” studies” , evaluations, reports, committees to evaluate the studies…and before you know it…BRAPS!!….you might just see some familiar government-shareholders…and equally familiar faces running the show!
    You know: “Plus change…”

    Reply

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