TIA: Sealy, you’re wrong

The region’s newest carrier has issued an emphatic retort to Minister of Tourism and International Transport, telling the Barbadian minister in no uncertain terms that his prognosis of its future is simply wrong.

Trans Island Air (TIA) Monday issued a statement challenging Sealy’s assertion that new airlines attempting to break into the regional air transport sector are likely fail due to the number of unprofitable routes.

Pointing to the failure of low cost carrier REDjet, Sealy had told Barbados TODAY last week that “it would be extremely difficult for an airline, and certainly one offering as many destinations as LIAT does, to be profitable”, stressing that the embattled carrier had only  stood the test of time because of the support of the shareholder governments.

He explained at the time that less than 40 per cent of the routes serviced by LIAT were profitable, with some 60 per cent being social routes.

He also made reference to two airline executives, who he said were familier with the Caribbean aviation market, and who had made it clear “they would never want anything to do with LIAT”.

However, TIA has fired back, claiming Sealy’s figures were off the mark, and reminded the minister that LIAT was a completely different animal altogether.

“We wish to remind Mr Sealy that what is an unprofitable social route for LIAT, with its large, expensive fleet and high operating and legacy costs, is a viable route for an efficient smaller carrier like Trans Island Air. LIAT is aware that it cannot be profitable operating a high cycle route system where it moves an average of ten passengers between low demand city pairs – Trans Island Air can. This is why the business plan used to justify the acquisition of the ATR fleet by LIAT; and the consultant’s report which Mr Sealy referred to, both advocated LIAT withdrawing from unprofitable social routes to be replaced by smaller carriers who would work with LIAT,” it said.

The airline also argued that the comparison to REDjet was unfair, as the company’s business model was totally different.

It also took a swipe at LIAT’s current approach, categorizing it as unsustainable.

“To compare TIA’s structure and mission with that of REDjet is like comparing apples and oranges. The minister should also be aware that the LIAT business plan called for deploying eight aircraft on the then existing route system; and adding two additional aircraft to pioneer new routes such as Haiti and Manaus.

“What has LIAT done? It has added the two aircraft originally identified for route expansion, while they took the counter cyclical step of cutting routes and aircraft utilization. As a result, fixed costs have increased while the revenue base is getting smaller. No new destinations have been added. This is a recipe for driving more routes into unprofitability,” the statement added.

TIA was set to roll out services to select regional destinations last Wednesday, but in what could be seen as portent in the wake of the minister’s caution, the official launch had to be postponed after a tropical weather system prevented several flights from landing at Grantley Adams International Airport, grounding several of the key officials.

The airline is officially scheduled to begin operations next month, servicing Barbados, Dominica, St Lucia, Grenada and St Vincent and the Grenadines. It promises one-way airfares as low as US$50 before taxes.   

8 Responses to TIA: Sealy, you’re wrong

  1. John Everatt June 20, 2017 at 2:12 am

    I can not understand how Minister Sealy can speak so negatively about this new airline venture and yet Minister Innes was invited to the launch of this airline in St. Vincent, I presume to give some sort of speech. I would also have to presume that his speech was not to discourage this new venture. I wish this new venture all the success in the future and I really don’t think that they need to defend themselves against the negative remarks of this one minister.

  2. Alex Alleyne June 20, 2017 at 7:33 am

    This airline is not state run so no cut is in it for him nor this friends, therefore he will speak negatively about it. I do hope it do well and put serious pressure on LIAT that keep burning up the tax payers money. Also let us hope the CARICOM ministers won’t follow after this minister and pull the rug from under this guy.
    P/S……We need to read more about the airline and where the planes and office will be housed number of employees etc, etc.

  3. BimJim June 20, 2017 at 9:30 am

    First and foremost, why is anyone even responding to BigUp Minister Sealy? It is not like he has the first scent of a clue about aviation either – just like their political appointees to the LIAT Board and management.

    On TIA, THIS is not a new airline. THIS is a former bankrupt airline being revived using all the old “threads in the closet”.

    And reasons why airlines around the world “do not make it” are usually because they try to be too cheap, they abuse their employees, or they don’t pay their bills. Like LIAT, which is also “not making it”.

    And like the DLP government.

    TIA has two Beech 99 aircraft, but they are still grounded because TIA does not have enough spares to make them airworthy – although the Barbados CAD’s performance so far does not suggest that lack of airworthiness really stops anyone from flying an aircraft. So instead of using the (unsuitable) Beech 99 they used a Beech KingAir – which would normally be used for charters, not scheduled flights – so for the inaugural flight that was 100% unrepresentative of what they normally intend to operate.

    My understanding is that first flight was from St. Lucia to Barbados, not westbound, so that there could be some kind of political ceremony with photos on the ramp and in the VIP Lounge at Adams. While that aircraft was sitting on the ground in St. Lucia waiting “for the weather to clear and the airport to open”, an SVG Air Twin Otter used the landing guidance equipment and landed at GAIA – and they said they had up to six miles visibility in rain. So there was no valid reason to close the airport for two whole hours.

    In the last four months TIA has focused solely on revenue – selling tickets – while they spent virtually nothing towards having serviceable aircraft and qualified, trained pilots to operate them.

    A month ago the Chief Pilot walked out, and last week another Captain walked away (without giving notice). These are not things professionals do lightly.

    My information is that TIA is not paying their employees. Period. Little wonder that pilots and other employees are abandoning the ship before it is even floated.

    Bruce Kaufman has bankrupted THREE small regional airlines before, the way things are going now, this incarnation of TIA2000 will be number four, and that barely out of the gate. I guess people don’t become millionaires by giving money away, and Kaufman appears to be expecting that his advance passenger sales will pay for everything.

    To those who have already bought tickets, I’d say there is a good chance you may never get the chance to use them.

  4. Alex Alleyne June 20, 2017 at 10:21 am

    @BimJim, “Kaufman appears to be expecting that his advance passenger sales will pay for everything”.
    I think that Price Smart in green hill use this same approach by selling membership cards to fully stock the store and did not put out one red of theirs.

  5. BimJim June 20, 2017 at 10:55 am

    They got that idea from COSTCO, you pay for the privilege of shopping there. If nthey sell the same stuff at PriceSmart as thye other supermarkets, then it is a ripoff. What you save in product price you pay in Membership. AT COSTCO the products are a bit different and the prices are lower. Bounty paper towels, for instance, are perforated in half-sheets and are much bigger rolls, which saves you even more in what you tear off and use.

    I have no problem with someone making a profit, but I won’t condone “fooling the public” to corner business when someone else could be making a living too. TIA is a joke, and the first time he closed it was because all – ALL – of his staff walked out for the same reason valid they are walking now, no pay.

  6. F.A.Rudder June 20, 2017 at 11:29 am

    With all said and done no one has questioned the type of manufactured aircraft and their historical safety record, the pilots experience and the maintenance level of serviceability. We are happy to have a new air service carrier which we will define as a passenger or both a cargo and passenger carrier. The type of operation needs to be defined.

  7. Milli Watt June 20, 2017 at 5:32 pm

    you mean regional travel is possible and affordable to all………….hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

  8. Troy June 21, 2017 at 5:25 am

    Another Clown from the DLP circus parading.


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