Businessman Robert Pitcher is calling for radical changes to the management structure of regional air carrier, LIAT, recommending former Minister of Tourism Noel Lynch as one of the people to lead this change.
With the sudden resignation of Chief Executive Officer David Evans, Pitcher today suggested that Lynch should be approached to take over the leadership of the problem-plagued regional carrier.
Describing the former Member of Parliament for St. Michael South as “a good tourism person” who had a good grasp of the aviation sector, the Marketing Consultant of Fun ‘N’ Sun Publishing Inc hinted that Lynch would be an effective CEO.
“It would be a great move by Prime Minister Freundel Stuart to reach across the political divide and recommend his former political opponent Lynch for the position of CEO. Lynch was a good tourism person and he understands aviation,” Pitcher said of the man who Stuart defeated in St Michael South in 2008 and again in the 2013 general election.
However, Lynch, who served as Minister of Tourism and International Transport from April 2000 to January 2008, was not Pitcher’s first choice to replace Evans. That honour went to Captain Nigel Harris, the founder and Managing Director of Montserrat Airways, which trades as Fly Montserrat.
“We have a private airline which is owned by a European called Fly Montserrat. He is Captain Nigel Harris and he should be asked to assume the office of CEO with the absorption of Fly Montserrat into LIAT. The same way that he is making a small profit for Fly Montserrat he may be able to do the same for LIAT,” Pitcher told reporters at the offices of Fun ‘N’ Sun at Rendezvous, Christ Church.
Pitcher also called for the dismissal of the entire board of directors of LIAT, insisting they should be replaced with regional business leaders with good track records.
He identified Barbadian businessman Ralph Bizzy Williams, who was involved with the doomed low-cost carrier, RedJet, but otherwise remains a successful entrepreneur, as a possible chairman.
He also proposed the recruitment of prominent local businessman Mark Maloney and counterparts from Antigua & Barbuda, Dominica and St Vincent and the Grenadines to make inputs into the running of the regional airline.
Evans resigned after less than two years on the job after what was reported to be a heated meeting of the board of directors last week.
The airline issued a terse statement yesterday confirming his resignation and thanking Evans, but giving no reasons for his departure.
Evans had replaced Ian Brunton who had an even shorter stint as head of the embattled airline.
Brunton resigned in September 2013 after one year in charge.
At his news conference today, Pitcher suggested that LIAT had moved away from its initial function as an island-hopping airline.
He said the current route structure, which includes direct flights from Barbados to some destinations, was unsustainable.
“I recently returned to Barbados on a direct flight from Trinidad and Tobago with only twelve passengers on board. This flight is only fully used at carnival time in Trinidad and Tobago.
“Similarly, it does not make sense to have a direct flight to St Kitts or Tortola. Flights going north or south along the chain of islands should be picking up and setting passengers as it serves the chain of islands,” the tourism marketing consultant and frequent flyer argued. (NC)