St Vincent and the Grenadines prime minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves is blaming current inefficiencies plaguing LIAT on the airline’s failure to implement a decision to shift its base from Antigua and Barbuda.
Shareholder governments decided in February 2015 that Barbados would house four of the airline’s new ATR aircraft, becoming the main fleet base, while two planes would remain in Antigua and the other two would be based in Trinidad.
Gonsalves said at the time the decision was merely the better financial option for LIAT.
This week the Ministry of Civil Aviation in Kingstown added its voice to the chorus of complaints about poor service from the beleaguered regional carrier, and today, Gonsalves did not mince words when he spoke with Barbados TODAY on the way forward for LIAT.
“Good changes have been made but some changes have been slower than others and that is reality. The decision to shift the base has not been rescinded but the management has not carried out the decision and I would like find out why,” the outspoken Vincentian leader said immediately after his participation in today’s symposium on Brexit at the Walcott Warner Theatre of the University of the West Indies Cave Hill Campus.
“I don’t want to have an argument with another shareholder government, but I think it makes commercial sense and better for the delivery of a better service to the passengers if we carry out that plan,” Gonsalves stated when asked about Antiguan Prime Minister Gaston Browne’s opposition to such a shift.
“We have had some simple things which should have been solved. You have a lot of vanities with a lot of people and groups and they create challenges. LIAT has nine aircraft and they are getting their tenth in October and the number of passengers we carrying is more than when we had 15 aircraft.
“The reasons they [LIAT] gave for the poor service of late, which is more of an excuse, has been bad weather. When the schedule is put out of whack, even for an hour, it has a knock-on effect throughout the whole chain because you do nearly a thousand flights per week,” the chairman of the shareholder governments said.
“At the moment we have to do better,” he stressed.