Regional airline LIAT Thursday announced planned route changes to ensure timely arrivals into St Vincent and the Grenadines, after the country’s leader declared that his government would not be putting another cent into beleaguered regional carrier.
In a major shift in policy, Gonsalves who has championed the cause of LIAT on many occasions in the past, made his position clear following a meeting in Kingstown on Wednesday with LIAT management, headed acting CEO Julie Reifer-Jones. The agenda of the meeting was the poor service to the island in recent weeks.
The now revised position of the Vincentian Prime Minister follows closely on the heels of St Lucian Prime Minister Allen Chastanet divulging plans to allow other airlines to service his country.
A statement from the Office of the Prime Minister in Kingstown today mentioned challenges, including the lack of information on delays and cancellation of flights to the travelling public.
The statement also hinted at concerns raised by Gonsalves in an earlier interview with Barbados TODAY in which he noted that a decision to shift the carrier’s base from Antigua has not been rescinded. In it, Gonsalves also said he was confused as to why that decision had not yet been carried out by LIAT management.
“The company must seek to carry out the mandate of the shareholder and the board of directors in that the decisions made by the shareholders are not fully implemented by the management of LIAT,” the statement said.
The refusal of additional funds to LIAT until “significant improvement of service to island”, comes against a recent request to Vincentian Government for EC $810,000 (BDS$600,000) for the cash strapped airline.
The statement also noted the LIAT’s management was apologetic to the travelling public, which included the Vincentian national team that was left stranded at the ET Joshua airport by carrier while attempting to get to Trinidad for their 2018 world cup qualifying game against Guatemala.
However, speaking at a press conference in Barbados Thursday afternoon, Reifer-Jones noted that the rotation that created the largest difficulty for Kingstown is the St Vincent, Trinidad, Grenada route, and according to her, Grenada will be most impacted be changes that are to be made.
“We have reviewed the traffic and the route and determined that the adjustment that we will do is the Grenada, St Vincent route and we will try to serve that flow in a slightly different way from some of the flights. That would allow us to get into St Vincent earlier and hopefully we will meet their airport time restrictions.
“We’re taking our decision based on traffic flows, the flows that we determined that we would cut is on the profitability and the volume, the Grenada and the St Vincent flow. That affects both Grenada and St Vincent actually, but naturally Grenada will be most affected,” she said.