Chief Executive Officer of the financially struggling airline, LIAT, Julie Reifer-Jones says the airline continues to maintain its full flight schedule even as regional governments continue to work towards a solution to keep it in the air.
The operations of the airline, which currently operates 491 flights weekly across 15 destinations, was dealt a massive blow when it lost millions of dollars as result of the passage of Hurricanes Irma and Maria two years ago.
Several destinations including Dominica were left battered, forcing LIAT to cancel its services or operate reduced flights for months.
Just recently, concerns were raised about the looming closure of the airline if some US$5.4 million was not provided to help the regional carrier to deal with its financial woes.
The major shareholding countries are Barbados, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Dominica, and Antigua and Barbuda where the airline is based.
In a release this afternoon, Jones sought to allay fears that the carrier was on the verge of closing, declaring that despite the challenges facing the airline, it continued operating its daily flight schedule.
The CEO noted that the airline was committed to connecting the region, adding that it operated all its flights over the peak Easter season with an on-time performance of 80 per cent.
What is more, she said the company was looking forward to a good summer period with many festivals and events taking place across the region.
The LIAT CEO also noted that there were ongoing discussions with Governments across the LIAT network about the need for all the territories served by LIAT to contribute through a Minimum Revenue Guarantee Model.
She said that while the pace of these discussions were slower than anticipated, LIAT remains optimistic that the discussions would be concluded shortly.
Shareholder governments have been engaging in almost back-to-back discussions on the airline’s future, as they seek to get more destinations benefiting from the airline’s service to contribute.
So far, Grenada is said to have responded favourably by putting about EC$1 million towards an emergency fund for the airline.
Jones noted that the company continued to update its restructuring plan “so that LIAT can evolve into a more efficient and sustainable company serving the region”.
She reiterated the company’s commitment to the region and stated that the improved on-time performance and customer service provided evidence of the changes taking place in the company at this time.
LIAT’s Board of Directors and shareholders will meet this week in Antigua to review the proposed measures for taking the airline forward.
So far, pilots have agreed to take a pay cut to help save the troubled airline, but officials have indicated that this was not enough and further restructuring was urgently needed. (MM)