Call to end airline dispute
ST. JOHN’S, Antigua – Former Caribbean diplomat Sir Ronald Sanders has called on Grenada’s Prime Minister Tillman Thomas, as the Chairman of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) to intervene to end what he described as a “stand-off” between Trinidad-based Caribbean Airlines (CAL) and the regional airline, LIAT.
“Clearly what is needed in this troubling situation is a high level consultative process involving the principals of both CAL and LIAT with the aim of developing an action plan, including an integrated business plan, for the two carriers,” Sir Ronald said.
“The issue is how to get the two carriers to talk at the level of their Boards to work out such a plan that could be put to their shareholder governments.
“One approach would be for the present Chairman of CARICOM, Grenada’s Prime Minister Tillman Thomas, to appoint a team of say three people, headed by a seasoned diplomat and including persons with the issues of Caribbean airlines, to bring representatives of the airlines to the table and facilitate the development of the plan,” Sir Ronald added.
He said there is also no question that – however brave a face is put on it – LIAT’s ability to continue to fly without subsidies from its shareholder governments is in grave doubt.
In the past, LIAT relied heavily on loans and subsidies from shareholder governments, but over the last four years it has paid its own way with no government having to give it a hand-out.
But the former diplomat said that the situation is now changing.