Join us, LIAT’s chairman urges
Now that Dominica has become a LIAT shareholder, the airline’s chairman, Jean Holder, is hoping that other countries will follow suit.
Speaking on Friday at Hilton Barbados during a news conference which followed a meeting of major shareholders, Holder said Dominica’s Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit had “demonstrated enormous courage in putting his money where his mouth is”.
“There are others in this region who benefit every day from LIAT . . . who will invest in LIAT when LIAT is the perfect airline.
“When LIAT is the perfect airline, we will not need their investment,” Holder said.
Barbados, St Vincent and the Grenadines and Antigua and Barbuda were the three previous major shareholders in the carrier.
Holder noted that LIAT had taken a number of important strategic decisions over the last few months that would not be “painless”.
“We definitely have to address the issue of how many social routes we can afford to run when we are not getting any support from some of the people whom we serve.
“That will be a bit of a painful decision for some but what LIAT is saying to all of the countries in the Caribbean [is] we don’t expect any more or we don’t expect any less than the other airlines who provide services,” he said.
Holder revealed that Virgin Atlantic had decided that it would not fly to Tobago in the summer unless it received £1 million in support of the service.
“Nobody thinks that that is unreasonable but if LIAT said they wouldn’t fly into any place unless they got a £1 million in the summer you would hear all kinds of stories about that,” he said.
The chairman said the present shareholders would not continue to “subsidize people who want the services and are prepared to pay every other airline under the sun . . . and think that there is some sort of heaven given responsibility of LIAT to do this and not receive any support”.
“I do not know where the idea arose but there is some idea that LIAT has some social responsibility to provide services that no other airline will provide,” he said, adding that the airline could not continue to operate services at a loss to the company. (NB)