Pitcher: Avoid LIAT
BOYCOTT LIAT FOR a day.
That’s what publisher Robert Pitcher is calling on the regional public to do to send a clear message to the airline that they are fed up with its high airfares and poor quality service.
He also advised the regional governments looking to invest in the island hopping airline to keep it afloat not to put a cent into it until it changes its board, which he contends, is not suited to oversee the affairs of running a modern airline.
Instead, a group of successful Caribbean businessmen from the separate territories should be appointed to the board with a Caribbean chief executive officer at the helm who understands the market.
Speaking at a press conference at his Rendezvous Gardens, Christ Church offices this morning, Pitcher a director of Fun N’ Sun publishing, also took issue with the announcement that LIAT would be flying to Haiti four times weekly from December.
Pitcher said presently the airline cannot even service their existing routes efficiently and this move would be to a country where loads would be doubtful, similar to the unsuccessful route to the Dominican Republic.
He charged this decision was more ludicrous given the financial crisis the airline was in. He said the situation was so serious that staff received an email recently telling them they would not be paid on the 15th of the month as scheduled, but on the 22nd instead.
The publishing executive said the airline should be concentrating on turning around its fortunes given the $100 million loan and purchase of new aircrafts it recently received.
They can do this, he suggested, by reducing airfares to the various destinations and filling seats, rather than keeping prices high or increasing them which has led to less people travelling.
Pitcher called on Barbados to allow Antigua to take over the majority shareholding in LIAT as they have excessive staff there which they are refusing to cut, and the airline is based there as well.
He said it was not fair to Barbadian taxpayers to be footing the largest bill in LIAT but yet the prices are so high to travel to different regional destinations that people travel to Miami or New York instead.
Pitcher said, too, if it was not for the United States embassy which processes visas for the people in the Eastern Caribbean being based here, then Barbados would not receive such high numbers of regional visitors.
The 74-year-old executive also called on Prime Minister Freundel Stuart to report to the Barbadian public on the discussions about LIAT at the last Heads of Government CARICOM summit.
He said it was time for a frank discussion and assessment on LIAT and how much it is cost Barbadian taxpayers.