One Scapegoat Does NOT Fix LIAT or Caribbean Airlines

Robert MacLellan is Managing Director of MacLellan & Associates

Robert MacLellan, Managing Director of MacLellan & Associates

Some might believe that, for the second time in only three years, Captain Ian Brunton has been made a scapegoat by the board of directors of a Caribbean airline company – fired as CEO of Caribbean Airlines Limited in late 2010 and, this week, he resigned as CEO of LIAT. Indisputably, the overall operation of LIAT has continued to be disastrous during the last four months but so has the marketing / P R / communications function and yet the senior management there appears unchanged going forward. More importantly, the chairman, Jean Holder, and the LIAT board – which has authorised the strategy, business plan, operating budget and bank loans underlying the recent chaos and financial uncertainty – also appear unchanged going forward.

While Captain Brunton has resigned, Mr Holder is reportedly on vacation in the midst of the crisis. The chairman has been in position since 2004 and submitted his own resignation two years ago, although this was not accepted by the LIAT government ownership group at that time.

“Plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose.” When Mark Darby, an undoubted airline industry expert, was fired from the LIAT CEO position in 2009 (and subsequently sued successfully for unfair dismissal) Caribbean 360 News carried excerpts from his interview concerning LIAT in Flight Global, a leading airline industry website. Darby pointed to “the lack of focus of the shareholder governments and the board of management as major stumbling blocks to the regional airline moving to higher heights”. He spoke of the complexity of three governments owning the airline, which involved conflicting agendas. Darby commented that this problem was compounded by weak corporate governance, with a board where few directors had held senior roles in major companies. “Instead, it operated more like a government department”, he said. Darby continued, “Board members got themselves involved in operational areas. This is one of the company’s greatest weaknesses”.

In evaluating these comments, clearly, Darby was unhappy about the circumstances of his departure from LIAT. However, the Irishman before him was also short lived as CEO at LIAT and Brian Challenger resigned last year as acting CEO – all of which confirms a serious problem at board level. This is where the real change is self evidently required, if the airline is ever to achieve operational and financial stability. In the face of LIAT’s biggest ever operational crisis and with greatly increased debt related to the new fleet, now is the crucial time for that change.

There are cries for other Caribbean governments to invest in LIAT – arguably, if they had any confidence in LIAT’s board, they might do so – but it appears they do not! If that is the case, then the failed board, the business model and the ownership structure has to change.

Many airlines around the world, previously government owned, have been privatised successfully in recent years, but for LIAT this raises issues as to the airline’s vital role in the socio economic cohesion of the islands and concerns about the viability of some low volume LIAT routes. Economies of scale, more effective marketing, code sharing on low volume routes and a “low cost airline” style of operation could combine to achieve a sustainable business model – but it appears extremely doubtful that LIAT, as presently constituted, can attain that goal on its own.

However, an initial merger of loss making LIAT with loss making Caribbean Airlines Limited – if they then enter together in to a new public / private sector company on a 50 / 50 joint venture basis – might create an airline ownership structure that successfully addresses all issues, combining social responsibility with profitability and professionalism. A deal like this would best be evaluated and negotiated by a specialist airline industry management consultancy – Lufthansa Consulting is but one example.

Which are the potential private sector joint venture airline partners for such a deal? Jet Blue has a successful low cost airline business model, flies to an ever increasing number of Caribbean islands from the USA and has already taken over five of the former American Eagle inter island routes out of San Juan. Southwest Airlines / AirTran is another successful U S based low cost airline and is continuing its expansion of Caribbean routes. Insel Air, based in Curacao, is profitable and operates a mixed jet and turbo prop fleet on routes to the Dutch islands, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Venezuela, Colombia, Miami and Charlotte. Seabourne Airlines – based in the U S Virgin Islands -is profitable and is expanding its inter Caribbean route network with larger 34 seat Saab 340 turbo prop aircraft, but still operates 19 seat Twin Otter aircraft on low volume routes.

There has never been a more appropriate time to end LIAT’s vicious cycle of operational and financial instability and to reconfigure an airline which can serve the Eastern Caribbean’s vital needs on a sustainable basis. The damage inflicted has been immense, the financial outlook is grim, the time for change has arrived and the need is urgent.

Notes.

Robert MacLellan is Managing Director of MacLellan & Associates, the region’s leading hospitality consultancy since 1997. He is a Fellow of the Institute of Hospitality, a Member of the International Society of Hospitality Consultants and has a Masters Degree in International Hotel Management. MacLellan previously held board level management positions at major UK companies in the hospitality, cruise line and property sectors.
For further information contact Robert MacLellan:
(1) 758 285 4964 or robert@machospitalityconsultants.com
www.machospitalityconsultants.com

24 thoughts on “One Scapegoat Does NOT Fix LIAT or Caribbean Airlines


  1. What is not immediately discern able is why Prime Minister Ralph Gonzales believes he should be speaking out on LIAT matters at every turn. Where is the Chairman!


  2. look taxpayers and flying public are exhausted with LIAT politics and internal raging inferno. the taxxpayers want out, the Board and management and shareholders can remain and keep throwing the gasoline in an attempt to quell the flames, LIAT good concept gone horribly wrong……..,


  3. @ David | September 22, 2013 at 5:27 AM |

    It only goes to show how politically mired in managerial incompetence and operational inefficiencies LIAT really is.
    The partisan tit-for-tats among the politicians (one can see there is no intellectual synergy or congruence of emotional intelligence between Gonsalves and Stuart) and their appointed cronies pretending to represent shareholder governments continue to impact on the day-to-day management of that airline and cloud the flight path to any chance of commercial success and long-term viability.

    That is the stage the airline is at just because of stupid petty shortsighted selfish politicians with egos as big as jumbo jets.


    • @Miller

      Sadly but expected it is the ethos which is present in both public and private sector. May be the private does a slightly better job. Like most solutions it is likely we will source one internationally although this has not worked so year.


  4. LIAT is an essential service … Let’s start there. The water supply agencies, the fire departments the police agencies and ministries of health and so on are all essential services. Should people be concerned whether an essential service turns a profit?


    • @Baffy

      Efficiency, affordability.

      If we get these two areas right things like moving around the region (including cargo), independence fall into place.


    • There will always be pockets of efficiency, the issue is what is the prevailing culture in the Caribbean. Also we have to separate civil service from the political arm.


  5. @ Baffy

    In one way I agree with your comment about “essential services” should by their very nature be provided for one’s people but in the same breath I have a caution and concern.

    The Water Works Department is an essential service, after all if they dont provide us water, after 6 to 7 weeks, we are going to have a problem with our body’s requisite water intake.

    Why Baffy, we may find ourselves resorting to drinking water from the toilet bowl. Imagine the challenge our lied politicians would face turning up at the HoA in their eternal state of untruths on the inside and stink on the the outside.

    The Water Works however, if they have water mains that are hemorrhaging, will, irrespective of all the philanthropic talk about having essential services, be unable to provide said service, if all the water seeps into mother earth without major intervention.

    LIAT is like that WWD.

    What never ceases to amaze me is how our respective governments can repeatedly appoint a series of incompetent Chairmen, with such accuracy, as we have done and continue to do with our elections and ensuing political directorate.

    LIAT needs competent leadership and the political support of its respective governments to ensure that any action that will stop the hemorrhaging and create an efficient essential service, even if it only operated a balanced budget, would be a desired outcome.


  6. Ha … as long as we can keep the conversation away from bottom lines and privatizing, I’ll go along with the other issues … leadership, vision, transparency and so on …!


  7. I agree 100% with the article. Brunton was not a scapegoat, he shot himself in the foot and resigned – without taking responsibility.

    LIAT has a serious problem with political interference, and the first consequence should be to replace the Board with [people who know what they are talking about.

    But as long as West Indians continue their practice of dropping the subject soon after the heat dies down we will continue pouring money down the LIAT hole.

    The meltdown gave us all excuse to hammer Fumble & Co and achieve real change… if you/we allow it to get away then it is our own lack of interest, our own fault, that will DESERVEDLY bite us in the ass next time we want to travel on LIAT.


  8. Check the LIAT shareholders:Antigua,Barbados,StVincent,Dominica.
    Antigua the northern hub feeds Dominica,so Dominica comes on board as a shareholder so they can influence LIAT’s decision making process to benefit Dominica business development and tourism porfolios.
    St Vincent has long known the value of Barbados as a hub and has been a shareholder for this reason.The moment the new airport at Argyle comes on stream,St Vincent would have less interest in influencing and manipulating the LIAT board at which time serious consideration would be given to privatise or shed LIAT.Until then Gonsalves will play the other three shareholders.


    • From media reports Prime Minister of Barbados who represents the major shadeholder in LIAT and Chairman Jean Holder are on vacation. In the meantime Barbadians and Caribbean people wait for a statement from the Board regarding the resignation of CEO Brunton.


    • For those who believe that LIAT’s woes began and will end with Brunton’s departure wheel and come again.
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      Customer Review scoring : LIAT 2.2 out of 1062 reviews

      LIAT customer review :  18 September 2013 by R Ware    (USA)
      Rating : 0/10

      My husband and I paid extra for a non-stop flight from Dominica to Puerto Rico on September 14, 2013. The flight was scheduled to leave Dominica at 9.40, but the plane took off at 9.10 (30 minutes before schedule). Fortunately we were there and able to catch the plane. LIAT changed our non-stop flight and we stopped in Antigua, where, for the next 5 hours we received delay announcement after delay announcement. There were no LIAT employees to be found to answer our questions about the plan to get us to Puerto Rico. The delay caused us to miss a connecting flight from Puerto Rico to Atlanta. There were no more flights to Atlanta scheduled for that day, so we had to fly out the next day. There were many other passengers on that flight that also missed connecting flights and suffered similar additional expenses.

      LIAT customer review :  13 September 2013 by K St. Rose    (USA)
      Rating : 0/10

      I paid extra to get a direct flight from Dominica to San Juan. My LIAT flight left Dominica, stopped in Antigua to pick up additional passengers, and was delayed, causing me to miss my connecting flight from San Juan to Atlanta. That was the last flight out of San Juan and I was forced to overnight there. LIAT refused to give me a hotel voucher and accepted no responsibility for their actions, neither did they apologize. I would not recommend them to anyone. I just wish that there were more flight options with different airlines flying to Dominica.

      LIAT customer review :  28 August 2013 by V Ramrattan    (Trinidad)
      Rating : 0/10

      Travelled from Grenada to Trinidad using LIAT with my 9 month old baby, flight was originally for 1.30 pm. After 2 hours delay the supervisor came out and said all flights that day were cancelled. At 5.00 pm sent to a hotel and told we were booked on a flight at 8.15 am. The aircraft landed and was then closed up because there was a hydraulic problem, told that mechanics were being brought in from Trinidad. The plane was fixed and our flight left at 5.00 pm. The staff were discourteous and showed little sympathy that I was travelling with an infant whose formula, cereal and Pampers were in short supply.

      LIAT customer review :  27 August 2013 by V Marshall    (USA)
      LIAT is awful, never had a flight that was less than 2 hours delayed round-trip between Puerto Rico and St. Vincent. They caused me to miss my connecting Southwest flight from San Juan back to the US and would not contact Southwest to make arrangements for their own fault. I had to spend to stay the night in San Juan and buy another plane ticket. I had a 6am flight that was delayed 2 hours. Weather delays I get, but the consistent 2-6 hour delays is definitely within their control on these perfect sky days I had.

      LIAT customer review :  22 August 2013 by L Helm    (UK)
      Rating : 0/10

      Flight from Barbados to Grenada repeatedly delayed for 10 hours, and cancelled at 1.30am. Told we could not be guaranteed a seat on flight the next day. Put in a hotel overnight. No complimentary refreshments offered at any time. I eventually got on a (delayed) flight the following afternoon after arguing at the check-in desk. On arrival I discovered my luggage had not made it on to the flight due to the plane being overweight. My luggage eventually arrived 2 days later. Minimal communication from staff and customer service was non-existent. My return flight was also delayed, and as a result I almost missed my connecting flight home. I will never use LIAT again.

      LIAT customer review :  20 August 2013 by A Lowe    (UK)

      Absolutely awful airline. Took about 8 hours to get from St Lucia to St Vincent. Avoid at all costs.

      LIAT customer review :  15 August 2013 by C Cross    (British Virgin Islands)

      We were simply flying from Tortola to St. Martin. First the plane was hours late. Second, we get there and just a few of us got off the plane. We sat at baggage claim. No bags came off the plane. The flight left with all of us still standing there with no luggage and no one at all in the baggage area or answering the phone. A very nice security guard let me out so I could go to their front desk. The people there were beyond rude and laughed because I couldn’t get back into baggage claim (the security guard let me in). They refused to answer my questions or to even call anyone. About ten minutes after I went back the claim area, everyone’s bags arrived.

      LIAT customer review :  5 August 2013 by Gifford Jno Lewis    (Dominica)

      LI361 to Dominica on the new ATR plane. Airport staff in Antigua were very helpful, cabin crew excellent and we got our bags. Recommend to friends and family.

      LIAT customer review :  30 July 2013 by R Dean    (USA)

      Connecting flight from San Juan to Antigua was supposed to leave at 3.20 but did not leave until 5.30. Okay fine, it was my last leg and i didn’t have a connecting flight thankfully but I can’t say the same for the other passengers. We arrived in Antigua and waited for our luggage but were later informed that no one’s luggage was put onto the plane and we all had to fill out reports. Its the day after my flight and an agent called and told me everyone’s luggage was still in San Juan and we would be called whenever it arrived but gave no indication if it would be a day or a week or a year. Never ever again will I fly with this airline.

      LIAT customer review :  25 July 2013 by Patricia McIntosh    (Trinidad)

      Left St. Martin, at 12 noon yesterday, Sunday July 21 to catch a 2pm flight to Barbados via Antigua, Dominica, St. Lucia, St. Vincent on LIAT. Flight delayed from St. Martin for 3 hours. Finally boarded and headed to Antigua. Another 3 hour delay. Finally on to Dominica. Halfway there, the Captain announces that he is experiencing some navigational problems and we have to return to Antigua. Returned and passed through the whole nine yards of Security again and settled down in the departure lounge while the airplane was being repaired. After 3 hours we boarded again and set off, once more, for Dominica. Arrived and waited half hour in the plane. Then we began to taxi down the runway for take-off. Just before take-off the Captain announced that the same navigational problem had recurred and that we have to turn around. It was now about 2am. Finally, announced that the problem couldn’t be fixed and that we have to disembark and spend the night in Dominica. Finally got to bed around 5am.

      LIAT customer review :  22 July 2013 by Patricia McIntosh    (Trinidad)

      My daughter left St. Maarten for Trinidad on Friday 19 July on a LIAT flight around 2pm. She finally arrived in Trinidad at 12.30am! Right now, 21 July the rest of my family and I are en-route to Trinidad from St. Maarten on a LIAT flight. Supposed to leave St. Maarten at 2.10pm. Finally left at 5.30pm. Now it’s 17.17pm and we are stuck in Antigua! Never again.

      LIAT customer review :  18 July 2013 by J Findlay    (USA)

      I arrived at SVG airport heading to Barbados at 2.30 for a 4.20 flight. Told the flight would be leaving at 4. This was confusing because my boarding pass clearly said 4.20. When I asked for clarification I was told the flight “would not leave before 4”. Strange response. Anyway, the flight did not actually leave until some time after 10pm and during out wait we were given no status or confusing status. Customer service training is highly recommended. Understandably the airline has a monopoly but the experience just is an embarrassment.

      LIAT customer review :  12 July 2013 by Nick Zoa    (USA)
      Rating : 0/10

      This airline gets zero stars for on-time service. I have to fly LIAT to get around the Eastern Caribbean. They haven’t been on-time yet. Yesterday my 20 minute flight from St Vincent to St Lucia was delayed 10 hours.

      LIAT customer review :  17 June 2013 by A Moore    (UK)

      Plane was 1 hour late (unexplained) on the outbound BGI-SVG sector, but thankfully as flight was not totally full, luggage did travel. No such luck on the return leg. It was all the passengers who were connecting on to UK flights whose luggage didn’t arrive and they had been clearly labelled as connecting luggage in St Vincent. We saw our luggage next to the baggage hold and foolishly thought that would mean it would travel – but no, don’t be fooled! It will now apparently be sent on a day later as it will miss the UK flight – not so great when you have yet another sector at the other end. Not sure if we’ll ever see it again!

      LIAT customer review :  30 April 2013 by A Belard    (Switzerland)
      Evening flight 509 from Tortola to St Maarten. Plane was full but on time. Arriving in SXM, 75 percent of the passengers picked up their luggage, 25 didn’t. There is no one at 8pm in SXM airport, so we waited to get some information for our luggage. One hour later, some LIAT agents appeared and told us that our luggage was still in Tortola. Fortunately we stayed one night in SXM so we told the agent to deliver us the bag to our hotel, “no problem”. Next day we waited the whole morning, nothing happened. After several calls to LIAT and the airport we were told that our bag was in the airport and that we can pick it up there. We went to airport to get it, but in took us more than 1 hour to get, no LIAT agent had a clue what to do or where the luggage is. Very poor customer service.

      LIAT customer review :  29 April 2013 by R Kelly    (USA)
      Poor experience on this airline. I’m writing this review from the gate, where I’m attempting to fly from Barbados to St Vincent. Showed up to the airport 3 hours early. About 10 passengers were pulled aside during boarding and told we wouldn’t be on the flight, because due to ‘unfortunate circumstances’ the plane was full. They pulled me aside after my traveling companion had already boarded so we got separated. Then they re-routed his plane through Grenada. I was told they would put me on another flight about 3 hours later, however that flight is now delayed without much info on why or how long it’s delayed. There are about 75 people at this gate that thought they were making various flights, and now are sitting around with some mix of sadness, anger and bewilderment. I was given a $13 USD voucher for my trouble.

      LIAT customer review :  28 January 2013 by F Hicks    (USA)
      Rating : 9/10We flew yesterday from St Lucia through Antigua to St Kitts. Our bags arrived with us on time in St Kitts. After reading several very negative comments, we were pleasantly surprised. The check-in at St Lucia’s small northern airport was good. LIAT staff were friendly. When we were seated onboard ready to take off, a customer agent came on the plane and told the passenger across the aisle from me that his bags would not be on this plane but would be at his destination by the evening. On the flight to Antigua the captain was very chatty, acting as a tour director for the islands we passed over which was nice. When we got to Antigua, I asked the LIAT Transit area person if she could check on our bags and she said no. She said that since the person in St Lucia had not talked with us our bags were probably ok. So all in all it was an uneventful trip on LIAT.

      LIAT customer review :  6 December 2012 by Phil Bartlett   (UK)

      Our itinerary 2012 involved flying St Lucia – St Vincent via Barbados, returning direct a week later. The flight arrived on time from Antigua and we boarded the plane for the next two sectors of it’s island hopping progress. At Barbados we had to leave the plane and go to the transit lounge which wasn’t a problem. Blissfully ignorant, we rejoined our Dash-8 in different seats, then sat and sat. It seems there was an overbooking problem which saw a lady leave her seat in the cabin, and strap herself into the jumpseat in the cockpit. Her seat was then taken by a man, paperwork eventually sorted, and we were on our way to SVG – again no problem. On arrival at SVG we went to the carousel and waited and waited. Eventually the belt was turned off and there was clearly no more baggage, although there was a growing stack of boxes in the corner of the room. Passengers suggested that LIAT had done their usual trick of leaving passengers baggage behind in favour of airfreight. We were told to go to the LIAT desk in the departures hall and make an official claim, along with other pax who were missing their luggage. After probably half an hour we got to the front of the queue. And completed the “lost luggage” form. Fortunately, the driver of the minibus taking us to our resort took us, whilst a colleague agreed to go back to the airport and pick the luggage up from the next flight from Barbados. On the return we checked in and went through to the departure lounge. When the plane arrived the forward baggage was taken out by tractor and two trailers. They loaded the whole of one trailer and most of the other, then stopped and brought around a dozen bags back off the plane onto the trailer. As we walked out to the plane my wife pointed to our bags on the trailer and asked if they were going on the plane. The LIAT employee confirmed that they would. After some time the crew eventually got the plane underway for the direct flight to Castries St Lucia. On arrival there it really wasn’t any surprise that our bags didn’t fly with us, although there was no LIAT presence in the arrival hall at Castries to tell us that. Clearing immigration we proceeded to the LIAT check in desks and joined the queue. After more time wasting we eventually got to the LIAT girl who explained that LIAT had reduced the number of flights and they were always full. No surprises there when they choose to convey profitable airfreight instead of their passenger’s baggage. The next part of our holiday was three nights in a resort adjacent to Hewenorra airport – 90 minutes taxi away. The taxi driver kindly offered to return to Castries and wait for the next flight from SVG. And our bags were delivered around midnight and we “had” to give our taxi driver 50USD. My advice to anyone considering LIAT as part of their travel arrangements : 1) Do Not expect your hold baggage to travel with you. 2) Do not plan a connecting flight for at least 24 hours after you step off a LIAT flight. 3) Do pack yourself a change of clothing, toothbrush etc in your hand baggage. Of only 2 flights with LIAT, they lost the baggage both times.

      LIAT customer review :  25 November 2012 by G H Subero   (Trinidad and Tobago)

      I seem to be a lucky traveler, my flights on LIAT have been on time, and I did not lose my luggage, a friend on one leg did though, but it came the next day. The crew are warm and helpful.

      LIAT customer review :  22 November 2012 by M Clark   (UK)

      Flew from Barbados to Grenada yesterday morning. Only 30 minutes delayed so no real problem there, but I noticed that my suitcase was still sitting on the runway as we took off! The stewardess offered little advice or apology, simply saying that ‘the plane was too heavy so we’ve taken off some of the luggage’. Upon arrival at Grenada airport there was very little assistance for the dozen or so families whose bags were left at Barbados airport. LIAT reps were unhelpful and did not offer an apology. It took an hour to fill in the necessary paperwork and we were told that they did not know when our luggage would arrive in Granada. There are two flights a day but it is now the second night of my three night holiday and still no luggage or contact from the airline. Sadly it is unavoidable to use LIAT if you want to travel between Caribbean islands. I could only advise that you travel with hand luggage only so that you know it is actually on the plane with you.

      LIAT customer review :  21 August 2012 by D Edgar   (UK)

      Was due to fly LIAT from Antigua to Grenada via Barbados on 1st August 2012. The first flight was delayed – ‘operational reasons’. The second (Barbados to Grenada) was called, we boarded – confirmed that the flight was going to Grenada and then onwards to Trinidad. When we were going into land the pilot announced that we were landing in Trinidad. We were basically dumped in Trinidad with no forward connection. Staff were reluctant to deal with us. Our baggage had been taken off in Barbados! We were put up in a very small low class hotel – awoken at 3.30 the next morning to get a connecting flight. When we arrived in Grenada still no luggage.

      LIAT customer review :  17 August 2012 by Anil Sinanan   (UK)

      Delayed from 8am to 6pm on Friday 3rd August in Barbados on the way to St Vincent due to tropical storm. Don’t mind the waiting but do mind the total lack of information. No LIAT rep was interested or knew anything. SVG to Barbados on Sunday 5th – friends bag never arrived on flight (apparently this is quite common) so landed in London with no luggage. Bag eventually arrived two days later. Bring on the competition for this airline please as they are a monopoly: prices are high, service is appalling and its 50/50 whether the flight will actually leave on time, if at all and whether your luggage will arrive.

      LIAT customer review :  4 July 2012 by Helmut Haas   (Germany)

      For our return flight to Europe we had to take a flight from ANU to SDQ. This flight was booked and paid well in advance. After checking in in Antigua we learned every hour to expect 1 hour delay. There was no ground staff interested in supplying any information. With a 3 hours delay they decided to board. After 20 minutes the Pilot returned to the airport due to technical problems. Back in the departure hall we complained that we had lost our connection and we have now to investigate for other possibilities. There were again no willing representative to help us and we were stuck. After 3 further hours we received our luggage and were escorted back into Antigua. During this wasted time we lost 2 other possible flights. The flight itself was cancelled thereafter.

      LIAT customer review :  3 May 2012 by M I’Anson   (UK)

      Flew Antigua to St Maarten with a stop in St Kitts. Flight out was on time and return delayed just over 1 hour but kept well informed by ground staff in St Maarten. Ground staff and crew were very pleasant in both Antigua and St Maarten. Flight was expensive but they have a monopoly on most routes so they like most other airlines take advantage of that. The aircraft’s were old but sufficient for the short hops they do. Overall a good experience and baggage arrived no problems.

      LIAT customer review :  12 April 2012 by David Statham   (UK)

      Recently flew from San Juan (Puerto Rico) to Antigua as a result of BA dropping its own flight frequency out of SJU to one flight per week. I was impressed by how much LIAT has improved. We were on time, our luggage arrived with us and the flight was good value for money. The best bit was the quality of the staff both on the flight and at the airport – they were friendly, knowledgeable and kept us updated on the flight. The only drawback is the age of their plane. You get what you pay for.

      LIAT customer review :  11 December 2011 by Roeser Michael   (USA)

      Waiting in St. Maarten for almost 6 hours to get flight to St. Kitts. We couldn’t land this morning because of weather. LIAT employees were rude, uncaring, and only interested in not being bothered. They have made no effort to update us until confronted with our complaints about the lack of concern by them. Hopefully will never have to fly them again.

      LIAT customer review :  9 December 2011 by J Tydeman   (UK)

      Antigua to Barbados but due to industrial action we were ultimately delayed over 48 hrs. Staff at Antigua Airport check-in could not have been less helpful – they started with a cheery nonchalance which was irritating. Eventually they gave up on even smiling and not once during our 2-day ordeal did we receive an apology. We were eventually sent back to our hotel (after a six hr wait at the airport with no information or refreshments) and told to come back the next day. Same thing happened the next day but all the time there is no clarity. We were simply herded around like cattle. On day 3 we did eventually take off but even then we were 2 hrs late for no apparent reason. The aircraft itself was tatty and unkempt and we weren’t even offered a drink. I would do everything I could to avoid travelling with this airline again but sadly they have the monopoly of most or many Caribbean routes. A total shambles.

      LIAT customer review :  3 August 2011 by G Holliday   (UK)

      Having read reviews I was rather worried about our flights from Antigua to Tortola and Tortola to Barbados. However, flights were on time, staff very pleasant and our luggage arrived with us.

      LIAT customer review :  31 July 2011 by E Abel   (USA)

      We arrived in the north of St. Lucia to be told that our plane had already left – apparently it was our fault that we didn’t know, we were supposed to have received an email regarding this but we did not. There were no apologies or pleasantries as we were re-booked on two alternative flights, 4 hrs later, taking a much longer route to arrive at St Vincents (originally a 30 mins flight). On the second flight from Barbados to St Vincents, there was no water and no usable toilet. The stewardess was uninterested and kept yawning. When we arrived at St. Vincent later that evening, all of our luggage had been mislaid between St. Lucia, Barbados, and St. Vincent. We reported the situation to a rather dispassionate lady at the LIAT desk and then continued to our destination. We phoned LIAT the next morning and the service person was abrupt. They had found 4 of our 5 bags and didn’t seem to know whether to send them to us or not. They sent the 4 bags, and when they located the 5th later that day, they wanted to wait until the next day to send that – which would have been a problem since we were traveling.

      LIAT customer review :  12 July 2011 by J Dobson   (UK)

      Having read previous reviews I was a little wary of our flight from Barbados to St Lucia – but it turned out to be a very pleasant, problem free experience! Check in was efficient and we proceeded to the departure gate, although we were slightly delayed due to 2 earlier flights out of Barbados being delayed which meant that our paperwork was at the bottom of the pile. However, the crew kept us well informed of the situation and they managed to secure the one and only air conditioner to keep us cool while we waited on the tarmac! The flight was just over 30 mins long so not much happening once we were in the air, but a smooth take off and landing and a very pleasant air hostess.

      LIAT customer review :  24 June 2011 by R Norville   (Barbados)

      BGI-ANU via SLU. At the gate in BGI was advised by the staff that we would have to use the toilets in the terminal as the one on the plane was not in use. Left BGI a few mins late and on arrival in SLU was advised to leave the plane, no staff about to ask why and had to wait in immigration until someone turned up 15mins later to let us through to the transit lounge. About 1hr 15mins later were advised over the PA system that the plane was now fixed and boarding would commence in 10mins, 20mins later a LI staff member turned up at the gate and started to board! Once on board the Flight deck advised us that our plane had been used for another flight and that we had to wait for this one to be serviceable. Flight was ok but cabin crew do not do anything apart from safety demo and insecticide spray then she sat down for the duration of the two flights.

      LIAT customer review :  14 March 2011 by M Wickham   (Ireland)

      Antigua -Nevis -Tortola-St Maarten-Nevis-Antigua, found this airline to be quite good. There were some slight delays here and there but the experience was satisfactory. Cabin crew were very good and Dash 8 aircraft were clean and tidy. With the exception of our Antigua departure the ground staff were friendly and helpful. All flights were short so our expectations of catering weren’t high.

      LIAT customer review :  28 February 2011 by Andre Franca   (Brazil)

      SXM-EIS-SKB-ANU-DOM-BGI-SLU-SVD-POS – I left a bad comment some years ago about this airline, but they seem to have improved. 90 per cent of my flights left on time, the luggage with me in (they are famous for losing bags). Cabin crew friendly but service is nonexistent even on 1 hour flights. Some of the planes are very old and smelly, tickets are pricey but if you buy them in the package it is cheaper – but be aware that you can not change.

      LIAT customer review :  31 January 2011 by Conrad Jones   (UK)

      The fundamental problem is that LIAT has a monopoly of many routes. We paid about £300 each to fly 200 miles with LIAT, having paid £500 each to fly 4,000 miles from the UK to the Caribbean. How stupid is that! The best catering on the LIAT flight out was a warm can of coke for US$2 – how difficult would it be to take a chill box of drinks onto their silly little planes for the steward to sell instead of chatting to his girlfriend. Be warned – LIAT means “leaving in any time” – for reasons unknown we left 1/2 hour late, sat on tarmac on a stopover for 30 minutes having been told it would be 15; after sitting then on the runway for another 15 minutes we finally set off. Allow a generous time allowance for connecting flights, then some more, as it also means “luggage in any terminal” – we heard many tales of lost luggage and friends had to anxiously wait for the following flight (also late!) for one of their cases. The locals seem to get round this problem by taking up to 4 bags on board, each one bigger than stated limit. Don’t think I’ll risk trying this if there is a next time (yes the final destination is worth it), but I may take earplugs along.

      LIAT customer review :  16 August 2010 by J Patrice   (UK)

      I flew Liat on 26th July and 6th August 2010 and will never fly with them again. On the outward journey they told me I could not travel on to my destination, Canouan, as I did not have a return ticket. I was not sure how long I was going to stay in Canouan, but I did have a return ticket to fly back to London. They reduced me to tears before they eventually allowed me to board the flight. On the return journey they cancelled the flight and then told me that I am not entitled to a refund as they hold the money in a credit account for when I fly with them again! When I eventually got back to Barbados, without any help from Liat, the manager on duty dismissed me with a flick of her wrist even though I was standing at the counter and her staff were asking her to assist.

      LIAT customer review :  6 July 2010 by D Redford   (UK)

      Flew 4 sectors during a recent holiday (ANU-DOM-BGI-SLU ). All flights were on time and bags arrived OK. Flight attendants polite and helpful. Dash 8s had rather tired cabin interiors, but the safety procedures seemed as for all other airlines. Flights were rather expensive for the distance travelled.

      LIAT customer review :  13 April 2010 by D Mauro   (USA)

      BGI-CIW-BGI. All segments were late, there was major attitude, and the fare was unbelievably expensive. In fact, this short island hopper flight cost almost as much as my international flight from the USA! Planes old and dirty. They have a monopoly and they clearly take advantage!

      LIAT customer review :  17 March 2010 by H Koch   (Germany)

      The boarding was late and we get no information at all. 2 hours after boarding time they cancelled the flight. Officially because of maintenance reason, but we are pretty sure they cancelled because only 6 people booked the plane.

      LIAT customer review :  28 February 2010 by Richard Williams   (UK)

      We flew three times on holiday. The first flight we were late owing to BA but they put us on a later flight. The second flight the check in staff had our son down as Canadian so we had to spend about 45 minutes at US immigration at San Juan. The flight itself was good and on time. The last flight was late and they did not take my wifes luggage but amazingly they delivered it early on the following day. Do not depend on them to take a connecting flight. I am afraid they more or less have a monopoly.

      LIAT customer review :  10 February 2010 by Richard Lim   (Canada)

      My wife, her sister and I had the pleasure of flying LIAT from Barbados to Guyana return. As we were on holiday, delays and late luggage didn’t really matter to us as we took it as an adventure. This time round we chose the direct route non-stop and it was on time and pleasant – they have improved from the last time we flew LIAT. For those on holiday ‘hey you’re on holiday, everything is an adventure or an episode’.

      LIAT review :  1 February 2010 by F Goldsmith   (Ireland)

      When you use this airline, make sure you have a back up plan. If your LIAT flight is cancelled and you end up missing your connection flight to US or Europe, travel insurance company don’t refund money for ticket because LIAT frequently use the excuse of Monserrat volcano spewing ash which ends up being an “act of God”, therefore cannot fly and insurance company do not refund money. Had a harrowing experience getting from Trinidad to Grenada! After two 5 hour flights I got to Trinidad at 6:30 am and tried to check in with LIAT airlines for a 2:15 flight. The said I couldn’t check in until noon. That meant no way past security to where the comfy lounges are, need a boarding pass for that. When I did check in at noon they said I have to check my rollaboard as well as my regular suitcase and could only take my laptop case aboard. Said my suitcase was 1/2 kilo overweight and charged me 75US for it. After I paid they said which of the two would I like guaranteed to arrive in Grenada? Something about weight balance of the plane. When I boarded you couldn’t believe some of the cases people were stuffing in, I guess that luggage regulation is only for american tourists. Finally the plane was 1 hour late and the port agent was not there to pick me up as promised. I got to the ship by taxi 15 minutes before it sailed, but at least with all my luggage. Now here’s the funny part, the airline LIAT has a slogan which is “Always on time!” So at least I got a good laugh about it.

      LIAT review :  8 September 2009 by Frank Dalton   (Albania)

      have flown LIAT 5 times in the last week – San Juan to Barbados (via St Lucia), Barbados to Trinidad, Trinidad to Martinique (via St. Lucia), Martinique to St. Lucia, and St. Lucia to St. Martin (via Antigua). In general, very disappointed with this airline. While the flight attendants have been professional and polite, the same cannot be said of the ground staff, which is a disaster. The first two flights were delayed, but explanations for the delay were not forthcoming. At St Lucia airport the monitor showed my flight as being “on time”, but in fact it was delayed. I arrived late from a connecting flight and seeing this message, I thought I had better get on to the airplane. Doors were closed, however, and there was no LIAT representative anywhere in the waiting room. Finally I was able to find out from a police officer that the flight had not left yet and that the screen obviously was providing inaccurate information. Due to delays in the flight to Barbados, I got to spend the evening without any dinner. Everything had shut by the time I got to my hotel. There was further lack of professionalism in other flights, but they concern a topic that “cannot be published”.

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    • BREAKING NEWS: LIAT Board Accepts CEOs Resignation, Replacement Identified
      Chief Executive Officer of LIAT, Ian Brunton, will serve his last day in the position come October 1, 2013. He will be replaced by Mrs. Julie Reifer-Jones, who will act in the position until a permanent replacement is found.
      The news comes as the Board of Directors of LIAT (1974) Limited announced its acceptance of Brunton’s resignation which was tendered earlier this month amoungst mamoth pressure from hoteliers and passengers throughout the Caribbean.
      LIAT experienced one of its worst summers ever with an almost systematic breakdown in its operations in territories throughout the Region.  Ian Brunton will be remembered as the man who replaced Antiguan Brian Challenger who resigned in 2012, and he will also be remembered as the mastermind behind the US$100 million complete refleeting exercise that has seen the introduction of spanking new ATR aircrafts replacing the aged Dash-8 fleet.  “The Board of Directors thanks Mr. Brunton for his service and wishes him every success in his future endeavours,” the LIAT Board said.
      Until now, the board has been considerably mum about the announced resignation.  St. Vincent Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves said the resignation was unfortunate but LIAT would have to act accordingly.
      http://antiguachronicle.net/news/item/897-breaking-news-liat-board-accepts-ceos-resignation-replacement-identified


  9. on page 13 of mondays advocate the opposition party of ST>lucia calls on govt not to invest the taxpayers hard earn money in liat, however suggest alternatives,

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