LIAT Airline On Bankruptcy Flight Path


The following was posted by Bimjim to blog LIAT Airline Reneges on AGREEMENT with the Leeward Islands Airline Pilots Association According to LEAKED Document. It is an important post not just for the issues highlighted but the fact that leadership is required in any endeavour to ensure there is a possibility of success. A read of the Harvard Review article explains why a dynamic CEO is a prerequisite for success. The question we must ask as taxpayers is whether LIAT has any chance of being successful under Acting CEO Julie Reifer-Jones. Should Barbadians be reminded that we are the largest shareholder in LIAT? – Barbados Underground

Bajan Free Party, in my educated opinion LIAT was brambled into buying the ATR fleet so that a certain person could reap millions in “commissions” – the same person went on to do the same at BahamasAir, and questions were raised in Parliament there, too.

REDjet shot itself in the foot by bringing both a developed-country business plan and a developed-country budget to an under-developed region. Developed-country “experts” and “budgets” do not transplant well, especially when you don’t want to hire ANYONE in the under-developed country. And even if REDjet had managed to get off the ground for more than 20 feet, they had also shot themselves in the backside – Barbados Category 2 means they could NOT have served the US – PR and the USVI are included. So those traditional routes you had hoped to get discounts on never really existed.

Artax, the state of aviation in Barbados is what I would kindly call a “shambles”, and the Barbados CAD has been a regional joke for several decades. A decade ago I asked the Minister for International Business – you used to call him the “Shrimp Man” – about plans for a CAA, and he stated unequivocally that legislation was enroute, in process, about to be laid before the rest of the jackass herd… but it seems the shrimp got a little too slithery and there was a trip slip twixt the lip and the grip. Ten years later we have a new face, but the same old gap between promises and reality. We do have a new $1 million building at Charnocks, though so, if all went as it usually did, somebody got a kick-back and somebody else got a job.

On that same subject, for about 40 years the Director Of Civil Aviation (a puppet of the Minister) has been a person appointed by the Minister from among his other puppets – the Air Traffic Controllers. Barbados ATC does work, but any pilot – regional or international – will tell you they don’t like it. It has the same feel as dealing with the Barbados Government or Civil Service – slow, musty, old-fashioned, wasteful, and sometimes just downright unpleasant. But if there were someone in that position they would not necessarily do exactly as they were told, and they might want to do something beneficial the Minister did not understand.

I was told that the last time the FAA did an evaluation of Barbados (the country is evaluated, not just the airport) for the IASA/ICAO category, the last thing they told the CAD was not to call again for at least ten years. Barbados Civil Aviation was – and still is – that bad.

And the CAD can barely oversee a couple of airplanes now, oversight of LIAT would be IMPOSSIBLE. LIAT can serve Barbados, but it is WILDLY unrealistic for it to be based here. If you have a problem with being majority shareholder and not having it based in Barbados, make Fumble sell some shares to Antigua to tip the balance and leave it there. At least under the ECCAA it will stay safe.

David, this is not the first time a LIAT management has tried to make LIAT an “essential service”. And this is not the first time the regional aviation community has laughed it into the ground. Especially pilots, who know full well that THE LAW requires them to stay home if they have a cold or influenza – conditions which block the ears and can burst an eardrum in rapidly changing air pressures, such as in an aircraft. LIAT could waste yet another five million dollars in the process of having LIAT so declared, but the pilots can all still stay home – LEGALLY. Any qualified, experienced, knowledgeable airline manager would not need to be told this, but a book-keeper could not be expected to “have a clue” about these things.

Next, in all the wailing, weeping, gnashing of teeth, rending of garments and wringing of hands, what has either of Barbados’ representatives to LIAT said? Neither Stuart and Holder have uttered a whisper. Silent. Nothing to contribute. And remember, Barbados owns more than 50% of the LIAT shares.

Did you know that Antigua paid the bill to stop a LIAT aircraft being repossessed two weeks ago? Did you know that at Ogle (Guyana), the airport is now charging passengers an extra fee because LIAT is not paying its bills there? They don’t want you to know that, either.

Which brings me to comment on LIAT. The airline is now run by a hotel book-keeper, whose sole training for the position of CEO is to observe how LIAT has been run for the last few years. Logically, with that training she will now continue to manage it into bankruptcy. FACT: You cannot innovate or change your course in your industry unless you know your industry. LIAT is not a haberdashery or a hardware store, most of its employees require professional licences to do their jobs – which baggage handlers and local bus drivers do not have.

In the last week I made my annual waste of time appeal to the LIAT shareholder Prime Ministers, laying out a suggested course of future action. As I said, I know I am wasting my time, but miracles do happen.

I managed to get it to all of them, despite our own illustrious Fumbling Prime Minister changing his official email address – again – and abandoning the old one to “mailbox full” responses. Apparently the rest of them don’t sleep all day.

34 thoughts on “LIAT Airline On Bankruptcy Flight Path

  1. David

    should stop giving expression to such corrosive cynicism.
    The problems involved in running a regional airline in the Third World are genuinely hard. The people who happen to be failing atthis deserve some sympathy.
    Instead, the only attitude offered in this piece is contempt.

    • @chaad

      Are you able to separate what is inefficient management frpm the challenges of running a regional airline?

      Why has Barbados been unable to work itself to achieve a CAT status to be able to service US destinations and play a greater part in using GAIA as a home base?

      What happened when the LIAT hangars were destroyed by fire in Antigua and all the history on the planes was destroyed therefore negatively affecting salvage value?

      What about the Di rectos who sit on the BoD, civil servants and political appointees?

  2. I have to agree with Chad99999 re: “The problems involved in running a regional airline in the Third World are genuinely hard. The people who happen to be failing at this deserve some sympathy.”

    To describe Acting CEO Julie Reifer-Jones (who, until her acting appointment held the position of Director Finance and ICT at LIAT) in the terms used by the author, such as a “hotel book-keeper,” is definitely indicative of a contemptuous attitude.

    However, I agree with the author’s point that LIAT should be managed by someone who is au fait with the intricacies of the airline industry. I disagreed with some contributors who believe that being a manager, one is capable of managing any industry without the requisite experience or qualifications. Case in point, I received a “few lashes” in this forum for my belief that the Barbados Transport Board should be managed by an individual who possess a qualification such as Transport Economics and not a party lackey who once managed a bank. Some wrote such qualification was not necessary.

    What we are seeing being played out with LIAT management is enough proof to substantiate my belief.

    As I have stated on numerous occasions in this forum, I believe Barbados should get out of its arrangement with LIAT and cease from using our tax revenue to subsidize the airline.

    While in Opposition and when he took up the reins of government, Chastanet was adamant that “there will be no funding of the airline by St Lucian taxpayers.”

    In an interview with Patrick Hoyos (as reported in the September 19, 2016 edition of the “Broad Street Journal”), Chastanet said the region “needs to open up the airline industry to competition,” and his “administration working on a framework for St. Lucia which would encourage new investment in the country to set the stage for the launch of a new private-sector owned airline.”

    According to Chastanet, “LIAT used to have 27 shareholders, it now has three. That’s a huge statement.”

    During a news conference held on Wednesday, September 21, 2016, Mitchell said that “Grenada is prepared to provide the cash-strapped regional airline, LIAT, with a financial subsidy for it to service the island, but was not prepared to provide funds for the airline’s operations.”

    The Barbados government should ask Chairman Jean Holder and the Barbadian representatives on the Board of Directors to resign, and take a position on LIAT, similar to that of St. Lucia’s PM Allan Chastanet and Grenada’s PM Dr. Keith Mitchell.

    Because Antigua’s PM Gaston Browne is desirous of obtaining majority shares and controlling interest in LIAT, the Barbados government should sell our shares to Antigua. We could “sit back” and reap similar benefits to tourism product as those Caribbean islands that do not make any financial contributions to the airline.

    Our government could also examine the benefits to be derived from providing LIAT with a financial subsidy to service the island as well.

    Additionally, I also believe competition would be good for LIAT and the entire region.

    Trans Island Air 2000 is providing service to Barbados, Dominica, St. Lucia and St. Vincent & the Grenadines at fares far cheaper than what LIAT is currently offering.

    There is also the Turks & Caicos Islands owned interCaribbean Airways, which offers flights from Antigua to Tortola, Haiti, Jamaica, Bahamas, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Turks & Caicos Islands.

    The airfare for a flight from Antigua to Tortola from July 7th to 12th, using interCaribbean Airways is US$396.50, while LIAT’s fare is US$527.90.

  3. The only thing Redjet did that was ill-conceived was that it started before getting the relevant permission to get off the ground by authorities here who I believe was trying to protect the investment in Liat. And also TnT authorities who pussy-footed in giving Redjet access to the lucrative TnT market. Liat fares are higher than Caribbean Airways. Even if they offered more competitive prices, Caribbean Airline will counter.

    • You can only write about what you know. How could MD57 equipment have been economical to island hop? Who starts a business before securing all the permissions required to be successful?

  4. Kevin June 18, 2017 at 9:30 PM #

    “The only thing Redjet did that was ill-conceived was that it started before getting the relevant permission to get off the ground by authorities here who I believe was trying to protect the investment in Liat. And also TnT authorities who pussy-footed in giving Redjet access to the lucrative TnT market.”

    @ Kevin

    Your above comments are contradictory and confusing.

    On one hand you seem to be implying the delay in giving RedJet “the relevant permission to get off the ground” in Barbados, was because the “authorities here were trying to protect the investment in LIAT.”

    Yet, on the other hand, when the Trinidadian authorities ALSO delayed giving REDJet permission, you accused them of “pussy-footing in giving access to the lucrative TnT market.”

    If you are sympathetic towards Barbados for “trying to protect the investment in LIAT,” then surely you should also be SIMILARLY SYMPATHETIC towards Trinidad for trying to PROTECT their INVESTMENT in Caribbean Airlines.

  5. Barbados is the largest shareholder in LIAT yet we ar unable to effectively manage our ground transportation system, our roads, street lighting, tax returns, budget balance, foreign reserves, medical facilities, crime, drugs, illegal firearms, driving tests, vehicle license renewals, certificates of character etc.. How do we expect to offer guidance to LIAT?

    • @Fearplay

      Bear in mind Barbados has assumed major shareholder status because it bought debt. It was not because of any strategic approach by the Barbados government.

  6. @ David
    NOTHING in Barbados in the last 30 years has been the result of any ‘strategic approach by government’.
    It has been a case of stumbling from one disaster to the other and an increasingly difficult search for loans from benefactors…..

    It is call brass bowl vision.

  7. To respond…

    Yes, my approach to Julie Reifer-Jones is contemptuous – because, as a semi-political appointee (placed in the CFO position by her friend Jean Holder), she has stated in public that she wants the CEO position and feels qualified to perform there because she loves LIAT. If that is the case, then perhaps the position should be opened up to others lower on the payscale who also love LIAT? Are there any baggage handlers or Operations people who are interested?

    Julie Reifer-Jones has no business as a CFO, far less the CEO of any airline, I know that from someone who interviewed her previous to LIAT. Aspiration to the CEO position is arrogance at its finest – as it is in Donald Trump believing he is the best US President ever, sheer self-deception on a grand scale.

    I was telephoned by the Antigua Observer for an interview, and one of the questions I was asked was if I thought LIAT should be privatised. To his suprise I said no, the reason being that as long as the Prime Ministers drag themselves and their appointees out of LIAT and allow it to be turned around and then managed by qualified and experieced professionals – with the BROADEST of mandates from the top – then in the sub-regional monopoly situation LIAT can at the very least break even. I also believe LIAT could even make a modest profit, GIVEN THE OPPORTUNITY TO BE FREE OF POLITICS.

    On privatisation, face FACTS: no fairy Godmother is going to come along and rescue us from debt, no matter how much we pray or wish for it. Any savvy investor is going to see LIAT as a failed monopoly operation which has massive potential for profit, and whether or not they intend to put money into it they will NOT also take the debt. Which means that should anybody be stupid enough to want to buy LIAT, their approach the shareholders will ask they WE, the people, keep our US$100 million (or more) – they will not assume that debt.

    Any savvy investor is also going to demand the same monopoly circumstances as LIAT enjoys now. The argument will be that in return for unloading the islands from the burden of LIAT they must be given the opportunity to make money. What does that mean to me and you? Increased fares, reduced frequency, dropping of unprofitable routes, and much more (less). Investors are not in business to make you and I happy, they are in it to make money.

    We should have learned from the BL&P experience, foreigners do NOT bring their money here to give us charity, they bring it here to make a PROFIT.

    LIAT can remain in OUR hands, but if we and the shareholder Prime Ministers want change, then THERE MUST BE REAL CHANGE. This insanity of doing the same STUPID politically motivated things year after year and expecting a different outcome each time has to come to an end some time.

    Everything these braying jackasses of ignorant politicians touch turns to mush and garbage. In my educated opinion we should get them the hell away from anything we truly value.

  8. @ David

    There is a very interesting article on page 5 of today’s nation newspaper, under the headline: “New airline reject’s Sealy’s argument.”

  9. Bimjims post ,while headlined ‘ Liat airline on bankrupcy flight path ‘, touches on a number of other local aviation issues , business practices , and political interference and managerial incompetence as well, which are equally troubling, but can be dealt with at another time.

    Civil and commercial aviation has , and continues to be one of the most complex industries on the planet, challenging even to those who have training and experience in the various specialties.
    One has fluctuating oil / fuel prices, unrest in certain areas of the world where one terrible incident can change your whole business in a day, weather phenomena ( other acts of nature ) that can cause havoc with delays , weather cancellations , rebooking, accomodations for stranded passengers, and the list goes on. In short these are things that can severely impact the bottom line, and most importantly, the airline management has NO control of.
    The other stuff, fleet planning , scheduling, training very technical staff, maintenance schedules, route planning, operations, dispatching, financing for the fleet , types of services , fair structures, competition etc, that is the ‘ easy ‘ stuff, OK , relatively easy. Therefore , you cannot fill any management level job, far less the CEO , with a clueless 8-5 ‘civilian’ , who couldn’t tell the difference between a piston engine or turboprop .
    It is said that if you want to become a multi-millionaire in the airline business , start by being a billionaire.
    While I agree fully with many of Bimjims assertions, I would just like to touch only on the a/c acquisitions, the choosing of a particular type .
    The primary motivation for a scheduled operator, and more importantly a low cost carrier, to invest in an aircraft is the economics it promises. Also availability of delivery slots , and how it squares with your startup plans , unless you are leasing on the used market, .Sector lengths would be paramount in LIAT ‘s case, but of course for any airline as well. Short field capabilities , even though the Caribbean airports have long enough runwayThe choice that Liat and most turboprop operators have is , either ATR or Bombardier, unless one cares to try Antonov or Sukhoi. So a brief look at some of the basics concerning the two types.

    First, ATR has approximately 70% of the twin engine turboprop market , selling almost two and a half times more than the Q400 across the world. Why ?
    1. The ATR sells for US $7 million less per copy. One could buy 5 ATRs for the price of 4 Q400s at list prices of a couple years ago.
    2. The Q400 fuel consumption is a whopping 30% more than the ATR under similar environmental conditions and loads during cruise.
    3. There is no noticeable time advantage for the Q400 over the ATR on the average Liat stage length.
    4. The MTOW of the Q400 is 23% higher than the ATR , ( approx 6000kgs more ) , while performing the same task.
    5. The ATR breakeven load factor is around 25 seats or less , whereas the Q400 is around 45 pax depending on where they are being operated, and the fare structure in use.

    The Q400 has its own advantages.
    1. Up to 80 kts true air speed faster , but this advantage would only make a difference in routes over 400- 500 nm.
    2. The Q400 has far superior short field and rate of climb performance, and can climb to and maintain flight levels in the mid 20s with no problem. The ATR struggles to get pass FL190 with a good load.
    3. The intervals between all the checks from A to C are significantly higher than the ATR, thereby ,more time in the air/ more revenues.

    These are but a mere few considerations one has to consider in deciding on aircraft type. Just something to chew on for the purposes of this forum.

    Your thoughts Bimjim. And I wouldn’t go so far as to say that the former CEO sold these a/cs for personal gain. He is a former heavy jet captain, and I believe RAF trained pilot, so technically qualified to make that kind of assessment.
    The other issues , especially the Barbados ATC operation can be dealt with later.

  10. “either ATR or Bombardier, unless one cares to try Antonov or Sukhoi” or a rebuilt DC-3 with two turboprops, a FAA authorized zero time airframe, and a 42% increase in payload capacity over the original. Admittedly they aren’t exactly flying off the assembly line as they only complete 2 or 3 overhaul/rebuilds each year, so it would be a wait to equip a fleet with them, and they do not have pressurized cabins (in accordance with the KISS principle) but based on the premise that the only thing that can replace a DC-3 is another DC-3, there does seem to be a steady demand for them.

    Basler Turbo Conversions baslerturboDOTcom

  11. My thoughts, addressing yours in reverse order…

    The “gentleman” may have been a jet Captain and in the RAF, but he certainly positioned himself in the right place to present a good “bramble” to a bunch of greenhorns. It is my understanding that the fuel flow numbers he presented to the Board were for the earlier versions of the ATR – the -600 versions have considerably uprated engines and use far more fuel per hour than was quoted in order to catch up a little with the Q400.

    There was no reason for him to leave CAL, other than a disagreement with the young Chairman, yet LIAT quickly snapped him up, and within a few months he was denigrating the Dash-8s and pushing the ATRs. This when he knew full well that ATR had to position a number of engineers at Piarco just to keep CAL’s new ATRs in the air.

    Personally. I smelled a rat from the beginning – his previous boss, PM Manning, had stated that he was coming for LIAT (and all the other regional carriers), and the PM owners told him to take a hike. So if T&T could not get LIAT by hook they would have to take it by crook – or shut it down. The “gentleman” imploded LIAT with a bomb on the inside, and WHEN LIAT closes CAL will pick up the routes on their terms.

    The commercial arguments between the ATR and the Q400 boil down to A. economy and B. performance. With the ACTUAL fuel flows somewhat higher than advertised, the balance is more even. The Q400 cruises at some 350 knots, the ATR almost 100 knots slower – despite the uprated engines. The Q400 carries more passengers, and those two factors mean that in any 12-hour period of scheduled operations a Q400 can travel over 1,000 miles further in the same time – whether island-hopping or not – and therefore do more work.

    I will add that LIAT also had a relationship with and packages of spares for the smaller Dash-8 – I do not know of they were interchangeable, but if upgrading with the same manufacturer LIAT could have got more on a trade-in with Bombardier in exchange than selling them on the open market.

    I will also add that, when the Dash-s left, their interiors were not bad – given 30+ years of hard service. the ATRs are barely four years old and I understand the interiors are already shoddy and falling apart, in and out of the cockpit.

    The biggest drawback – loss – of a Board who did not know where they could get a bucket of slipstream is that Bombardier – or someone else – could have refurbished LIAT’s Dash-8s, one by one, to zero cycles and new condition for 10% of what LIAT paid for the ATRs. Look up “Ikhana” and you will see how they are doing that to the Twin Otters. This stuff is not rocket surgery – unless you are politically appointed because you did someone a favour, and know zilch about aviation and airlines.
    These days we know enough about airlines and aviation that the Billionaire-Millionaire analogy need not be true. Bruce Kaufman dabbles in airlines but keeps going broke because he believes he knows better than anyone else – his expertise (if you could call it that) is nowhere near aviation.

    The analogy is especially NOT TRUE in the case of LIAT – LIAT’s losses are clearly politically initiated (Board and management are politically installed). LIAT operates in a virtual monopoly which is secured by all of the various aviation authorities, there is little that can go wrong but oversight, management – and of course stealing.

    If I send a pig to wash my car, in three days I will STILL have a muddy car. Mud is the pig’s milieu. Dirt is the pig’s comfort zone. I cannot complain if I never get a clean car if I depend on the pig. But if I drive through a car wash the detergent has been properly applied in the right amounts over the right area, the hose has the proper high pressure and spray nozzle, the machine finishes the vehicle with a drizzle of water repellent, and I come out with a shiny car. The difference is in the knowledgebase and approach to the job.

    I would not say that running the various components of an airline are easy, nor would I say they are rocket surgery. But I would insist that if you want to turn a business from loser to profitable you had better know what the options are. And for the best options we need someone who has GLOBAL experience, has seen it all – what works and what does not work – and can innovate from that knowledgebase to come up with a new solution that works for LIAT.

    For sure the current system where lower management is made up of employees who have come up through that abusive system and believe in their hearts that is the only way LIAT can be run – because that is the only way they know – will carry LIAT down into that dark place from whence there is no return.

    LIAT needs CHANGE, just as Barbados needs CHANGE. Doing the same thing all the time and expecting different outcome every year is just plain INSANITY.

  12. Bimjim sounds like a pompous jackass bitter over spilt milk in a spat with LIAT. You don’t have to read tea leaves to guess he isn’t from BIM. Whatever his grouse it most likely hurts him to the bone.

  13. For my two cents worth Bimjim knows what he is writing @ 5.48p I share the view that LIAT and the Eastern Caribbean governments have all taken a hit because of the idiot whoever came up with the idea of changing the Dash-8 ‘s for the ATR.Everything about that switch was wrong and Bimjim puts it together very well.The Canadians have always been in the role of aviation partners with all these EC states.The stupid decision to switch to a European based manufacturer compared to an efficient one nearer home in the Americas,goes far beyond simply aeroplanes.

  14. DLP Yard Fowl, I recognise you are just one of the many trolls here looking for some fresh political argument, but in fact I was born a Bajan. AND I was a pilot with LIAT, AND I was an Air Traffic Controller in Barbados. I know whereof I speak. Facts, not speculation.

    So go back to your bathroom, think of Fumble and Chris and the rest of the Braying Jackass Herd, and play with yourself some more. That is more suited to your temperament.


    When I do a real world technical comparison – using real numbers, not marketing hype – between the ATR 600 Series and the Dash-8 Q400, I come up with the the fact that the Marketing Departments of each manufacturer sell them on the basis of the ATR as “Better Economy” and the Q400 as “Better Performance”. In fact, apples to apples, over the distance of a network there is very little fuel burn difference – due to the Q400’s MUCH faster speed (75+ knots at cruise), and the Q400 has MUCH better performance all round.

    For instance, because of the higher speed, in a 12-hour period under standard airline operating conditions the Q400 could do four round trips between Barbados and Antigua while the ATR-600 does three. 24 hours? Eight round trips Q400 and six ATR. But in real terms figure what more LIAT could do over 7 days a week from early morning to late at night 365 days a year if they were using the Q400 instead.

    Not what LIAT does, but that’s an example of what the aircraft could do. The Q400 gives more PRODUCTIVITY in a given time, and that is more important than how you can chug along over a given distance.

    And we can stop looking at LIAT as a milk-run carrier, the days of the LI333 Avro hopping from island to island are long gone. Nobody wants to sit there up and down through seven landings to get where they are going any more, and LIAT now does many more direct flights.

    There are other aspects which make the ATR unsuitable. Look at the front profile and you will see that the main gear (the wheels) are tucked into a body fairing, presenting a narrow wheelbase. the Dash-8 type has the gear retracting into the engine cowling, a much wider wheelbase.

    This may seem like a small difference, but it matters when it comes to takeoff and landing performance. If LIAT still had the Dash-8s there would have been no flight cancellations in or out of St. Vincent – or anywhere else – due to crosswinds or tailwinds unless there were extremely adverse conditions. In the previous 30 years have you heard of any cancellations at all by LIAT due to weather, except in hurricane conditions?

    • @Bimjim

      Would tthe CDB not have done it’s own technical due diligence before funding the ATRs?

  15. @David

    The CDB is a fuily-owned animal of the shareholder CARICOM governments, and it is not the place of Warren-Smith to do such things. Besides, back in the day he was one of the political appointes to the CEO of position of LIAT when he was first starting out, so he “owes” the Prime Ministers for his first commercial position.

    IMHO Warren-Smith left LIAT knowing as little about running an airline as he did when he arrived. Few people ever saw him around when he was there, and when he left it was as if he had never been there. Not hearsay, I was working for LIAT in Antigua at the time.

    During his time at LIAT there were no changes, no improvements, no benefits from his illustrious presence. He basically did as he was told by middle management, served his sentence, and moved on.

    The CDB is not an IMF, although it may be partly modelled that way. As an “employee” of the CARICOM political system the CDB is there to support the member governments, lend them back the taxpayers’ own money, do as they are told, and hang on to their plum do-little jobs.

    The only major research papers I have seen come out of the CDB were done by the various foreigners they hired. I myself once tried to contact the CDB on a project I wanted to initiate and never got a reply. Par for the course dealing with almost any regional body unless you are a big-up who is able to light a fire under their tiny bureaucratic asses.

    The CDB are there to kiss political ass, not to assist the average West Indian, CARICOM or not. The CDB would not DARE challenge the decision of the PM shareholders – Ralphie himself is on the Board, I believe, and would have tossed the whole lot of them out the door.

    • @Bimjim

      Your feedback is interesting because the CDB is funded by external donors as well and there must be governance obligations it must adhere given the nature of its business.

  16. That’s my impression.

    I don’t see the CDB – in public, anyway – seeking to force the LIAT owners to put their house in order, and the CDB is holding US$65 million on LIAT. The shareholders are the borrowers, not LIAT, but does that REALLY absolve the CDB from any responsibility to insist on improvements in the airline’s management?

    LIAT has degenerated from an airline which in 2000 was running smoothly with average management to one which is staggering towards closure with losses and by increments ever worse – abysmal – management, yet the majority shareholder still keeps to his bed, has nothing to say.

    With Barbados itself now running about $12 BILLION national debt, would one not expect him to be leading the charge to set things right and relieve Barbados of 50% ofr the financial losses?

    Nothing seems to make sense in the world any more.

  17. I don’t normally espouse Merkan business wisdom as too rigid and formalisaed, and I don’t like the TD Bank the author works for, but this one makes a great deal of sense to me. I appreciate no-nonsense, straight talk.

    To Succeed in Business, Learn How the F***ing Watch Works
    John Pluhowski
    April 27, 2015

    A few weeks ago, while waiting to board a United Airlines flight from Philly to Houston, out walked none other than Gordon Bethune. The gate attendant quietly took note, nodding with approval. And Gordon did the same, much the way any chief executive would greet a former, adoring employee.

    So, you may be scratching your head, wondering: “Who is Gordon Bethune?” In a word, he’s a character. He also happens to be one of the most accomplished leaders of his day. But most know him as the aviation aficionado credited with spearheading what was arguably the most dramatic corporate turnaround in American history. In short, Gordon is the stuff of which CEO legends are made, having taken Continental Airlines from worst to first in two short years, reversing the industry’s lowest customer ratings and beating insolvency into profitability.

    First, let me explain how I came to recognize Gordon.

    The year was 1997, and I was attending a leadership breakfast hosted by my employer at the time, Houston-based American General Corp. I devoured these “un-plugged” sessions. But this particular breakfast made an indelible impression. For one, Gordon was an impressive man; charismatic and plain spoken, stylishly dressed, with a quick wit and knack for reading an audience; he exuded passion and confidence. I quickly nabbed a seat in the front row to hear Gordon describe, in great detail, the Continental Airlines turnaround story (which I’ll return to in just a bit). He then invited questions. Needless to say, mine was among the first hands up.

    “Mr. Bethune, what’s the one piece of advice you’d like to share that fueled your success at Continental?”

    Gordon paused. Then he spoke the following words, which I will never forget: “If you work for a watch company, you need to know how the f***ing watch works!” The crowd roared.

    Anyone familiar with Gordon’s bio will appreciate the provenance of the watch metaphor, as Gordon had developed a life-long passion for watches from his younger brother, a vintage watch dealer. More importantly, he had learned a valuable lesson: In order to be successful in business, it’s important to understand everything about the business.

    At Continental, Gordon required every senior leader to engage in the customer experience, to learn what was working and what wasn’t – from reservationist and baggage handler to attendant and even customer support representative. As a licensed pilot, Gordon told us that he’d even considered flying one of Continental’s planes, but Legal had thought better of it.

    So, why am I sharing this story? I believe we can all learn a lot from Gordon’s winning leadership strategy – whether we are fresh out of college or working our way up the corporate ladder.

    Here are four insights that Gordon Bethune shared that morning that have guided my own career journey.

    Lesson 1: Work for an organization that makes employee engagement and recognition a top priority. Lots of businesses talk about how much they value their people, yet, when push bumps into shove, their words and actions don’t match. As a people manager at TD Bank, I have seen first-hand that when leaders encourage employees to set and achieve ambitious development goals, they feel inspired to do their best work and go above and beyond. And a corporate culture that actively partners with employees to help them grow provides an ideal environment for cultivating a budding career. As Gordon told us that morning, you need to take the time to show the people around you that you’re truly interested in them.

    Lesson 2 – Surround yourself with the best and the brightest. That’s what Gordon did. Whether you’re searching for a new job or hiring a team, focus on finding an environment where you’ll get to collaborate with smart, talented people. This is especially important for those who are starting up a career, since this will help you learn and grow. Working in an environment where creative people bring their authentic selves to the table, share diverse perspectives and challenge each other every day is not only good for the business, it’s also the surest path to becoming a stronger contributor and, ultimately, a better leader.

    Lesson #3 – Before you make your next jump, devote some time to identifying a leadership team that inspires you. From the recent college grad to the seasoned executive, don’t simply go for the biggest paycheck; strive to find a company where you can learn. I would bet that many of the employees who worked during Gordon’s tenure became top contributors and even leaders in their fields. Sound easy? Not really, but it pays to do your due diligence and look for a leadership team whose record commands respect, both inside and outside the company. You can start by checking sites like to find out what current and former employees think about the company’s leadership.

    Lesson #4 – Culture and values matter, so be selective about the company you keep. Before you accept a position, ask yourself: “Does this company share my core values?” Gordon’s values involved placing the customer at the center of everything they did and creating an environment that welcomed fresh ideas and rewarded employee contributions. Now, at TD Bank, our core values include promoting diversity, financial literacy, protecting the environment and actively supporting the communities where we do business. As a professional, it’s your responsibility to make sure you resonate with the company’s culture and values before you sign on. Surveys reveal that the vast majority of American workers are unhappy in their jobs. Be the exception to the rule! Do your homework ahead of time to ensure you find a company that inspires you to do your best work.

    I feel it only fitting to circle back to the wise advice Gordon shared back in the day. When choosing where you wish to devote your professional talents and passion, make sure you work for an organization where every employee, at every level of the organization, knows how the “f***ing watch works.”

    Because that could be the secret to your success.

    Postscript: A generous philanthropist, Gordon recently auctioned off most of his vintage watch collection to donate to charitable organizations supporting youth and veterans.

  18. Interesting to hear Acting CEO Reifer-Jones today. She asked a pointed question -do we want a LIAT to satisfy social/public good or do we want a commercially run operation. Perhaps she is giveing an insight to what challenges she/management is facing.

  19. “She asked a pointed question -do we want a LIAT to satisfy social/public good or do we want a commercially run operation. Perhaps she is giving an insight to what challenges she/management is facing.

    Exactly, David……. and this is exactly the direction where any discussion on LIAT should go.

    Rather than using derogatory and pejorative remarks to describe Reifer-Jones, who, by the way, did not appoint herself to the position, perhaps we should ask her to articulate the plans she has for LIAT, if given the opportunity to manage without political interference.

  20. An ex LIAT pilot gave his name and spoke on Brasstacks agreeing with Reifer-Jones on that cardinal issue as to deciding on what type of animal it is…..presently it is being operated like the bus service in Bim with expectations of commercial returns……he offered suggestions on streamlining routes,nominal lay offs and a change in management and its structure,he cited the case of too many square pegs in round holes due to political interference and being friends of friends…..interesting.

  21. While you discuss the merits of EITHER one OR the other, how about BOTH? But that is NOT going to happen with Reifer-Jones in the CEO seat, because that is all she knows – EITHER one OR the other. She can’t handle both.

    Before 1980 LIAT used to have two subsidiaries with smaller equipment and which operated the “social routes”. Somebody – with no knowledge of aviation, I am willing to bet – decided this was nonsense and closed the subsidiaries down. Then – maybe the same exact effin idiot – decided that LIAT should not operate the Twin Otters, and those went through the eddoes too.

    How about this: For the first time in over 40 years get PROFESSIONAL management to come in and set LIAT back on its keel, there are options which can be applied to serving the route which are not “profitable”. Always bearing in mind that because a destination is not a LIAT shareholder does NOT mean that destination cannot be profitable.

    LIAT management sets the fares. If LIAT then loses money, WHO IS TO BLAME?

    Me? You? WHO THEN? Can we PLEASE talk sense? Logic?

    Discussing this here or on Brass Tacks gets us nowhere, there are too many variables and too many things that the average citizen does not understand about aviation and airlines. What is CLEAR is that there is too much political interference and not enough professional expertise in LIAT. Reifer-Jones needs to GO, she is an accountant and NOT qualified to run LIAT, no matter what her opinions may be.


    Can we just ONCE pull the politicians and their appointees out of all of our asses and put LIAT on a commercial footing? With PROFESSIONALS comes the opportunity to serve the “social routes”. With PROFITS comes the opportunity to serve the “social routes”.

    Yes, I am frustrated, but for 40 years now those who DO know are desregarded and those who DO NOT know are the ones getting the hearing. And at the end of every year they complain about the losses. God forbid there should be change – life too sweet, boah.


    Nex ting…

    I was previously talking about the ATRs being purchased when the alternative of zero-timing the hardy and route-suitable Dash-8s was not even considered. Jazz is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Air Canada, and their maintenance arm just got approval to zero-time their Dash-8 300 aircraft… this is nothing new, and would have saved us some US$80 million in unnecessary costs, the infamous “meltdown”, all the cancelled flights due to tailwinds and crosswinds, all the wasted money and all the boolshyte we have heard from about LIAT for the last four years.

    Then again, certain people would not have got so rich off the kick-backs and commissions. At OUR expense, of course. But apparently we got money that cyan done.

Leave a comment, join the discussion.