Submitted by a concerned party
Just over, two weeks ago LIAT came to its staff seeking a 10% wage reduction to bridge a gap in funding left by Barbados not meeting its funding obligation to the restructuring program.
The unions and staff present laid out several cost cutting and revenue generating programs that the company could use to fill the gap. Many of these recommendations were not new and in fact had been laid out in a CDB report handed to the company since February 2018. To date despite being in a self declared state of emergency the company has implemented none of these measures.
The position of the staff expressed at that meeting and reiterated since is that they do not have any confidence in the present management to manage any recovery and any sacrifices made would be squandered by the same people that put the company in this position in the first place.
The staff collectively made their position known that if there was a replacement of the management team, they would be willing to entertain giving concessions.
This sentiment has been echoed not just by the staff but by the several governments who have indicated publicly and behind the scenes that they would be willing to contribute to the airline if the current management were replaced.
Thus far, the politicians of Antigua and St. Vincent specifically seem inclined to protect the political hacks that they put in place that cow tow to their every demand and that ran the airline into the ground instead of saving what is arguably the only tangible provider of regional connectivity.
Yesterday, after having consulted with its members the Pilots union sent the attached correspondence to the CEO and to the head of the LIAT shareholder governments the Hon. Dr. Ralph Gonsalves.
The Caribbean Development Bank was, in its report of 2018, pellucidly clear as to the devastating effect that a LIAT shutdown would have not just on the tax income of the region and its airports but its wider economies. In the case of Barbados for example, airport user fees on LIAT tickets account for 15% of the airports TOTAL revenue and the situation is worse in many other islands.
Aside from the measurable economic impact, such a shut down would precipitate an unprecedented technical brain drain across the entire region. Pilots, highly trained engineers & mechanics will all scatter and likely not return.
Given that the Eastern Caribbean Civil Aviation Authority and to some extend the Barbados Department of Civil Aviation has always been staffed traditionally by ex LIAT employees (be it pilot or engineer) and its ability to show it is performing compliance inspections and audits is almost entirely tied to its oversight of LIAT, even the future ability of the governments to regulate Aviation in the region is at stake. At a minimum, the OECS’s CAT1 status would be at risk going forward.
The fate of regional air travel is now in the hands of the shareholder governments and they have a choice to make. Should they choose to protect a failed management and demand that staff subsidize incompetence then this will undoubtedly trigger a shut down. Should that occur, they will be forever known as the ones that finally killed LIAT, marring their own legacies as LIAT’s tombstone will forever read;
Here lies LIAT
Facilitator of regional travel
Transporter of generations of West Indians
First on Island in time of natural disaster
Safety Record envied by all
Founded by one man with a vision
Killed by Mia, Ralph and Gaston