Alternate Views -Unfortunate Demise of LIAT

Submitted by Kemar J.D Stuart, Economist and Director Business Development , Finance and Investment Stuart & Perkins Caribbean

Barbados being a 49% shareholder in LIAT 1974 has a story to be told in regards to its actions or inaction which led to the unfortunate demise of the airline. It has been estimated that former Barbadian workers are owed in the region of $13 million EC dollars ($9.7 million) by LIAT.

On his recent visit to Barbados St.Lucia PM Phillip Pierre spoke to an “unfortunate demise” of LIAT. Although St. Lucia is not a shareholder in LIAT 1974, PM Phillip J Pierre during his 2022 budget presentation to Parliament promised that severance payments due to former St Lucian
LIAT workers will be settled.Those workers were paid 100 per cent of their severance in a compensation package exceeding EC$6 million. The former LIAT staff got a one-off gift of $2,000 from the Mottley-led administration and were awaiting an additional $2,000-per-month loan from the government which will be recovered whenever Antigua decides to make good on the owed severance.

Continue reading

Regional Air Travel Prohibitive – MUST be Prioritised by Do-little Governments

The indefatigable social commentator @KammieHolder tagged the blogmaster recently on a Facebook comment to highlight an issue he was having at the time with intra regional travel. The following interesting article written by @BrianSamuel posted to Caribbean Journal severl years ago was the result. The content is as relevant today as it was when it was written – Blogmaster

The Case for an Eastern Caribbean Ferry

By Caribbean Journal Staff 

By S Brian Samuel
Op-Ed Contributor

There’s no cheap travel within the Caribbean. Unlike Greece and other island archipelagos, virtually all travel within the Caribbean is by air. And as we all know, travelling by air within the Caribbean is, to put it mildly, “challenging”. For starters it costs a fortune to fly. As at mid-2014, average LIAT air fares were more than four times higher than intra-European air fares, on a per-mile basis. It often costs more to fly to a neighbouring Caribbean island than to New York.

Between 2010 and 2014, LIAT’s average fares increased by about 40 percent. It would be tempting to put this increase down to higher fuel prices; but sadly, this is not the case. Although global oil prices did increase over this period; given that fuel generally accounts for no more than half of an airline’s operating costs; it is evident that “something else” has been driving up LIAT’s prices. Whatever the reason, it is the beleaguered Caribbean traveller that bears the cost.

Not only that – it takes forever. Last month I did six takeoffs and landings in one day, to get from Trinidad to Saint Thomas. This was a new world record, for me at any rate. Six flights by themselves wouldn’t be so bad but it’s all the palaver in between. You get off the plane, get strip searched in the transit lounge; then get back on the same plane. It’s enough of a hassle when things go right; not to mention when things go wrong. As it does. Often.

We don’t visit each other. Our politicians talk endlessly about Caribbean unity; yet at the border we’re given the third degree. Only a small percentage of intra-regional travellers are on holiday; most are flying because they have to. It’s therefore not surprising that intra-Caribbean travel has been declining: LIAT’s passenger numbers have shrunk from 1.1 million in 2008 to 850,000 in 2013. Despite this falloff in its revenue base, LIAT last year invested US$260 million in a complete replacement of its fleet, switching from the tried and trusted Dash-8 to ATRs. Would you invest US$260 million of your own money into such a failing airline? Congratulations; you just did; LIAT’’s loans are all guaranteed by its government shareholders.

Yet we’ve got plenty of reasons to visit each other. The Caribbean has no shortage of carnivals, festivals, regattas or dozens of other reasons to have a riproaringly wanton time for a few days – these are but a few:


  1. Trinidad Carnival –           Feb/March
  2. Dominica Carnival –           Feb/March
  3. Carriacou Maroon Festival –           April
  4. St Lucia Jazz Festival –           May
  5. St Kitts Music Festival –           June
  6. St Lucia Carnival –           July
  7. Barbados Cropover –           Early August
  8. Carriacou Regatta –           Early August
  9. Grenada Carnival –           Mid-August
  10. St Kitts Carnival –           December

You cannot buy a seat for love nor money. During carnival time in the Caribbean (i.e. most of the time), air travel in the region becomes murderous; because heaven forbid that LIAT would do something as radical as putting on extra flights in response to regional demand spikes. Every year a Trinidadian ferry does a special charter for Grenada Carnival; and every year it’s filled to the gills. But for most of the year we do not travel – because we can’t afford to. This is when we are crying out for a ferry.

We talk about sports tourism; yet it is prohibitively expensive to send sporting teams on tour in the Caribbean. This year the English cricket team – and their fanatical followers the Barmy Army – will descend on the Caribbean. And all the games are being played in the Eastern Caribbean. Can you imagine a creatively packaged ferry tour, catering to boisterous English cricket fans, following their team around the Caribbean? They would love it! Instead, we deliver them into the arms of LIAT – and say a prayer. This is when we are crying out for a ferry.

There are dozens of regional events, where attendance would undoubtedly be much greater, were it not for the high travel costs involved. Church groups, youth groups, community groups – just about any group of Caribbean people love to go on an “outing”. We used to go on outings to neighbouring islands, by inter-island schooners. We don’t do that anymore; nowadays we fly. Or rather we don’t fly; because it costs too much. There are family connections between all the islands of the Eastern Caribbean; everyone has that that they have not seen for too long. Repeat: this is when we are crying out for a ferry.

But wait, we DO have ferries. Indeed, there are 11 ferry companies currently operating in the Eastern Caribbean, running a total of 21 boats. These range from modern fast roll-on roll-off (Ro-Ro) ships that accommodate passengers, cars and trucks; to rusty old cargo “schooners” So, the question has to be asked: If there is this crying need for inter-island ferry services, why don’t more ferry companies offer cross-border services?

“It’s a nightmare!” say the ferry operators; with regard to the bureaucracy, cost and time involved in taking a vessel from one island to another. Only one company, L’Express des Iles out of Martinique, operates across international borders. All the other ferries stick within their national boundaries: Trinidad to Tobago; Grenada to Carriacou; St. Vincent to the Grenadines, etc.

The problem stems from the archaic, cumbersome rules regulating international marine trading in the Caribbean. These rules desperately need to be simplified and harmonized, so that all regional jurisdictions will be reading from the same book – literally.

Ferries are cheaper than flying. The average fare charged by the 11 ferry companies in the Eastern Caribbean works out to US$1.06 per mile. This is about 65 percent of the average cost per mile of LIAT fares, as at mid-2014.

Speed is expensive. One of the main determinants of ferry fares is the speed of the vessel. Fares charged by the region’s fast ferry operators are almost twice as high as the traditional slow boats. Sailing time between Trinidad and Grenada is 6 hours at 15 knots, and 4.5 hours at 20 knots. However, that additional 5 knots would result in a doubling of the fare – speed is expensive in boats.

Ferries are for short distances. Realistically, ferry voyages should be no more than about 4 to 5 hours duration; unless they are overnight trips. You have to take account of sea conditions. Hence, it is not feasible to consider a ferry route from Trinidad to Barbados; otherwise the boat would earn the same nickname as one particularly uncomfortable regional ferry: the vomit comet!

Don’t forget the tourists. In a survey conducted in 2014 among the UK’s leading tour operators; 75 percent of respondents felt that many of their clients (10 percent or more) would be interested in using a ferry service in the Eastern Caribbean. In 2013, the Eastern Caribbean received 1.3 million tourists; 10 percent of that is 130,000 potential ferry customers. That’s a pretty good base to start with.

Potential ferry routes: Based on established linkages among the sub-regions of the Eastern Caribbean, possible ferry routes include:

  • Northern Caribbean: Historically there are close links among the islands of the Northern Caribbean; where people move freely, seemingly immune from visa and other restrictions. The sub-region is served by ferries from Antigua to Barbuda, and from St. Kitts to Nevis; but there is no regular regional service.
  • Barbados-Saint Lucia: Both islands are major regional tourist destinations; however they offer vastly different products. Tour operators report that although their clients are interested in multi-destination holidays; they don’t like to fly – particularly on LIAT. A fast, safe ferry between both islands, where the journey becomes a scenic attraction in itself, would be popular among tourists. And, importantly, Saint. Lucia is the easiest point from which to sail to Barbados, where the Atlantic waters can sometimes be “a bit frisky”.
  • The Grenadines: The quintessential island-hopping experience; including the world famous Tobago Cays. There is a great deal of inter-island movement among the Southern Grenadines, most of which occurs in small informal boats and goes completely unrecorded. There is no scheduled ferry service between Carriacou (Grenada) and Union Island (Saint Vincent); you have to charter a private boat to cross this short stretch of water, from whence you can pick up a ferry to the rest of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.
  • Trinidad-Grenada: “Scratch a Trini; you find a Grenadian.” There are strong linkages between Trinidad and Grenada. Successive administrations from both countries have tried to launch ferry projects – all without success. Between LIAT and CAL there are about 5 direct flights per day; plus connections via Saint Vincent and Barbados. For low-cost travel, many people sail on the cargo vessels plying the Grenada-Trinidad trade; which are limited to 12 passengers per trip, and are far from comfortable. There is no doubt that a ferry service, charging fares significantly lower than air fares, could double the size of the travelling public between Trinidad and Grenada – or more.

If a ferry service is so badly needed; why hasn’t it happened up to now? Caribbean Rose, Bedy Lines Limited, Fast Caribbean Ltd: just three of the failed project initiatives within living memory – there are many, many more. There are many reasons why these projects failed to launch, including:

  • Most of them originated from unsolicited proposals submitted to one government; there has been no coordinated regional ferry project involving all the regional governments.
  • The economics of Caribbean fast ferry projects are often marginal, with untried routes, high operating costs and limited ability to pay on the part of the travelling public.
  • None of the participating governments have thus far been willing to commit subsidy funds to a regional ferry project.
  • Some of the vessels proposed by investors were not suitable for the intended purpose.

Is a regional ferry viable? I do not know; but I suspect that it could be. With the right structure and support; and given enough time for the concept of inter-island travel by ferry to catch on (again); I believe that a regional ferry service could become a self-sustaining commercial enterprise. It would probably require a subsidy, at least (hopefully only!) in the early years.

The key is low fares. People will not go through the extra travel time, unless there are substantial dollar savings to be made. Although a ferry would be expected to take away some demand from air travel; the real benefit of a ferry would be to expand the market, by making regional more affordable than at present.

You need lots of bodies. Let’s look at for example the Trinidad to Grenada route. Based on my own back of envelope calculations; a ferry would require about 120 passengers to break even on a Trinidad to Grenada voyage. This is based on current regional prices for diesel fuel.

Let’s drive. How difficult can it be, for the governments in the region to get together and do away with the cumbersome rules currently regulating the temporary movement of motor vehicles across Caribbean borders? There are plenty of international precedents to learn from. Apparently, the simple is impossible. But allowing the inter-island movement of vehicles would be a game-changer for intra-Caribbean travel; just look at Europe.

Public or private? After our grim experiences of government-run airlines throughout the Caribbean, the last thing we need is a “LIAT-on-sea”. Although governments of the region would play a critical role in launching and regulating the regional ferry; governments should leave the business of business where it belongs: in the private sector.

Donors support is essential. Undoubtedly, some international organization will have to take a leading role, in order to shepherd this regional project from concept to reality. The World Bank is ideally placed to lead the effort, but let us not forget our home-grown development institutions: CARICOM, CDB and the OECS.

The best way to get the best deal is to bid it out. Project preparation is an extremely expensive business; and someone has to make that “leap of faith” to take the project forward. In other words: spend money – a lot of it. Once we have this project champion/benefactor; we can then get on with the hard work of structuring and bidding out a regional ferry operation.

Just do it. This is a project that’s been dying to happen, for a long time. With the right support from regional governments and development institutions, this long-awaited, much-needed project can finally become a reality.

This article grew out of a consulting assignment Samuel undertook for the World Bank in preparing a paper entitled: “Improving Eastern Caribbean States’ Regional Competitiveness Through Tourism.”

S. Brian Samuel can be reached at

Note: the opinions expressed in Caribbean Journal Op-Eds are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Caribbean Journal.

Regional Transportation a Bane

For as long as BU has been around there has been concern expressed about the shamble state of travel in the region. The HoGs are quick to remind us CARICOM/CSME is contingent on free movement of people. To be fair, some progress has been made by amending entry requirements to allow citizens from member states to visit for leisure and work, however, facilitating physical movement whether by air or sea remains a hindrance. The financial weight and mismanagement of LIAT finally caused it to crash. Today the region is without a viable and dependable means of regional transport for people and cargo.

It was interesting to listen to Minister of Tourism uttering words this week about a “high-level- vision for Barbados’ tourism sector with special mention the role of aviation. There is talk about creating a Barbados Aviation Centre of Excellence leading to Barbados being a cargo hub along with repair maintenance and other related activities. The eye opener was when she mentioned of a vision to establish a regional carrier using Singapore Airlines as a model. It goes without saying Barbados will have to push to acquire CAT 1 designation, something BU has posted on for many years. Without CAT 1 designation an airline based in Barbados would not be able to acquire permissions to land in US and other key countries important to flying important air routes. 

The blogmaster agrees conceptually Barbados and regional governments must do a better job to smooth the environment to encourage transportation solutions from private sector. With the demise of LIAT it has brought the matter to a head and there must be a sense of urgency IF the HoGs are committed to a working common market. Maybe the leadership of CARICOM lacks the vision to mirror the OECS who has demonstrated the benefits of a working union. It is ironic the OECS are members of umbrella group CARICOM. The attraction of being a big fish in a small pond continues to feed the megalomania of leaders in the region.

In the OECS ferry services have been used as a transportation option for years. Why has the region been unable to enhance the model to include other countries with a view to create a viable sea transportation option? It is 2022 and what can be honestly stated about the state of regional travel?

Here is a perspective from BU family member Artax:

After the demise of the ‘Windward,’ which used to sail between BGI and SLU…… BGI and SVG, ‘every other week,’ there has been several discussions about a ferry service that would include other regional territories.

In 2018, the World Bank recommended a ferry service that would transport people, vehicles and goods from North to the South of the Caribbean, after completing a preliminary study.
The Bank was also recommended private sector participation be sought in developing the ferry service.

In August 2016, the Daily Nation reported ,that a company registered in Barbados called, ‘Caribbean Ferry Service,’ was in the process of finalising paperwork to operate two vessels, ‘The Dream Jet Express’ and ‘The Opal Jet Express,’ for travel and cargo through the region,
The service was supposed to be initially accessible to passengers from BGI, SVG and SLU. And, eventually, other islands would’ve been added to the itinerary.

I can understand ferry services between Antigua and Montserrat; St. Lucia and Martinique; St. Maarten, Saba and St. Eustatius; Dominica and Guadeloupe…… because those islands are in close proximity to each other.

However, I question the viability of operating a service between Barbados and Anguilla, for example. Or, from Trinidad to Jamaica.


The Unheard Voices of LIAT Discarded Employees

Should Caricom governments be allowed to ignore the plight of former LIAT workers?

Does the region have a moral responsibility to make a financial settlement available for this cadre of workers who having served the regional at great personal sacrifice are having to make the ultimate sacrifice?

Employees’ Voice Facebook Page

Regional Trade Unions Have Abandoned LIAT Employees

Submitted by Fair and Balanced

As the saga of LIAT’ troubled life plays out once again in the BDO led administration there has been little or no press campaign by the unions that represent workers across the region.

Outside of The Water Front Allied Workers Union and LIALPA, the other LIAT employee unions have not been heard over the last nine month period. Most notably is David Massiah who is not only the leader of one of the biggest unions in Antigua, the epicentre of the LIAT debacle, but he is also the head of a combined group of some 16 LIAT unions across the region. He has been very quiet only making one or two appearances months ago. It is true that the smaller unions have never said much in the past but how can they continue to be quiet during this period? This is not business as usual in the LIAT network there are about 500 employees on the breadline this Christmas Season without an iota of severance. So why the strategic quietness? Is it the fear of the PM Browne on his Saturday afternoon radio show attacks ? Is it that they see no advantage in constantly speaking out about the process? Truth be told they have no say in the process. Is it that they are dumbstruck by the situation, they are too scared to speak ?

It is true that history suggest that liquidations are time consuming processes that only benefit the liquidator and there are plenty examples of these in the region, affected employees draw the short and dirty end of the stick more often than not and in LIAT’s case where the liabilities far out weigh the assets, this stick will be a log.

Why should the workers suffer for poor inefficient management which still continues today in LIAT?

Why should the workers suffer from egotistical politicians in the region ?

In converse is it realistic and reasonable to ask for severance from governments who are broke and fighting a pandemic at the same in the shortest possible time ?

Is it a fair comparison that if the Antigua & Barbuda Government flies a schedule as the amendment to the Company’s act which allows it , that workers should be paid first ?

Is that placing the cart before the horse ?

The process of Administration is new and untested and could not have a worse guinea pig that LIAT, a company which has been horribly run, politically interfered with over the years and not to the benefit of the travelling public or the employees.

The four governments who own LIAT would cry foul at private owners of Companies in their respective territories if they did half the things that were done to workers in LIAT. Shameful!

The administration process needs to be more transparent if we are to have faith that this will be a new method to keep state owned or statutory even private companies afloat. If public funds are going to be used to assist in floating the SS LIAT again shouldn’t the public not know?

If workers are going to lose any money due to them in this untested process , shouldn’t they know why?

The unions in LIAT should speak with one voice, tell the public the truth, the facts, it should not be emotional or filed with wild exaggerations and hyperbole or salacious statements.

The use of the press is a 50/50 calculation but at this point what do you have to lose?

Shareholders, Directors and Defacto Directors Should Pay LIAT (1974) Ltd Debts

Submitted by Jolly Green

LIAT has been traded for many years while making massive losses, and those losses were compounded by the gigantic taxes lodged against local air travel by the shareholder governments, despite many warnings about the excessiveness of those taxes. But each time LIAT got into financial difficulties, the shareholder governments put money in to make up the shortfalls. Which meant staff wages got paid, along with creditors. So, people stayed with LIAT, because they knew, or thought they knew that the shareholders would always bail out LIAT. Everyone thought their job was safe, and the creditors thought their money was safe. But LIAT was bought by the shareholders as an insolvent company and was knowingly traded by them ever since as an insolvent company. Now when it suits them, they want to walk away leaving a trail of debts.

The employees and creditors of LIAT were lulled into a false sense of security for many years past. I remember in 2013 a Bajan lady journalist called Beverly Sinclair, interviewed prime minister of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Dr Ralph E Gonsalves. She did so on a range of issues, including LIAT, in which St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Barbados, Antigua and Barbuda, and, to a lesser extent Dominica, are the major shareholders.

Gonsalves who was then and is now the Chairman of LIAT’s shareholder governments he was or is also CARICOM’s lead spokesperson on air transport. Therefore, people would expect to be able to believe any statements a man described as the Honourable Prime Minister of SVG made as head of authority in both those positions. He was the man who everyone regarded as the spokesman, the leading authority even, for both CARICOM and LIAT on matters of local and regional air travel.

Gonsalves always had plenty to say about everything, and he certainly had plenty to say about LIAT. He must have had the full backing of the shareholders and CARICOM because none of them objected or protested at the statements he made or the actions he took, he was acting on their behalf as their official spokesman, administering their policies.

LIAT had made more massive losses, and the shareholders were putting in more money to keep it running. In the interview, Ms Sinclair opened with “It is generally good business sense to only invest in viable enterprises.” Gonsalves seemed to be unsettled by the question. But he argued that more countries needed to invest in LIAT.

To which she replied, “But, Dr Gonsalves, if you have a business and you are asking investors to come and put money in it, it should be a business that’s viable.”

Gonsalves reply may surprise many people now because it did then. “With respect, you completely misunderstand air transport.” “Ma’am, ma’am, ma’am, you completely misunderstand regional air transport.” She then accused the Prime Minister of assuming what she knows.

In his usual belligerent way, he went on to say “From that comment. Let me tell you why you don’t know. You don’t know because air transportation inside of the eastern Caribbean is not anything of the luxury type of investment. It is an absolute necessity — an absolute necessity for islands”. He further stated that when his Unity Labour Party government decided to invest in LIAT shortly after coming to office in 2001, he told Parliament that he was investing in an insolvent company.

There, right there, is the killer for Gonsalves ‘he told Parliament that he was investing in an insolvent company’. Because now he has told everyone he invested in a company knowing it was insolvent.

Gonsalves told Ms Sinclair that he told lawmakers then that if LIAT didn’t exist, it ought to have been invented “and that the important thing is for us to get involved in that company, put money in it to try to make it better”. He said that “until this recent problem, we have made LIAT better than what it was in 2001.

Gonsalves continued “This is why I make the point with crystal clarity. A regional airline of this kind, this is not anything which is going to make money. This is a service that must be provided, and we seek, if we can break even with this service, fine. But you cannot make money out it.”

So, there was an admission that they continued trading LIAT, knowing it was losing money, hoping it would break even, but not expecting to, reflected in his nonchalant style of reply. Gonsalves said that the same investment criteria as for a hotel or a beer factory could not be used in relation to regional transport.

All this supportive rhetoric by Gonsalves built false confidence in all the creditors and employees, much as I suspect it was designed to do.

Please read the whole article; it was a sterling piece by IWitness News SVG and will be a significant contribution to the historical records of SVG and the region. Be sure to read the comments they are all exposing and genuinely relevant.

Under the direction of Dr Ralph E Gonsalves, PM of SVG, who is also Chairman of the Shareholders, spokesperson and for CARICOM on air transport. LIATS shareholder governments have been directing LIATS board of directors for years, the directors with the full knowledge of the company being insolvent, they have been trading the company while insolvent.

Therefore, the directors and certain politicians from shareholder government who have proven to be, and acted as de-facto directors, may perhaps be held in law responsible for the debts, due to knowingly trading the company and in doing so incurring further obligations, liabilities and debts. Misleading the public, the staff and workers of LIAT and all the creditors, including the bankers and aircraft lessors into believing the shareholder governments would keep funding LIAT whenever they got into financial difficulties. So, unless the shareholder governments announce they are paying all debts in full the shareholders, directors, including de-facto directors, should perhaps be held liable and responsible for paying all debts in full and sued for the same by everyone who lost money in LIAT.

Talking of de-facto directors, perhaps we should also remember the hiring of Jean Holder, who did that? The buying of new aircraft which at the time everyone said were an unsuitable choice, who approved that? Was it the board of directors or the Chairman of the shareholders?

There is so much written about who said what out there that it would take a hundred pages to list it all, I could do that, and perhaps I will, at some other juncture.

What I am saying is that the shareholder governments cannot hide behind liquidation, where everyone loses money except them. They are the culprits in trading while insolvent and as such are responsible for the losses. They acted as de-fact directors. They provided the mouthpiece that fooled creditors and employees, so they should pay up.

As the director of an insolvent company, you have specific duties and responsibilities you must meet. If you fail to uphold those responsibilities, then you could be accused of wrongful trading and held personally liable for company debts. Engaging in any of the following practices while you are in control of the affairs of an insolvent company will significantly increase the risks:

Carrying on trading with no intention of repaying

You must not continue to enter new contracts and trade when you know you have no reasonable prospect of repaying your creditors.

Attempting to repay debts through fraudulent means

If you try to repay debts through dishonest transactions, you cannot fulfil or using misleading information to obtain loans; then you could be convicted of fraudulent trading. Unlike wrongful trading, fraudulent trading is a criminal offence that could lead to a custodial sentence as well as personal liability for company debts.

Selling assets for less than market value

You might think that selling assets at a reduced price to raise funds quickly and repay your debts would be an accepted practice. However, it could lead to your creditors receiving less of the money they are owed on liquidation. The court can reverse such transactions and order you to refund the proceeds of the sale.

Repaying some creditors and not others

Company directors are obliged to act in the best interests of the creditors. Making payments to some creditors, and not others are called showing ‘preference’. As an example, you may choose to repay a personally guaranteed loan or pay a supplier you know personally. The court can reverse such payments and order the creditor to refund the money.

A Danger for LIAT creditors

A possible danger for the creditors of LIAT, one and all, is that some of the shareholder governments leaders control the insolvency laws in their own countries. Some [at least one] have even been known to make or alter laws [not insolvency laws] overnight which could protect themselves, colleagues, and wrongdoers. Taking the bill to Parliament in the morning, giving it three readings, and then walking away, and allowing others to do the same, scot-free of any liability, or prosecution under the law. That was when the honourable went in a different direction.

Adrian Loveridge Column – Covid 19 and LIAT

It would appear that our citizens and residents will first have the option of travelling within the Caribbean, as and when Coronavirus restrictions are lifted.

As we are now in the traditional prolonged softer summer season, it also appears to be more logical that our tourism planners and policymakers will focus, at least part of their efforts on promoting this opportunity.

As airlift possibilities within the region are extremely limited and LIAT has so far indicated they will not resume commercial passenger services until at least 30th June 2020, here again comes the crunch.

As we have witnessed for decades, LIAT has drifted through various degrees of cash flow crisis, management turmoil and insolvency issues, seemingly unable to survive without massive taxpayer support. At the same time, most Governments within the region have increasingly levied what many consider deterrent taxes and surcharges on their airline ticket prices, making it cheaper, in many cases, to fly to Canada or the United States.

So if we, as a country, or other states within the region are remotely hoping that Intra-Caribbean travel will at least lead the charge in returning to some sort of normality in arrivals numbers, then the status quo will have to change. Our Government will have to weigh-up the fact that if people cannot be enticed to our shores, that they will not collect VAT and other taxes on hotel or other accommodation, rental cars, restaurant dining, shopping, attractions and activities etc, for those visits.

The predicament for the administration will be if they really wish our crushed tourism industry to recover in the least possible time, will they forgo at least some of the multiple taxes currently applied?

Of course, it’s not just about returning tourism to viability, but restoring employment to an acceptable level in the foreseeable future, with the additional taxes and national insurance contributions that brings.

According to recent reports the World Bank has approved loans of US$159 million for a series of Caribbean Regional Air Transport connectivity projects.  This included concessionary financing of $13 million for Dominica, US$17 million for Grenada and US$45 million for St. Lucia with a maturity of 40 years including a grace period of 10 years ‘to improve regional capacity’ and ‘facilitate connectivity and support countries during the COVID-19 recovery phase’.

Will these incredibly generous borrowing terms, at least partially relieve financial pressures on these Governments and enable them to reduce airport and departure taxes?

Airline pundits have also been calling for radical reforms of LIAT over the last decade or more and for a company that has been so reliant on taxpayer’s monies for almost an eternity it seems almost incredulous that their accounts have not been made public for 40 years.

Perhaps this is the opportunity to finally restructure the company, without regional political interference preventing the installation of management that could ensure its long term viability and survival. Unless this happens, just the concept of developing the true potential of intra-Caribbean travel and restoring past arrival numbers will remain a distant pipe dream.

To Prime Ministers and other Leaders of CARICOM…

Submitted by James C. “Jim” Lynch, Captain, retired

Good day, Ladies and Gentlemen…

I already know that the worst among you will hit the delete key before
you get halfway through this email. But if you do so, feel free to
acknowledge to yourself that you truthfully don’t really give a pinhead
of a damn about your own people, locally or regionally.

In Jamaica, aviation is growing, with one new airline in process and
another (still confidential) about to launch.

But in the rest of the English-speaking Caribbean, including the Bahamas
but especially in the eastern Caribbean, aviation has been stifled,
restricted, actually attacked by the Civil Aviation Authorities and
Departments and bound in red tape to the point where it is almost
non-existent – all the while allowing foreign carriers and even private
pilots with illegal small aircraft to rape the local and regional
carriers into bankruptcy.

And the government-owned airlines continue to operate merrily along on
political expediency, Board bullshit, and hundreds of millions of
hard-earned taxpayer dollars.

— St. Lucia used to have three small airlines. Now it has zero.
— Grenada used to have two airlines. Now it has zero – SVG Air serves
— St. Kitts and Nevis used to have two airlines. Not they have zero.
— Dominica has had one or two airlines on and off. Now it has zero.
— Barbados used to have FOUR airlines. Now it has one.
— Barbados used to have a thriving Flying Club. It still exists, but
most of the time its facilities are a deserted wasteland.

After spending as much as S$30,000 of their own family’s money, newly
trained pilots come back home to face a year or more of red tape,
examinations, significantly more expenses, sheer official nonsense, and
no small amount of bureaucratic contempt – this discouragement in a time
when there is a global pilot shortage.

Is LIAT going to end up advertising for European, Canadian or American
pilots while regional pilots stay home and find work selling TShirts on
a beach?

The same Authorities have turned a blind eye to non-CARICOM airlines and
even private (non-commercial, uninsured) pilots flying – in AND out –
stealing the traffic small regional carriers (who don’t suck up taxpayer
dollars) used to rely on.

FIRST for instance, business jets based in the USA are called to bring
passengers to the region, and ALSO to pick passengers up here and take
them back. When business jets based in OUR countries are called for a
charter, it takes more than 8 hours to get permission from the USA to
operate the charter – and that is whether the flight is going there or
picking people up to bring back.

By the time the regional company gets that permission, many times the
passengers have called a charter company in the USA, the bizjet has
arrived AND departed, they are already on their way, and the local
charter company is left holding useless permits.

SECOND for instance, there is someone flying a slow single engine piston
aircraft registered in the USA – apparently based in Martinique –
operating commercial charter flights throughout the islands, including
as long as Barbados to Aruba. By law, single engine flight over water
for commercial purposes is ILLEGAL, yet not a soul in authority ever

I was told action has been taken on this particular offender, but there
are others – the fact is THERE IS NO OVERSIGHT ON THE GROUND.

And the last I heard, all of the regional aviation authorities
REQUIRED US-registered aircraft based in our islands to register
locally. But is it because it has a US registration that the pilot is
somehow untouchable? I guess he might be “touchable” if the legally
required Authority personnel were actually doing their jobs and policing
all of the airports properly. The Americans sure do.

Aviation in Barbados, particularly, is a GLOBAL JOKE. The CAD has been
stripped down to almost NO personnel, and even those have been moved a
mile AWAY from the airport ramp – where they should be on the spot where
they can see what is going on. In Barbados there are not enough
personnel/Inspectors to oversee a small KingAir, yet they accepted a
Boeing 747-400 on the registry. GLOBAL JOKE.

So tell me, where is the oversight on that huge aircraft? Little wonder
the FAA laugh at Barbados when the country says they want Category One
status. Last time they performed an evaluation they said don’t call us
for another ten years – these guys do this for a living, and they know
what they bare talking about. GLOBAL JOKE.

Barbados is not serious, not the Prime Minister, not the Minister
responsible for aviation. CANNOT BE SERIOUS. As one of my former
colleagues would say, “Not ready”. Barbados is not even “ready” for what
they have now, far less competent to provide oversight on a 747. GLOBAL

If one of our regionally based bizjets operates to the USA – including
to the USVI or Puerto Rico – without permission, they would be met by
Customs, Immigration and the Police. There is every chance that the
pilot would be fined, and even possible the aircraft could be
confiscated or impounded.

If a US-based bizjet operates to any of our islands without permission,
they clear Customs and Immigration, pay the landing fees, file a flight
plan, and fly back out. And this is whether they bring passengers in or
take passengers out.

I know you Prime Ministers don’t give a damn about things you don’t
really know about. For years neither you nor your Offices, or your
Ministers – ALL servants of the people – even acknowledge or respond to
emails from your own citizens. Is it not time that you stop destroying
an industry that makes a major contribution to the region? This is the
same industry you made into a “cash cow” and now refuse to roll back?

If all this were not enough, I have been told that the last meeting of
CaribAVia (an affiliate of the US-based National Business Aircraft
Association) in Sint Maarten was flooded with US airline representatives
lobbying for MUCH greater access for US carriers to the eastern
Caribbean islands, including what we call “cabotage”, or inter-island
flights they do not currently have rights for. If this is agreed to by
CARICOM, MASA would have been a hypocritical piece of stink political
crap and we, the people, will know that politicians received millions of
dollars in bribes, ALL of our carriers will disappear, and the
literally billions of US dollars that taxpayers put into LIAT over the
decades has slipped down the drain.

In such circumstances we WILL lose LIAT, Caribbean Airlines, Cayman
Airlines, BahamasAir and all others, government and privately owned.
They will be replaced with US airlines whose executives care nothing for
OUR needs, but in having the monopoly they will soak our citizens like
our politicians’ current cash-cow behaviour could never have imagined or
realised. They will serve the routes that make money, and ignore the
rest of us.

On the subject of new airlines, three years ago (based on four years of
actual data) I created a Business Plan for an intra-Caribbean
pan-regional airline… Surinam to Puerto Vallarta to Bermuda to
Surinam, with no US destinations… using single-aisle Airbus A320
family jets, with over 100 pages of details. Plus 350+ pages of private
ancillary ideas and notes.

I decided to keep the funding in Caribbean hands, so I sought a loan
from every agency I could think of, as well as the Chinese and some
Europeans. Nothing. Nobody was interested, not even Caribbean
“Development Banks”. I guess I did not offer any “grease”, so they
discarded my communications. But most of those people are political
appointees, and it is clearly apparent they are in those positions to
take such advantages.

In my travels, it appears the same “Development Banks” you politicians
set up to help entrepreneurs NOW make it harder for someone to get a
loan to start a business than the commercial banks. And I have
definitely tried, believe me. These “Development Banks” now appear to be
just dumping grounds for your political friends who have no competence
in the matter but draw huge salaries, just like on the LIAT Board.

If it walks like a duck…

And you have set up certain Banks to deal ONLY with governments – so
what Development does the CDB help with? Certainly not entrepreneurs.
They actually take orders from – and lose BIG money – only to our broke
governments whose politicians cannot pay their loans back.

I heard that CARICOM was setting up yet another fund with unused
regional bank money “to help entrepreneurs”. I wrote to Mr. Comissiong
in Barbados, and he responded with enthusiasm. I also wrote to a Ms.
Yearwood at the CARICOM Secretariat and she also responded with

But unfortunately neither one now seems willing or able to respond to
further emails. I wonder what new scam is brewing there and who will be
the new millionaires in the region. Yes, I said it. What is happening
with politicians these days is nothing short of despicable.

Transparent and accountable – don’t make me laugh out loud and fall off
my chair. And I don’t give a rocket-powered damn if you are “not

I now live in Canada – out of reach of anybody’s petty malicious local
retribution – yet I do have a strong desire to make a major contribution
to CARICOM, CSME, intra-regional travel and making a difference in all
of the communities the airline would serve, but since you ALL seem
not to be the slightest bit interested in improving CARICOM, maybe I
should stay the hell away from the entire CARICOM region for the rest of
my life and vacation in California or Hawaii instead. They certainly
would be cheaper to visit – especially not paying your damned greedy
cash-cow taxes and fees which double the air fare or more.

Yes, I have been somewhat insulting here. But just how long ALL of
you Prime Ministers and Ministers think you can keep up this rudeness
and neglect OF YOUR OWN CITIZENS until so many people – other than I –
get totally frustrated with the waste of people, time and money and
throw CARICOM away?


Thank you so much for your extremely valuable time. And obviously I
don’t expect an acknowledgement or response to this email from ANY of

Best wishes to all of you anyway,

James C. “Jim” Lynch
Captain, retired
* Originally from Barbados, West Indies

Sutton West, Ontario
Near Toronto (Eastern Time, same as New York)
416-602-7389 : Mobile
jim.lynch : Skype (email first to coordinate time, please)

Barbados Air Traffic Control – 2 years
Charter pilot – 3 years – TropicAir, Carib Aviation
Airline pilot – 18 years – Air BVI, LIAT (1974) Ltd.
Management training and experience
Webmaster, Programmer & Systems Analyst
Aviation Consultant & Caribbean Specialist

SVG Air Head Calls Public to Challenge Govt on Wet Runway Closures

ECCAA Under Fire From Saint Lucia Minister

Saint Lucia to Sever Ties with ECCAA?

IATA Encourages Change in Caribbean Aviation

Captain Urges LIAT Shareholders to Think BEFORE acting …

Submitted by Captain James C. “Jim” Lynch (retired)

12 January, 2020

PM Antigua
PM Barbados
PM Dominica
PM Grenada
PM St.Lucia

  • Please read my professional take on LIAT before acting…

Honourable Prime Ministers…

There is a strong case to be made – indeed, the case has been presented for at least the last 20 years – that LIAT should be commercialised… that is, the shareholder Chairman and entire Board replaced with individuals who have or have had some involvement with and interest in aviation, and the executive management replaced with airline professionals who are capable of performing the major surgery of turning the airline around towards breaking even – and perhaps making a profit in the not too distant future.

Yes, the Board has just been renewed, but with the addition of ONE single person who has the first clue about aviation and airlines. I congratulate you on that one, but the rest of them – including former PM of Barbados Owen Arthur – are still bereft of any airline knowledge and will vote against him if they see fit or are politically instructed.

When will you learn? Will you continue to do the same things year after year and still expect the results of that insanity to be different? You don’t do that with your government, why would you do that with LIAT?

In the MANY decades that PM Gonsalves and Chairman Holder have been at the LIAT helm, there has been nothing out of their political meddling but incompetence, failure and losses, and it is clear that neither has learned the slightest thing about running or supporting an airline.

In any private industry the shareholders would have booted these people out and replaced them in or before the second year of abysmal performance, yet the political Carnival continues at major expense to the shareholder taxpayers.

FACT: The Board STILL consists of political friends and appointees; only ONE has the slightest knowledge of aviation except as passengers. This has been the case for some 30 years.

FACT: The current CEO, previously CFO, was previously a government-owned hotel book-keeper who was appointed to the CFO position at LIAT by Chairman Holder, and with his support was elevated to her Most Superior Level Of Incompetence in the position of airline CEO.

I put it to you that her performance has been to lose even more money her term so far as CEO than LIAT has ever lost before, and the management and performance of LIAT as an airline also reflects her incompetence for the job.

FACT: An airline is not a hardware store, it is not a legal office, it is not a fast food restaurant. An airline is a highly technical institution which employs rigidly licensed professionals – pilots and engineers, who undergo frequent training and performance checks – as some half of its workforce.

“Good enough for government work”, haphazard implementation and best guesstimates have no place in any part of an airline’s operations or maintenance. An airline is one of the most regulated and supervised industries in the world – after nuclear power plants.

It should not be necessary to recount that an owner of almost any business provides the broadest mandates – instructions – to their Board, the Board only slightly less broad mandates to its management, and that unless something goes wrong THEY DO NOT INTERFERE. And if/when something does go wrong it is the job and the responsibility of the Chairman and CEO to face the ownership – and the public – to calm the waters and explain what went wrong.

It should also not be necessary to state that when a company is publicly owned – by taxpayers through the government – transparency is vital, especially when taxpayers are constantly being asked to provide financial support to the business.

Yet LIAT has not made its (audited??) annual accounts – if there are any – available to ANY public entity for over 40 years. Any accountant or lawyer with experience would flag such a failing as an indication that one or more people had been siphoning off (taxpayer) funds for decades, and that everyone from shareholder through Board to executive management had been aiding and abetting in the CONCEALMENT of such activities.

We are finally at a unique crossroads where one shareholder will have the majority, and with that the right and the capability to impose changes on the airline and set LIAT on the right track to break-even, if not head into profitability.

That shareholder (was Barbados, will now be Antigua) has been provided with multiple suggestions as how this should best be done.

Prime Ministers, I put it to you that the current ploy of demanding more money from the LIAT shareholders and LIAT destination governments is NOT the solution to LIAT’s problems.

LIAT’s REAL problems are
1. in appropriate political interference,
2. unqualified political appointees and
3. incompetent management.

It could be said that #2 and #3 emanate from #1 – because if the Board contained anyone who knew a bit about aviation the taxpayers would not now be on the hook for between US$65 million and US$100 million in airplanes (which I understand have now almost ALL been sold to acquire cash to pay the lease-backs – so the shareholders do not now even own the airplanes).

At the time the Trinidadian CEO (as an agent for ATR, improperly) brambled the LIAT Board – as he had (also improperly) brambled the Caribbean Airlines Board before – into buying a whole new fleet of ATRs for US$100 million, it would have been possible to cycle the entire fleet of known, existing, suitable, reliable, hardy Dash-8’s through Bombardier in Canada for all of them to be “zero-timed” for a cost of less than a quarter of that amount, OR to sell them and replace them with more recently manufactured Dash-8s.

AND, a competent LIAT Board would have appointed competent management which would not have needed to sell all of the ATR aircraft on lease-back to replace hemmoraging cash.

Prime Ministers, what LIAT needs is the removal of politics and the insertion of professional competence. There MUST be competence at Board and at management level, with the shareholders at arms-length providing the BROADEST mandate (such as “you must achieve break even or better within a year”), and the Board (also at arms-length) providing more granular mandates – but NOT interfering in the running of the airline.

But what is happening now – the hemmoraging of money, the constant financial demands on shareholders, destination governments, passengers and staff – is 100% unacceptable and can ONLY end up one way, and that is the closure of the airline, whether you want to admit it or not.

At some point the shareholders and passengers will be simply unable to afford the expense, and for sure attacking the staff (again) for the incompetence of Board and management will result in walk-outs – also whether you want to admit it or not.

I ask you to discontinue this political approach to “saving” the airline, and to work instead towards making LIAT a commercial entity.

I also warn you that the continued “soaking” of the travelling public with cash cow aviation taxes and fees will have the same efect – people staying home, because they simply cannot afford to travel regionally on LIAT.

I wish you well, but as a Caribbean professional and an observer in aviation for over 50 years these days I continue to expect the worst.

Yes, as a professional I too am “not impressed”.

Thank you for your valuable time and consideration.

Best wishes,

James C. “Jim” Lynch
Captain, retired
* Originally from Barbados, West Indies

LIAT Appoints New Board Of Directors

Submitted by Bimjim

January 9, 2020

LIAT announces the appointment of a new Board of Directors and the election of the Right Honourable Professor Owen S. Arthur as the Chairman of the Board of Directors.

Following the Company’s Annual General Meeting held in Antigua on Monday 16th December 2019, a new Board of Directors was elected, and the Right Honourable Professor Owen S. Arthur was nominated and elected as Chairman.

Professor Arthur currently serves as a Professor of Practice at the University of The West Indies. He has served the Caribbean as a learned Statesman including his work presiding over the Regional process to revise the Treaty of Chaguaramas to establish the Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME).

The new Board of Directors consists of:

Rt. Hon. Prof. Owen S. Arthur as chairman,
Mr. Michael Holder,
Mr. Mark Maloney,
Mr. Robert Riley,
Mrs. Juanita Thorington-Powlett,
Mr. Isaac Solomon,
Mrs. Carolyn Tonge,
Hon. Lennox Weston and
Hon. Sir Robin Yearwood.

The new Directors bring to the airline and regional transportation sector over 100 years of combined aviation experience. The Directors have demonstrated exceptional records of performance and service to the industry and to the region.

The new Chairman has been tasked by the new Board to undertake a special assignment to meet with regional Prime Ministers to discuss sustainability of the Airline. This assignment will be supported by other directors and the Management Team of the airline.

LIAT’s Shareholders, Management and Staff welcome our Directors to the LIAT and look forward to working together with the new Board to foster and strengthen regional transportation and integration.

Business as usual, folks, don’t go getting your hopes up.

“The new Directors bring to the airline and regional transportation sector over 100 years of combined aviation experience”. Derriere-lickers all, that just about sums up the shit-pot of garbage they are trying to fool us with again. 100 years of experience in their feckin DREAMS.

They had the opportunity to make a difference, and they just rolled on by. AGAIN.

Is Russian Roulette Being Played with Public Safety?

Submitted by Bajan Savage

The following email was circulated to some very important people in the region regarding the declining state of airline management in the region. Minister Kerri Symmonds with responsibility for aviation matters in  Barbados was not omitted from the circulation. In the interest of public safety for crissakes let us get our act together.
David, blogmaster


From: xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Sent: Wednesday, January 1, 2020 3:55:34 PM
To: xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Subject: Two eastern Caribbean airlines playing pirate games

M. Patrick Gandil, Director General of Civil Aviation Direction Générale De l’Aviation Civile (DGAC)

Mr. Pekka Henttu, Chairman European Aviation Safety Agency

FAA (US Embassy, Political-Economic Officer) John Haley


J. Johnson
Barbados Airport Manager

Felicia Arthur
Tech officer Barbados CAD

Sean Widmark, British OT Air Safety
Overseas Territory Inspector for MNI Anguilla Tortola

Mr. Benoit Nardouille Chairman, ECCAA

Mr. Kerrie Symmonds
Minister of International Transport, Barbados (Responsible for the Barbados Civil Aviation Department)

Lady and Gentlemen…

I am retired now, but my background in aviation starts about 1967 when I was an Air Traffic Controller in Barbados (West Indies/Antilles Anglaises), after which I trained in Canada for a Commercial pilot licence, flew charter for a few years, then joined LIAT (1974) Limited

in Antigua as an airline pilot in 1980. I took medical retirement in 1996 (complications from a cataract operation), soon after which I emigrated to Canada and I have been here ever since.

I archive news articles about Caribbean aviation, and send out a Digest every Saturday night which links to a web page listing all the subject lines and links to the articles of the last 7 days: Caribbean Regional Aviation Network

(*If you wish to be added to the CRANe Digest ancillary subscription List, please let me know. You can cancel any time, no hard feelings.)

This means I am current with the public aspect of Caribbean aviation. I also know most of the “players” in the region personally, and I correspond with them regularly. That “circle” includes the Chairman of ECCAA. The Minister of International Transport never responds, nor does anyone at the Ministry, and the published email for the Barbados Civil Aviation Department no longer exists.

I write to advise you about two airlines who currently seem to believe they are pirates of some sort and are making a dangerous mockery of the aviation authorities in both St. Vincent and Barbados.

First, Executive Air of Barbados, also dba Tropical Aviation based in Antigua. This linked incident (below) almost killed the current Prime Minister of Barbados, but clearly nothing of substance was ever done. Basically the plane completed an approach and landing at Barbados while the weather minimums were lower than legal, dropped the passengers off – and then ran out of fuel crossing the runway to its hangar. Undoubtedly,

an overshoot into weather that bad would have ended in the sea.

Recently, Executive Air / Tropical Aviation has been offering Beech
KingAir 200 executive travel for guests of a new hotel in Dominica from
the northern islands of the eastern Caribbean – Antigua, St. Maarten,
etc – under the Barbados registration. This means that they are
operating some 400 miles away from their country of registration and the Barbados CAD does not have the manpower, expertise or funding to oversee ANY airline based there. So Executive Air / Tropical Aviation is
basically operating exclusively in an area where there are no
maintenance facilities.

There was a gear collapse…

Executive Air also has a history of leasing small aircraft and
defaulting on the leases, where the aircraft owner has to come to Barbados and repossesses the aircraft. Apparently the BCAD has done nothing to reprimand the owner, a John Ackie, possibly a good friend of the Prime Minister, because she has done nothing to limit his activities either.

One Caribbean started by registering their first aircraft — a Beech 1900D — at St. Vincent’s new Argyle Airport. Then, soon after, a Boeing 747-400 appeared with their One Caribbean logo – easily registered in Barbados, because the ECCAA would not register it as they were not equipped to oversee that type or4 size of aircraft.

On arrival it was parked in a location where it blocked movements of Boeing 737-size aircraft, and I am told because there is no tug at the airport and they brought no nose wheel towbars with it, the airplane was somehow moved manually some other way — pulled with ropes, I was told — to another part of the ramp. The 747 eventually went to Barbados (Argyle’s entire existing fuel storage capacity on site cannot fill the 747-400’s tanks), from where it departed for the USA, somewhere in Kansas, I believe, for maintenance and/or interior work, and has not

been heard about since.

Three months ago, a One Caribbean aircraft skidded off the runway at Argyle in St. Vincent, a wheel may have broken off…

On 22 December (it is believed), a One Caribbean Saab 340B landed at Argyle and dragged the tail on the concrete runway quite some distance. The crew disembarked the passengers normally, and loaded up again for Tortola.

When they called for taxi clearance, the Tower Controller – correctly – refused, and after maintenance personnel had examined the damage and cleared it for flight they departed again. Photos are additionally
provided here…

An ongoing discussion is the same airline — One Caribbean — going into and out of Bequai (Grenadines) with the Saab 340B with full loads. The ECCAA requires a 70% reduction of the actual TORA, so the actual **_LEGAL_** TORA is 2,526 feet (Bequai runway is actually 3,609 feet),

The aircraft’s Performance charts – received direct from Saab USA – (at ISA+15) requires an accelerate-stop distance of about 6,400 feet, 2.5 times the ECCAA runway available, and double the actual runway available.

The Saab 340B is ILLEGAL in and out of Bequai, even at the 15 degrees C cooler temperature of ISA and no 70% restriction. Until the ECCAA grounded it a few days ago, the Beech 1900D was also illegal, but they used it into and out of Bequai anyway.

As above, ECCAA has withdrawn One Caribbean’s St. Vincent AOC and grounded the Beech 1900D, but Barbados – WHICH APPARENTLY HAS NO OVERSIGHT OR INSPECTORS – apparently has no problem with — or is not interested in whether — its registered aircraft doing anything and

everything illegally, whether on Barbados soil or elsewhere.

I have suggested to the Chairman of the ECCAA that perhaps these two carriers should be banned from the ECCAA’s territories until Barbados finally comes to the realisation that piracy is a thing of the past, and there are standards even an IASA/ICAO Category Two country MUST observe. May I suggest that you do the same – Barbados was broke, is borrowing more money, and needs some kind of hard-nosed stimulant to wake them from their sleep when it comes to aviation. “Aviation in itself is not inherently dangerous.
But to an even greater degree than the sea, it is terribly unforgiving of any carelessness, incapacity or neglect.”


Best wishes, happy new year.

Captain, retired
* Originally from Barbados, West Indies


Relevant Link:

The following link seeks to verify one of the incidents highlighted in the communication:

Important Message for CEO of LIAT – It is Christmas for Crissakes!!!

Submitted by Hotelier Adrian Loveridge

———- Original Message ———-
From: andrew oneill <>
To: “
Date: December 23, 2019 at 8:57 AM
Subject: Liat problem

My Loveridge, dear sir I am a huge fan of your column.  I recently had a problem with Liat and am not sure what to do.
My mother in law in visiting for Ukraine she has a Ukrainian biometric passport.  She needs a visa to enter St Lucia.  The passport
is good for the EU short stay.  She arrived on Condor through Germany.  She can enter France without a visa.
I booked a week at Club Med FDF and was looking very forward to this.  I booked air travel through Liat.  The girl at the check in
said a visa was required to enter FDF.  I anticipated and eventuality and had documentation showing a visa was not required.
The lady called her supervisor who gleefully said to deny boarding.  My wife and mother in law were left behind and I went ahead.
The  authorities in FDF confirmed a visa wasn’t required and told that to Liat in FDF who passed the information to Liat BGI.  My wife was
still at the desk and the Liat people said she could catch the next flight 3 days later and offered no apology in fact they seemed to be
happy my wife was a shaky upset person on the verge of tears.
I got them on an Air Antilles flight 4 hours later at a cost of $509 Euros.  I lost the better part of a day in worry.
I know you are an expert in Travel and  Tourism and have seen your fair share to problems bigger than this.  I averted complete
disaster but I am not sure how to proceed to get compensation and a apology.
Kind regards,
Andrew O’Neill


Who is LIAT Majority Shareholder_ Antigua or Barbados

Submitted as a comment to Adrian Loveridge Column – Keep Working it blog by Artax.

It seems as though talks between the governments of Barbados and Antigua & Barbuda relative to the sale Barbados’ shares in LIAT have recommenced.

After all the “back and forth,” … and the government of Antigua securing a US$15.8M loan from the Venezuela ALBA Bank to invest in LIAT we haven’t heard anything from Tourism Minister Kerry Symmonds as it relates to this issue or what is government’s short-term or long-term position on the airline.

I’m wondering why, as the majority shareholder, the government of Barbados is allowing Antigua’s PM Gaston Browne to take the lead on issues relating to the restructuring and recapitalization of LIAT?

And, so far, Chairman of the shareholder governments, SVG’s PM Ralph Gonsalves, has remained extremely silent on these developments…… and we haven’t heard anything from the other shareholders as well.

Mia Mottley should realize she or any member of her administration does not own the 49.4 shareholdings in LIAT … they are owned by the Barbadian tax payers. As such, she is obligated to inform Barbadians about any new developments relating to the airline.

The Adrian Loveridge Column – Antigua, LIAT and Pie in the Sky

I recently questioned the charging of US$70 of the October 2018 imposed ‘Airline Travel and Tourism Development Fee’ on a LIAT return ticket from Barbados to St. Maarten. This was in addition to the already existing US$27.50 departure tax. LIAT kindly responded by stating the “Airline Travel and Tourism Development Fee is US$35 for CARICOM and US$70 for other destinations. Since St. Maarten is not a member of CARICOM the fee is US$70“.

I further asked if the reduced CARICOM fee applied to the five associate members which include Anguilla and the British Virgins Islands and I am awaiting a reply.

As at least part of this new tax was originally intended to further subsidise the carrier, when the new levy was implemented, it was stated “the remaining $20 million will go towards regulation of tourism, civil aviation and our shareholder responsibilities to LIAT”. A later announcement was made to sell all or part of the 49.4 per cent Barbados taxpayer holding in the airline, is it now likely that this levy will be revisited as it no longer may be applicable to the total initial intention?

On August 9th 2013 details were published of a signed loan agreement for US$65 million from the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) in respect of a ‘Fleet Modernisation Project’ of which the Government of Barbados’s liability was US$33.2 million at an interest rate of 3.95 per cent (variable) over a thirteen year period, following a two year grace period.

At the signing of that loan the CDB President, Dr. Warren Smith, noted “Our relationship dates back to 1975 when we funded the purchase of aircraft, spares and equipment to improve its (LIAT’s) inter-island air service in the Eastern Caribbean. In the ensuing years we have provided financing to the tune of US$153 million to improve and safeguard the financial viability of LIAT”. Adding “reliable and efficient regional air transportation is an indispensable underpinning of Caribbean development. LIAT’s services are therefore important to the continued viability and sustainability of the Region’s critical industries including agriculture, tourism and other services“. Dr. Smith has a long history with LIAT, having served as its chief executive officer for several years.

Within the last week the media has reported that the talks between Antigua and Barbados to discuss the possible sale of all or part of the 49.4 per cent shareholding the Barbadian taxpayer has in LIAT broke down after a quoted ‘two hours’.

Following this, further comments emanating from Antigua, the latest uttering include a possible plan to lease jet aircraft and begin operating flights to Florida, Dominican Republic, Haiti and Jamaica.

Is Antigua seriously considering competing with jetBlue, American Airlines and others into Florida and exactly where is the market to economically sustain viable routes from the eastern Caribbean to these other named destinations?

As an industry observer  this is yet another graphic example of the imperative need for restructuring and finally put-in-place the people who are actually capable and qualified to rescue the airline. The absolute folly that the airline will attract any further private sector investment until this is fully implemented remains no more than “pie in the sky”.

The Adrian Loveridge Column – LIAT Cost Up, Service Down

Our tourism planners have a major task ahead of them unless significant changes in terms of availability, connectivity and reduced cost for air travel within the Caribbean takes place.

On a recent return flight from Barbados to St, Maarten the price of my ticket was US$740 to attend the Caribavia conference. Making up this astronomical fare were the following non direct related airline costs:

Barbados Airport Service charge (BGI-ANU) – US$70; (second departure tax introduced October 2018); FIS – US$8.75; Security Service charge (BGI-ANU) – US$8.75; Barbados Passenger Service charge (first departure tax) – US27.50; Barbados Security Fee – US$3.20; Barbados Ticket Tax (Value Added Tax) – BGI-ANU – US$44.45; Barbados PFC (Passenger Facility Charge) – US$1.50 plus another Barbados Ticket Tax – (BGI-ANU) – US$33.60, totaling an amount of US$209 in Barbados Government charges.

To reach St. Maarten necessitated a change of aircraft in both directions at Antigua and a prolonged stop in Guadeloupe on the return, making the journey nearly four hours in each direction before adding check-in and delay times.

What immediately stands out is when the second departure tax (Airline Travel and Development Fee) was announced last year, it was clearly stated that travel within the region would be at the lower rate of US$35 and not the US$70 added to flights outside of the Caribbean, yet US$70 was charged, at least on my ticket (record locator ACR73R).

Also, we are currently one of the only countries within the region to pay VAT (Value Added Tax) for flights emanating from Barbados, so both the outward and return carry the17.5 per cent levy on the base return fare total of US$466 which amounts to US$78.

While the future, (if there is one) of LIAT (1974) Ltd lies in the balance, any new majority owner and operator has to take a long and careful look at every single route and its average loadings.

On my flight we had a stop in Guadeloupe which was delayed supposedly by an additional security check. This is difficult to understand as apart from the lengthy conversation the private security personnel had with the flight attendants, only around 5 minutes were spent inspecting the interior of the aircraft.

The delay though of 35 minutes plus was long enough to disgorge just 7 passengers and take on another 5 plus one infant. Sufficient time however to ensure all the vast majority of people left onboard were made hot and sweaty on the plane for their onward journey due to the lack of provision of any auxiliary ventilation.

Just how cost effective delivering and collecting such a tiny number of passengers, when taking landing fees and other costs levied into consideration certainly needs to be investigated, especially when other carriers operate on the same route with either one or no stops.

Of course these are all questions that any serious management should have been asking for decades, prior to pumping millions of taxpayer’s dollars into the airline.

The Adrian Loveridge Column – Is Antigua Based Caribbean Civil Aviation Authority Threat to Airline Industry?

After trying to avoid the subject intentionally for many years, is it now the time to focus all our attention that any change in the proposed majority beneficial ownership in LIAT (1974) Ltd could bring?

Following a whole pile of forays into competing with LIAT over the past couple of decades, which included Carib Express, RedJet, Caribbean Star and Sun, is now an opportune time to tempt other private sector airlines into our marketplace, to finally give some real competition and drive down fares?

To our south, the discovery and exploitation of substantial oil deposits off the coast of Guyana is already dramatically changing accommodation offerings and basic infrastructure. Additional airlift is already in place and this will only grow over the next few years.

Time will tell, if the Government of Guyana will plan for long term benefit of its citizens and channel some of this vast revenue into a sovereign wealth fund, like Norway did, which is now the largest of its kind in the world.

To the north, privately owned airlines like InterCaribbean Airways are continuing to expand and are currently pushing south as far as St. Lucia. Their aircraft fleet include eight 30-seat Embraer 120’s, two 19 seat Twin Otters, one 9 seat Britten Norman Islander and a Citation Jet which is used for executive charters. The airline presently operate to 22 cities in 13 countries, many of which do not have existing direct or one-stop connections to the south of the region.

The Embraer 120* has a range of 1,750 kilometers or 1,088 miles, with a cruise speed of 298 knots or 343 miles per hour, so ideally suited for mid-distance Caribbean routes. *source Wikipedia.

The St. Maarten based Winair airline, while Government owned, has previously expressed an interest in operating to more southern Caribbean destinations including Barbados. Their fleet includes ATR 42 – 300/320 aircraft with 48 seats which are wet-leased from Air Antilles*.

Air Antilles, the French West Indian carrier, already operates to Barbados, and like Winair, has some existing code sharing flight partnerships, but could they be encouraged to step-up capacity, especially if that helps feed additional French metropolitan and continental European visitors.

The biggest fly in the ointment might be the past record of various Governments and politicians who have interfered in the granting of route rights to airlines, interested in starting services.

A recent example is the Civil Aviation Minister of St. Lucia, Guy Joseph, pointing out to the media, that a number of airlines were seeking to operate in and out of that island but encountering difficulties acquiring the requisite licenses.

He went on to add, St. Lucia has hinted at the possibility of leaving the Eastern Caribbean Civil Aviation Authority (ECCAA) claiming that the Antigua-based organization was hampering the development of the airline industry there.

I think all our policymakers have to be reminded that across the Caribbean, our hotels only managed an average annual occupancy of 63 per cent in 2018.

Of course, it doesn’t stop there.

Every other tourism related business is negatively affected by those empty rooms and massive employment opportunities lost, with its profound economic consequence across the Caribbean.

The Adrian Loveridge Column – LIAT Restructure or Not!

Writing about LIAT at this time seems almost like a lesson in futility, especially when you consider it’s now some 45 years since the formation of LIAT (1974) Ltd, by the present owners and 63 years since the initial formation of the airline.

My first involvement with the airline dates back to the days of Court Line and flying some of my first groups as a tour operator on their pastel pink, yellow and violet Lockheed 1011 Tri-Stars out of Luton airport.

Court Line Aviation acquired LIAT in 1972 as part of its long haul strategy, supplying them with BAC 111 series 500 jets, ironically the only non-turbo propeller aircraft the Caribbean airline was ever to operate.

Court Line ceased trading on 15th August 1974, with the parent company together with its subsidiaries, Clarkson’s Travel Group and Horizon Travel, owing over GB Pounds 7 million, to more than 100,000 holidaymakers.

LIAT (Leeward Airlines Air Transport) escaped the bankruptcy, but the BAC 111’s were reclaimed and 11 Caribbean territories stepped-in to save the carrier, replacing the jets initially with de Havilland DHC-6 Twin Otters. Later, Dash 8-100’s with increased passenger capacity were introduced.

Of course, this is only history and here we are nearly five decades later trying to figure out, if or how, a reliable sustainable regional carrier can survive and flourish, without vast amounts of taxpayer’s monies propping it up, or endlessly queuing at an ATM cash-flow lifesaver.

Let us for a moment look at it from a slightly different perspective.

According to Statista, described by Wikipedia, as one of the most successful statistic databases in the world, hotel occupancy across the Caribbean averaged just 63.7 per cent in 2018, the lowest level for the last 7 years. There are naturally mitigating circumstances, like the devastating knock-on effects of a series of hurricanes and tropical storms, putting a vast supply of rooms out of use.

But conversely, it appears that those visitors destined for damaged resorts and destinations, were seemingly not converted in large numbers, to other non-affected territories within the Caribbean.

Frank Comito, the CEO of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association recently quoted there are ’80,000 vacant hotel rooms every night’ across the region and ‘filling just 10 percent of those rooms would inject nearly US$2 billion into the Caribbean economy’.

Another area maybe that we have not yet fully appraised, is the impact of a increasing secondary lodging sector, which includes Airbnb and Where-to-Stay type alternatives to traditional hotel accommodation.

Our Government has yet to report on how successful the registration, and licensing of these properties has been, together with exactly how much has been raised through the newly imposed ‘shared accommodation levy’, which could now finally help support the marketing of Barbados.

To a certain extent our climatic conditions largely determine demand in most of our major markets, producing two distinct seasons.

If we wish to fill more of those empty rooms outside a few summer festivals, then a strong, affordable and reliable regional air carrier is not an option, it is a necessity.

Let us hope the recent announcement by the Prime Minister and proposed reduction of Barbados taxpayer’s shareholding in LIAT, leads to a commercially viable restructuring of the airline, but many will remain highly skeptical especially when you consider where the majority of passengers join or transit.

LIAT Staff Expresses Lack of Confidence in Executive Management

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

Aviation In The Eastern Caribbean – Time And Opportunity For Change?


Submitted by James C. “Jim” Lynch, Captain (Retired) Aviation Consultant, Caribbean Specialty

The new Barbados government has the full right and the rare opportunity – if the political will is there – to take a proactive lead in changing the face of aviation in the entire eastern Caribbean, to return to the excellence we used to enjoy and benefit from. But will PM Mottley and Minister Symmonds take up the challenge, to make the skies safer for all of us and to make simple things such as intra-Caribbean language exchanges and sales trips affordable?

I have been told that this new government has “hit the ground running”. We will see what their priorities are – after they step back from the brink of devaluation. Here is a professional critique of what exists now… the full document is much longer and also contains my recommendations, but that is for the eyes of PM Mottley, should she ask for it.

In the current circumstances, little wonder that Barbados is Category 2 – and that because of crass political influence the ECCAA may be sliding out of the Category One it has been so proud of.

— Barbados Civil Aviation Department (CAD)

The normal process used to be that a newly vacant position of Director Of Civil Aviation would be advertised by the government, and that someone with broad aviation experience – or at least previous experience as an administrator in aviation – would be appointed as Director of Civil Aviation (DCA). Such practices – in any organisation – tend to introduce wider intelligence, experience and expertise, and keep the institutions current and renewed, benefiting from wider knowledge, trusted techniques, and advances used elsewhere which have proved to work well in practice.

But over the last 30 years that has all changed. For some reason, today Air Traffic Controllers – who normally join ATC straight out of school, are trained as Controllers and have no managerial or commercial experience outside of their own narrow mono-skill world – have come to expect that with time and seniority they will see promotion all the way up to the Director position, with none of the training or administrative experience in the wider world to deal competently with non-ATC people, from Ministers of government through airline executives and a variety of hard-nosed business people and all the way up to the US FAA, ICAO and the US State Department.

The result is unprepared and insufficiently educated individuals with little (or no) world experience being elevated way past their (Peter Principle) “Level Of Incompetence” to where abuses become rife as they struggle to deal with matters far beyond their own training, education, capabilities and understanding, without the faintest hope of ever catching up.

Since Leric Hunte retired (about 1985), all appointments have been politically-favoured Barbadian Air Traffic Controllers, trained locally with no administrative experience and no exposure to anything other than “this is the way we have always done it”. They have all been career Air Traffic Controllers – not managers or administrators.

Presumably by political direction, the position was not since advertised by the PSC, so all external enquiries for the vacancies were refused – although qualified and interested Barbadians with international experience were definitely expressing interest. This has resulted in a narrow-minded, unimaginative, confrontational and backwards bureaucratic mindset in the Department, where there is now no progress, no fresh thinking, and almost nothing gets done.

In addition there are, forced on incoming and transiting pilots, long-outdated ATC procedures and restrictions which have never been updated or amended to keep up with the times, speeds or technology.

The Department has also been starved of funds, which I suspect has led to an almost complete lack of vital qualified personnel – from Licensing and other Officers to airline Inspectors – due to reassignments, resignations and retirements, and the natural resulting drop in morale. Due to the acute staff shortage, the CAD is seldom timely in dealing with applicants and operators in situations where commercial pressures often require fast decisions.

As suggested, out of this lack of experience has materialised a dictatorial – and therefore confrontational – attitude by some of the staff, which further frustrates both applicants and operators. Coupled with an unclear direction and incompetent leadership and planning, the drawbacks of the CAD continue to contribute to a lack of successful aviation ventures in Barbados. Even the once very active Light Aeroplane Club is struggling.

In all cases involving Barbadian aviation companies, operators normally have far more qualifications and experience than the Regulating Authority (BCAD) – whose few Officers may have no actual experience at all in any field, regardless of their training. While close interaction between such parties is always encouraged as beneficial, this gap has led to the same operators taking it upon themselves to interpret policies and regulations inappropriately to their advantage – and this without any material challenge from the CAD.

As with LIAT, “garbage in, garbage out” has become the norm at the BCAD rather than the exception. The “garbage” is the acceptance of “just good enough for government work”, as opposed to the nation searching for and finding excellence in leadership, performance, oversight, training, and a better way to do anything and everything. Not to mention carrying out their legal oversight duties.

Barbados was once the shining star of the Caribbean… for whatever reason, as a nation in just 40 years we have become lazy, complacent and accepting of anything that might pass as long as it does not look too much like work. Certainly our national educational standards have dropped drastically – I do not believe our once proud boast of 99.9% literacy rate is anywhere near as valid today.

— Barbados CAA – Civil Aviation Authority

In 2012 I corresponded with the Minister of International Business (George Hutson) about a CAA for Barbados. He assured me that legislation was being prepared for the establishment of a Barbados CAA and that it would be passed by the government before the end of the year.

But now, six years later, all the Ministers responsible have done about promotion to a CAA is spend about a million dollars on a cavernous new building at Charnocks, moving all of the CAD Officers and Inspectors away from where they are effective – at the airport – and the promised CAA legislation is still yet to be passed.

In my opinion, for half a century we have had more than enough of the politically instigated friends-and-family, amateur-status, “see what you could do”, “try-a ting” half-assed performance from political appointees. I suggest we return to professional behaviour from top to bottom, and do it right for once.

— ICAO / IASA Category One

At heart this ICAO / IASA Category is really a simple matter. It is a safety Category recommended by ICAO, but evaluated and “enforced” by the USA (IASA) through their FAA.

This Category – either Category One (= safe) or Category Two (= unsafe)… there are no other Categories – is awarded to the whole country, not to an airport, and the inspection covers a wide range of matters, from required legislation to personnel numbers (and their qualifications and ability) to oversee the registered aircraft and companies under their registration as well as the airport facilities to separation of the aviation authority from the influence of politicians – and much more, of course. The entire country’s aviation existence is examined, not just the authority and the airports.

While I fully realise the extant hypocrisy in light of the American politics and influences over the DoT and FAA in the USA, the fact remains that the USA does the physical inspections on behalf of ICAO, and if one wants ICAO / IASA Category One then one has to play their game.

Since a CAD is a Department of a political Ministry and therefore politically directed, an arms-length CAA is one of the mandatory requirements for Category One (= Safe) status, and more than a decade after first being discussed Barbados is still no closer to having a CAA, far less qualifying for ICAO / IASA Category One.

— LIAT (1974) Limited

LIAT has been the neglected orphan of the eastern Caribbean since the British owner Courtline went bankrupt in 1973 and it was sold to the interested governments (then many, now few). In almost 45 years it has probably altogether cost the regional government shareholders over a Billion US dollars. Some years the subventions / support totaled hundreds of millions.

But for whatever reason – despite repeated urging from public sources – there has never been any urgency whatsoever at the highest levels – the shareholders – to “do it right”, to remove the constant political interference, to run it as a commercial airline, on a commercial footing, with competent executive and management, and to avoid unnecessary crises and expensive region-wide industrial actions which inconveniences thousands of people.

Except for Caribbean Airlines, I have never heard of a Company blowing as much as a hundred million US dollars in a single year and moving on to January 1 again as if this were a normal occurrence. But when LIAT blows that kind of cash NOBODY goes home, NOBODY is disciplined, NOBODY gets a warning, and NOBODY in authority in the airline seems to give a damn. It barely even makes the news. In a private Company, under such circumstances there might well be a COMPLETE replacement of the entire Board AND Executive.

That no action is ever taken with LIAT’s repeated disasters tells me that – under the current and past regimes – NOBODY is accountable, NOBODY is responsible, that “we like it so”, and that there will probably never be change.

You may be aware that over the years there have been powerful representations from interested persons in LIAT’s network demanding change, in Chairman, in Board, in management, in scheduling, in how the shareholders approach the airline. But LIAT’s path has deviated not one iota, even after the infamous system-wide “meltdown” when Captain Ian Brunton was CEO.

Decade after decade, the shareholders indulge in the insanity, hold exactly the same course, and still expect a different result each time. And regardless who the Captain is, each time LIAT hits the iceberg head on and needs expensive patching – at taxpayer expense.

Barbados owns more than 50% of LIAT. Legally this means the new government now has a rare opportunity to jettison the garbage and put the ship right for once and for all. I have always been convinced that LIAT can break even and then make a profit, and at that point – if the shareholders are so inclined – I believe the airline will be worth a substantial amount to the various Treasuries should they wish to sell it.

I have personally seen previous LIAT Chairmen, most notably Mr. Ian DeVere Archer, encounter disaster after disaster, be presented with the same rarest of opportunities to turn LIAT around – and do absolutely nothing.

Annual accounts

Almost from the beginning, LIAT (1974) Limited – still owned and financially supported by the taxpayers of several countries – has refused to make public any of its accounts, annual or otherwise. A person I know who once asked for them was told in no uncertain terms that LIAT’s accounts were none of his business.

LIAT’s management, Board, Chairman and Shareholder Chairman show no responsibility – and clearly accept zero accountability – to those who actually pay the bills and subsidise the airline.

Shareholder Chairman

The current Shareholder Chairman of LIAT is possibly the worst choice the other shareholders could have made – and if the position is supposed to rotate, the wheel seems to have been broken off. Mr. Gonsalves has treated LIAT like his own private airline, to the point of endangering lives, property – and the very future of LIAT itself – for a grossly stupid political stunt last year.

For years Prime Minister Gonsalves has been, and still is, focused on his new airport, and in fact he has clearly not needed LIAT at all for years – he has his own reasonably-sized airline based in St. Vincent (SVG Air) which is doing very well, mainly thanks to the connections out of Barbados.

In their “default of inaction”, the previous Barbados administration – majority owner of LIAT, with FIVE TIMES the shares of St. Vincent, and therefore five times as much to lose – allowed such unacceptable behaviour to continue, totally unchallenged.

Board Chairman

The Chairman of LIAT (politically appointed) is still Mr. Jean Holder, who in the past appears to have had outstanding success in tourism, diplomacy and the cultural landscape, but in all the many years he has “led” LIAT it is clear he has learned absolutely nothing about how an airline is supposed to be run.

From the stream of tourism books he produces, all of his time appears to be spent on things other than aviation and/or LIAT – and it shows.

It MUST be remembered that if we are to discuss the future success of LIAT then the sole determining factor of whether someone is suited to its Board and management is whether they are competent to be so appointed. So REGARDLESS of his past contributions, Mr. Holder has nothing to contribute to LIAT, and from all indications and his performance over the years, he never has had anything truly meaningful to contribute.

Board of Directors

The Board of LIAT once had a single person with actual aviation experience – retired pilot, Colin Mayers – but it has not had anyone with such direct experience since he left. But background be known, Mr. Mayers was himself never a manager – his brother Trevor Mayers handled the management of Carib West – so it could be argued that Colin was not representative of the high level knowledge required to make intelligent oversight decisions for a fast-moving regional airline either.

To the best of my knowledge, the rest of the LIAT Board has always been unqualified in any sector of aviation and non-competent in decisions concerning commercial aviation in general, and a multi-million dollar airline in particular.

The fact remains that you CANNOT direct a highly technical, fast moving, multi-million dollar business – which requires at least half of the staff to be highly trained licensed professionals and involves the very real possibility of loss of life – with the basic self-taught (or family-taught) skills of running a haberdashery, hardware, or any other retail store. To be blunt, in almost any airline, such basic retail management skills are totally irrelevant to the person actually running the airline. Perhaps in the marketing department, but managing the airline bears no resemblance to everyday commerce.

In all the decades that LIAT has belonged to the shareholder governments, there has not been a single example – that I am aware of – where any Board Member or Executive Manager was removed or disciplined for even one of the many abysmal performances of the airline.


Worth repeating, again and again – and again…
“It is hard to imagine a more stupid or more dangerous way of making decisions than by putting those decisions in the hands of people who pay no price for being wrong.”
~ Thomas Sewell


CEO Mr. David Evans

The search for a CEO which selected Mr. David Evans in 2014 had a range of candidates, including at least one I am personally aware of who has global (and Caribbean) experience as a regional airline CEO and includes many other facets of aviation, including having been a commercial pilot, an investment banker, an airline CEO, worked at times for both Boeing and Bombardier, and has acquired a reputation as an airline “turn-around artist”.

He told me personally that during his first and only interview with LIAT (over Skype), the moment he said the word “change” the faces on the other side dropped and the interview was cut short. Not surprisingly, he did not make the final list.

Instead, LIAT selected someone who had almost no actual small airline experience – David Evans had always worked deep in the bowels of the highly organised, deep-pockets BA – and the vast majority of his career was spent in cargo back offices staying out of sight. It is entirely possible that he secured his selection at LIAT by promising not to make any changes at all.

As a result, he retired from his BA “senior light duties” and then spent his entire tenure in the Caribbean touring LIAT’s destinations – at taxpayer expense – or fighting with the Board over his grossly underhanded and unprofessional conduct (offering the Chairman a proposal which detailed the dissolution of LIAT and the creation of a new airline company based in Barbados – which the Chairman and Board accepted).

Mrs. Julie Riefer-Jones

When challenged by the Press about her application for the CEO position, the then-CFO of LIAT Mrs. Julie Riefer-Jones stated in public that she believed the only qualification she needed for promotion (from CFO to CEO) was that she loved LIAT. Her actual profession is accountant and, before she was given the LIAT CFO position by her friend Jean Holder, she had zero qualifications in, or past experience with, aviation of any kind.

Management in general

For more than 45 years, no matter who the faces were, the management style at LIAT has been, almost without exception, incompetent, abysmal and confrontational. Standards, instead of being maintained, consistently drop as “just good enough for government work” remains the mantra. This, in a regionally owned public transportation system where if something goes wrong one cannot simply park at the si9de of the road and call for a tow truck. Apparently the taxpayers can afford a hundred million in losses a year, but cannot afford to hire professional management.

From 16 years immersion in that environment I can personally assure you that the pilots of LIALPA are professionals, memorise and work safely and true to their contract, which carries on from year to year unless notice to change is given by either side, and that the Union itself is operated properly and professionally, always dealing with management through their Chairman.

On THREE occasions management has deliberately drawn out pilot contract negotiations in excess of 10 years (at HUGE expense in lost manpower and salaries for senior pilots and management), and on each occasion where the pilots took industrial action because they were still getting nowhere after 10 years, management – and the Board – went to the public and blamed the pilots for the disruptions. With the staggering cost of such region-wide industrial action there MUST be a change to an agreed process for resolving contract negotiations and grievances, and the Arbitration Board MUST NOT be allowed to drag the already disturbed atmosphere out for any longer than absolutely necessary.

It has also been drawn to my attention that recently management has taken to amending the official documents which govern their own required qualifications. Apart from few to none of management actually being professionally qualified for their positions, the Director of Flight Operations has for at least three years not qualified educationally for the position he holds, and senior management not only appointed him in spite of this but has allowed him to remain in the position. I am told that the airline’s documentation – manuals – supporting the Air Operating Certificate have been “adjusted” to lower the required qualifications for his position.

What happens in an airline when standards drop low enough – and such is condoned or even promoted by the governing authority and management – is a serious accident, usually with accompanying major loss of lives. Under normal circumstances, the affected airline never recovers fully from the catastrophe in the confidence of the staff or of the flying public.

LIAT fraud & theft from employee Provident Funds

About 1994 LIAT’s management tried to “borrow” funds from the employee Provident Fund for use as operating capital for the airline, and when the courts refused the application (due to employee contract restrictions, among other objections), in secret they simply stopped depositing the contributions – from both sides – and before long the non-deposits – employee with-holdings and contracted company contribution – more than US$10 million (EC$27 million). Not long after that, management shut the Fund down and the Fund Members lost all of that shortfall from their payouts.

In Antigua nobody – at LIAT or anywhere else – was ever interviewed, warned, charged, arrested or disciplined in any way by law enforcement or the Board, despite many aspects of this process violating contracts, and being fraudulent and/or totally illegal.

There is no way the Chairman and Board could not have known or been complicit in this obviously illegal attempt to divert employee funds, yet no actions have been taken against them either.

In all the decades that LIAT has belonged to the shareholder governments, there has not been a single example – that I am aware of – where any Board Member or manager – executive or otherwise – was removed or disciplined for any of the many abysmal performances or near-disasters of the airline. As in Caribbean politics, zero responsibility and zero accountability reign supreme.

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.

LIAT Update!

Click on the image to read the communication

The following communication was distributed today to the membership of  The Leeward Islands Pilots Association (LIALPA). Regional travelers are happy to see this matter resolved for the moment, however, we want to see the structural problems of the airline resolved by shareholder governments. Barbados as the largest shareholder needs to take a leadership position because for those of us outside the LIAT boardroom Antigua appears to be exerting influence of  a parochial nature.


Document Leaked Reveals LIAT Pilots Have Requested Intervention from Labour Commissioner

Captain Carl Burke, President of LIALPA

The Leeward Islands Airline Pilots Association (LIALPA) in a letter dated 17 May 2017 requested the Labour Commissioner of Antigua Eltonia Rojas to intervene in the deteriorating relationship with its employer LIAT (1974).  The letter signed by President of LIALPA Carl Burke outlines 17 matters grouped under Health, Safety and other Industrial matters.

The contents of the letter is instructive because in the last 24 hours the CEO of LIAT (1974) Julie Reifer-Jones communicated to the media that she was unaware of an ultimatum of 1 June 2017 agreed with LIALPA in January 2017 to give effect to a wages agreement. It is regrettable that LIAT (1974) has been unable to fashion a constructive relationship with its key stakeholder LIALPA in the interest of the traveling public. It should be an embarrassment to the  Shareholder governments and Board of Directors the slave like conditions our pilots have had to endure.

The inability of shareholder governments- Barbados is the largest shareholder- is equally of concern because taxpayers are left to finance an entity that is clearly being mismanaged. Is it too much to request of our government that a resolution to the LIAT matter is a matter of national and regional importance?

The Leeward Island Airline Pilots Association Press Release – Pilots Issue Final Warning to LIAT

Press Release submitted by The Leeward Island Airline Pilots Association (LIALPA)

Julia Reifer-Jones, CEO of LIAT(Ag)

The Leeward Island Airline Pilots Association would like to inform the General Public that its relationship with LIAT (1974) Ltd is currently strained and has deteriorated to an all time low. The Association since late 2012 has engaged LIAT in negotiations for a new salary structure for its ATR-72 aircraft (not covered under the current MOA) and general salary increases. After years of stalling and legal manoeuvring by LIAT, including the Company filing legal action in both the High Court and Industrial Court, the Association in the spirit of fostering and maintaining a good relationship with LIAT accepted the Company’s salary package offer in January 2017.

LIALPA accepted this deal on the premise that the pilots would make this a one off concession to ensure the survival of the Company.

Read full press release – The Leeward Island Airline Pilots Association press release

LIAT Pilots Call for Sacking of Management

(St John’s, Antigua) The Leeward Islands Airline Pilots Association (LIALPA) unfortunately has no other choice but to call on the Shareholder Governments to remove the current LIAT management. We reluctantly make this call because we will not stand by and watch the airline’s financial health  continue to deteriorate at massive levels, to the point where LIAT can’t even pay salaries on time – LIALPA’s press release


The following press release was issued by the Leeward Islands Airline Pilots Association (LIALPA). When and where will shareholder governments draw the line to signal that enough is enough? Barbados is the major shareholder and therefore have greater influence over the Board of Directors. It seems however to outsiders that Antigua, St. Lucia and a few other countries have more say in the management of the airline.

If what is detailed n the latest press release is correct an immediate response from the Board is required on an action plan to eradicate LIAT’s problems once and for all. On reflection, many of the shareholder governments cannot solve simple domestic issues how therefore will it be possible to resolve those of an airline that serves a challenging space like the Caribbean.

LIAT’s Pilot Association Calls for Disruptive Passenger to be Punished

Press Release issued by the Leeward Islands Airline Pilots Association (LIALPA)

LIAT TO UPGRADE TO 11 ATRS over two years

LIAT TO UPGRADE TO 11 ATRS over two years

(St John’s, Antigua) The Leeward Islands Airline Pilots Association (LIALPA) is waiting to be informed of the measures LIAT will take in dealing with the passenger who caused the disruption and cancellation of one of its flights on December 13th 2016. The passenger who was on-board an aircraft in Barbados, destined for St Vincent, made a serious allegation that they had detected the smell of alcohol on one of the pilots.

Read full Press Release issued by the Leeward Islands Airline Pilots Association

LIALPA Calls for TRANSPARENCY and ACCOUNTABLITY – LIAT Withholds Retirement Fund Information

Submitted by the Leeward Islands Airline Pilots Association (LIALPA)

lialpa (St John’s, Antigua) For over three (3) years, the Leeward Islands Airline Pilots Association (LIALPA) has been trying to overcome the stalling and delaying tactics of LIAT’s management in releasing accounting information with regards to their Retirement Funds. As recent as last December, the Company refused to respond to proposals from LIALPA’s Attorney. These proposals are in agreement with the Court’s ruling that the collective agreement between LIALPA and LIAT is binding and enforceable and emphasizes that the staff provident (retirement) fund contributions cannot be unilaterally closed and arrears are to be paid and contributions should continue. The proposals also called for an audit of all staff provident fund deductions not yet paid out to pilots, in order for any new pension scheme to be started.

Read full Press Release

The Adrian Loveridge Column – LIAT’s Load Factor Lags Major Airlines


Attending the recently held first Caribbean Aviation Meet-Up Conference was probably one of the most productive weeks in my life. My only regret was that that many of the key decision-makers who should have been there, were not.

First, both my flights from Barbados to Dominica and return departed and landed on-time, virtually to the minute and it was comforting that an airline that has attracted so much negative attention can get it right. The other interesting fact was that five out of the current nine aircraft fleet were all sitting on the tarmac at Grantley Adams Airport when I got there, which makes all the politically generated rhetoric about a logical operating base, absolute nonsense. If over 50 percent of the carrier’s passengers either join or transit Barbados, then where should the obvious hub be? Then factor in that this country’s taxpayers are the single largest shareholder with the largest risk and debt exposure.

What did disturb me was the number of empty seats on both my flights and when speaking to other delegates travelling on the same airline at different days and times, it was a similar story. My outward flight (ATR72-600) had 29 empty seats (57 per cent loading) and return (ATR42-600) 18 empty seats (61 per cent loading). While I understand, timings and frequency have been changed recently, in the commercial world of reality, this is simply unacceptable.

To put this in perspective, the average load factor throughout 2015 for the following airlines was: American – 83.1 percent, Air Canada – 83.4 percent, JetBlue – 84.7 percent and WestJet – 80 per cent.

If this LIAT situation on the Dominica route is in any way typical of the entire network, then it’s blatantly obvious there is a huge empty capacity and enormous opportunity to match those empty seats with vacant accommodation beds.

The conference itself attracted some of the most experienced minds and proven experience in aviation and tourism modern history, ranging from airport operators, floating airports, airlines, representatives from the International Monetary Fund and Caribbean Development Bank, Ministers of Tourism, the CEO’s of national tourism organisations and a whole range of associated experts.

My personal interest was to help grow airlift into the Caribbean, both regionally and long haul. As a result of collective discussion, we have already identified at least three airports that appear to be capable of handling the new Bombardier CS series aircraft which can land and take off on shorter runway lengths. This all-new aircraft is far more fuel efficient, quieter, has larger baggage stowage capacity, can fly up to 3,300 nautical miles and perhaps the most important feature altogether is that it can land and take off on a runway length a little more than 4,000 feet. With a seating capacity of 100-145 seats, depending on the model, it substantially lowers the risk of having to fill much larger planes to financially ‘break-even’.

Delta Airlines have placed a firm order for 45 of the aircraft with an option for 50 more. Air Canada has announced a firm order for 45 and options for another 30.

Following last week’s column the Swedish Ambassador to the Caribbean has pledged his support to secure a direct service from Scandinavia to Barbados. Clearly he already liaises with the other Nordic countries at the highest level and his assistance could prove invaluable.

The Adrian Loveridge Column – Fuel Charge Adjustment

According to a statement issued recently, the 200 plus airline members of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) are poised to deliver a higher than forecast record profit in 2015 and should see a further earnings increase in 2016, literally ‘fuelled’ by oil prices near seven-year lows. Profits for last year are estimated at around US$33 billion representing a near doubling of earnings after carriers combined to deliver a net profit of US$17.3 billion in 2014.

Continue reading

The Beat(ing) Goes on…@LIAT

Message received from a concerned individual.

LIAT1LIAT passengers stranded in St. Maarten for a week, Letter from LIAT CEO. I find the CEO’s letter to be well hidden, don’t know ’bout you… does the knee-jerk Chairman have anything useless to say? Just like his Boss, a pair of mouths with hot vaporised garbage flowing out of them.

Continue reading

The Adrian Loveridge Column – The Definition of LIAT is Politics



Frankly I have employed extraordinary restraint in commenting on the subject of LIAT, because at the end of the day I believe until the politics is completely removed from the management of the airline and it is operated […] Continue reading

LIAT Continues to Rack-up Debt for Shareholders

LIAT1There is a newly elected government in Guyana preceded by one in St. Kitts and there is the T&T general elections announced for 7 September 2015. It seems our governments (politicians) around the region have allowed themselves to be consumed by domestic issues and the idea […] Continue reading

LIAT, the Political Football of Caricom

Minister Donville Inniss

Minister Donville Inniss

A reason our little islands will never agree to fully integrate, whether under the umbrella of Caricom or some other functional arrangement, can be traced to deep insularity. Some have convinced themselves it does not exist until a Shanique Myrie or LIAT incident serve to bring it to the fore.

Barbadians are aware Minister Donville Inniss suffers from an ailment which causes him to run his mouth like a sick nigga botsy. His castigation of Prime Minister Gaston Browne of Antigua recently followed a similar public chiding by Prime Minister Ralph Gonzales – listen to David Ellis’ 630 – yet Gaston Browne picked on Inniss and ignored Gonzales scathing and articulate response directed at him – Gonzales is his equal after all.  The politically partisan will rejoice in the putting down of Inniss by Browne and under the breath lament the fact late Prime Minister Tom Adams is dead. If Adams was alive no rookie Prime Minister would dare to spout the nonsense coming from Browne at a member of the Barbados cabinet.

For many years LIAT has been located in Antigua and managed by successive administration as if it were a department of the public service. Barbados is the largest shareholder and therefore has the right to influence and determine policy. If Browne wants to keep LIAT in Antigua he is encouraged to raise the capital to assume a greater equity stake or shut the hell up!

The following was posted to BU by Aviator James Lynch:

Continue reading

LIAT’s Homecoming

Submitted by Anthony Davis

Some 180 workers at regional carrier LIAT are headed for the breadline as the airline struggles to cope with high overhead costs and a projected loss of $29.6 million. Shareholder governments today endorsed the staff cuts – to be introduced on a voluntary basis in the initial stage – as well as a plan to shift LIAT’s fleet base to Barbados in a bid to rake in more revenue by targeting the southern CaribbeanBarbados Today 13 February 2015

Has Barbados been wrong footed in this LIAT deal? Not long ago Minister of Tourism, Richard Sealy made the comment about Barbados becoming the base for LIAT. Antigua was quick to respond that that would not happen. Sealy seems to have left it at that, because not one word more was said about it. Suddenly we have a meeting of LIAT’s shareholder board, and the majority of the new planes (four) will be based at Grantley Adams International Airport.

Continue reading

Intra-Regional Travel is Important to Barbados

Adrian Loveridge

Adrian Loveridge

As someone who has championed intra Caribbean travel for over 40 years and invested literally hundreds of thousands of Dollars of our own money promoting – what for Barbados is still just about our third largest source market – it gives me no pleasure to observe the dramatic decline in regional arrival numbers.

For the first eight months of this year Caricom (including Trinidad and Tobago) stay over visitors are down by 6,686 persons.

There is probably very little I can add to the many industry professionals and travellers comments made about LIAT over the years, but initially thought that I had misheard one of our policymakers stating recently that, among the reasons why the numbers were down, was due to the airline operating smaller aircraft. It sounded so wrong that I looked up a recognised aircraft fleet website and according to Planespotters LIAT currently operate 4 ATR (Avions de Transport Regional) 42-600’s, 4 ATR 72-600 planes and a yet to be confirmed number of Bombardier/de Havilland Dash 8 – 300 equipment. I did ask LIAT’s Head of Corporate Communications for clarification, but in the week until this column was published, had not received a response.

Continue reading

LIAT’s Woes Continue With John Maginley’s Idle Talk

Antigua Minister of Tourism John Maginley

Antigua Minister of Tourism John Maginley

Majority shareholders must remember that their junior partners will not always be their best allies.  Although the minority shareholders may initially appear to be highly cooperative, this can change rapidly for any number of reasons (change in business economic conditions, change in personal attitudes, change in personal financial situation, differences in the corporation’s business direction, failure to make further contributions to the advance of the business, impeding the corporation from obtaining further outside investment, etc.).  As such, majority shareholder will want to exercise his or her control over the corporation in a pre-determined manner, which is best undertaken with a well written shareholders agreementShareholder Lawyer

The promulgation by Antigua Minister of Tourism John Maginley that LIAT will not be relocated to Barbados must be interpreted for what it is, an ignorant statement to impress would be voters with a general election looming. The statement exposes the corn beef politics an Antiguan politician is prepared to engage even if the statement qualifies him as most ignorant to onlookers.

Maginley obviously felt he had to respond to and equally strong message which was delivered by Barbados Minister of Tourism  Richard Sealy who promised that some LIAT operations will be relocated to Barbados in the coming months.  Although Sealy stopped short of confirming if his government will push to relocate LIAT to Barbados in the near future, he confirmed that Barbados will be undergoing the process to acquire Category I status which is a requirement to satisfy  FAA International Aviation Safety Assessment Scheme (IASA).

Continue reading

LIALPA Awaits LIAT Action on ECCAA Report and LIAT Investigation.

Press Release submitted by Leeward Islands Airline Pilots Association



St. Johns, Antigua – March 18, 2014 – THE LEEWARD ISLANDS AIRLINE PILOTS ASSOCIATION awaits the recommendations of an investigation commissioned by LIAT’s board of management to investigate the breach of The Eastern Caribbean Civil Aviation (ECCAA) regulations on November 2nd
2013 by its executive management.

LIAT and senior union officials are already in possession of an Eastern Caribbean Civil Aviation Authority (ECCAA) report  St. Johns, Antigua – March 18, 2014 – THE LEEWARD ISLANDS AIRLINE PILOTS ASSOCIATION
awaits the recommendations of an investigation commissioned by LIAT’s board of management to investigate the breach of The Eastern Caribbean Civil Aviation (ECCAA) regulations on November 2nd 2013 by its executive management. LIAT and senior union officials are already in possession of an Eastern Caribbean Civil Aviation Authority (ECCAA) report which vindicated the stance taken by the pilots union and ruled that as a direct result of the company’s actions, LIAT had in fact committed in three (3) regulatory breaches of safety regulations. Resulting in a possible fine of up to EC $150,000. LIAT offered no defence in regard to the three (3) offenses and having accepted liability has already paid the fines associated with the incident. Reportedly the ECCAA is still investigating the “possibility of tampering with documents” surrounding the same incident which MAY result in additional fines being levied.

This incident represents the first time in its history that the airline has been fined by the authority for breaches of safety regulations.

which vindicated the stance taken by the pilots union and ruled that as a direct
result of the company’s actions, LIAT had in fact committed in three (3) regulatory breaches of safety regulations. Resulting in a possible fine of up to EC $150,000. LIAT offered no defence in regard to the three (3) offenses and having accepted liability has already paid the fines associated with the incident.
Reportedly the ECCAA is still investigating the “possibility of tampering with documents” surrounding the same incident which MAY result in additional fines being levied.

This incident represents the first time in its history that the airline has been fined by the authority for breaches of safety regulations.

Read full text: Press ReleaseLeeward Islands Airline Pilots Association

LIAT Threatens to Shrink Caribbean Airline Network

The board of LIAT airline is clearly feeling the pressure of mounting ongoing criticism of its consistent inability to achieve a stable business model and to provide a vital intra regional air service in the Eastern Caribbean on a reliable basis.

Unfortunately, the announcements of 6th March from the LIAT chairman, Jean Holder, strongly suggest a strategy still devoid of any coherent business sense. Take on huge investment in multiple new aircraft but then shrink the airline’s network? “Passing strange” and “wondrous pitiful”, to quote Shakespeare. If, instead, this is Dr Holder’s idle threat, designed to panic other regional governments in to investing in an airline with such a tarnished reputation, then that also is a strategy likely to fail.

Investors seek companies with proven management expertise. Yet, in his 100 day strategy announcement last week, Dr Holder stated that the current directors and senior management have invited “some experts” to undertake route analysis of the LIAT network. Outside consultants are needed for a basic management task – even after 57 years of LIAT operations? No wonder there are accusations of amateurism in LIAT management and no wonder years of persuasion by Dr Holder have failed to elicit much new investment in the airline from other governments in the region.

Continue reading

A Discussion About LIAT…flying us where?


LIAT, our regional airline.

This Sunday, the subject is LIAT and Regional Air Transportation. Persons invited to the discussion include myself, Robert MacLellan, Gregor Nassief and Tomas Chiumecky.

The Caribbean regional television programme Time to Face the Factsis a production of Island Media Communication Inc. with headquarters in St Vincent & the Grenadines, and was successfully launched in April 2013 with the mandate to highlight and deal with issues that affect the Caribbean.

The programme is hosted by Jerry George and is live and interactive on Caribvision the last Sunday of each month, 8:pm to 10:pm [EC time], with rebroadcasts on local stations in various territories. “Time to Face the Facts” is broadcast from the studio of CMC in Bridgetown, Barbados and also streams live onTime to Face the Facts” Facebook page.

Continue reading

LIAT Leadership Asleep at the Wheel Again

In the first month of 2014 Caribbean regional media reported that LIAT has had to choose between paying employee salaries and paying aircraft lease charges in order to maintain flight operations. Even before the news of LIAT’s latest financial crisis, the flight chaos of last summer was nearly repeated in December 2013, at the start of the Caribbean’s tourism high season, and was only averted through last minute decision changes by LIAT’s board of directors and its temporary CEO.

The LIAT fleet was reportedly due to reduce to only nine aircraft last December. At the same time, aircraft conversion training for flight deck crew was planned to be ongoing and flight deck crew annual vacations were scheduled to peak that month. With a similar mix of factors to those which caused LIAT’s summer meltdown, the potential for major disruption to flights appeared to be equally great for this winter. Unbelievably, the LIAT board and senior management had authorised this disastrous scenario to coincide with the Christmas holidays and the start of the international tourism high season in the Caribbean.

Continue reading

Complaint Letter To LIAT Airline

Submitted by Corey and Karen Burns

Julia Reifer-Jones, CEO of LIAT(Ag)

Julia Reifer-Jones, CEO of LIAT(Ag)

It is with great disappointment that I have to express my disapproval with Liat and how Liat conducts business. Most other airlines I have travelled on would simply wish to take me from A to B quickly as possible. I find it preposterous that Liat can just change a flight plan while customers have already boarded the aircraft (on a direct flight I might add).

My wife and I were departing from our honeymoon in Antigua on Monday, October 28th, 2013 and were on Liat flight # 362 from Antigua to Puerto Rico which was a direct flight to San Juan. The flight was delayed of course (“island time”) however once on the aircraft an announcement was made that we were stopping in St. Kitts on our way to San Juan, but not five minutes later we were told that we were now going south to Dominica (total opposite way than San Juan).  We arrived in Dominica at which time a grand total of 8 passengers boarded the plane.  We were then told that we had to wait for a fuel truck, which was not ready when we arrived in Dominica.  We ended up waiting on the tarmac for over an hour with no water, no food, and no air conditioning. I used to work in the airline industry and had that happened in Canada, PEOPLE WOULD BE FIRED!!! Numerous passengers asked for information about when we would be taking off and when we would be landing in San Juan as every passenger on the plane had a connecting flight to catch.  None of Liat’s customer service agents would give us a straight answer. We finally left Dominica sometime after 1:30 pm, over an hour after we should have LANDED in San Juan.

Continue reading

LIAT Update

Click image to sign the PETITION!

Click image to sign the PETITION!

The following was circulated to those who signed the petition by James Lynch, PETITION FROM THE TRAVELLING PUBLIC TO THE OWNERS OF THE CARIBBEAN AIRLINE LIAT.

You need to know that LIAT are about to have another huge meltdown. Yes, it’s probably going to happen again, and maybe even worse.

All the ATR Pilots trained at the beginning before the aircraft were delivered are now due for re-currency training, and many of the senior pilots are going on their usual booked holiday in December. That’s the start of it.

So, unless somebody comes up with a small (large?) miracle, LIAT are going to have to park many of their planes and cancel/reschedule/ delay many of their flights.

LIAT management were warned by both the ECCAA (the Civil Aviation Authority) and the LIAT Pilots Association LIALPA that this was going to happen unless they made alternate plans (LIALPA also warned Brunton before the first meltdown), so the many shortages which came to a head in August are going to be dwarfed by what is about to happen again at LIAT approaching and during the Christmas Season.

Continue reading


Jean Holder resigned two years ago but continues to perform the role as Chairman.

Jean Holder resigned two years ago but continues to perform the role as Chairman.

We were asked to share the following article with the BU family. Although against our policy which is to be original in our postings sometimes we have to concede when there is merit in deviating from policy.

Business: LIAT’s turning point?


For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.” – Ecclesiastes 3:1

THE Caribbean is a diverse multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, multi-religious, multi-culinary, multi-genre (musical) and multi-lingual region officially made up of an archipelago of islands and selected mainland emerging territories nested between North and South America, Central America in the West and the Atlantic Ocean in the East, in and bordering on the Caribbean Sea.

The 17 English heritage administrations in the Caribbean are distributed as follows: North (7); South (7) and West (3) with an estimated population of six million, including the mainland territories of Belize and Guyana. The six French heritage administrations in the Caribbean are distributed as follows: North (5) and South (1) with an estimated population of 17.2 million, including the mainland territory of French Guiana. The seven Dutch heritage administrations in the Caribbean are distributed as follows: North (3); South (1) and West (3) with an estimated population of 0.8 million, including the mainland territory of Suriname. The three Spanish heritage administrations in the Caribbean sea are all in the North with an estimated population of 22.5 million, including the US territory of Puerto Rico. There are 33 Caribbean administrations with a total population of 46.5 million, albeit over managed, which is not to be ignored as a geographical market to be explored within the wider Latin American and Caribbean region.

Read full article

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”.

Continue reading

LIAT Board of Directors to Meet (Face to Face)

Click image to sign the PETITION!

Click image to sign the PETITION!

Message received by persons who have signed the a petition started by James Lynch on “PETITION FROM THE TRAVELLING PUBLIC TO THE OWNERS OF THE CARIBBEAN AIRLINE LIAT.

Hello again, friends!!

The LIAT Board will be meeting tomorrow, Wednesday, to “decide whether to accept the CEO’s resignation”. In today’s vernacular, “Yeah, OK. Whatever.”

Of course, nowadays REAL business people have stopped wasting money on travel and do this kind of stuff by Conference Call (but not LIAT, first these folks have to travel, then there is hotel, car, meals, tips, per diems, yadda, yadda yadda.)

But while they are off doing their usual goofing around maybe we can help this LIAT process along…

Continue reading

Regional Turbulence!

Adrian Loveridge - Owner of Peach & Quiet Hotel

Adrian Loveridge – Owner of Peach & Quiet Hotel

Over the last few weeks I have been trying to understand the logic behind the collection of decisions made by the Board and senior management of LIAT (1974) Ltd, the consequences of which has been to create an unprecedented operational debacle. Even the CEO was describing the situation with emotive words like the ‘perfect storm’ and ‘meltdown’. While I admire Captain Brunton’s attempts to explain the circumstances behind the cause of what can only be called a state of chaos, there are still many questions that remain unanswered.

First, let us go back to the choice of the new replacement aircraft. Why the ATR’s?

When the Bombardier Q400 is faster, offering quicker turnarounds (more flights per day), has a substantially greater range, which would allow the carrier to operate to some of the new routes mentioned and perhaps even more relevant, required limited pilot retraining. There may have been overwhelming reasons why the ATR planes where chosen over the Q400’s, but surely we are owed an explanation? If LIAT had a history of profitability and that for a large part of it’s lifetime had not relied on the grace and favour of the Caribbean taxpayers, it might be different. But with a quoted ‘accumulated deficit of EC$344 million (around US$127 million) at the end of 2012’, any hope of achieving stand-alone viability, in the foreseeable future, appears an almost impossible dream. Yet elected administrations have been persuaded to guarantee loans and leases, amounting to tens of millions of dollars. If these cannot be repaid, then we will be the ones saddled with the debts.

Continue reading

LIAT’S 2012 Strategy Plan Now BADLY Damaged in 2013

Submitted by Robert MacLellan

Ian Brunton, CEO LIAT

Ian Brunton, CEO of LIAT

On 28 August LIAT’s CEO, Ian Brunton, talked to Caribbean media and finally acknowledged in public some of the real facts behind the airline’s chaotic operations over the last three months. He also described LIAT’s worrying current financial position, in the same month that the airline has taken on a US$65 million loan from the Caribbean Development Bank to fund new aircraft.

However, it was reported that Mr Brunton has refused to have an investigation to hold people accountable for the recent chaos at LIAT. Instead, he said he will organise a “post mortem” (an unfortunate phrase) on what went wrong and use this to reward staff who have performed well during the crisis. Those who “dropped the ball” would be identified for “counseling or better training”.

This statement represents an unbelievable level of arrogance on the part of LIAT senior management and conveys gross disrespect for its customers! Ignore the widespread calls across the Eastern Caribbean for senior management resignations or dismissals at the airline. Instead, LIAT institutes some counseling and better training – presumably, for middle level and operative staff only? No personal responsibility accepted or culpability acknowledged on the part of LIAT’s Chairman, the CEO or the Director of Commercial and Customer Experience – all of whom have presided over three months of disastrous operations across the Eastern Caribbean and an equally disastrous public relations / communications exercise.

Continue reading

Barbados Government Reduces VAT On Hotel Accommodation

Adrian Loveridge - Owner of Peach & Quiet Hotel

Adrian Loveridge – Owner of Peach & Quiet Hotel

Credit where credit is due. I commend the Government for lowering the rate of VAT on ‘hotel accommodation’ and especially extending the same 7.5 per cent to the Direct Tourism Services. This should relate to meaningful savings for our visitors and even, to a lesser degree, help encourage domestic tourism.

From the various social media sites, it is already clear that regular repeat guests will be watching very carefully that all tourism partners benefitting from the reduced tax level, will pass it on. Restaurant dining, car rental, reduced attraction entrance fees, activities like catamaran cruises etc., will all be more affordable and hopefully the overall spend will not fall significantly across the board. The critical element now, is to get this improved value for money into the market places, by every means possible.

Linking particular months with events, especially in the longer leaner periods, at first, makes logical sense, but I think this concept has to be constantly analysed, to ensure any national ‘investment’ is proven to be cost effective. This year with Crop Over is a classic example. Despite all the predictions and post event accolades, July 2013 recorded the lowest number of long stay visitor arrivals across the last 11 years in any same month. Continue reading