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.

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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:

CARIBBEAN FESTIVALS: WHEN Party Time Is All The Time

  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 stevenbriansamuel@gmail.com.

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.

Artax

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.
https://www.craneforum.org/viewtopic.php?t=29366

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
Grenada.
— 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
does anything about it, EVEN THOUGH THEY HAVE BEEN NOTIFIED FOR AS LONG
AS 15 YEARS.

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
JOKE.

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
enthusiasm.

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
impressed”.

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?

SO FIX DE DAMN TING, NAH?

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
you.

Best wishes to all of you anyway,

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

https://www.linkedin.com/in/captain-james-jim-lynch-90892328/

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
https://www.craneforum.org/viewtopic.php?t=29362

ECCAA Under Fire From Saint Lucia Minister
https://www.craneforum.org/viewtopic.php?t=29370

Saint Lucia to Sever Ties with ECCAA?
https://www.craneforum.org/viewtopic.php?t=29371

IATA Encourages Change in Caribbean Aviation
https://www.craneforum.org/viewtopic.php?t=29376

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

https://www.linkedin.com/in/captain-james-jim-lynch-90892328/

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

CHICOT Vania
PRECOPE Rene DAC-AG/FORT-DE-FRANCE

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

https://www.craneforum.org/index.php

(*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.

https://www.craneforum.org/viewtopic.php?t=6001

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…

https://www.craneforum.org/viewtopic.php?t=15934

https://www.craneforum.org/viewtopic.php?t=16098

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… https://www.craneforum.org/viewtopic.php?t=28739

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…
https://www.craneforum.org/viewtopic.php?t=29228

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:

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/one-caribbean-airlines-saab-340b-tail-strike-barbados-tomas

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

Submitted by Hotelier Adrian Loveridge

———- Original Message ———-
From: andrew oneill <xxxxxxxxxx@hotmail.com>
To: “xxxxxxxsxs@caribsurf.com
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.

https://barbadostoday.bb/2019/12/13/antiguan-pm-reports-movement-in-liat-share-talks/

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.