LIAT leaves Melville Hall Airport
LIAT leaves Melville Hall Airport

Recently LIAT announced it was cutting off Nevis from its serviced routes, presumably to reduce LOSSES based on low passenger haul. Good move, but much more needs to be done to make LIAT viable and thereby ATTRACT the additional equity funding it maintain flights THROUGHOUT the Caribbean. I made these three recommendations in a recent article written for LINK magazine (Independence edition – get your copy at JAYS) in commenting on the continuing challenges we all face with LIAT:

  1. Dominica should insist on a seat on the Board of Directors for its paid-up $3 Million investment (a seat on the Board apparently requires a minimal $4 M investment but it is possible to "temporarily" waive this…). Recent experience suggests this is necessary so that there can be more balance in KEY decision-making. Failing this, Dominica should make it clear that it will join other OECS countries in not considering any more capital outlays for LIAT and that it may join with the PM of St. Lucia (the aviation-experienced Allan Chastanet) in pushing for another regional airline…

2.Assuming we are granted a seat, then place Gregor or Karl Nassief on the LIAT Board. Both are independent and competent individuals with a HUGE track record of serving and protecting Dominica's interests while supporting regionalism. They will likely re-think the current view that "a bad LIAT is better than NO LIAT" – to one of "LIAT can and must further steps to improve efficiency and viability" as a regional airline, not only an Antiguan one!

3.Finally, appoint airline industry experts to conduct an independent management audit to determine appropriate restructuring to enable a LEANER airline – much like the transformation of BWIA to Caribbean Airlines. It worked for them, it can work for LIAT!

As aviation expert (some 30-plus years in the field!) BRIAN MEADE puts in a related article in the same LINK magazine "...until the Board of LIAT, particularly its representative from home-base Antigua, removes its head from under the (protected?) sand, face reality and are forced to embrace the necessity for change in LIAT's certifiably poor management and operational style" – nothing significant will ever happen!.

There is a long existing "culture" of high pay and low competence at LIAT's top levels (including the pilots who DO HAVE "high competence" but very low company loyalty – the latter perhaps caused by the same poor management. When, oh when shall we see change in LIAT?