Barbados tourism minister says LIAT must embrace change to be sustainable


BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Thursday September 4, 2014, CMC – Barbados’ Tourism Minister Richard Sealy Wednesday said there needs to be changes at the Antigua-based regional carrier, LIAT, in order to ensure the airline’s sustainability.

“There will have to be changes, we cannot get away from it. But we have to make sure it is a sensible, well thought out plan,” Sealy told the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC).

LIAT announced changes to its commercial department in August, which involved the transfer of six positions from Barbados to Antigua.

At the time the company said the move was aimed at improving revenue generation.

“With the change in leadership, at the executive level it was felt that it was better for those departments to be at the headquarters. So that is where we are now.

“I think the larger question of course, and one that we have to engage in is the question of overall operations of LIAT and what makes sense to be based where. And that is the sort of analysis that will be taking place going forward,” Sealy said.

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He added that shareholder governments – Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica and St. Vincent and the Grenadines – are currently examining the airline’s operations, with a view to improving service.

“Some other things we are currently looking at with respect to how Liat does business, how it interfaces with the global marketplace and a number of initiatives along those lines, so we can get better yields in terms of the seats on LIAT and of course the cost element as well, so it’s an ongoing exercise,” he said.

Sealy acknowledged that the carrier plays a vital role in the development of the region, particularly in the tourism sector.

“It is the major source market for many countries in the region, that is CARICOM (the Caribbean Community), and in the case of Barbados, our third largest source market.”

In addition to restructuring its operations, LIAT is also engaged in a re-fleeting exercise.

“The ATRs are mainly here, with still a few Dash-8s in the fleet and we’re hoping to phase them out altogether,” Sealy said, adding “that in itself should make the airline more reliable and it should have an impact on the cost of operations.”