Cargo service among LIAT future plans

ST. JOHNS, Antigua, May 29, 2009 – Regional airline LIAT is looking at introducing a cargo service as a new way to generate revenue.

Acting Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Brian Challenger said this is among plans intended to move the carrier to a new level as it marks 53 years of service to the region this year.

“We are hoping that by the beginning of summer we will be able to offer to our LIAT network a cargo schedule which would satisfy the demands of shippers and producers in the region and we also believe that it will contribute to our bottom line,” Challenger said in a release yesterday.

The plan calls for the conversion of one of the company’s three Dash-8 100 aircraft into a full freighter.

Challenger, who was appointed Officer in Charge of the company last month, following the departure of former CEO Mark Darby, also committed the airline to continue servicing routes even when they are not very economically viable.

“On a strictly commercial basis there might not be any justification for them but as a company committed to serving the Caribbean over the last 50 years we view it as our responsibility that we continue to provide services where necessary, working with regional governments to ensure these services,” he said.

“This is a very important aspect of the commitment that we have to the region. Our shareholder governments have indicated to us that they expect LIAT to operate as a viable entity. It’s not a situation where they expect to be putting any money into the company. They’ve done this in the past and our perspective is that we must earn our keep as we go through.”

He pointed out that it was not about LIAT making super profits, “but so that we can see a return on our investments; provide a safe, efficient and punctual service; satisfy the demands and requirements of our staff while meeting the demands of the region”.

The acting CEO also promised the airline would work with its aviation partners, governments and private sector, recognizing that “in this difficult economic climate, everybody has to work together to achieve the aims of enhancing profitability and growth”.