St Lucia Minister says no to investing money in LIAT

CASTRIES, St. Lucia, April 21, 2008 – St Lucia’s Tourism and Civil Aviation Minister, Senator Allen Chastanet says government will get more returns pumping money into a fast ferry service than investing in regional airline LIAT.

He insisted that it was pointless investing in a corporation which has not been able to provide a solid and viable investment plan.

Senator Chastanet said that while government was willing to enter into joint marketing with LIAT, the airline has insisted on receiving money.

“The funding that American or British Airways is receiving or that we consider putting in, is in joint marketing or to get a route off the ground. The funding that Mr Darby (LIAT’s  CEO), is talking about is us putting money into LIAT as a corporation and as I said, if you’re going to ask for our country to invest into LIAT, I need to know what we’re investing in,” said Mr Chastanet.

He suggested that the introduction of a fast ferry service would create an affordable alternative for people who want to travel within the region.

The Tourism Minister also pointed out that this mode of transportation provided more cargo carrying capacity.

“The planes, and given the size of the markets and the facilities that we have, will never be able to carry cargo in a substantive way. When we talk about economic integration within this region, one of the things that clearly has been lacking, is the ability for us to be able to carry cargo afford ably and on a reliable basis and on an inter- regional basis,” he said.