St. Lucia minister wants Caribbean governments to subsidise LIAT

liat-740CASTRIES, St. Lucia, Tuesday March 31, 2015, CMC – The St. Lucia government says there is sufficient justification for regional governments to subsidise the cash-strapped regional airline, LIAT, indicating that Caribbean countries would benefit significantly from a successful regional carrier.

Civil Aviation Minister Alva Baptiste said that the airline industry is inherently unstable citing powerful trade unions and unprofitable routes as being among the major challenges facing LIAT.

“LIAT has a number of challenges including powerful unions that can shut down the carrier, and that is a very big issue,” Baptiste said, noting that airlines do not make vast profits.

He told reporters if the Caribbean market was so attractive, there would have been a number of private sector interests investing in the sector.

“We saw (Allen) Stanford with Caribbean Airlines which never made any profit. People are not entering the market,” Baptiste noting that investors were not entering the regional airline market because of exit problems.

“After you have invested substantially in buying planes that depreciate very quickly, who do you sell them to afterwards?”

Baptiste said governments should make an allocation in their national budgets for aviation services, since there are at times, no justifications for flying a particular route.

LIAT is owned by the governments of Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

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