Liat service a concern for St Lucia opposition party

CASTRIES, St.Lucia, Monday September 30, 2013, CMC – The main opposition United Workers Party (UWP) has expressed concern about the service provided by the regional carrier LIAT.

UWP Leader Allen Chastanet says the operations of LIAT are critical to the tourism industry and the overall business market of St Lucia, notwithstanding, the dependency on LIAT for the delivery of professional and efficient service.

“Despite the fact that LIAT operates as a monopoly, the airline continues to burden regional governments financially and has consistently fallen short from the required standards which the market demands,” said Chastanet , a former Tourism Minister .

He observed that St Lucians have over-extended their patience and tolerance with LIAT without the commensurate improvements from the airline in its services.

“We are suspicious that decreased flights and increasing fares to St. Lucia by the airline is a deliberate attempt at coercing the government to meet their demands.

The United Workers Party is concerned that the government of St Lucia may be yielding to the existing pressures and may have decided to invest millions of dollars in the beleaguered airline,” he added.

The UWP Leader, cautioned the government against plans to invest millions in LIAT.

“We wish to caution the administration to exercise prudence in ensuring that the use of tax-payers monies should only be applied towards financially successful ventures. At this stage we are not convinced that investment in LIAT is a sound venture.”

According to Chastanet, “the aviation industry is too critical to the St. Lucian and Caribbean economies; it requires a more competitive environment which will enable the input of fresh ideas and initiatives to ensure survival and growth of the region.

“We must be prepared to put in place new minds and persons with a sound understanding of the industry.”

Chastanet also issued a call for the heads of government of CARICOM (Caribbean Community) to review the tenure of the chairman of Caricom Aviation and Transportation Sub-Committee.

The UWP political leader supports the calls from around the region for both the current chairman of LIAT and chairman of CARICOM Aviation and Transportation Sub-Committee to tender their resignations.This, he said is a necessary step to ensure a more objective approach to find immediate solutions for a viable regional aviation industry.

“The UWP wants to commend the staff of LIAT and to state that we sympathize with them as they are forced to operate in very trying and tenuous conditions.

The region cannot continue to be saddled with an airline which is unable to generate profit and continues to fall short of basic standards. We therefore advise that the government of Saint Lucia act with extreme caution as relates to investing in LIAT,” he said. Click here to receive free news bulletins via email from Caribbean360. (View sample)