“By Ayana Summers”
Chairman of the LIAT Shareholder government, St Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves is likening the concept of “LIAT 2020” to that of “a concept wrapped up as an enigma and massaged by a lot of polemics”.
The concept of LIAT 2020 or a reorganization of the Antigua-based carrier is part of a proposal Prime Minister Gaston Browne will be putting forward to his regional counterparts some time next week in a last-ditch effort to save the ailing carrier.
The Antiguan and Barbudan leader has make it clear that he is not in favour of liquidating the company’s assets stressing that it would be detrimental to the twin island stated which employs the majority of LIAT workers.
However, Gonzales, who spoke during a local radio programme in his native country this week, said he has always kept an opened mind and is interested in seeing a workable plan, with dedicated realistic financing and while he is has no intention to fight the future, he is certainly not looking back at the past.
According to the Vincentian leader between the hurricanes that would have hit the region over the years and the COVID19 pandemic it is next to impossible to provide what is required to keep LIAT in the skies at this time.
And instead of “placing their heads in sock cloth and ashes we have an optimism, we rise again”.
Rising again in this term, he explains is to keep nationals and visitors in the region moving despite the demise of the beloved carrier.
The alternatives at this point is four airlines, namely One Caribbean which is owned and operated by Vincentians and an American with Vincentian heritage who are prepared to make short runs to Dominica and other smaller islands.
SVG Air with six twin otters, Caribbean Airlines with 12 jets and 7 ATR 72’s and more airlines which they will be acquiring.
“I have had meetings with SVG Air, I have had meetings with One Caribbean and Caribbean Airlines has been in touch with me and have sent me a letter indicated they stand ready to offer airlift in this critical time and they have a expansion plan which covers most of LIAT’s network,” Dr Gonsalves said.
He also spoke of Inter Caribbean which is owned by nationals of Turks and Caicos which has already applied to the Director of Airports to provide services to the region.
“We just have to make sure we get the right mix. Silver Airways which is out of Miami, Cape Air they have reached out to me. We can put together a schedule and we have assets. There may be other private sector people who may want to joint one of these entities. I want to ensure that we have a safe, reliable and sustainable transport,” the chairman of the shareholder governments stated