Published On: Fri, Oct 21st, 2016

LIAT just can’t seem to fly out of the red

LIATJOHN’S – Regional airline LIAT continues to sing the blues as the cash-strapped carrier dips into the red for yet another year.

According to chairman of LIAT’s shareholder governments, Dr Ralph Gonsalves of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, the airline is projected to record EC$9.2 million (US$3.4 million) in losses at the end of the year.

While the airline’s budgeted total revenue for 2016 was EC$318.8 million (US$118 million), the company is expected to bring in just under EC$300 million (US$111 million).

Dr Gonsalves said for the current financial year, the cash-strapped carrier made a net profit of EC$5 million (US$1.8 million), up to August.

As a result, shareholder governments Barbados, Antigua and Barbuda and St. Vincent and the Grenadines have agreed to pump EC$3.7 million (US$1.37 million) into the cash-strapped company.

Dr Gonsalves said the other shareholder government, Dominica, was still recovering from the destruction of Tropical Storm Erika just over a year ago and therefore was not in a position to provide any financial assistance.

The chairman also disclosed that three other regional governments have been asked to become “partners” in the airline – St Lucia, St Kitts and Nevis and Grenada.

Despite LIAT’s projected losses, the situation still marks a significant improvement from last year when losses stood at EC$57 million (US$21 million), half of which were attributed to the sale of Dash 8s and severance payments.

Airline chairman Dr Jean Holder has therefore referred to the current situation as a “significant turnaround of the company’s financial fortunes in 2016.”

“We had a very good summer, actually, and we are now entering what is a leaner period, so that some of the financial success that has attended the company since January, I expect to see a slight tailing off of it between now and the early part of the year,” he said during a meeting of representatives of the majority shareholder governments in Barbados.

Among some of the recommendations to reduce LIAT’s losses were eliminating some routes, reducing “bouts of sickness” affecting some flight crew in a very sensitive and sensible manner, stabilization of the schedule by resolving operations challenges and working on several technology-based projects to improve service delivery and efficiency.

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