By Makeda Mikael
Once in LIAT’s lifetime it operated efficient two companies in the black! One in the South and one in the North, Four Island Air & Inter-island Air, and their fleet consisted of Britton Norman islanders and de Havilland Twin Otters
These aircraft kept the Northern & Southern small islands fed from the international flights in a most efficient manner, taking the load off the larger aircraft for non-stop flights and the ‘milk-run’ all the way from Antigua to Trinidad, later to Guyana, USVI BVI & Puerto Rico.
So now the South wants their share of the market by establishing an operating base in the South, and in particular to give movement to St. Vincent’s airport.
The absence of Barbados from the table allows St. Vincent to make a bid for the Barbados LIAT operation, but does not rule out northern access to Barbados.
It would make a lot of sense for the two airlines companies to start off with an interline agreement which allows both to serve the region complimenting the routes and being successful.
The guarantee of success is the inclusion of a private sector component geared to profitability, rather than being forced to hide LIAT’s financial failures and indebtedness in shareholder governments budgets.
LIAT has been wooed in the past for interline cooperation by international interests, but such was their available financials that they made no investment sense.
Most countries know that government run airlines tend to operate with low or no profitability because of government business interference and sometimes trickery in fees and routes.
All which standard operating procedures in good business preclude.
LIAT 2020 is expected to cannibalize LIAT 1974 which will leave the airline in the South a meager platform to mobilize Human Resources in the key areas of pilots, maintenance and operations and as there is talk in the region of looking into Brazilian equipment (Embraer) there will have to be training on the ground and in the air.
All will take time. So if LIAT is the airline of the North, and WIAT is the airline of the South, LIAT 2020 is up, and almost ready now to Leave Island Any Time, while the South is saying, Wait!