St. Lucia has called for a shakeup of the financially strapped regional airline, LIAT, as it agreed to guarantee a three million EC dollar (One EC dollar = US$0.37 cents) loan for the airline now undergoing a modernization of its aging fleet.
“It’s not just a matter of changing the chief executive officer but dealing decisively with a problem in management that has been inherited over the years,” said Prime Minister Dr. Kenny Anthony.
The airline, which last week had been forced to cancel many of its flights because of a strike by pilots, has been without a chief executive officer since Trinidadian Ian Brunton resigned in September.
Anthony, who is also the finance minister, said that there was also a need for a complete overhaul of the airlines business model in order to ensure its long term sustainability and recommended a revision of operations and logistics.
Anthony said that LIAT, which flies to more than 21 destinations daily, must stop operating in a traditional manner believing that the only two bases it can have in the region are Antigua and Barbados.
“It has to rethink for example where is it in its best interest to have its maintenance facility, these are questions that loom very large and it can’t any longer be a question of historic entitlements where Governments are putting money,” Anthony said of the airline, whose shareholder governments are Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, and St, Vincent and the Grenadines.
Castries has now become the fifth regional court to have a stake in the airline that in September signed a US$65 million loan with the Barbados-based Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) to finance the purchase of aircraft in the context of a fleet modernisation project.