ST. JOHN’S, Antigua and Barbuda, March 28, 2019 (CMC) – The financially-strapped regional airline, LIAT, announced, today, the cancellation of several flights, due to what it termed “operational reasons”.
The airline did not elaborate on the “operational reasons” but, in the past, had warned that several regional destinations’ governments had until March 15, to respond to the airline’s minimal revenue guarantee (MRG) proposals.
Under the MRG model, it is likely that a few flights may be cut, if the governments are not prepared to fund them with a guarantee. St. Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister, Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, had indicated that, theoretically, several countries have no quarrel with the MRG.
The airline said that it was cancelling flights: LI 374 from Barbados to St. Lucia; LI 375 from St. Lucia to Barbados; LI 337 from Barbados to Grenada; LI 338 from Grenada to Barbados; LI 769 from Barbados to St. Vincent; and LI 770 from St. Vincent to Barbados.
“Affected passengers will be moved to other flights, at no charge. Please contact our Reservations Call Centre or your travel agent for more information,” LIAT said, in a brief statement, posted on its website.
The announcement coincides with a meeting, held in Barbados on Wednesday, attended by Gonsalves, host-Prime Minister, Mia Mottley, and trade union representatives.
Media reports said that the final decision on the future of LIAT is expected, later this week.
The reports added that officials have been asked to come up with a number of proposals to present to Mottley, before weekend.
“A number of positions were explored, and those present are to now get back to the governments, later this week, regarding the positions that were tabled,” the Nation newspaper, today, quoted a source, close to the negotiations, as saying.
Last week, the airline shareholder-governments – Barbados, Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica and St. Vincent and the Grenadines – said they were seeking to get Caribbean countries to contribute a total of US$5.4 million in emergency funding, needed to keep the airline in the sky.
The pilots have already rejected a call for them to take a salary cut, as the Antigua-based airline seeks to reverse its financial situation.
“Looking at the situation, as it is right now, if we are to go forward, doing the things that we are doing now, if we do not look at the scheduling, if we do not look at how we are going to generate the revenue going forward, we can give up 10 percent now and we have no idea when the company will rebound, for us to recoup that investment or even for them to start paying the staff back,” President of the Leeward Islands Airline Pilots Association (LIAPA), Carl Burke, said.
Last week, as she delivered her country’s national budget, Prime Minister Mottley told legislators that the core elements of a new, sustainable model for the regional airline, were already clear and that the restructuring is expected to dramatically cut the airline’s cost to the local taxpayer.
She acknowledged that LIAT is a tough issue to crack, and that there are “more government shareholders in LIAT than in any airline in the world”.