Sunday, April 21, 2024

Call to fire LIAT board


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Sack the board, drop unprofitable flights and trim the “phenomenal amount of money” going to hotel accommodation for overnighting staff.These are a few of the suggestions publisher and frequent flyer Robert Pitcher floated in an interview on Friday that would improve LIAT’s efficiency and profitability.The outspoken head of Fun ’N’ Sun Publishing also had some suggestions for LIAT’s shareholder governments – keep the partisan politics out of the airline’s business and cut those travel taxes to help the airline offer cheaper tickets.Pitcher charged that “the whole LIAT board, from the chairman back down, needs to be changed”.His argument was that the board had not solved LIAT’s major problems, which have persisted for years.Pitcher calculated that the airline was woefully overstaffed. In Antigua “one-third of the staff is not needed”, he said. “The situation in Barbados and St Vincent is nearly [the same],” he added.He blamed the overstaffing partly on politicians exerting influence to have some of their people employed, saying they were “using LIAT as a political football”.He listed this and heavy spending on accommodating overnighting pilots and cabin crews among factors that compromised LIAT’s ability to make a profit.“There is no reason not to roster cabin crews and pilots, whether they are from Barbados and Antigua or other places, to overnight in their own countries,” Pitcher commented.“Then LIAT need not take up the cost of a taxi or expensive hotel bill both in accommodation and food because the pilots, when they have to overnight in various territories, must be put up in a four or five-star hotel and they must be able to eat good food.”Pitcher suggested LIAT look again at rationalising its flights.“Look at the passenger loads and instead of having three flights daily, where the passenger load will only reflect that it should be one, make the necessary cuts,” he recommended.Governments which have been “propping up the airline” would want as many flights as possible in and out of their countries, but it makes no sense flying planes half or a quarter full just to satisfy political needs, he said.Pitcher suggested that the benefits “of all this trimming of expenses” should translate into less expensive travel in the region.He also wants LIAT to stick to avoid going into what could be a risky cargo business. (TY)


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