St Vincent Puts A Hold On Funds For LIAT

KINGSTOWN, St Vincent – The St. Vincent and the Grenadines government says it will not inject any more funds into the cash-strapped regional carrier, LIAT, until the airline improves its services to the island.

Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves led a delegation for talks here with a LIAT management team, headed by the acting Chief Executive Officer, Julie Reifer-Jones two weeks after his administration wrote the airline demanding talks over what it described as its poor service.

The talks here on Wednesday were aimed at resolving “LIAT’s deteriorating service experienced by the Vincentians” and in a statement Thursday following the talks, Gonsalves highlighted a number of challenges, including the lack of information on delays and cancellation of flights to the travelling public.

In its September 4 letter to Diane Shurland, LIAT’s Antigua-based legal counsel, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of National Security in Kingstown, Godfred Pompey, wrote “it is time for LIAT to get its act and attitude towards the travelling public of St Vincent and the Grenadines together.”

The statement Thursday noted that the central mandate of LIAT is to provide the best possible service with the equipment available.

“The Company must seek to carry out the mandate of the Shareholder Government and the Board of Directors in that the decisions made by shareholders are not fully implemented by the management of LIAT,” the statement said, in an apparent reference to the failure of the airline to shift its hub from Antigua to Barbados as the shareholder governments decided some time ago.

Gonsalves, who is chair of LIAT’s shareholder governments, said in Barbados last week, “the decision to shift the base has not been rescinded but the management has not carried out the decision and I would like to find out why.”

Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Barbados and St Vincent and the Grenadines are the shareholder governments of the airline and the government here said that there will be no new injection of funds from Kingstown until the airline’s service is “significantly improved”.

LIAT had recently requested that Kingstown release a further EC$810,000 to help with its operations. (CMC)

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