ST JOHN’S, Antigua – The struggling regional airline LIAT has announced the first two routes that it will cut “as part of its efforts to achieve greater profitability and improve efficiency”.
In a release issued today, the airline said it would stop servicing the United States Virgin Islands beginning March 1, when it ends flights to St Croix. Service to St Thomas will end on June 14, it said.
In addition, LIAT said it would suspend its flight between Guadeloupe and Dominica, and would introduce instead a return service between Antigua and the French-speaking island.
“The decisions made have been driven predominately by the need to enhance the operational stability of the airline and the quality of product for our customers,” Chief Commercial Officer Lloyd Carswell was quoted as saying.
Following a meeting here of the shareholder governments last October, St Vincent and the Grenadines prime minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves had announced that the airline would stop serving countries that hurt its bottom line.
Having recorded a net profit of EC$5 million (Bds$3.7 million) up to August 2016, a dramatic EC$14 million (Bds$10.5 million) reversal was expected in the final four months, leaving LIAT with an EC$9.2 million (Bds$6.8 million) loss for the year.
Gonsalves, the chairman of the shareholder governments, had said at the time that the airline would be cutting some “non-performing and non-profitable” routes and that a “a critical review of the schedule has to be fine-tuned. Clearly LIAT needs to do fewer routes, but do what we are doing much better”.
The airline today suggested that the review had been completed and it was ready to weed out the bad routes.
“The suspension comes after the completion of a route review exercise designed to help the carrier establish a reliable schedule that will fly on commercially viable routes going forward to offer the region a more consistent service,” it said in the release.