Stakeholders asked to support LIAT’s restructuring plan

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The Heads of Government from five Caribbean countries have agreed that the restructuring plan which was designed by the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) a year ago for regional airline LIAT must be implemented to ensure the future survival of the cash-strapped carrier.
This was the consensus reached following an emergency meeting in St. Vincent and the Grenadines on Saturday. The “Prime Ministerial Meeting” was held to discuss funding alternatives to ensure that the regional carrier continues to serve the Caribbean.
Prime Minister Gaston Browne, who attended the meeting, said implementation of the CDB plan calls for shared benefits and shared burden, and will require a significant amount of sacrifice from the various stakeholders.
“These stakeholders include the management and staff, suppliers, shareholders, to include other regional governments. Among the sacrifices would be the reduction in management and pilot remuneration perhaps up to about 10 percent and improving LIAT’s efficiency system-wide,” Browne said on Saturday during an interview on Pointe FM.
He stated further that the sacrifices will also include a reduction in debt of approximately US $60 million and the implementation of a minimum revenue guarantee for each route.
“In other words, there are no more free lunches. All the countries which have routes that are not viable, LIAT must be given a minimum revenue guarantee payable annually.
“All of the above is imperative and they must be implemented simultaneously. It can’t be a situation in which the shareholder governments are called upon to carry their part of the burden and then the pilots, for example, decide that they are not cooperating and they want an increase,” Browne said.
The PM also warned that the re-alignment of LIAT is critical and any delay could be ‘catastrophic’. He has also appealed to all the relevant parties to cooperate with the pending changes.
LIAT’s major shareholders are Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
Last week, LIAT’s Chief Executive Officer Julie Reifer-Jones acknowledged that while the airline is facing severe financial problems it would continue flying through the region with support from its principal shareholders.
LIAT currently operates 491 flights weekly across its network of 15 destinations. Trade unions representing LIAT’s workers were due to hold an emergency meeting in Barbados to continue the dialogue regarding the future of the airline.

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