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Gonsalves: LIAT in need of US$10m.

Gonsalves: LIAT in need of US$10m.

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“LIAT is of strategic importance to St. Vincent and the Grenadines.” These were the words of Prime Minister, Dr. Ralph Gonsalves at the first press conference held for the New Year in Cabinet Room last Tuesday.

He said that although the airline faced difficulties in recent times he is very satisfied with its progress. He made it clear that the $44 million put into LIAT since February 2005 had gone a long way and the airline has done exceptionally well over the past year.{{more}} He said LIAT has cut its losses by almost $10 million and some 40% compared to 2004, and had also reduced its debt by over $10 million. Passenger carriage has also exceeded 90,000 passengers from the year 2004.

Along with all of the progress mentioned by the Prime Minister, he said the airline had been on a steady course of executing all of its plans up until the end of September. At that point there was an increase in the fuel price by 40% and an increase of 25% in rental charges.

The airline now needs a further US$10 million to continue the restructuring which the initial $44 million was supposed to cover. The Prime Minister said that the Barbadian Government is giving serious thought to putting up most of the $10 million required.