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More Background NOISE about LIAT

More Background NOISE about LIAT

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Editor: Once again the major shareholders in LIAT have met and produced a communiqué that says nothing. They have just rehashed what they always say. Restructure. Find a new CEO. Contract a third party etc. etc.

If they are really serious about turning LIAT into a “real” self sustaining business they need to employ the services of someone who knows how to run an airline. That someone must have a free hand to impose the work ethic and conditions that are needed. I suspect there are some “contracts” that will need close examination.

The STAFF – There are some very good ground staff in the airline, but many really slow, inefficient, lazy, rude, and down right unhelpful.

Aircrew are going to have to become more efficient. This will probably mean flying more hours and sectors per month.

OPERATIONS – The operations department in Antigua do not keep outstation staff informed of changes. This results in the passengers being kept totally “in the dark” when there are delays and changes and delays that may well have been unavoidable due to weather, aircraft unserviceability etc. This attitude points to a lack of understanding of the value of communication.

These are just two of the most obvious areas that must be addressed.

With the best will in the World the Prime Ministers of the countries that have an interest in LIAT are not experts in running an airline. Some may be graduates in various fields of economics, but that is not a sufficient grounding to run an airline.

Pilots’ have an excellent grip of the operational side of the business, but generally they are not strong enough on the administrative side. Pilots’ who think that they can run an airline often fail.

So who do we need to run LIAT? Well Leary of RyanAir is busy. Branson also seems to be employed. Lundgren of Easy Jet is also not available. I think that the reader will get the idea. The person running the airline must have autonomy, without any interference from other parties. That doesn’t mean he/she would not be responsible to the shareholders. Many senior individuals within LIAT would have to relinquish their positions of power, or at the very least defer and be totally open to the Boss.

Do we have this kind of expert in the region? Is there someone in LIAT that could be selected? The problem of promoting from within the Company raises the question of nepotism and the general “laid back” culture that seems to be very prevalent.

I believe that the position should be advertised internationally and that the interview board should have at least two members that are familiar with airline operations/administration and not in anyway connected with LIAT.

Lastly if the shareholders are really serious about turning LIAT around they should look very closely at the way taxes and fees are levied within the region. The general population are not wealthy and an airline ticket is a significant purchase. LIAT is somewhat limited in its ticket pricing by this restraint. How can any of the region’s governments justify charging as much as 180 per cent of the ticket in taxes and fees.

Now if you the governments (shareholders) are prepared to continue supporting LIAT as a “community service” then keep levying those taxes and fees. However if you want LIAT to be a real and profitable company you all better get together and reduce your “pound of flesh”.

Michael Arthur

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