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Fri 28th Dec 2018

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LIAT needs a competent Board of Directors to be profitable

LIAT was established in 1956, but still to this day, it fails to operate with a profit. Given that it operates the majority of the Caribbean inter-island flights, one has to wonder if the various people running the airline over these past decades have ever had the right qualifications to do so.

Retired British Royal Air Force Engineer Warrant Officer Ivan O’Neal BSc (hons), MSc, MBA, Leader of SVG Green Party, makes a very strong call for a competent Board of Directors of LIAT that have the appropriate skills to run the company with a profit. Clearly, a different skillset is needed than the skillset held by the current LIAT board of directors.

LIAT is continually under enormous financial pressure due to unsustainable losses and expenses. It is repeatedly propped up by donations from regional governments. After 60 years of operating, it must surely learn to stand on its own two feet.

It makes no sense that the inefficient and poor running of LIAT is rewarded by government bailouts. It must be run properly, with profit, by a competent board of directors.

Also, LIAT’s Annual Financial Statements for 2014 to 2018 must be tabled in the parliaments of Antigua, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada and SVG and made available to the public, or are the financial statements so shockingly bad and embarrassing they are hidden away from the public?

One has to wonder if any financial and business analysis is done at LIAT with a view to making LIAT a profitable going concern. Surely, when comparing LIAT to similar-sized operations that fail and those that succeed and carrying out regular SWOT analysis - Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats – answers can be found and strategies put in place to run LIAT properly and profitably.

Being millions of dollars in debt and requiring regular massive financial bailouts is not good business sense for LIAT.

While LIAT is being propped up by regional governments, it will never be profitable. The problem is that no matter how badly the company is run, it will always be bailed out. This causes inefficiencies, which inevitably lead to LIAT making a loss.

It is unacceptable for Gonsalves to waste SVG taxpayers’ money and continue to prop up LIAT. It’s like throwing money down the drain, which is unacceptable given that so many households in SVG live in poverty. The bailing out of LIAT should stop. Only then will LIAT be able to deduce its operational weaknesses, find its true break-even point and be profitable.

Examining price structure with regard to running costs, fixed overheads, etc, would help LIAT earn a profit. This exercise should not take 60 years, so what is happening at LIAT that it cannot run at a profit decades after starting up.

We are fully convinced that LIAT plays a very important part in the Caribbean’s economic sector, but it must be run competently and with a sustainable profit. For this to happen though, a board of directors is needed with the appropriate skillset.

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