Wednesday, 14 August 2013

LIAT route expansion a possibility

Additional routes are likely to be on the cards for regional airline LIAT.

Speaking recently at the signing of the loan agreements between LIAT, the Caribbean Development Bank and the stakeholder governments of LIAT, Chairman of the Shareholder Governments and Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, said that the aircraft being purchased to upgrade the fleet would allow the airline to go to other destinations within the region. This, he explained, would add to the 22 routes they presently service and increase the number of flights the airline undertakes per week, which currently stands at close to 1 000.

Chairman of the Shareholder Governments and Prime Minister
of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Dr. Ralph Gonsalves (second
from right) makes a point while (from left) Chairman of LIAT,
Dr. Jean Holder; Prime Minister of Barbados, Freundel Stuart;
President of the CDB, Dr. Warren Smith; and Prime Minister
of Antigua and Barbuda, Baldwin Spencer, listen.
“We are looking at possibly to go to Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic, Haiti is another destination, and we can go to Jamaica … and we have to look for strategic partners. We have to look for strategic partners so we can expand also with a jet service to Central America, we can go to Fort Lauderdale,” he said.

The Vincentian PM added, “We have to have a vision as to where we are going with this. The core routes which we have are going to help us in keeping things together and the US $350 million, $360 million this year generated through the industry known as LIAT in the region, that would expand more and there is no reason why we can’t do it.”

With that in mind, the chairman of the shareholder governments said that he wants to see other Caribbean countries, particularly those in the Eastern Caribbean which benefit from LIAT’s service, to come on board and support the airline, as Dominica has done in recent times.

“We have to get everybody on board as we go forward… Bit by bit we’re getting there and while we’re getting there, those of us who are shouldering the burden will shoulder it, and we ask for understanding from the region, as we go forward with this necessary and desirable service,” Gonsalves added. (JRT)

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