Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, as well as officials from the government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines have written to the management of the Regional Caribbean Airline, LIAT, highlighting concerns about the ongoing scheduling problems and cancellations facing the Vincentian travelling public.
The issue was first raised by Prime Minister, Dr. the Hon. Ralph E. Gonsalves in a February 25, 2016 letter addressed to the Chief Executive Officer LIAT, Mr. David Evans, against the backdrop of a February 17, 2016 letter by LIAT, ‘requesting a further advance of EC$810,000 by St. Vincent and the Grenadines’.
In responding to the letter, Prime Minister Gonsalves explained that, among other things, that St.Vincent and the Grenadines was not well served by the current schedule of the airline.
Dr. Gonsalves said that St.Vincent and the Grenadines cannot be considered to “be in a condition akin to that of an abused spouse, in which commitment is taken for granted, amidst shabby treatment”.
A release from the Office of the Prime Minister says the lack of adequate service and poor scheduling to St. Vincent and the Grenadines were again raised with LIAT in a conversation between Prime Minister Dr. Gonsalves on Friday, September 2, 2016 and top LIAT officials.
On September 4, 2016 a letter was written to LIAT’s Legal Counsel, Ms. Diane Shurland by Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of National Security, Mr. Godfred Pompey, expressing similar concerns.
Permanent Secretary Pompey has requested an urgent meeting with LIAT’s management in St. Vincent and the Grenadines to urgently address the matter which was further exacerbated when a LIAT flight emanating from St. Vincent and the Grenadines was returned to the E.T. Joshua Airport.
The letter stated, ‘It is understood that Flight LI738 on which the SVG Football Team was booked, was enroute to Trinidad and Tobago when in the wisdom of someone in Operations, Antigua directed the Aircraft to return to the E.T. Joshua Airport with the understanding that the Team would be accommodated on the early morning flight to Trinidad and Tobago, knowing that the Team’s connecting flight out of Trinidad and Tobago on COPA Airlines was 6:15 a.m. Sunday, 4th September, 2016’.
‘Since the month of June, LIAT’s service to St. Vincent and the Grenadines has been deteriorating with no improvement in sight. As a Major Shareholder, St. Vincent and the Grenadines has been receiving the crumbs in terms of service. Officers at LIAT are now taking pleasure in shifting the blame of LIAT’s poor service to the Ministry and by extension the management of E.T. Joshua Airport, making demands to keep our Airport open at times beyond 2:00 a.m. This is highly unacceptable since some category of staff is required to report to work at the opening of the airport at 5:30 am’.
Pompey’s letter added that LIAT’s management, including Operations, is taking St. Vincent and the Grenadines for granted, outlining that the demands for extended operating hours at E.T. Joshua Airport, are unbearable and unreasonable.
The government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, a major shareholder of LIAT is anticipating a quick and amiable resolution to the ongoing situation in the interest of the Vincentian travelling public.