KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent – Investment from the Dr. Kenny Anthony government in St. Lucia will not be among the options as the three major shareholder governments and representatives from 11 trade unions from across the Caribbean meet to discuss regional airline LIAT in Barbados today.
Anthony has made it clear that his administration has no definite plans at this time to become a shareholder in LIAT even as he acknowledged that the regional carrier needs significant reform, a revision of its management and more support from regional governments.
But Barbados’ Prime Minister Freundel Stuart has said that any attempts to deal with LIAT, into which his country, along with St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Antigua and Barbuda, has pumped hundreds of millions of tax dollars, must now involve REDjet.
“It is impossible to discuss LIAT without discussing REDjet. So you can be assured that a lot of issues will be put on the table,” Stuart said last week.
Meanwhile, Anthony, who was re-elected to office last November, said last week that a decision to support LIAT would come after his administration has had an opportunity to consider all the factors involved.
Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves said in his budget speech earlier this month that St. Lucia and Dominica were interested in becoming equity partners in the cash-strapped airline.
Gonsalves said that his government remains committed to LIAT, its reform, fleet renewal and expansion, to meet the intra-regional air transport demands for Caribbean and international travellers alike.
“One thing is sure, unless a further fundamental restructuring of LIAT ensues, the potential of this vital airline service would not be fully realised. That is a major challenge in 2012 for the three shareholder governments …” said Gonsalves, who is also Minister of Air Transport.