Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves has denied involvement in the decision to bring new charges against Sen. Vynnette Frederick. (IWN file photo)
Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves has denied involvement in the decision to bring new charges against Sen. Vynnette Frederick. (IWN file photo)

Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves has added his voice to the chorus of criticism of the operation of regional airline LIAT.

Passengers on the airlines have been experiencing inordinately long delays — even by LIAT standards — over the past few weeks.

Gonsalves said on radio on Monday that the delays result partly because the airline has been retraining its pilots to fly the new ATR-72 aircraft.

LIAT currently has two of the 12 ATRs it plans to acquire over the next year.

But once the pilots are trained to fly the ATRs, they can no longer fly the Dash-8 aircraft, which currently make up the majority of the airline’s fleet.

Gonsalves, who is chair of LIAT’s shareholder governments, said on Monday that there are some issues related to LIAT and others resulting from entities providing services to the airline.

(Read also: More issues at LIAT as ATR aircraft is grounded)

He gave some examples, saying that on Friday, when he travelled to Barbados for a ceremony during which LIAT signed a loan agreement with the Caribbean Development bank, the 6 a.m. flight was 40 minutes late.

The delay resulted from a taxi contracted to pick up LIAT passengers who had to stay overnight, picking up those passengers late.

“Frankly speaking, people who are engaged to do pickups, we will have to insist that they do their pickups on time. And if a passenger was late when you are picking up, leave the passenger. They can’t hold the other 49 passengers because they got up late.”

Further, Gonsalves said that Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of National Security, Godfrey Pompey, said that when he arrived at the airport around 5:25 a.m., only one LIAT agent was on call.

“Now, one person can’t deal with 40-something persons in an hour. … These kinds of actions must have consequences,” Gonsalves said.

He said he has asked local manager of LIAT, Dominic Patterson about these issues.

The Prime Minister further said he was telephoned around 11:30 a.m. on Sunday and was told a LIAT plane had arrived without aviation oxygen on board.

However, the Government only had the type of oxygen used at the hospital and the plane was grounded until around 3 p.m. when oxygen was flown in on another aircraft.

“Well whoever is responsible for that plane moving between the various places, [should have ensured] that when it left the last stop … there had been a sufficiency of oxygen aboard,” he said.

 (Listen to or read the PM’s comment below)

“Now, these personnel issues, these issues of a lack of discipline in relation to some members of staff of LIAT and some persons who provide services for LIAT, it is just not acceptable and we have to speak out about this.

“I know the management, they have a lot of problems on their hands, but they’ve got to address these urgently.

“Because even when we get the 12 new planes, if these service problems remain, we are going to have improvement in one sense but we will be held back in another,” Gonsalves said.

He telephoned the radio programme on Monday after a caller complained about LIAT service.

Gonsalves said he was making the points so that the caller could see “I am on people’s case with this”.

8 replies on “PM Gonsalves says LIAT issues go beyond unavailability of aircraft”

  1. Kenton I see you have used the thumb to nose photo again.

    LIAT’s real problem is that it is a multi state owned airline. It needs putting out for sale on the stock market. Our only hope of better service and operation, is privatisation.

    One thing we can be sure of is that when our flag carrying ALBA airline, Conviasa Air from Venezuela starts operations here, then we will really be in trouble. They are one of the worlds worst state owned airlines. Some of the aircraft even have outside toilets, whilst some are toilets, and even the service is crap.

  2. Urlan Alexander says:

    I am so shocked with the PM yappings as he feels that everyone is foolish. He choosed to look at the least of LIAT’s problems. The main issue at the moment is the fact that LIAT foolishly sent most of its pilots to train to fly the new ATRs leaving hardly anyone to man the Dash 8s. Talk about the foolish decision rather than try to pass the blame Ralph.

  3. “Now, these personnel issues, these issues of a lack of discipline in relation to some members of staff of LIAT and some persons who provide services for LIAT, it is just not acceptable and we have to speak out about this. Mr Prime Minister you need to step up and stop baby liat situation and fire you execs. instead trying to fire or disciple the one customer agent…90% of the time the customer agent dont know what is going on and they on the front line bearing the frustration of the passengers while your appointed managers hide in their air conditioned offices…DO SOMETHING PM…Remember your time is running out in office

  4. If you have a bag of onions or potatoes and one is rot, the whole bag stinks; management is clearly not doing their job because they are supposed to throw out the bad onions and potatoes – PM explanation is just another coverup for LIAT’s non-performance. The people in the region they are serving is not happy – LIAT’s service stinks and we are crying out for help because we have to travel for one reason or the other and the PM has designed it in a way that only LIAT can service SVG – make it right PM!

  5. shellyann williams says:

    but hear shit ya na…..alyo does reall hear d bs from Gonsalves mouth…..this is d excuse u give for delay of airline…seriously….they retraining pilot for the new airline……..ummmmmmm how about leaving some to continue flying the one available because meanwhile ppl need to travel…..u cant take all and train them yet you all taking flight bookings….so ppl have to wait till a pilot available to fly…..i so mad because my 19mth daughter leave to go stmaarten with her grandma since 9 yesterday morning check in time and was schedule to leave at 11am yet they delay till 1 but never left till 3:30….and this morning i heard they in a hotel in barbados……seriously,seriously……come onnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn….LIAT never ever cease to disappoint ppl…never cease

  6. Frankly speaking… we do not want to hear that crap. your internal issues is none of our business. deal with it the same way we deal with our internal issues to come up with the money to pay you to travel with the LIAt airline. you don’s hear us complaining to you about our issues. do the damn work that we are paying you for. Shame on you liat for trying to put other people under the bus to hide your issues. deal with your problem for a change… we are not asking for favors from you… we are paying for the services you supposedly should offer

  7. The PM’s comments are in keeping with some of my negative experiences with LIAT. He is correct in saying that the personnel issues need to be addressed. In fact, radical internal actions are necessary at this point if we expect to see improvements. In my opinion, many of the problems we see are related to inept customer service practices by individuals in the chain as well as what I interpret as reactive rather than proactive approaches to dealing with the expected challenges associated with travel and more specifically, airline travel.

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