BASSETERRE, St. Kitts, Sep 08 2015 – Prime Minister of St Kitts/Nevis said his country is not eager to sign on to the cash-strapped LIAT airline any time soon.
LIAT’s consistent financial troubles do not make it an attractive investment option indicated Dr Timothy Harris . The recently elected and very popular Prime Minster of St.Kitts-Nevis said his government would have to be persuaded that an investment in LIAT would be a wise one.
Dr. Harris stated “At this moment in time the Cabinet has not made a commitment to invest in LIAT … in fact it is not on the table before us and with regard to the challenges facing inter-island travel, we certainly would have to be convinced that an investment in LIAT at this time makes sense.”
At present, Antigua & Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica and St Vincent & the Grenadians share fiscal responsibility for the struggling airline and there has been a longstanding call for St Kitts/Nevis and other regional governments to assist.
Harris, however, said investing in LIAT was simply bad financial decision making.
“The people of St Kitts and Nevis would want their dollars to be spent wisely,” he said.
“LIAT has brought to the fore a number of strategic plans, none of which have taken LIAT out of the red; therefore it is not a tempting proposition for us at this time, but in the context of a regional effort we will give serious consideration to a proposal.”
He added that his government had not yet received a formal invitation to finance the company.
“Yes, we have had colleagues saying we need to invest in LIAT. We have had a delegation that came some time ago and spoke to a number of ministers and myself regarding LIAT and its future, but we have not been written to formally.”
Harris also shot down criticism regarding his government’s unwavering support of other international airlines, citing that those airlines were more profitable to the country.
“For example, the route from Miami to St Kitts is one we hardly ever have to put money into because it is well supported,” he said.
“I believe when we compare the efficiency we get from some other airlines we are not talking in comparable terms with respect to LIAT.”
The regional PM even drew comparisons to Antigua & Barbuda, which invests heavily in LIAT, but in his mind, seems to have little to show for it.
“We think that LIAT, if you look at what really happens, we have lost in some of the restructuring efforts. I think I’ve heard that in the case of Antigua. You have fewer flights and they’re not even more convenient. There was a time you could have gone to Antigua and gotten back by a certain time in the evening but now, if by 11 or 12 you’re not, that’s it until the next day.”
Despite these misgivings Harris said his government might be willing to look at assisting the regional airline if the company is able to make fewer losses and improve its reliability.
“I think that is crucial. (LIAT) has been missing the mark for too long and it seems to have bought into that propaganda that it can ‘leave any island at any time’, so reliability of the service will remain a critical factor. Certainly, we would want to see better management and ultimately that has to be reflected in the bottom line, he said.