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Economist calls for politicians to stay out of LIAT

Former Government Director of International Trade and Investment, David Jordan says recent public pronouncements on LIAT by Prime Minister Allen Chastanet and Leader of the Opposition Philip J Pierre offer nothing innovative to ensure success and viability of the airline. 

“Their statements to say the least are on parallel paths. The woes of LIAT are perennial as espoused from one political administration or opposition to the next in the Caribbean islands where LIAT serves.  With change of political administrations in the islands serviced by LIAT, one only witnesses landing rights wars, if not landing inducements tactics, price increases of airport taxes and airline tickets which continue to be characteristic of regional air travel in the respective territories,” Jordan said.

David Jordan, Former Government Director of International Trade and Investment.

Jordan, an Economic Policy specialist proposes that “the mantle of innovative action and management should be extended to the private sector of the region which serves LIAT.”

“A select group of highly successful business people in the Caribbean region ought to be the directorate of the airline, LIAT in preference to politicians.  There are useful as well as successful adaptable business models, unbridled by political decisions which can be adopted. It is a shame that the only publicized rhetoric that the Caribbean public is accustomed to hear is the financial woes of LIAT,” Jordan said.

Noting that most countries where LIAT services regional travel are of critical importance, Jordan says he cannot recall hearing of financial accountability as an important element or seeing financial statements being publicized or published so that the learned could analyze those financial statements and offer guidance and or comment.

“One continuously hears of the intermittent crisis situations warranting supposed financial bailouts.  At this time, it is the pilots making a sacrifice for a ten percent salary cut to save the airline while earlier this year, there was a desperate call for five million dollars from supporting Governments. In the same vain, I think it is now opportune to change the policy direction propose and a new innovative business formula towards a successful operation if this trend continues to occur,” he added.

“How one effect changes by doing the same thing over and over again with the same tried management model?  The plea is to invite a team of successful business owners from the regional private sector, to manage the airline with a well-defined Terms of Reference – including the social need argument,” Jordan said.

He believes that while the region needs LIAT as a reliable airline to facilitate regional travel, there must be a successful formula of innovation that resides in the ethic and psyche of successful businesspersons in the region which can be adapted to ensure the success of the airline.

Innovation, Jordan said, can be adopted to eliminate the financial waste and losses that have been managed by politicians in the history of the airline, noting there will be a difference to the operations of LIAT should this new approach be adopted, such that the importance of LIAT will be explored from several spheres including the movement of goods.

“The beneficiaries of a LIAT service need efficiency, price affordability and safety as well as financial Accountability,” Jordan said, warning that while hoteliers should offer advice, hoteliers should never be involved as directors in this new model.

“Hoteliers rely too much on the culture of incentives and subsidies. Governments role, should be emphasized as a facilitator of the enabling regional environment, adopting policy of a uniform and identical stance across the region where LIAT flies to support the private sector run LIAT– defined as not being airline political managers,” Jordan said.

“It is notable there are glaring issues which ought to be addressed. The high airfares in the region deter travel. Too many Caribbean nationals and visitors lament they have not visited a neighbouring island but would have visited North America and or Europe instead.  Taxes feature highly in the proportionate cost of an airline ticket.  Governments cannot guide the airline to success with the laments, petty quarrelling and or bragging rights while the airline is faced with its major financial challenges,” Jordan said.

The Economic Policy Specialist asserted that if an innovative solution is being looked for then it is time that the politicians allow the highly successful business gurus of the region manage LIAT to resolve the current demise which politicians will continue to face but don’t seem to have a clue as to how to resolve.

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