Urgent attention needed for cash-strapped, regional airline, LIAT

BARBADOS, CBC — The Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) has reiterated a call for urgent attention to be taken to address the challenges facing the cash-strapped, regional airline, LIAT.

CDB President Dr. Warren Smith has pointed to the airline’s financial woes and the impact of high taxes on intra-regional travel.

“I think CDB’s position, based on a number of studies that we have financed, suggests that intra-regional travel is a very important part of the successful development of our countries,” he told the bank’s annual news conference.

“Most of us are small island states and the decline in intra-regional travel traffic as a consequence of heavy taxation that is placed on intra-regional movement, is affecting the level of business that is done between the islands.

“So there’s an urgent need to address that issue; there’s an urgent need to improve the financial performance of LIAT because its sustainability depends on addressing that issue,” Smith said.

Smith told reporters the bank is anxious for a turnaround in the performance of the regional aviation system, particularly at the Antigua-based carrier, which has received financial support from the regional development institution.

LIAT, whose major shareholders are the governments of Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada and St. Vincent and the Grenadines, has also received financial support from the CDB which, according to Smith, currently stands at an estimated US$300 million.

Last year, a warning from Trinidad and Tobago’s Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley that the airline was in danger of ceasing to exist if it did not receive a cash injection, prompted calls for serious investment in the troubled airline.

Read more from SOURCE: The Virgin Island Consortium

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