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Caribbean Aviation

Grenadian gov’t promises to break monopoly in regional sky

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Linda Straker  Dec 28, 2007

ST. GEORGE’S, Grenada (eTN) - Days after 24 of LIAT’s 35 flight attendants staged a sick out resulting in hundreds of travelers being stranded at airports around the Caribbean, Grenada’s government has announced its intention to break the airline monopoly in the region.

Grenadian Prime Minister Keith Mitchell has said his administration will seek alternative solutions to the region’s air carrier LIAT because a “single regional carrier is bad news for the Caribbean.”

Expressing concern about airline poor service, Prime Minister Mitchell said that the Grenadian government will be taking steps either on its own or in partnership with other interested governments to give the traveling public alternatives to LIAT, which became the lone regional carrier when it partnered with its former rival, Caribbean Star, in February 2007. Within the last quarter of 2007, LIAT bought Caribbean Star's assets which resulted in a monopoly carrier in the regional sky.

Prime Minister Mitchell, who was obviously mad about Wednesday’s Flight Attendants sick out, said: "The new LIAT monopoly has set us back terribly. It feels like we are back in the ‘80s when we had no choice but to put up with poor service and long delays. The only difference between now and then is that it is so much more expensive to travel now.”

He added, "I spoke about this at the last heads of government meeting, and I want to reiterate the point that the LIAT monopoly is not a beneficial arrangement, and I believe it cannot be continued.”

The Grenadian official pointed out that LIAT's level of service is causing major disruption in the lives of people right across the Caribbean. "I am concerned about how LIAT's service is affecting ordinary people. Our business community, our farmers, our sports men and women and the traders and traffickers who move between the islands on a daily basis are all suffering because of the unpredictability of the LIAT service. Even people who have to travel to Barbados or Trinidad to get visas are complaining bitterly about the service.”

Expressing his concern about the effects of the action taken by the flight attendants, Prime Minister Mitchell said, "Christmas is not only the time when Caribbean people reconnect with their loved ones; it is also the busiest and most productive time for our regional tourist industry.”

According to him, "At a time when global economic pressures are affecting everyone, we cannot afford any disturbances in our productive sectors. LIAT must recognize that it is a key partner in the region's tourism industry and must therefore improve on the way it delivers service.”

Claiming that LIAT's operations and pricing structures are affecting the regional integration effort, he also said, "The continued late operation of flights, high cost of tickets, and this latest industrial action hurts our entire region and makes the airline suffer even more."

LIAT is owned by the governments of Antigua & Barbuda, Barbados with St. Vincent and the Grenadines being the major shareholders.

Grenadian gov’t promises to break monopoly in regional sky

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