Prime Ministers laud Kittitian founder of LIAT airline

Passengers boarding a LIAT Dash-8 aircraft at St. Kitts’ Robert Bradshaw International Airport (Photo by Erasmus Williams)

BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS, OCTOBER 17TH 2011 (CUOPM) – Fifty-five years after the establishment of LIAT (1974) Ltd by Mr. Frank Delisle, a national of St. Kitts and Nevis, in October 1956, with a single Piper Apache aircraft, the airline continues to advance the goal of Sir Frank to provide safe and reliable air transport to the islands and peoples of the eastern Caribbean.

Shareholder Prime Ministers Dr. the Hon. Ralph Gonsalves of St. Vincent and the Grenadines; Dr. the Hon. Baldwin Spencer of Antigua and Barbuda and the Hon. Freundel Stuart of Barbados in a joint statement noted that from such humble beginnings, today’s LIAT now represents the primary mover of people within the Caribbean region.

It operates from the Dominican Republic in the north to Guyana in the south with an average of over one hundred flights daily and connecting English, French, Dutch, and Spanish speaking countries and peoples of the region in a way that no other airline does.

The three Prime Ministers noted that today, LIAT contributes substantially to the economic and social development of the Caribbean region, moving close to one million passengers in 2010 and providing important linkages for inter-regional travel as well as for connections to international, particularly trans-Atlantic travel.

In most islands LIAT remains the main carrier, transporting more passengers than any other airline, supporting various community and civic causes, and contributing to government coffers through various taxes and charges.

Earlier this year a LIAT Cargo freighter service was re-launched and this now moves cargo of all sorts throughout the airlines extensive network as well as connecting to international freight carriers at Barbados and Antigua.

There is no doubt that the present period represents tremendous challenges to the very survival of the LIAT brand. A difficult international and regional economic environment, escalating fuel and other prices, and a restive industrial climate represent real risks to the company’s future.

“Processes of change to minimise costs and to enhance operational efficiencies will be required if the airline is to adapt in today’s dynamic and competitive environment. In particular LIAT’s stakeholders – employees, management, unions, governments and private sector – must seek to develop win-win partnerships in recognition of the vital role which the carrier provides to our region and the fragility of its survival in today’s harsh economic climate,” said the prime ministerial statement.

“We salute the many LIAT staff who throughout the years have built this outstanding Caribbean institution, on many occasions making personal sacrifices to ensure the continued existence of the airline. We recognise the important work of this vital regional institution and pledge our governments’ continued support for the carrier as we seek to ensure LIAT’s continued future as ‘The Caribbean airline’,” the statement concluded.

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