BVI News

Find investor to manage LIAT | Survival of airline vital to region’s economy — Walwyn

By Esther Durand, BVI News Staff

Former legislator Myron Walwyn said despite the myriad of challenges faced by regional airline, LIAT, Caribbean leaders should effectively band together to save the company, as it is crucial to the region’s economy.

He said the airline — which has four major shareholder-governments comprising Antigua & Barbuda, Dominica, Barbados, and St Vincent & the Grenadines — has been ‘keeping the people of the Caribbean connected’ for more than half-a-century.

“A great effort needs to be made to find a private investor company — preferably with experience in the airline industry — that can bring capital and management expertise to the entity. However, the Caribbean shareholders should ensure that they maintain the controlling interest in the company,” Walwyn told BVI News at the weekend.

BVI should join the conversation, LIAT important

While noting the important role LIAT plays in bringing tourism to the eastern Caribbean, Walwyn argued that jurisdictions such as the BVI should get involved in discussions to save the airline.

“Tourism is the main industry in many Caribbean countries and for some, LIAT bring more passengers to their shores than any other airline,” the former legislator argued.

“The survival of LIAT and, indeed, reliable regional air travel is vital to the economy of these countries. There should be a move to institute minimum revenue guarantee arrangements with countries that benefit from LIAT’s service,” Walwyn added. 

When asked if he felt that the British Virgin Islands should become a shareholder in the failing airline, he replied: “I wouldn’t necessarily say that. But I do think we should participate in the conversation on the future of the airline, albeit a lower level than the current shareholders. All Caribbean countries that that benefit from LIAT should be a part of the conversation to save the airline.”

He added that the conversation should also include high taxes on travel.

Exploring other avenues

When news broke of the impending liquidation of the airline, the BVI Airports Authority said they were ‘deeply concerned’ about the matter and has engaged InterCaribbean Airways and Caribbean Airlines with the hope that they fill any void LIAT has left for the BVI.

LIAT unable to pay bills

LIAT has been challenged with the COVID-19 pandemic and a review of the state of the airline has shown that it is “unable to pay its debts”.

St Vincent Prime Minister, Ralph Gonsalves — the Chairman of the airline’s four major shareholder-governments — said they would be convening a meeting “for the purpose of considering the closure of the airline”.

And according to an article dated June 27 in the Barbados Today, Antigua’s Prime Minister Gaston Browne said, “from all indication, LIAT will be liquidated”.

He added that a new entity would be formed and he said full cooperation from the public and private capital would be needed.

Copyright 2020 BVI News, Media Expressions Limited. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or distributed.

61 Comments

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  1. waylox says:

    Yes they need a manager like the one who managed the charlie’s, cafesito and the steak house. Where are they now?

    Like 11
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  2. mister says:

    It was antigua who killed the airline in case you didn’t know.

    Like 7
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  3. Lol says:

    The $7.2M could have helped old faithful LIAT. Work on getting it back

    Like 15
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    • No chance says:

      $7.2 would not have saved LIAT – no sensible investor (surely not even the BVI Govt) would invest any money into LIAT now!

      Like 12
  4. Lol says:

    We rather put the money in thieving white people hands. The $7.2M could have helped LIAT that helped the black caribbean community. No, this is not intended to be racist. This is to show how we do not help our own kind. How we do not help ourselves. How we believe that one race is more superior than the other. We really have a bad mentality towards other people of nations within the region. Not saying we should discriminate against whites either. It is only when black people sinking and need help they find other black people. When black people flourishing, to hell with their black brethren. If LIAT going down wasn’t going to affect us, the cry to help them will never have be made. Facts!

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    • Lmao says:

      African owned and operated. Doomed for failure. Need I say anything more? Oh yes, they will leave a string of debt and many people will lose. They will start up again under a different name and screw people and provide poor service. Just keep recycling like BVI politicians.

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    • Just Wrong says:

      “We rather put the money in thieving white people hands” – “no this is not intended to be racist”

      AMAZING !!

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      • Call a racist and racist says:

        You are a racist

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      • @Just Wrong says:

        what’s racist about that? Because he used the phrase white people? Stupes. If had said Asian, Polynesian, would that be considered racist? Maybe he should have used the term European or American. Which word he used, he’s absolutely correct.

        • Just Wrong says:

          “thieving white people” ???????

          So, there would be nothing wrong with saying “thieving black people” ??

    • doesn't work like that says:

      You can’t make a racist statement and then claim you are not being racist to further explain your racist ideas.

      Racism is racism. No matter what the color of your skin is, you should treat everybody with respect. It goes in all directions.

      Like 21
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    • BuzzBvi says:

      Are these racist statements allowed? Having we got a new cybercrime act to stop you printing these racist comments.

    • @just wrong and doesn’t work like that says:

      Hope you keep off the island people or, at least reprimand the bloggers who constantly blog discriminatorily on them. O hypocrites.

      Nothing is wrong with the statements made. Truth is truth.

    • @Lol says:

      You are 100% correct. We are the biggest oppressors of each other. Also, Walwyn would be better off telling us what happened with BVI Airways than running off his mouth about who should bail LIAT out.

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  5. Unbelievable says:

    It’s funny how you think other Caribbean islands should fund LIAT and while you want BVI to be part of the conversation you don’t think it should be involved in the funding process. Typical!!! So basically you want other Caribbean islands to fund an airline that is going to help keep tourism afloat in the BVI. But not only will you not help to fund this airline, you want to recommend higher taxes on travel, on top of the BVI now taxing people from these same islands that’s funding the upkeep of the airline – for sending money back to their families!! Is that all the BVI is good for – TAKE TAKE TAKE?!!!! You want the BVI to be part of the conversation then the BVI should be prepared to put its money where its mouth is or shut up and sit down!!!

    Like 28
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    • Lodger says:

      BVI pays LIAT a subsidy but nobody will tell us how much it is. It must be in our budget somewhere. An outside investor eh? Like Sir Alan Stanford maybe?

    • bimjim says:

      Irrelevant argument.

      Do Antigua, Barbados, Grenada or Trinidad own shares in Air Canada or American Airlines? Yet those airlines serve those countries. Isn’t that strange to you?

      Ownership of the airline is a completely different matter from fares and service.

      If Grenada is a “social route” because loads are low, then either the ticket prices need to be raised or Grenada negotiate for a formula to subsidise the fares based on loads.

      It is a function of MANAGEMENT, but LIAT has had such abysmally unqualified, ignorant and incompetent management for the past 20 years that nobody is doing anything about it.

      That LIAT was losing money was also a function of the SHAREHOLDERS (read politicians), who at every pressure point from industry leaders and crisis refused point blank to make any changes at all. Baggage handlers, CSRs, pilots, ramp personnel — NONE make the decisions for this or any other airline.

      The final evaluation can only be that the buck has to stop at the very top — those politicians who directed the airline through the politically appointed an qualified and incompetent Board and management. LIAT was not killed by COVID but be the Biblical jawbones of many asses, from politicians down to management.

      • @bimjim says:

        Thank you. This airline has been struggling financially as well as managerially for quite some time. A bail out will be like putting a band aid on a wound that need stitches. They need a complete buyout and revamp by an investment group, not politicians.

  6. Reasonable Man says:

    LIAT was never a well run airline. There are other airlines with much better reputations servicing the general area that will be happy to add routes and solve this. This is a problem that without dumping public money into it will solve itself for you.

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  7. Sniffn says:

    There you go!!!!BVI wants an airline, Liat available,,, cheap what a bargin

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  8. Chuups says:

    this old —– man still trying to be relevant. Can’t m—- a little wall around a high school or a little f— s—- but on here but Liat!!! boss go sit down your less self can’t even win an election!

    Like 6
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  9. Wow !! says:

    Why does everything has to be political ? Can’t you see the regional benefits of having stable Flights back and forth along the Caribbean islands ? Minds are so warped they cannot see beyond the”big toe” of personal prejudice . Look at the bigger picture and see how a regular, stable , regional airline for the Caribbean is going to benefit all and help to grow the economy . The problem is they run LIAT like a government department and not a business enterprise .

    Like 16
    • Hell No says:

      Nope. VIP don’t even give his idea a thought. We aint clear our air yet, people out of work, Port staff on reduced hours, social moving slow with payment pr who they want to pay etc. Plus NHI needs to scrap. Hell no, I aint even mention the 7.2 mil we cannot get back. Keep out the Liat story and at the least, lets go with BVI Airways (our people). Have a nice day to all.

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  10. hmm says:

    While I understand the struggle the Caribbean will face. LIAT don’t need a bit of saving because its their poor management by Caribbean governments that have them where they are. Governments should support the other Caribbean airlines. BVI specifically need to get behind VI Airlink. Governments as a whole need to stop trying to own companies because they aren’t equipped to run them

    Like 14
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  11. The TRUTH says:

    Thank you for your much needed input. SMH.

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  12. E. Leonard says:

    It is an open secret that the private sector is more effective and efficient than the public sector in delivering rival and excludable goods and services. LIAT is a regional airline that was formed in Montserrat in 1956 and every effort should be made to keep it local to serve locals and benefit locals. LIAT survival is important for building regional integration.

    Moreover, over the decades LIAT has had some operational challenges and shortcomings. Some of the challenges and shortcomings are internal to LIAT and some are external. The airline business is a capital and labour intensive business with high a safety margin and a razor-thin profit margin. Every flight that takes off and lands come with a fix cost with the revenue stream to cover this fix cost plus make a profit coming from paying passengers and cargo but mainly from cargo.

    Further, a key metric in airline economics is passenger load factor(PLF), ie, the ratio of revenue per passenger mile(RPM) to available seat mile (ASM). It is how well an airline manages its load capacity. The PLF varies by airline, by trip, by route…..etc. The PLF typically is around 70-80%. LIAT operates in a small market with a small traveling population. It may make a profit on a few routes but operates negatively on other routes. A hotel has to put heads in beds to stay profitable so too buses, trains, ferries, taxis…..etc have to put butts in seats to be profitable. Consistently, getting airborne below the breakeven point spells trouble.

    Thus, a restructured, leaner LIAT that is efffectively-led/managed with eminently experienced and qualified staff and with a new vision/mission can rise like a Phoenix from the ashes.

    Effectively and efficiently operating an airline is capital intensive. It would be a heavy lift for every small island dotting the Caribbean Sea to operate its own airline. For the benefit of the region and for the benefit of the people, the region has to take insularity to the dung heap and work cooperatively and collaboratively to bring accessible, affordable and available airlift to the region’s people. For starters, regional countries need to lower their taxes on airline tickets.

    Like 7
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    • Disinterested says:

      LIAT problems come down to passengers, passengers, passengers, lower fees, lower taxes, better management and keeping politics out of daily operations.

    • RealPol says:

      @E. Leonard, real talk, Did you study aviation management? From the comments, it seems that you have some knowledge of the subject matter. Over the years, your comments on airlift have been a consistent theme. Convinced we should take another look at LIAT and airlift in general. Put the man on BVIAA statutory board.

    • E. Leonard says:

      Corrections and additions:

      “Every flight that takes off and lands come with a fix cost with the revenue stream to cover this fix cost plus make a profit coming from paying passengers and cargo but mainly from cargo.” The last word in this sentence should have read passenger, not carbon.

      Moreover, though the Caribbean region is a heavily travelled region, air travel is seasonal with the peak occurring during northern summers; valley, winter. Further, LIAT as other airlines operate on a break-even load factor, ie, it has to sell a minimum number of allocated seats to cover its cover. A few seats over the break-even load factor may mean a profitable flight.

      Today, it is said that airline break-even from ticket prices and make a profit from baggage, seating, ticket change and other nickel and dime fees. Further, effective scheduling and fare setting can set the stage for turning a profit.

      In a restructured LIAT, some locales may only see one flight a day or once every other day or even less frequently from a hub, based on passenger loading. Non stop flights may be few with island hopping being the norm.

    • Quiet Rebel says:

      The high taxes heaped on by each country dumps cold water on consumers to make only essential travel or travel less frequently due to price shock. Inter-Island travel is not a cash cow for island governments. Inter-Island travel should be encouraged. For example, if air fares were reasonable, during inter-Island cricket, football, basketball, track and field…..etc competitions throngs of supporters would travel with their home teams. Visitors would stay in hotels, guest houses, villas. Air B&Bs, eat at restaurants, buy souvenirs, rent cars,…..etc, boosting the economy. More attention is needed on regional travel, not just international travel.

  13. Good points says:

    Reading through some of these blogs is very interesting. What Myron is saying is very true. But it seems like when some on the VIP hear about Myron they get instant diarrhea. I never see anything like that before. Why they afraid of this man so?

    Like 7
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  14. Jagger says:

    I am no fan of the NDP. I believe that the top leadership was too outdated in their thinking for where our country is but I always saw Myron and Marlon differently. Myron for one is missing in the House of Assembly. His contributions were always well researched and he is very articulate. The VIP would have been under heat now if he was there.

    Like 6
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    • Really says:

      Heat for what

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    • @Jagger says:

      That is why VIP worked so hard to get rid of Myron. I often did not agree with Myron but I would have to say he is a forward thinker and a good business man.

      Like 7
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    • @Jagger says:

      Like wise as well, The only thing I would say to Myron is, PATIENCE and TOLERANCE is the key. He is a smart man and he will understand what I am saying.

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    • GTFOH says:

      Myron was a part of cabinet that supported BVI Airways, Pier Park, Million Dollar walls and every other bad deal that NDP made. We need to stop this mentality where we ignore bad actions by people that we like and try to rewrite history. Dr Smith by himself couldn’t pass any law or bad contract in the HOA. NDP couldn’t save themselves when they were in power you think that they can help us from the other side.

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  15. Trouble ahead says:

    Look who we give up for people who can’t even spell or read. We cannot be thinking straight. Listening to them in the Legco is total embarrassment.

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  16. Bvi carib airways says:

    Sorry to hear liat…but bvi pick up the slack and purchase some of these planes and take over the caribbean route…..

  17. thumbs up says:

    Myron from long has always been a forward thinking, intelligent and well read person. Good points.

    Like 8
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  18. Its the truth says:

    Myron is right. Liat is very important to the tourism economy of the BVI. We have to lend our voices to the conversation. Most of our tourist coming from the UK get here through Antigua and it’s Liat that brings most of them to Tortola. We should build up our local carriers as well. But Liat is important and the Caribbean governments should stay involved in air travel. Don’t allow private companies to hold your countries hostage.

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  19. Thinking says:

    The BVI needs to get out of its myopic view of things and start to become a leader in the Caribbean. We separate ourselves too much. We are not US even though we want to think so. We are at odds with the UK. We have to start to develop closer ties with the rest of the Caribbean. Liat is an important Caribbean institution that help all the economies. We cannot be absent from the conversation. It’s more than just going off to find another few airlines to fill the void.

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  20. Real talk says:

    I always appreciate your contributions Myron. One love!

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  21. Magellan says:

    The BVI need to be more proactive in our thinking as it pertains to our tourism industry. LIAT was the conduit that linked the Caribbean together. It’s in our own best interest to have a say in how we would want the new LIAT to operate.

  22. Nostradamus says:

    Let’s be honest; since C B Romney introduced the financial services sector and the cruise ship industry to the BVI, we haven’t introduced any noteworthy industries to take us through the 21st century. Our leaders must be strategic,calculated and brave to explore new frontiers. Thank you Mr Walwyn for your foresight.

  23. Ausar says:

    The BVI is NOT interested in assisting any local airlines, much less LIAT!

    Dont forget the Braithwaite brothers, and the managing airlines of the eighties that belonged to the Rhymers!

    If there is any benefit to BVIslanders having anything to do with airlines, government must be willing to make real investments in the maintainance of it!

    I’m not convinced that government is there yet, nor will ever get there!

  24. So says:

    funny how the biggest and nastiest hard core racists always on here bawling bout racism.

  25. Jane Doe says:

    I am always opened to hear from Myron. He has good reasoning skills and he is forward thinking. His presence is truly missed.

  26. boy these cult members says:

    I reading some of these blogs and seeing comments about BVI airways money and all kind of irrelevant things. Are we not able to put politics aside for one moment and have sensible conversations. No government ever waste more money than the VIP. Is forget we forget soo fast? and they still wasting money. We blind too? Sometimes we have to put the petty politics aside and engage in meaning dialogue on issues. Stop being a cult member for once and use your own senses man. Its sickening now.

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  27. Anonymous says:

    From 1834 to around 1950, the BVI never knwe nor had no problem with racism. Black people was not racist against their own or nodoby else.

    Then came the monster from across the horizon and the poor place has been infected with that disease ever since.

    Longing for the change needed in humanity similar to the times past. No more covid and no more racism. But its inventors can’t change how the feel about other human beings. Now they are busy trying to use media to affect reverse psychology upon a people.

    History has indicated that the “African” did not create racism, nor was he ever a racist. In fact, he was and still is the victim of racism worldwide.

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    • Clueless says:

      You have absolutely no idea what to are talking about. Racism is not just about skin Color. Ever been to Ethiopia? Once a magnificent empire. Go to adis now and you will find out how much they consider themselves superior to all the ‘nasty black people’ to the south and west. Just one example of the thousands of various races on the continent who despise others. Remember the Hutus? Or maybe the 11 major tribes in zambia who to this day are constantly at each other’s throats.

      Thinking black people are not racist just shows that you think that black people are better than others. The very definition of racist.

  28. agree says:

    Myron is right! The Caribbean governments need to work closer together. They need to collaborate on air travel, the cruise ship industry and other things. Those cruise ships will come right by their divisive game and school all of them.

  29. Serious times says:

    The Liat issue should be one of concern to us for real. I am not sure how many other airlines could provide the level connectivity that we get from Liat. These things are important to our tourism industry. We can’t be on the sidelines

  30. School mate says:

    Look my boy! I love this man. One of the very few who actually looked out people. Can’t turn my back on you.

  31. Fr fr says:

    One thing you can’t take away from him is his intelligence. I respect this brother.

  32. bimjim says:

    No investor with an ounce of brains or risk tolerance would invest in LIAT (1974) Limited. Having to pay the massive debts racked up by the incompetent management in the presence of all of the assets already sold off. Pouring more hundreds of millions down the same LIAT “black hole” I have been talking about for decades.

    But a LIAT 2020 Limited would be a good vehicle for private investment AS LONG AS the politicians are put in their minority place and professionals make all of the decisions at Board and executive levels.

    COVID will keep the passenger loads very low for some years to come, so the initial start-up will cost less than if normal loads existed – and that is a good thing.

    The new airline MIGHT be able to take over the former airline’s AOC Air Operating Certificate, which NORMALLY takes the EC-CAA almost a year to issue (!!) so it is possible if that can happen for a new carrier to be in the air about three months after initial application for change.

    But remember, the shareholder politicians would have to cooperate, and right now that is not always possible or even automatic.

    Don’t give up on LIAT just yet, it might appear in a meaner, leaner form and surprise you.

    • @bimjim says:

      A major part of Liat’s Problem is the taxes and fees imposed by the individual Caribbean countries. The taxes and fees make up over 50% of the ticket price. When you say Liat s expensive, it’s the same countries that its servicing that make it expensive. If the government lower their fees then the ticket prices can go down and perhaps Liat could charge a bit more on their end for the service. Liat can be a profitable venture for an experienced airline company that could bring its expertise to improve what currently exist. Also the countries that Liat service need to contribute financially to the airline as well.

      • bimjim says:

        I agree and I disagree.

        Whatever LIAT’s air fares are now, the taxes and fees added on are applied the same way to ALL carriers, local and international. If a new carrier is able to emerge then these crippling taxes and fees will still apply – and when compared (as they have been) to the new fares those taxes and fees may be 300% to 400% of the small air fare instead of the past 100% to 200%.

        Politicians have indicated they will “take a look” at the taxes and fees, but don’t hold your breath. This crop of self-centered ding-dongs love to talk big and make promises, but at the end of the day most times we have nothing placed in our hands.

        Our CARICOM “founding Fathers” were statesmen, people with their eyes on the horizon and not solely on their own egos and wallets. CSME was imagined and created, but even if there were carriers providing the transportation people would still stay home because of the “cash cow” taxes and fees our greedy short sighted politicians today have dreamed up – and keep raising.

        To my mind, our politicians all need to be kicked out and replaced with people who actually give a fraction of a damn about regional unity. Truth be known, I am not even sure they give a fraction of a damn about their own people – Gonsalves and Mottley are two very good examples. Right now I see almost every one of them interested only in what is in it for them personally, no interest in the fact that we are stronger together.

        With a reverse-Midas touch, everything they touch seems to turn to cow manure. Where did we get all of these losers, and how did they climb to such powerful positions as country-pancake dictators?

  33. Real facts says:

    This is one person that I truly miss from the HOA. Help is needed inside there and our current Premier is steam rolling everybody. If Walwyn was there it would have been a show down and they would have had to come real good and prepared when some of the things that I see them doing. How does gambling law and marijuana law pass soo quietly in the country? How?

    Like 3
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  34. M Walwyn says:

    Myron was head and shoulders above most of those politicians. Don’t talk about the bunch we have now. Father help us. We need these kinds of thinkers now in this difficult time. Unfortunately we have a bunch of upstarts with the one man bandit in front. Great conversation to raise Myron.

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