ST JOHNS, Antigua – Owen Arthur, former prime minister of Barbados 1994 – 2008, is expected to be the next chairman of the regional airline LIAT, following the resignation of Dr Jean Holder last year.
“You would recognise there will be a new chairman, in fact, former prime minister of Barbados Owen Arthur, he will take over as the new chairman of LIAT,” prime minister Gaston Browne announced, “And I have to tell you I don’t think there could be any better candidate,” Browne said.
“Owen Arthur would have spent a large amount of his prime ministerial equity ensuring the survival of LIAT, and now that it is at the crossroads again, I think that Owen is the right person to lead LIAT out of these difficulties,” Browne said. “We have come to a consensus on the way forward so a lot of the differences that existed we’ve been able to resolve them and I believe LIAT has a very bright future ahead of it,” the prime minister said.
Last year, Browne gave the assurance that his government will never allow LIAT to go under, “All will be done to safeguard employment, adding that ‘there is [a] need for stability and certainty.”
The Caribbean region depends on tourism for its economic viability notwithstanding the high cost of regional travel. There is also the need to facilitate commerce, trade (connecting people, goods and services) and social cohesion within, pertaining to regional integration.
Consultants and business entities continue to echo the catastrophic impact the imminent closure of LIAT will have on regional transportation, social and economic dysfunction. Aviation experts are not convinced that ‘other airlines could very easily fill the gap’ – data and recent history indicate that various airlines have entered the regional markets LIAT services, but few are operating.
Amid the regional airline’s financial and operational dilemma, LIAT is connecting the region, flying to 15 destinations across the network.