Sunday, May 19, 2019

Rowley says Liat has 10 days' cash to stay functioning

Rowley says Liat has 10 days' cash to stay functioning
01 Mar
2019

In­ter-Caribbean air­line Li­at Ltd on­ly has enough cash to func­tion for the next 10 days and will face a shut down if Cari­com does not in­ter­vene. The fal­ter­ing air­line needs an im­me­di­ate cash in­jec­tion of some US$5 mil­lion to keep fly­ing,

Prime Min­is­ter Dr Kei­th Row­ley said af­ter re­turn­ing from the 30th Cari­com meet­ing in St Kitts and Nevis.

Speak­ing mo­ments af­ter land­ing at the Pi­ar­co In­ter­na­tion­al Air­port, Row­ley told the me­dia that the Li­at share­hold­ers said they need­ed to act with ur­gency in or­der to keep the air­line afloat.

"Cur­rent­ly, part of Li­at's prob­lems is that Li­at is fly­ing un­eco­nom­ic routes with loads that are heav­i­ly sub­sidised. If the air­line is to re­main fly­ing to coun­tries that have routes like that, the share­hold­ers are say­ing that such coun­tries will have to guar­an­tee a min­i­mum rev­enue stream to the air­line or the air­line would cease to fly those routes," Row­ley said.

"As I speak to you now, I do not know what the sit­u­a­tion is for T&T.

"If the routes com­ing in­to to Trinidad and To­ba­go are un­eco­nom­ic and the re­ceiv­ing coun­try re­quires the ser­vice to con­tin­ue then we may or may not have to en­ter an agree­ment."

Cur­rent­ly, T&T has a one per cent share in Li­at so al­though the coun­try would not be fi­nan­cial­ly im­pact­ed if the air­line goes bel­ly-up, Row­ley said the fail­ure of the air­line could still neg­a­tive­ly im­pact the coun­try.

He said one of Li­at's ma­jor cost cen­tres was air­line main­te­nance.

"I have agreed to al­low them to talk with CAL (Caribbean Air­lines) to see whether there is any eco­nom­ic ben­e­fit of co­op­er­a­tion be­tween CAL and Li­at from that stand­point," he said.

Stay­ing on the top­ic of in­ter-is­land trav­el, Row­ley said the Cari­com heads al­so dis­cussed the vi­a­bil­i­ty of a pas­sen­ger sea fer­ry to ser­vice the is­lands up the Caribbean.

"T&T was able to give our ex­pe­ri­ence on the cost of op­er­at­ing such a ser­vice, which is heav­i­ly sub­sidised be­cause they were talk­ing about a fast fer­ry ser­vice," he said.

Row­ley said he told the gov­ern­ment heads that a fast fer­ry ser­vice was ex­pen­sive but an­oth­er type of sea ves­sel might be more vi­able.

"We are still look­ing at the pos­si­bil­i­ty of some kind of sea fer­ry ser­vice," he said.

Row­ley said the group al­so dis­cussed se­cu­ri­ty as it re­lates to in­ter-is­land trav­el, which in­clud­ed adding a US$2-3 sur­charge on trav­el tick­ets be­tween the Cari­com is­lands.

"Through­out the re­gion, all our coun­tries are fac­ing sig­nif­i­cant up­surge in crime," he said.

The PM said there was al­so a call for coun­tries to give pri­or­i­ty to the Ad­vanced Pas­sen­ger In­for­ma­tion Sys­tem which mon­i­tors pas­sen­gers com­ing in­to the re­gion.

"This has to be paid for to make sure we have some el­e­ment of con­trol on mat­ters of re­gion­al se­cu­ri­ty," Row­ley said.

He said not all the Cari­com mem­bers are on board with the fund­ing of re­gion­al se­cu­ri­ty.

"So we have been dis­cussing again, from meet­ing to meet­ing, this ques­tion of ap­ply­ing pas­sen­ger sur­charge and that mon­ey be used di­rect­ly for sup­port­ing the bud­get re­quired to fund the nec­es­sary se­cu­ri­ty ap­pa­ra­tus that I just men­tioned," he said.

"Trinidad and To­ba­go will be paid up."

On the in­ter­na­tion­al front, Row­ley said the Cari­com group is push­ing back against the Eu­ro­pean Union's (EU) broad black­list­ing of Caribbean na­tions as havens for tax evaders.

"They have been ar­bi­trar­i­ly black­list­ing Caribbean coun­tries and ac­cus­ing us of be­ing tax havens and shel­ter­ing mon­ey laun­der­ers," Row­ley said.

"We be­lieve that this type of ar­bi­trary ac­tion on the part of Eu­ro­pean body is ei­ther out of ab­solute ig­no­rance or dis­re­gard for our rights and we have de­cid­ed to raise our diplo­mat­ic re­sponse to it across the world to in­di­cate that we are not pre­pared to take that kind of treat­ment."

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