PM Mitchell says Gre­nada pre­pared to of­fer LIAT sub­sidy

The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL -

Prime Min­is­ter Dr Keith Mitchell said on Wed­nes­day that Gre­nada is pre­pared to pro­vide the cash­strapped re­gional air­line, LIAT, with a fi­nan­cial sub­sidy for it to ser­vice the is­land, but was not pre­pared to pro­vide funds for the air­line’s op­er­a­tions.

“Gre­nada will have no dif­fi­culty pro­vid­ing some sub­sidy to LIAT but I am not tak­ing money and give it and say spend it as you want . . . That is an of­fer I made since Jean Holder was the chair­man,” he told a news con­fer­ence.

“If the is­sue is the monopoly, we have to do some­thing about it. If the is­sue is about im­pos­ing taxes on the ticket then we have to do some­thing about it. Right now we are charg­ing our­selves out­side of the mar­ket,” he said.

Ear­lier in the week LIAT an­nounced that it would be re­duc­ing the num­ber of flights to Gre­nada as of Fri­day but Mitchell told re­porters that fol­low­ing talks between St Ge­orge’s and the air­line man­age­ment, the cut has been re­duced to just one flight.

Mitchell said that Gre­nada has an open sky pol­icy and that, like Saint Lu­cia, his gov­ern­ment is hold­ing talks with the Trinidad-based state-owned air­line Caribbean Air­lines (CAL) and other air­lines to ser­vice the is­land.

“We can­not sit down and wait,” he said while call­ing for the man­age­ment of LIAT to adopt mea­sures that will im­prove its op­er­a­tions. Gre­nada of­fers a mar­ket­ing sub­sidy to a num­ber of in­ter­na­tional air­lines to guar­an­tee they ser­vice the is­land.

Ear­lier this week, Saint Lu­cia’s Prime Min­is­ter Allen Chas­tanet told a news con­fer­ence hav­ing CAL as the na­tional car­rier may be the best op­tion for the is­land given the many is­sues fac­ing air trans­port in the re­gion.

The for­mer tourism min­is­ter, a harsh critic of LIAT, re­it­er­ated ear­lier state­ments that the air­line, whose ma­jor share­hold­ers are the gov­ern­ments of An­tigua, Bar­buda, Bar­ba­dos, and St Vin­cent and the Gre­nadines, can­not solve all of the trans­porta­tion needs of the re­gion.

LIAT is saved once again.

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