LIAT has released a new business plan that cuts underperforming routes and begins the process of fleet renewal, CEO Ian Brunton says.
The Antigua-based airline operates 14 Bombardier Dash 8 aircraft, with an average fleet age of 19 years. This is untenable, Brunton says, and the carrier must upgrade its fleet in order to avoid the frequent breakdowns that have interrupted service recently.
LIAT is ordering six 50-seat ATR 42s to replace an equal number of Dash 8s, Brunton says. The carrier also is considering ordering 70-seat ATR aircraft, although details were not disclosed.
LIAT’s three largest shareholders, the governments of Barbados, Antigua and Barbuda, and St. Vincent, will provide 15% of the financing, and 5% will come from other governments in the region. The balance will come from commercial loans, Brunton says.
Some underperforming routes will be dropped or reduced to seasonal service, although details were not provided. LIAT is planning to increase service to several countries, including Panama, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Aruba and Haiti, says Brunton.
LIAT is focused on its intra-Caribbean route network for this year and next, Brunton says. However, with American Eagle pulling out of the Caribbean, a significant opportunity has opened for North America flights, he adds.
The second phase of LIAT’s expansion will include acquiring jet aircraft for North and South America operations, he says.