ST JOHN’S, Antigua – Airline industry insider, Patrick Ryan called LIAT’s hangar fire a “shock” and a “travesty”, but cautioned that the regional airline’s swift response to the catastrophe is crucial to its ability to get back on its feet quickly.
“It is Murphy’s Law. It is the worst possible time for this to happen…” the 28-year LIAT veteran said in an interview with OBSERVER Media.
“It (LIAT) was struggling with financing and struggling with paying its operational debt so this setback is difficult. You have to be concerned about LIAT at this time.”
Ryan, who once served as both a pilot and operations manager for the airline, said that LIAT’s top brass should lean on the airplane’s manufacturer to secure maintenance equipment immediately, and then negotiate financing and payments in the future.
“We’ve got to get on to the manufactures of the airplane, Havilland. We have to use our goodwill with them. We were a test run with the Dash 8…” Ryan noted.
“When we first got them. We were the ones who put in the most number of landings and most number of cycles. We proved that airplane.”
Although the airplane aficionado concedes that Antigua & Barbuda’s government is not in a position to bailout out LIAT, he said they too have a part to play in getting it back on the right track.
“The government’s got to be putting their heads together. They are going to need some sort of short-term financing. They have to look at their friends, their allies, whoever they can leverage to get some type of funding for the deposits on this,” Ryan said.
He also explained that LIAT would soon have to contend with the Eastern Caribbean Civil Aviation Authority as it will soon be pressing the airline to find a new hangar home base.
“They will only be given so much time to operate out in the open elements,” Ryan said. “In the short-term, they are going to need to look for hangar space.”
He added that LIAT’s short-term goal should be to secure its summer schedule up to the end of the year and then revisit its plan after that point.
In his capacity as the new chairman of the Airport Authority, Ryan said that the organisation has no direct involvement with the functioning of the carrier, but is indelibly invested in its success.
“Our interest is to see LIAT flying and doing well and actually expanding, because their home base is at VC Bird International Airport and the better LIAT does the better the airport does. It is one of our biggest customers,” Ryan said.