Air travel remains a quintessential component to tourism in the Caribbean. One name that has always been synonymous to air travel is – LIAT.
Founded in 1956 by Sir Frank DeLisle, LIAT has been a Caribbean staple having celebrated 60 years of flying the Caribbean skies in October 2016. The airline, today, operates a new fleet of ATR aircraft with an average fleet age of two years.
LIAT is headquartered in Antigua with operational hubs in Antigua, Barbados and Trinidad.
What LIAT Means for the region?
LIAT connects 15 destinations from Puerto Rico in the North to Guyana in the South. It connects the Caribbean with over 500 flights per week. In 2016 LIAT operated in excess of 28,000 flights and carried 900,000 passengers. These passengers travelled for different reasons including business and pleasure.
The airline’s importance to business is highlighted by its business travellers and the Quikpak Courier and Cargo services. However, LIAT makes a significant contribution to the tourism product of the Caribbean. With the advent of more carriers in the region, LIAT remains a critical provider in the market place for inter–regional tourism, delivering vital connections for Caribbean citizens to other islands. In addition, LIAT provides travellers from North America and Europe the ability to travel further into the Caribbean region, and beyond the specific longhaul access points of Antigua and Barbados. These travellers are able to travel onwards with LIAT, and access a range of countries including Dominica, St. Vincent and Grenada.
With an enviable safety record, LIAT is looking towards 2017 with a cautiously optimistic outlook. While the region continues its economic recovery, LIAT is continuing to present options to the travelling public. The airline completed its Fleet renewal program in 2016, moving from the older De-Haviland Dash 8 aircrafts to the newer ATR aircraft. Acting Chief Executive Officer, Julie Reifer-Jones sees this as important to LIAT’s strategic position. “This new fleet will help us be able to move our passengers in safety and comfort as we present a more reliable product.” Mrs. Reifer-Jones has for 2017 placed On Time Performance, Reliability and Great Customer Service as the company’s priorities. “We want passengers to have the LIAT experience from purchasing their ticket to arriving at their destination where the customer service experience makes the passenger eager to take their next LIAT flight.” she stated. Julie Reifer-Jones sees LIAT as continuing to work to fuel the potential of the Caribbean, by connecting it to the world, and the world to the Caribbean, especially in the tourism driven economies of the Caribbean. •