LIAT CEO Ian Brunton calls it quits
JOHN’S, Antigua – LIAT Chief Executive Officer Ian Brunton has handed in his resignation from the embattled and cash strapped airline after what in his own words was a “disastrous summer” for the Antigua based carrier.
OBSERVER media was yesterday unable to reach Brunton, who is yet to speak publicly on his decision, but Prime Minister of shareholder St Vincent & the Grenadines Ralph Gonsalves confirmed the news.
“I have been advised that he has given notice because under the contract I think he has to give three months notice,” Gonsalves said.
“I haven’t spoken to Ian … I like to see Caribbean professionals stick to things (but) at the same time none of us is indispensable.”
OBSERVER media understands the resignation was delivered last week and the LIAT Board of Directors is to meet this Wednesday to make a decision on whether to accept it or not.
Gonsalves commended Brunton for making a good contribution to LIAT and said it would be hard to find a replacement if the resignation is accepted.
“If for whatever reason he wants to go we will get someone else…it’s not always easy to get somebody to fill those kinds of positions because a lot of people talk but it’s a very critical job.”
“We will see how that goes, I haven’t spoken to the (LIAT) Chairman Jean Holder either who is outside the Caribbean, but I have been advised that he has given notice.”
The St Vincent & the Grenadines Prime Minister refused to say whether as the head of a shareholder government he will accept the board’s decision on Brunton’s resignation.
LIAT’s three main shareholder governments are Antigua & Barbuda, Barbados and St Vincent & the Grenadines.
Brunton, a former chief executive of Trinidad & Tobago state owned Caribbean Airlines Ltd (CAL) was appointed CEO of the Antigua-based Leeward Island Air Transport (LIAT) on August 1, 2012.
His appointment came during a period of massive sustained losses for the airline – a combined amount of almost EC
$80 million in losses from 2010 – and a deficit of around EC
$344 million by the end of 2012.
Brunton has been leading a US $100 million re-fleeting process from ageing Dash-8 aircraft to ATR’s – which is designed to help move the airline back into profit by lowering maintenance and fuel costs.
The captain is reportedly highly regarded as the best man for the job and was the stand out candidate when he took over in August 2012.
The CEO has over 50 years’ experience as a pilot, starting his career in the Royal Air Force flying military jets, before moving to commercial airplanes at the former BWIA.
Gonsalves, speaking on OBSERVER Radio’s Big Issues programme, said he believes the Caribbean airline will recover if Brunton leaves.
“We have had our challenges in the past, and we have come through.”
You are said to be a good pilot when your take-off's equal your landings.