ATR ARRIVAL WELCOME ADDRESS BY LIAT CHAIRMAN, DR. JEAN HOLDER
It is my special honour to join with you, (Baldwin Spencer – Antigua’s PM), in extending a warm welcome to our CEO Mr. Ian Brunton and the crew of V2-LIA, who have made what I call an epic journey from Toulouse in France to St. John’s Antigua. Ferrying this aircraft from Toulouse, to the Canary Islands, to the Cape Verde Islands, to Recife in Brazil, to Georgetown in Guyana and finally to St. john’s, Antigua – literally half way around the world – has been a remarkable achievement, and some of us have followed its progress with child-like excitement.
This arrival this afternoon, marks the first of seven such arrivals which will take place in 2013 and 2014, revolutionizing the LIAT service to the Caribbean and taking regional air transportation to another, higher level.
This is not the occasion for long speeches as appropriate ceremonies are planned for each of the major shareholder countries.
The first order of business, however, is to express our thanks to Almighty God who has brought us to this stage and by whose grace our aircraft and crew arrived safely.
The second is to express our sincere thanks for the contribution made to today’s event by the major shareholder Prime Ministers, Dr. Baldwin Spencer of Antigua and Barbuda, Freundel Stuart of Barbados, Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, recently joined by Roosevelt Skerritt of Dominica. They had the courage and the foresight to invest in LIAT, the bridge over the Caribbean Sea, without the services of which, regional integration remains a lofty but unachievable aspiration.
As I look around me, I see the Antigua and Barbuda support team, which has been and will always be there for LIAT. I refer to Minister Maginley, former CEO, now Ambassador, Brian Challenger, and Board Directors Gatesworth James, Paul Ryan and Nadia Spencer-Henry. We are grateful for the role they have played to date.
Finally, I come to the home team, the Executive Management, headed by CEO Mr. Ian Brunton, which has labored in the vineyard day and night to make this specific afternoon’s event possible. I refer to Julie Reifer-Jones, Leesa Parris-Rudder, Diane Shurland, Captain George Arthurton, Alan Alexander and Ilean Ramsey who have been tasked with the enormous responsibility of the LIAT Fleet Renewal programme. There are others to be thanked and we will do so at the appropriate time.
This enterprise calls for a range of technical, financial and negotiating skills, exceptional leadership, great courage and, above all else, faith in God and man, all of which have so far been demonstrated by LIAT’s personnel.
The journey has begun, but there is still a far way to go. I can assure you, however, that LIAT, as usual, is in this business for the long term.