ST JOHN’S, Antigua — LIAT’s service is expected to improve significantly following the return to service of one of its two newly acquired ATR aircraft, which was grounded in Barbados for about a week due to a technical issue that has now been resolved.
“Nothing is more important to us than the security and safety of our passengers,” said Ian Brunton, LIAT’s chief executive officer.
The ATR 72, a twin-engine turboprop short-haul regional aircraft, is one of two such planes recently acquired by the company in its fleet modernisation programme.
“Unfortunately, in the aviation business aircraft, both old and new, experience technical issues from time to time, but safety is our major concern and we apologise that our passengers were inconvenienced, especially during the peak summer season, ” Brunton added.
Reiterating LIAT’s safety focus required immediate action on maintenance concerns, the CEO reported: “The new parts that were needed have arrived and been installed in Barbados — our maintenance team has given the aircraft the thumbs up.”
The ATR-600 brings new operational capability through outstanding performance at take-off on short runways, increased max payload, reduced maintenance costs, redesigned cabin, and latest avionics technology.
To improve passenger comfort and operational efficiency LIAT is replacing all of its Dash 8 aircraft with the ATR aircraft. Later this week, LIAT expects to take delivery of its third new ATR 72 from the France-based manufacturer.
The re-fleeting programme is expected to be completed next year and will see the ageing fleet of Dash 8 aircraft being replaced with 12 brand new ATR-600 series aircraft.
The new fleet will include a mixture of 68- and 48-seaters. By the first quarter of 2014, more than half of the new ATRs are expected to be operating throughout LIAT’s network, with the remaining airplanes expected to come on line by the end of 2014.