A new airline has expressed interest in investing in LIAT 2020 and the court-appointed administrator Cleveland Seaforth said the prospects look quite promising.
Liat 1974 Ltd is expected to be liquidated and a new carrier will be organized.
The investor is an airline in West Africa and Seaforth said LIAT is currently examining a draft offer, which will be followed by discussions.
“We are reviewing drafts to see where it takes us. They have experience in successfully flying planes. The offer on the table is a combination of some cash and we will be shortly getting involved with them to kick off discussions,” he said.
Seaforth made it clear that the offer is separate from Antigua Airways; the group of investors from Nigeria.
Meanwhile, the issue of severance and outstanding payments is still a matter of grave concern.
Over eighty million dollars US Dollars are owed in severance altogether and shareholder governments have been looking at ways to pay these amounts.
“Severance is a legal obligation of the company and most of the persons terminated have been advised about their severance. In other for them to get their severance, the company will have to be put in liquidation, and out of the proceeds, they would be paid,” Seaforth said.
Furthermore, he said “I don’t have the right to sell assets unless I get the approval. This is not to say that the governments cannot get into arrangements to compensate employees if they feel this is the right thing to do,” he added.
Last year, the government of Antigua and Barbuda made a compassionate payment offer to LIAT workers, which did not go down well with their union representatives who believed that they will lose more than they would gain.
And in December, two million dollars was made available by the government to pay these workers at least half of their severance.
At the time the prime minister said although his government was not obligated to pay these men and women, he did it in good faith.
But Seaforth said not everyone who was eligible came to collect their money.
“We have 292 people eligible to collect the money. So far between December and now, only 140 people came forward and took up the offer collecting 940,000. We are holding over one million and sixty thousand dollars to be distributed to the terminated employees. It is fair to say that people have not been coming in to collect the money. About 50% is still there and can easily be paid out,” he added.
Both Seaforth and the government have been under intense pressure from the unions representing LIAT workers in recent times to settle the payments before they can discuss a new entity.
Just this week, the General Secretary of the Antigua and Barbuda Workers Union David Massiah threw Seaforth under the bus, demanding that he hold talks with the union about the worker’s plight.
Massiah told the news media in St John’s that the administrator has been treating the union with contempt, a claim Seaforth denied.
Seaforth said the union wants him to talk about issues that he has no idea about.
LIAT has been under an administrator since 2020 when the Covid 19 pandemic hit.