The government continues to look into the possible expansion plans of LIAT 1974 Limited to add two fleets to the existing three planes.
LIAT scaled down operations two years ago during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, causing hundreds of workers to be out of work.
“We look at the potential for the ongoing expansion of LIAT. We are at that stage where LIAT 1945 Limited has continued to operate. They are encumbered by the limited number of aircraft and the intention is to scale up the operations to ensure we can have at least two more aircrafts available on leases for the continuing operation,” Information Minister Melford Nicholas said.
Nicholas said it is more than likely that the new LIAT 2020 will take on that leases and make them available to LIAT 1974 until we complete the conversion.
“The PM did indicate that he still has ongoing support from the prime ministers in the OECS so we remain hopeful that we will be able to traverse this space,” he added.
Nicholas said people are still finding it difficult to travel within the Caribbean.
“There is a demand for LIAT to return fully to the skies and the government of Antigua and Barbuda is doing everything within its powers and under the constraints of the law to get to that position sooner rather than later,” he added.
All this comes as former LIAT workers have been agitating for their severance pay and other allowances owed, amounting to over EC$80 Million.
Although LIAT is now operating under a court administrator, the union representing these workers; the Antigua and Barbuda Workers Union (ABWU) maintains that the shareholder governments can each pay off LIAT workers in their countries.
In the case of Antigua and Barbuda, Prime Minister Gaston Browne has made a compassionate payment offer, providing EC$2 million to partially satisfy the cash component of the compassionate payout.
At the time it was offered, PM Browne said “This sum is intended to meet partial satisfaction of the cash component of the compassionate payout which the Antigua & Barbuda government has volunteered. It extends this compassionate offer, though the government has no legal obligation to make any such payments,”.
But over $1.5M of that sum remains unclaimed as unions have told ex-workers that there needs to be more clarification before they can accept the offer.
LIAT is owned by the governments of Antigua & Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, St Vincent, and the Grenadines.