Grenada’s Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell has put the Caribbean governments on notice that his administration is prepared to lease an aircraft if they are unable to sort out the regional transportation sector by year-end.
Following the collapse of LIAT in 2020 following the impact of Covid-19, regional travel has been dealt a severe blow, throwing it into chaos.
In a recent exclusive interview on WPG10, the Prime Minister who led his National Democratic Congress to power in June stated that the regional airline sector needs urgent fixing, placing an end-of-year deadline for the issue on the ease of regional air movement to be addressed
“If by October, November, we don’t have an arrangement …then it means if Grenada has to go and lease the planes so that we can fly between Grenada and Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago we will have to do so.
“The truth is we can’t get to Trinidad,” Mitchell said.
“Let’s put it this way, I am optimistic it will not get to that,” he added stating that regional governments must be prepared to spend more money on regional transport.
“I have made it quite clear we have to put money, if not into LIAT 2020, if not Inter Caribbean then some other vehicle that is prepared to fly, it is as simple as that,” the Grenada PM said.
In August, regional leaders met to discuss the situation regarding air transportation in the Caribbean and it was agreed that a consultant would be retained to provide advice to the heads of the region as to how they can address the critical need to have air transportation resumed at a pre- Covid level.
St. Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, who had served as LIAT chairman, said that countries, particularly those in the Eastern Caribbean were being severely affected by the loss of thousands of seats because of the significantly downsized operations of LIAT.
LIAT shareholder governments are Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, and St Vincent, and the Grenadines.
Even as regional leaders try to revive the airline, with new branding and name; LIAT 2020, former workers are still owed more than hundreds of millions of dollars in severance and other entitlements.
Antigua and Barbuda government has offered ex-workers in St John’s a 50 percent “compassionate” payment, comprising cash, bonds, and land, an offer that has been rejected by the union representing these workers.
LIAT (1974) limited in June 2020, entered into court-appointed administration after a high court judge in Antigua granted a petition for the cash-strapped airline’s reorganization.