Prime Minister Gaston Browne has said that there continues to be a reluctance by other Caribbean governments to embrace LIAT 2020.
Browne returned last week from a meeting in St Lucia where CARICOM heads of government met to discuss the much-talked-about LIAT issue.
Although discussions were held on other pressing regional matters, LIAT’s resuscitation formed a major part of the talks.
“Based on the information, there is a significant degree of reticence within other Caribbean member states to embrace LIAT in the manner we thought that they would want to do at this particular time,” Information Minister Melford Nicholas told reporters
LIAT 1974 Ltd has been in administration since July 2020 and has been operating a reduced schedule with a limited workforce since November of that year. It is now set for liquidation.
“The government is committed to advancing the resuscitation of LIAT. LIAT has been able to maintain a degree of operations with just 2 aircraft and has been able to sustain the livelihood of 167 of its former employees and we are looking towards LIAT 2020 with a new possibility of increasing its presence in the Caribbean”, he added.
Furthermore, Nicholas said the loss of LIAT has been felt by everyone and Antigua and Barbuda is still committed to the airline.
“There may be an opportunity for some type of joint venture arrangement to be able to facilitate the expansion and resuscitation of LIAT, and the distribution from [Africa] to the Caribbean with an airline like Air Peace,” he said
Last year, LIAT’s shareholder governments – Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, St Vincent, and the Grenadines – agreed to restructure the airline and return it to commercial service.
Its former workers are said to be owed around EC$120 million in severance and other payments and it appears unlikely that they will be paid in full.
Some shareholder governments have offered financial and social assistance to employees based in their respective countries.
Last December, the government of Antigua and Barbuda disbursed EC$2 million as a “compassionate payment” to local former employees. However, EC$1.6 million of that remains unclaimed.