Prime Minister Gaston Browne says the issue facing LIAT is expected to be featured prominently during discussions in Trinidad and Tobago next week. Browne will be joining other regional heads of government for the 45th Regular Meeting of the Conference Heads of Government of Caricom.
Browne insists that there should be a regional approach to saving LIAT, even after several months of silence on the matter from some shareholder governments of the cash-strapped airline
He said in an interview with State Media “that LIAT should be respected as a CARICOM institution and there should be a regional commitment to restoring it, in the interest of the Caribbean people”
The prime minister said he hopes that regional leaders can see the importance of LIAT or some form of publicly funded transportation for the region.
“I am just hoping that we can go past the insularity…there are regional competing forces that would like to see the demise of LIAT…”
LIAT is currently operating under a court-appointed administrator. This has been the case since 2020; when the country closed its ports due to the Covid-19 pandemic
The airline is also operating with reduced airplanes however Browne said the hope is to get Nigerian Airline AIR PEACE to purchase 70% of LIAT 2020
AIR PEACE is a private Nigerian airline that was founded in 2013. Its head office is located in Ikeja, Lagos State, Nigeria.
Browne had said that the carrier will run only on a commercial basis and it will not be what he called a “regional bus”
“This flawed notion that we must rely exclusively on public sector assets it is not a sustainable solution and Antigua and Barbuda believes that ultimately a reorganized, recapitalized new LIAT, leaving all the legacy issues behind, one that will operate professionally, one that will operate on a proper basis, that will be the answer to our regional transportation woes,” Browne added
The issue of severance for former LIAT workers is still up in the air. The Antigua and Barbuda Workers Union and the government have not yet reached an agreement on the highly contentious issue
The government had initially offered a 50% compassionate payment offer to the former workers however after nonacceptance by over 90%, that offer has now been downgraded to 35%.
Browne has said that he no longer has an interest in negotiating the severance payment with the Union. Both Browne and the ABWU have accused each other of playing politics with the matter.