Prime Minister Gaston Browne is determined to move forward with establishing LIAT 2020, with or without the assistance of his regional counterparts.
The new airline is expected to become operational within a few months and will initially operate with a fleet of six aircraft.
On Saturday, Browne stated on his private radio station that he is aware that Antigua and Barbuda must take care of LIAT 2020 on their own, which is acceptable.
What Browne would not accept, however, is attempts by certain shareholders to relocate the headquarters from the twin island nation.
Last week, Dr. Ralph Gonzalves, the Prime Minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines announced that a new entity named WIAT is being considered for establishment. The plan is to have the airline based in St Vincent and the Grenadines.
Earlier this week, Dr. Gonzalves announced that he had received a document from the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) that outlined a plan for financing and operating a regional carrier.
The CDB has been studying the issue of regional air transportation since May 2015 and was once again asked by regional leaders in January 2023 to review the longstanding problem of transportation scarcity, which has hindered the free movement of people within Caricom.
Dr. Gonzalves said while Antigua and Barbuda is the geographic center of the OECS, it is not the population center
While Browne agrees, he said the population center does not dictate where the headquarters should be; instead, it dictates the amount of traffic
Regional governments have attempted to relocate Antigua and Barbuda’s headquarters before, something Browne recalled.
“Even going back to the Freundel Stuart administration, they wanted the headquarters too…and we resisted it so I think it got to the stage where they said if we not getting it, well we not participating. I may be wrong but it’s very probable that this may be the thinking,” he added
Browne said regional leaders are considering various scenarios for a new entity, but Antigua and Barbuda remain committed to LIAT 2020.