The government faces obstacles in launching LIAT 2020 due to requiring an Air Operator’s Certificate (AOC).
LIAT 1974 Ltd stopped operating last year, and the current administration, led by Gaston Browne, is attempting to relaunch the airline under a new name.
However, the administration has been unsuccessful in getting enough support from other regional partners more interested in investing in another yet-to-be-finalized venture.
Nonetheless, Cabinet Spokesperson and Information Minister Melford Nicholas announced during a post-Cabinet media briefing that LIAT 2020 will launch this year.
Despite the subregion’s lack of support, the government has gained the interest of Nigeria’s Air Peace.
Air Peace is expected to acquire a majority stake in LIAT 2020, and due to its influence in the West African market and supposed access to substantial capital, the new Antigua-based airline is likely to benefit significantly from this partnership.
Air Peace reportedly plans to expand its fleet as part of a deal with a Brazilian aircraft manufacturer.
“I believe where the team headed by Ambassador Davin Joseph is focusing now is to get to that frontier where the AOC can be approved by the Eastern Caribbean Civil Aviation Authority, and once that is granted, we will see the fast forward of the particular plan. Air Peace will bring an additional aircraft but based on that model, they fall outside of the regular purview of the ECCA and I believe the modalities would have to be put in place” Nicholas told reporters.
Antigua and Barbuda’s government has partnered with Air Peace to revive LIAT, the Caribbean’s national carrier, under a new name.
The privately owned Nigerian airline will acquire a majority stake in LIAT 2020 as per the agreement between both parties.
LIAT is co-owned by the governments of Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
However, due to a constant rise in debt, further exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Prime Minister announced that the airline would be liquidated in June 2020.
Plans are now in full gear to launch 2020, with or without the support of regional governments, according to PM Browne.