The Antiguan government is trying hard to revive the LIAT brand and establish a position in the regional market. However, the recent announcement of Caribbean Airlines (CAL) expanding its passenger and cargo operations across the region is not very welcome.
The Trinidad and Tobago Finance Minister Colm Imbert revealed CAL’s plans to return to its pre-pandemic fleet size and expand connectivity to Trinidad and Tobago and the rest of the region.
CAL is planning to lease four additional ATR aircraft, three additional Boeing 737-8s, and five Embraer commercial jets.
These will be used to service CAL’s inter-regional travel demand and also to establish bases and hubs across the region to promote efficiency and reduce costs.
Additionally, CAL will lease two Boeings and two ATRs to grow and expand its cargo services across the region as the carrier pursues cargo operations as an essential revenue source.
In contrast, LIAT 1974 Ltd. previously served the subregion as the premier carrier for decades but suffered from prolonged financial issues and was forced to shut down, creating a significant gap in the market.
The Antiguan government has established a partnership with Nigerian carrier Air Peace and its CEO, Allen Onyema, who is expected to purchase a large stake in the Antigua-based airline to launch LIAT 2020 in a few weeks officially.
However, it remains to be seen whether the Air Peace partnership will result in any immediate improvements to its fleet or its available routes.
CAL has been expanding its routes over the past few months, adding new non-stop services between Barbados and St. Vincent, as well as St. Lucia in July and new services between Trinidad, Dominica, and Antigua in August to satisfy demand in the Eastern Caribbean.
CAL continues to widen its reach across the region and could prove disastrous for LIAT 2020, which is still trying to get off the ground.