Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne says COVID-19 has dealt a severe blow to regional airline LIAT, and the carrier will be in need of a bailout.
Browne was at the time reacting to Friday’s US FAA downgrade of the Eastern Caribbean Aviation system and its impact of the beleaguered LIAT.
“Luckily for us though, they didn’t take any decision, for example, that LIAT, which is the sub-regional airline and regional airline for that matter, that LIAT cannot continue to fly within US territories to include the US Virgin Islands,” Browne said Saturday on Pointe FM’s Browne & Browne show.
“We’ll be able to continue to conduct business as usual but if we had planned, and we’ve had discussions along those lines, because LIAT had route rights going into the United States. So, if we wanted to expand the service of LIAT then clearly no new schedules could be introduced.”
But the Prime Minister added that LIAT would be in a position anytime soon to expand its market into the United States.
“In fact, LIAT’s first situation now is to stabilize it’s situation,” he said.
“LIAT was already in a very precarious situation and COVID would have worsened the situation. So right now LIAT, just like any other airline globally, will be in need of a bailout.”
LIAT’s passenger services are currently suspended until May 15.
Last month Chief Executive Officer Julie Reifer-Jones explained that the suspension was based on a review by the Board of Directors and Executive Management of the airline.
“Several destinations have extended their border closures and instituted strict travel restrictions, which mean that passengers are unable to travel,” Reifer-Jones said.
While the airline continues to operate with a skeletal staff, she advised that the airline was working to resume operations across the LIAT network as soon as it was feasible to do so.