LIAT shareholder governments to meet this weekend

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Shareholder governments of the cash-strapped regional airline, LIAT, are to hold an informal meeting on Saturday amid reports that there are plans afoot to wind up the operations of the airline.

St. Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister, Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, who is chair of the shareholder governments, told the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC) that Saturday’s virtual meeting will discuss a number of issues facing the Antigua-based airline, including the impact the coronavirus (COVID-19) has had on the struggling airline.

Gonsalves acknowledged that “there has always been a proposal (on winding up) which has been on the table….but shareholders have not discussed that”.

In February, last year, President of the Barbados-based Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), Warren Smith, said he was “disappointed” with progress towards executing a plan the bank funded to stem losses, improve efficiency and reverse a sharp decline in passengers using LIAT.

The study which was completed in mid-2018 and presented to shareholder governments, outlined the airline’s challenges and opportunities, and put forward a series of recommendations.

“I must confess that I am disappointed that those recommendations have not been taken on-board in the way in which we had anticipated they would have,” Smith said then.

CMC has been reliably informed that Barbados directors of the cash strapped airline met on Monday, discussing the future of the airline including the possible sale of half of the airline’s fleet.

Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne told CMC that while he was not privy to any report regarding the possible winding up of the airline, he too like his St. Vincent and the Grenadines colleague, has been examining the likely impact of COVID-19 on the finances of the airline.

LIAT was forced to shut down its passenger commercial flights since March when regional government closed their borders as part of the efforts to curb the spread of the virus that has killed thousands of people and infected millions of others worldwide.

“I have no doubt that at the end of the day there will always be a LIAT, even if it is not in its present form,” Browne told CMC.

LIAT shareholder governments are Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.  Last year. St. John’s rejected Barbados’ offer of US$44 million for a portion of its shares of LIAT. The two parties are still in negotiations.

The debt of the airline is estimated at millions of dollars, and last year Trinidad and Tobago’s Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley said then that LIAT has enough “cash to last for 10 days”.

CMC

2 COMMENTS

  1. Well they didn’t get to pass their law to send people home with no severance or gratuity, so they will pull the rug from under them with a closure. I hope Caribbean people see just how loved they are by these politicians.

    After years of just allowing inept managers to mismanage liat and piss away money, as well as they themselves interfering and making selfish decisions, the politicians are turning their backs on the workers and are planning to leave them with a bag of feces to hold. Let them go ahead and call early elections. We will just vote them out earlier than usual.

  2. Covid period is the best time to make all the hard decisions you have been procrastinating on. Gentlemen and Lady please take the bitter pill. You all have lost lots of money already. Let those who want to continue put money, do this in an airline that is not burdened with lots of old debt going back many decades and not to mention the labour burden with high salaries for pilots and alike. Lets bring LIAT to its final resting place. BW and Air Jamaica had to do the same and many others. A new airline will rise up. And interested governments will put up the money for that and hopefully it would be better structured as we now have learned from the failures of LIAT. I look forward to a new beginning in the airline industry for the region. Yes the PM said if didn’t had LIAT it would have to be invented. That might be so but now we van invent it even better. Your shares in LIAT are not worth a thing. Get over it. And the staff that you were afraid to layoff, is now laid off by Covid already. So close the doors and start a new.

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