Antigua and Barbuda is underwriting the unprofitable LIAT airline at almost EC$17,000 (KY$5,200) per day to keep regional airline LIAT airborne.
The colossal figure was revealed during a post Cabinet press conference in St John’s. The money is coming from resources borrowed over a year ago for the purpose of re-capitalizing the airline. A sub-committee of three ministers – Robin Yearwood, Molwyn Joseph and Lennox Weston – has been formed to track LIAT’s progress.
They will be a meeting with decision makers and reporting back to cabinet in the coming weeks.
Information Minister, Melford Nicholas, said the monthly payments amount to around EC$500,000 (KY$156,000) a month. Millions were put aside to keep the airline operating until full service can be resumed later this year.
Nicholas said the government still has the bulk of a US$15 million loan from the ALBA bank in Venezuela at its disposal to help fund LIAT. The money is being held in an escrow account.
He said talks with prospective investors are also ongoing. In the meantime, the Antigua and Barbuda government is shouldering the financial burden alone.