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Barbados and Antigua row over LIAT

Regional 22 Jul, 2020 Follow News

LIAT’s future is still in doubt

Barbados and Antigua are in dispute over the future of the failing LIAT airline. Despite being millions of dollars in debt, Antigua wants to keep it going whereas the other shareholders seem intent on liquidating it.

There seems a standoff between Barbados and Antigua — LIAT’s largest shareholder and the airline’s headquarters, respectively. Antigua and Barbuda is refusing to accede to a request to have three of the planes from LIAT’s fleet of ATRs moved to Barbados.

The three aircraft were purchased with funds borrowed from the Caribbean Development Bank which is based in Barbados. The remaining ATR aircraft are on lease from various lessors.

On Saturday Antigua Prime Minister Gaston Browne announced that a meeting of the major shareholders — the governments of Barbados, Antigua and Barbuda, St Vincent and the Grenadines and Dominica — had been set for Monday, July 20.

It came a week after another scheduled meeting failed to happen due to the unavailability of Barbados PM Mia Mottley.

“Subsequently, we have been given notice as well for a second meeting to take place on the 31 July for shareholders to come together again with the purpose of winding up LIAT,” Browne said

“So it would appear that even though they agreed to meet that they have already come to the conclusion and that they have drawn a line in the sand, and are saying that LIAT should and will be wound up.

“In the likely or unlikely event that those discussions fail, Antigua and Barbuda will have no choice but to move immediately to take defensive action to protect LIAT from any brutish aggression to destroy it.” Browne said his administration has at least EC$20 million (KY$6.2m) that could be invested in the new venture, which he said could be renamed LIAT 2020, instead of the existing LIAT (1974).

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