Antigua and Barbuda
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LIAT successor eyes 4Q23 debut

CH – Aviation: Antigua and Barbuda is talking to the administrators of LIAT (Antigua and Barbuda) (LI, Antigua) to purchase the assets of the stricken airline for its newco LIAT (2020) Limited, a proposed joint venture carrier with Nigeria’s Air Peace (P4, Lagos), according to a statement issued after a cabinet meeting last week.

The cabinet had invited to the meeting a development commissioner responsible for negotiating the terms of the final agreement between LIAT 2020 and Air Peace “for the purpose of establishing a governing agreement between both carriers,” reported Antigua News Room.

The new airline “will have a total of six planes”, the cabinet statement read, and “already secured an air operator’s certificate (AOC).”

On a weekend radio show, Prime Minister Gaston Browne said his administration was pushing ahead with plans to launch LIAT 2020 Ltd. by November this year. He hoped other regional countries would join the venture, reported the St. Vincent Times.

“We will always have disagreements, but at the end of the day, we will reach some synthesis of ideas and move forward to reach some consensus.

So, at the end of the day, I remain hopeful that we will find a solution to offer sustainable regional transportation for the people of the OECS and the wider CARICOM region,” Browne said.

According to Browne, Antigua & Barbuda is prepared to invest USD15-20 million in the new regional airline.

LIAT, jointly owned by the governments of Antigua & Barbuda, Dominica, Barbados, and St. Vincent & the Grenadines, entered administration in July 2020.

It resumed operations in November 2020 with a reduced schedule under a temporary framework.

The shareholding governments aim to replace it with LIAT 2020 Ltd., a new company free of legacy costs, but funding for the new entity has been a major hurdle.

While Antigua and Dominica have committed to financing the new company, other shareholders have not done so. LIAT owns three ATR42-600s and one DHC-8-300, according to the ch-aviation fleets advanced module.

“Other states have been pursuing establishing another airline that wouldn’t compete on LIAT’s routes; however, LIAT (2020) Ltd. is more than a year ahead in its planning to replace LIAT (1974) Ltd. and is likely to out-perform the competitors,” the cabinet statement read.

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It appeared to refer to the disclosure by St. Vincent & the Grenadines Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves that he had received a proposal from the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) for a regional airline owned by the governments of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS).

Gonsalves told a news conference in Kingston the CDB would be involved too.

The OECS includes Antigua & Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, St. Lucia, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, St. Kitts & Nevis, Montserrat, Anguilla, and the British Virgin Islands.

Gonsalves said the airline’s location had not been discussed but proposed St. Vincent and the Grenadines as an option.

Meanwhile, the Antigua and Barbuda Workers Union (ABWU) has urged LIAT’s court-appointed administrator, Cleveland Seaforth, to update the public on the future direction of the airline and secure severance payments for employees.