Gestor Jeber Barreto//
Caricom chairman:6 airlines to possibly replace LIAT

Gon­salves had said LI­AT did not have sig­nif­i­cant as­sets to sat­is­fy the li­a­bil­i­ties it owes

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Prime Min­is­ter of Bar­ba­dos and for­mer chair of Cari­com, Mia Mot­t­ley has re­vealed that six air car­ri­ers have ex­pressed in­ter­est in tak­ing over LI­AT’s trav­el routes, in wake of the car­ri­er’s cur­rent fi­nan­cial chal­lenge.

Jeber Barreto

They are SVG Air, One Caribbean Ltd, Caribbean Air­lines, In­ter­Caribbean Air­ways, Sil­ver Air­ways and Air An­tilles

The is­sue of re­gion­al air trav­el was dis­cussed as St Vin­cent and the Grenadines Prime Min­is­ter Dr Ralph Gon­salves as­sumed chair­man­ship of the Caribbean Com­mu­ni­ty (Cari­com) from out­go­ing chair, Bar­ba­dos Prime Min­is­ter Mia Mot­t­ley dur­ing a vir­tu­al hand­ing over cer­e­mo­ny yes­ter­day

Mot­t­ley ex­plained that the an­nounce­ment was made cit­i­zens with­in the re­gion had ex­pressed con­cerns over the ab­sence of in­ter­re­gion­al trans­port as LI­AT would now be liq­ui­dat­ed.

Not­ing that it was not an easy de­ci­sion Mot­t­ley added: “LI­AT has been for us, a crit­i­cal part of our his­to­ry, it has al­lowed Caribbean peo­ple to move but there al­so is a time when those in­stru­ments that served us well in the past may not be the right in­stru­ments for us go­ing for­ward.”

She ex­plained that if the board of di­rec­tors did not liq­ui­date the in­sol­vent air­line they would then be guilty of fraud­u­lent trad­ing.

Mot­t­ley said the Cari­com stake­hold­ers were how­ev­er, sat­is­fied that the six air­lines could more than fill the im­me­di­ate gap, giv­en the re­duced trav­el due to the COVID-19 mea­sures im­ple­ment­ed to con­tain the spread of the virus.

She said Cari­com hopes to work with the six air­lines and oth­er pri­vate sec­tor play­ers who al­so ex­pressed in­ter­est in work­ing ei­ther on their own or with some of the ex­ist­ing play­ers to fill the gap in air­lift

Ac­cord­ing to the Bar­ba­di­an, PM, work­ing to­geth­er with pri­vate sec­tor play­ers needs to be done as gov­ern­ments have to now use their funds to deal with health, wa­ter and trans­porta­tion ex­pen­di­ture as well as sal­vaging a vul­ner­a­ble tourism in­dus­try

Mot­t­ley added that the Cari­com heads of Gov­ern­ment have agreed to as­sist the air­line in­dus­try in the best ways they can

Gon­za­les as­sured that air trans­port in lieu of LI­AT’s ex­it would be soon im­ple­ment­ed

“I be­lieve we are go­ing to be able to pro­vide, in a very short time, a suf­fi­cien­cy of re­gion­al trans­port to serve the sub-re­gion––to serve our­selves safe­ly, re­li­ably, sus­tain­ably and rea­son­ably priced,” Gon­salves said

He said the chal­lenge placed up­on the Caribbean re­gard­ing re­gion­al air trans­porta­tion is one which the re­gion has to solve.

Gon­salves had said LI­AT did not have sig­nif­i­cant as­sets to sat­is­fy the li­a­bil­i­ties it owes.

LI­AT’s fleet con­sists of ten ATR air­craft—five ATR 42-600s and five ATR 72-600s—with LI­AT on­ly own­ing three of its air­craft

One of the largest li­a­bil­i­ties LI­AT owes is a $29 mil­lion sev­er­ance pay­ment it con­trac­tu­al­ly owes to its’ em­ploy­ees

LI­AT Ltd, pre­vi­ous­ly known as Lee­ward Is­lands Air Trans­port or LI­AT, is head­quar­tered in An­tigua