Antigua PM eyes seamless shift as LIAT 1974 hands over to LIAT 2020 Loop Jamaica

The content originally appeared on: Jamaica News Loop News

Prime Minister Gaston Browne is hoping for a seamless switch to LIAT 2020 Limited when LIAT 1974 Limited ceases operations on January 24.

Speaking on his weekly radio programme on Saturday, Browne said his administration is waiting on the other LIAT 1974 Limited shareholder governments to send no-objection letters to the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) to authorise Antigua and Barbuda’s purchase of at least one aircraft for LIAT 2020.

Browne said Antigua and Barbuda is hoping to purchase LIAT’s three aircraft from the CDB “at commercial value”.

“If all goes well and the respective prime ministers and their governments act with some urgency…on the basis that those letters go out by early next week, we expect to complete the sale of the first plane for LIAT 2020 and in a matter of weeks we can get the EOC,” he said.

“What we are trying to do here is to wind up 1974 by the end of the month and to start 2020 concurrently.”

Browne said the majority of LIAT 1974’s staff will be rehired at the new company.

LIAT 2020 will be a joint venture between the governments of Antigua & Barbuda, Dominica, Barbados, and St Vincent and the Grenadine and Nigerian airline Air Peace.

Air Peace is expected to hold a majority stake in LIAT.

LIAT 1974 Limited has been under administration since 24th July 2020 when it declared bankruptcy. Since restarting operations in November 2020, LIAT has offered a limited schedule to destinations including Antigua, Barbados, the British Virgin Islands, St Maarten and Dominica.

Cleveland Seaforth of BDO Eastern Caribbean is the cash-strapped airline’s court-appointed administrator.

In a letter last week, Seafort informed the Antigua-based airline’s staff that the company will wind up its operations before month’s end.

Seaforth wrote “after careful consideration and evaluation of the present operations, a decision has been taken by the court-appointed administrator to permanently cease all commercial flying operations as of the close of business on January 24, 2024.

“As a result of the foregoing, you are hereby notified that your employment with LIAT (1974) Limited (in administration) will be made redundant effective February 4, 2024.”

Over 90 members of staff are expected to be impacted by the company’s closure.