Venezuela showing interest in LIAT

ROSEAU — The shareholder governments of the regional airline, LIAT, are discussing proposals that would allow Venezuela to have an interest in the airline, Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit has announced.

Skerrit said Caracas has expressed an interest in investing in the regional airline company and that a draft agreement has already been provided to shareholders for their consideration.

“I believe it is an absolutely good move if we were to get Venezuela to invest in LIAT to provide LIAT with the much needed financial and technical support that it requires. It could also mean additional business for LIAT.

“If we could get Conviasa (the national airline of Venezuela) to service flights from Brazil and from Venezuela and all the Latin and South American countries and transport them to a hub in the Caribbean and then take them to their respective destinations within the Caribbean then it means additional business for LIAT,” Skerrit said. He said that further discussions will be held with Caracas on the issue.

“We intend to continue these discussions with the government of Venezuela in respect to the draft agreement, MoU, which was sent for consideration.

“There are some aspects of it which I believe are clear and straight forward but there are other aspects of it which will need further discussions among ourselves as the existing shareholders first and then to raise them with the government of Venezuela,” he said.

Meanwhile, Skerrit said that his administration, which has already invested $3 million into the regional airline, will soon make another financial contribution to the cash-strapped airline.

“One of the things that we’re discussing with Liat at present that we have not finalised yet, but I have agreed to it in principle, subject to the approval of the Parliament, is that LIAT is seeking to contract a loan from the Caribbean Development Bank.

“However, LIAT itself cannot enter into a loan agreement with the CDB, so it will require shareholder governments to guarantee portions of the LIAT investment. The proportion we will have to guarantee as a government is about US$2.5 million for LIAT. LIAT will service the loan but we will simply guarantee the loan,” Skerrit said. (CMC)

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