Pull brakes!

Antigua calls for LIAT plan to be put on hold

Recently announced plans to restructure the financially ailing LIAT may have grounded to a halt following the intervention of Antigua and Barbuda – the second largest shareholder government in the regional carrier.

The country’s prime minister Gaston Browne has requested that no further action be taken on the decision last Friday to send home 180 workers this year, and to shift the airline’s fleet base from Antigua to Barbados.

Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda Gaston Browne
Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda Gaston Browne

In a letter penned to St Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves, the chairman of the shareholder governments, Browne said his Cabinet needed time to discuss the matter. He did not indicate how soon the meeting would
take place.

“You will appreciate that the government of Antigua and Barbuda has made – and continues to make – a heavy investment in LIAT, and there are consequences for the economy and the well-being of the people of Antigua and Barbuda arising from decisions pertaining to the airline,” he said in the missive that was made public earlier today.

Browne did not attend last Friday’s meeting at the Hilton Barbados but was represented by his Minister of Aviation Robin Yearwood.

In his absence, Barbados’ Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, along with Gonsalves and his Dominican counterpart Roosevelt Skerrit had all endorsed the plan.

“We expect to see a turnaround in LIAT’s fortunes, more responsiveness to market messages and, of course, once the whole issue of fleet renewal is complete and the disposal of the seven remaining Dash 8 planes and the reduction in the head count is complete we think that LIAT will be on a much more viable and sustainable footing,” Stuart said at the time.

With LIAT expected to record total losses of $29.6 million for 2014, the leaders had pledged an almost immediate cash injection of $3.7 million.

When contacted today on the position taken by Antigua and Barbuda, LIAT Chairman Dr Jean Holder was circumspect.

“I, too, have noted the prime minister’s action but there is nothing more I can say at this time about it. I am aware that he has written the letter to Dr Gonsalves so the matter is, therefore, up for discussion. I cannot say anything more on it,” he told Barbados TODAY.

Gonsalves could not be reached for comment, and Barbados’ Tourism Minister Richard Sealy was unavailable. 

4 Responses to Pull brakes!

  1. Rossi February 19, 2015 at 5:28 am

    Gaston Browne you seriously need to concentrate on matters within Antigua. having only recently started to invest major funds in LIAT does not give you any right to impose yourself and arrogant opinion on where it should be headquartered. Your arrogance shall be your undoing.

    All and sundry know that from the statement made you don’t need to discuss anything with cabinet. You just don’t want LIAT to leave antigua since it was part of you election campaign that it would remain in antigua.

    Take your place and abide by the decision of the majority of shareholders. I do pray that they have more heart than the Hadeed family who you have intimidated into withdrawing a suit against the Chinese investors. Your attitudes leaves a lot to be desired and is most unbecoming of one who is a Prime Minister. Old people say when some get things they not expecting they behave like you.

    Haul and pull up Gaston Browne and know your place.

  2. Rawle Spooner
    Rawle Spooner February 19, 2015 at 6:58 am

    This is why any talk about Caricom unity is a damm pipe dream and reason nothing in this part of the world gine ever succeed.

  3. Rawle Spooner
    Rawle Spooner February 19, 2015 at 6:58 am

    This is why any talk about Caricom unity is a damm pipe dream and reason nothing in this part of the world gine ever succeed.

  4. Alex Alleyne February 19, 2015 at 7:12 am

    We will await the final decision on this matter . Basbados is always seen in the Caribbean as a “money hole” where you take from but soft on making decisions . BDS put the most bucks in LIAT and Antigua reaping all the sweets . Drop those fares and make some money .


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