The chairman of Caricom and Prime Minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines Dr Ralph Gonsalves has revealed that there will be a meeting in the coming days to discuss an alternative to liquidating LIAT 1974 Ltd.
Speaking in an interview on CNC3, Gonsalves said: “Subsequent to the meeting of the major shareholders the Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda is exploring what he considers to be another option to liquidation and he has asked for a meeting next week to explore that option with the major shareholders.”
Gonsalves indicated that the major shareholders of LIAT decided on the June 27, to put LIAT into liquidation after having received the recommendation from the airline’s board of directors meeting a few days earlier.
He said that the PM of Antigua and Barbuda, Gaston Browne has a different perspective as to how to go forward with the airlines “and is trying to see if he can get the investments to have a LIAT 2020 Ltd.”
According to the Caricom chair, Barbados has indicated that they have no interest in Browne’s proposal.
Gonsalves, however, noted that he would listen respectfully.
Gonsalves then said that he is engaged in putting together, as far as is practicable, an approach to regional air transport, which would see other players involved. He remarked that he has been in conversation with four airlines: Caribbean Airlines, InterCaribbean, One Caribbean and SVG Air.
Although Barbados PM, Mia Mottley outlined that six carriers have expressed interest in taking over LIAT’s routes, Gonsalves indicated that he is focusing on the four airlines owned by people within the English-speaking Caribbean.
There are two others, according to Gonsalves, out of North America and there are two in the French Antilles who are also interested in LIAT’s routes.
As a result, Gonsalves is hoping that we would have a good mix to take people in and out of various territories in the region.
Gonsalves said that any other individual or government can decide what they’re going to do—and he wishes them well. He said: “But clearly the market and the investment requisites would determine how the different airlines play out. “
According to Gonsalves, all the leaders are interested in having a sustainable safe, reliable, affordable air transportation.
Nonetheless, he said that for many years several governments served by LIAT were not interested in putting any money in LIAT, either as market support or equity.
Gonsalves continued: “So that, there maybe a lot of talk, and there maybe all kind of reasons why different governments chose no to put in money in LIAT, either for equity or as market support.”
The St. Vincent and the Grenadines PM highlighted that he would see the response by governments to regional air travel in the new season. He said that he is proceeding with the three privately owned carriers, plus one (CAL) owned by the government of T&T.
PM Gonsalves said that Caricom has enough assets to take the passengers through the region.