Antigua and Barbuda to “fight” Caribbean Airlines expansion plans


CMC – The Antigua and Barbuda government Friday said it intends to “fight” plans by the Trinidad-based Caribbean Airlines (CAL)) to expand its operations into the Eastern Caribbean at the expense of the regional airline, LIAT 2020. 

A statement issued following the weekly Cabinet meeting said the government had taken note “of the scaling-up of Caribbean Airlines, including the purchase of several ATR Aircraft with the expectation of placing them on routes serviced by LIAT 1974 Ltd.

“The statement about CAL’s expansion came from a Trinidad and Tobago parliamentarian who spoke in their parliament recently; it is evident, the Cabinet concluded, that reviving LIAT is not an objective of Trinidad whose leaders are determined to capture the aviation services that Antigua and Barbuda once exported,” the statement said.

Delivering the TT$59.2 billion (One TT dollar=US$0.16 cents) budget to Parliament on Monday, Trinidad and Tobago’s Finance Minister, Colm Imbert, told legislators that following the exit of LIAT, the Caribbean region has been exhibiting strong air transport demand. He said additionally, international visitors are on the rise.

“As markets progressively recover, Caribbean Airlines aims to utilize its assets effectively and establish a foundation for network growth.

The airline thus intends to expand its fleet to meet this growing demand through the lease of four additional ATRs and three additional B 737-8s, bringing the fleet size to a pre-pandemic level.

“CAL also plans to lease five Embraer E-175 regional jets to service the intra-regional demand and to establish bases and hubs across the region to promote efficiency and cost-reducing measures,” Imbert said, adding two ATRs and two B 737-800s aircraft to grow and expand its cargo services across the region.

But speaking at a news conference here, Chief of Staff in the Office of the Prime Minister Lionel Hurst told reporters that while plans are for LIAT 2020 to become fully operational by Christmas this year, St John’s is not going to lie down and allow the expansion of CAL in the region.

“We have been working with Air Peace with the expectation that it will bring capital, expertise and of course a great deal of interest in ensuring that our LIAT survives and we believe that it is a better notion, a better approach than the plans announced by CAL through a  parliamentarian in Trinidad and Tobago,” Hurst told reporters.

He said CAL “essentially intends to take from Antigua and Barbuda the aviation services that we have been providing by way of LIAT for more than 60 years.

So we are going to continue to fight this approach of trying to take from Antigua and Barbuda the important role which LIAT did in not only providing service to inter regional travel in the Caribbean, but more importantly for Antigua and Barbuda all those jobs, more than 600 jobs…”

Last month, Prime Minister Gaston Browne in defending the decision of his administration to go ahead with plans for LIAT 2020 to replace the cash-strapped LiAT (1974) Limited, announced the plans to enter into a relationship with Air Peace, a private Nigerian airline founded in 2013.

LIAT (1974) is owned by the governments of Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica and St Vincent and the Grenadines.

It entered into administration in July 2020 following increased debt and the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

“We have tried in the past to get all our OECS colleagues on board to start an OECS airline, but the problem we have had, and this is…a problem that existed for decades, is that to get a commitment for all of the countries to fund an airline has been a problem,” Browne said, adding that as a result of a lack of commitment, his administration decided to pursue a new partner for the proposed LIAT 2020 “which will be a new legal entity that will not assume any of the liabilities of LIAT (1974).

“Air Peace is a billion-dollar company. In fact, just recently it would have ordered about US$300 million worth of aircraft. So it is substantial in terms of its asset base, it has the experience and the argument has always been within the region that whatever regional airline that is established that you should have a private sector component to ensure that we have the necessary efficiencies and to avoid the legacy issues that we have had with LIAT in the past.” Browne said then.

Hurst told reporters that while no firm date has yet been given for the launch of LIAT 2020, “we are not so far away.

“The licence that is to be issued by the Eastern Caribbean Civil Aviation Authority can only take place when LIAT 2020 actually has an aircraft and as you know we have been in negotiations to purchase at least one aircraft from LIAT (1974) Limited and two others from the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB).

“Those two others are claimed property of CDB under the licensing and lease arrangements that LIAT acquired them.

Our expectation is that we will conclude these concessional arrangements with CDB if it is at all possible, and we will bring to bear these airplanes, which by the way are just sitting there doing absolutely nothing.

“So we think putting them back into the skies is a better bet than having them do nothing because they deteriorate rapidly when they are just sitting there.

So that’s where we are at,” he added.

Hurst said the idea is to have the new airline launched by Christmas.

“It would be great to have it at Christmas time because that’s when a lot of travel takes place and of course, we would like to be able to offer the services around that time,” Hurst told reporters.





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  1. The timeline seems to keep slipping.
    Was November 2023 now it is December 2023 .

    Also to sell assets such as aircraft the courts have to give permission
    under the administration status of LIAT(1974) Ltd.
    All creditors should probably have the right to make submissions during such a hearing .

    Another complication is that Barbados (as expressed by Mia Motley)
    believe that they as well as the other shareholder Governments
    have an interested in all 3 aircraft that LIAT(1974) Ltd
    have or had control of prior to the administration process taking place.

    Anyway it is sad that the pipsqueaks of the current Antigua Government continue
    to challenge other Countries and entities to just run them over and shut them up.
    Guys learn what weight class you belong in. You are featherweights making little noises
    that are going to get you flattened .

    I think that only way that your voices will be heard is in an attempt to keep LIAT(1974) alive and pay all creditors in full . Recapitalization, Existing Route rights ,Brand Name and Good Will can then give you a fighting chance.
    New brand (LIAT 2020) and suspect Air Peace good will probably will fail spectacularly.

    • @ Commentator
      You seem to missing the fact that the reason Liat 1974 is in Administration was to protect it from being liquidated. That was the vote from the majority of the shareholders Barbados and St. Vincent. Gaston outmaneuvered them and placed Liat in Administration. He had to go to parliament and amend thff er company Act quickly. Nevertheless Barbados and St. Vincent refused to work on reviving Liat 1974. And at their last meeting it was final that Liat 1974 be liquidated asap. But yes you are right the “dirty”game is not finished and especially Barbados will do anything to ensure Liat 2020 don’t succeed. And that is what we call “One Caribbean”. With friends like that, who needs enemies?

  2. I don’t see what the problem is. LIAT is a “could-be” with no support. Why fight down CAL when LIAT is no where close to being ready. People need to rely on an established airline and LIAT and Inter-Caribbean isn’t it. This government is self centered. I’m really sorry UPP doesn’t have its act together because ALP is sinking is. Their only accomplishment is getting this investor or that but never could we see what these investors are doing

  3. The Caribbean is not a collective of communist countries like the old Soviet Union. They are independent market forces economies.
    So the Cabinet spokesman saying: CAL “essentially intends to take from Antigua and Barbuda the aviation services that we have been providing by way of LIAT for more than 60 years” means nothing more then illustrating the ignorance with which they are approaching this issue.
    To make such a statement, further illustrates Antigua and Barbuda currently don’t understand how market forces work.
    LIAT does not own the market. It had a monopoly by virtues of it being publicly owned.
    It will be interesting when and if Barbados, Dominica and St Vincent and the Grenadines weighs in on the matter.
    My suspicions are, none of them care who owns the airline market at this time. They are looking for safe reasonable priced, and quality customer services.
    Most of the individuals working in Barbuda in the Barbuda Ocean Club project are non-Antiguans and non-Barbudans. Allen Ifechukwu Onyema don’t see color and nationality he only sees green. The notion that the Air Peace/ LIAT hookup is going to create 600 jobs is fallacy. He and his people will hire the best and brightest as Allen Stanford did. Not even the spin-offs like Air Oeace renovations of facilities will result in 100 temporary jobs.
    In Gaston Brown’s own words.
    LIAT needs to “have a private sector component to ensure that we have the necessary efficiencies and to avoid the legacy issues that we have had with LIAT in the past.” Browne said then.
    Avoid legacy issues means: Air Peace will cut the fat and get rid of the dead weights. In other words there will not be any 600 jobs.
    The very reason JOBS for all of this will never come about

    • INTERCARIBBEAN Bets on Barbados with New in House Hub
      That’s the headlines, the airline will transition it’s existing Barbados
      operations from contract handlers to a new dedicated team under
      FlightSopport (Barbados)Ltd on December 1st 2023 FlightSopport
      Currently provides full above and below wing services for airline’s
      Including Air Canada British Airways, Delta, United and many others
      So that Services should improve tremendously so l👀k out liat.

  4. CAL cannot take from Antigua that which does not exist. LIAT used to operate serious routes but that is long gone. CAL is only putting planes where there is a demand. NOBODY is servicing this demand at the moment, not even LIAT, so CAL is moving to do that. Good for them and good for the public.

  5. Personally, I like the idea of a “Caribbean” Airlines that flies throughout the entire region. As a potential customer, I’m only interested in a safe flight to wherever I want to go at a good price on a well-run sustainable airline. I don’t really care if it’s on an Antiguan airline or not. A bit of competition might give us the best prices. So, I say let both fly and let the market decide who “wins”.

    • Well highlighted @ Healthy Competition.

      Anyone who runs a well run business, welcomes competition. Government Minister’s do not understand this vital concept, because they are so enamoured with waste in the PUBLIC SECTOR.

      1), Good competition keeps you on your toes.

      2), Knowing what your competitors are up to, keeps you moving forward and then by using innovative measures to stay ahead.

      3), Better practices and integrity will always see you through.

      4), Reinvestment in the business will ensure greater growth in the future.

      5), … And employing the RIGHT staff and doing DUE DILIGENCE is vitally important.

      • This is why the likes of Lionel Hurst and Gaston Browne are COMPLETELY at a loss of what to do with Liat and the so-called collaborations with Nigeria Airlines and Air Peace.

        The two of them couldn’t run a bath, even though they have enough water in a dem yard …

    • That’s how it suppose to be, but I say it again, in the end only the deep pockets will survive. That is how it always has been in the Airline industry. Look at the history. Even big American Eagle could not keep it up. Not to mention Alen Stanford Caribbean Star an Sun. The customer did got some cheap flights for the time they lasted.

  6. @ Commentator
    I agree with you until you got to goodwill.
    Air Peace has a questionable reputation in its current market. LIAT reputation is shattered. LIAT does have brand name recognition in the region which can be characterized to a limited degree as goodwill.
    Gaston and his spokespersons are killing the little goodwill that’s left for LIAT in its market area.
    For them it’s not about delivering quality air services across the Eastern Caribbean. They will thrash their fellow Heads of State and cast dispersions on their reputation.
    It’s all about cheap politics hoping brag they saved LIAT and they secured hundreds of jobs.
    Unfortunately UPP is failing to provide the public with the type of in-depth analysis that an opposition party should be providing. In failing to do so, it enables the ABLP to take non sustainable positions.
    Message to UPP: You may not be in a position to give handout and favours.
    What the Country needs are leaders who are informed and charismatic who surrounds themselves public policy wonks that inspires and captures the imagination of the voting public.
    As an opposition party you are failing in this issue and many others.

  7. @The Provocateur

    What I was saying is that some good will can be restored by the full payment of LIAT(1974) Ltd’s liabilities. Otherwise the LIAT brand in any format is going to always be associated with “No Pay” behavior .We have had almost 50 years to forget about the original LIAT but LIAT(i974) would be fresh .
    Trinidad did this with BWIA becoming CAL so there was no ill will with the new company as full severance and other liabilities were paid.

    2007 :
    “Workers of the now disbanded BWIA have all been paid a severance package plus gratuity and about 60% of them have been re-employed.”

  8. Government of Antigua and Barbuda.You cannot stop and or prevent Caribbean Airlines to expand.The Governments of those Caribbean Countries hold that power to say yea or nay.Do you think the Government of Trinidad and Tobago gives a rat arse about LIAT and its operations.This wing of Caribbean Airlines would be competition for LIAT.Perhaps the pricing in tickets would go down with competition.As it stands now,LIAT poking the eyeballs out of travelers with their airfares. It costs me less to fly from Austin to Antigua.Than it costs my friends from St.Croix in the USVI to Antigua.Max Wurst needs not go and bury his head into the sand.So the people could kick his arse like a soccer ball.Chief of Staff,a made up position to create a salary for Comrade WURST.What is his claim to fame? Oh,I forgot,his father was a Cabinet Minister in the VC Bird regimes of yesteryear.That man never worked up a sweat to make a living in his life.Comrades get it all for freebs.

  9. Anyone remember Carib Express ?. I do ……..

    Some comments below about an airline startup that did not last very long to illustrate that even large foreign airlines do not keep pumping money into another airline that they have invested in if things are not working well .

    “No….but I do remember “CaribExpress” who operated 2-3 BAe146-100s in competition with LIAT round about 95-96. They were backed by BA, with a 10% shareholding I believe & the aircraft had a red “Landor” BA speedwing. Can’t recall any other info……”

    “Carib Express was formed with the assistence of BA, which did take shares in the venture. However the airline didn’t operate with the BA ‘Landor’ speedwing. The airline had it’s own identity. Unfortunately bad marketing and management and the attitude of some Caribbean governments, notably Antigua, meant that it didn’t last long. It was a joy to see around the islands in the brief time it operated and provided much needed competition to a market dominated by BWIA and LIAT.”

  10. @ Commentator
    I admire your idealism. But your premise assumes Gaston’s government is willing to make LIAT workers whole. The things about compassionate payment is a smoke screen not to pay the workers their due. Compassionate payments are 33% of what they are due
    The entire Bankruptcy process is clouded with politicians doing the talking and the Receiver quiet as a mouse. The Reciever is suppose to be in control and making recommendations.
    The Reciever normally presents his financial finding and recommends to the Judge in front of the creditors (union representatives), and the Owners. In this situation the Owners have little say. They are not in a position to negotiate or make any decisions about LIAT 1974.

    The fact that the Foreign Minister is making the deal with Air Peace not the Minister of Aviation says a lot.
    This is such a mess. What’s really happening here.
    Gaston and his colleagues are setting up the narrative for their gullible followers to attribute LIAT demise to the actions of T&T and CAL
    It’s certainly a false narrative. I say spare me the false outrage.
    UPP fails to recognize and articulate what is going on here. Makes me wonder about them

  11. @The Provocateur.

    Under the the 2020 Companies Act Amendment they have not reached Receivership yet.
    Under this provision there is an opening, however remote , for reorganization or rehabilitation of a company. Such a plan could come from the Administrator or Shareholders or probably even an outside entity offering to step in . It would of course need the backing of the Court .

    No. 17 of 2020
    AN ACT to amend the Companies Act 1995 No.18 of 1995 1995 to provide for the rehabilitation of an insolvent corporate debtor and for other incidental and connected purposes.
    ENACTED by the Parliament of Antigua and Barbuda as follows:
    1. Short Title
    This Act may be cited as the Companies (Amendment) Act. 2020
    2. Interpretation
    In this Act –
    “principal Act” means the Companies Act 1995 No. 18 of 1995
    3. Amendment of section 236 of the principal Act Re organisation
    Section 236 is amended in subsection (1) by inserting after paragraph (a) the following”
    “(aa) a court order for rehabilitation issued under Part VI;””

    • @Commentator
      Two thumbs up. Liat 1974 is still in Administration, not in Receivership, but at the last shareholder meeting it was made clear that the majority shareholders would like it to be liquidated asap

  12. What is wrong having two airlines servicing the region? Competition is good for business, we will have the rights to choose the one with the better price.

  13. @Matty Dubs ,

    There some of the airlines on English Speaking Caribbean or OECS routes or routes into Antigua from Caribbean destination.

    LIAT(1974) Ltd (In Administration)
    Caribbean Airlines
    Intercaribbean Airways
    AirAntilles Express
    FlyMontserrat (Montserrat to Antigua)
    BMN Air/SVG Air (Montserrat to Antigua)
    Trans Anguilla Airlines (Anguilla to Antigua)
    British Airways (Antigua to St Kitts)
    Virgin Atlantic (Barbados to Grenada and St Vincent)

    We listen to the politicians!
    Now it’s time to have access to the Caribbean Development Bank report that is in the hands of the OECS leaders!
    Refer to: OECS leaders discuss inter-regional transportation – ANR 9/13/2023.

    Let us interact with humility, grace, honesty, good intentions!….Be nice to each other!

    Save our Humanity, Save our Youths, Save our Environment, Save our Soil!!!


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