Antigua prepared to “collapse” LIAT if it is does not emerge as a lean entity

The Antigua and Barbuda government says it is prepared to “collapse” the regional airline, LIAT, if it does not emerge as a “new and lean,” entity as part of the re-organisational plans for the cash-strapped airline.

Speaking on his private radio station here over the last weekend, Prime Minister Gaston Browne told listeners that his administration is awaiting the new plan being devised by the administrator, Cleveland Seaforth, who he said has already indicated that new contracts would be handed to employees of the recapitalised airline.

Browne said that the new LIAT would be operating with four aircraft rather than the 10 it had before and that ‘the amount of people working for LIAT going forward will be significantly reduced.

“My understanding is that the administrator will be terminating all existing contracts…the existing individuals will be offered new contracts in order to operate the airline going forward. So it will be a very lean and efficient entity and I have to say here that there is no way we are going to waste taxpayers money to fund a bloated institution.

“So on the basis that the receiver presents a plan to us with a lean LIAT, one that could probably break even, we will be happy even if it is making a nominal loss, fine, but if the plan does not fit into our objectives of having an efficient and right size LIAT then clearly we will have a problem and I have to say here too that if we are unable to get a lean LIAT, then we will have to collapse it,” Browne said.

Last week, Information Minister, Melford Nicholas, said the financially-strapped regional airline, LIAT, which is undergoing a restructuring programme, is likely to return to the skies in November.

Nicholas told reporters that he would not want to give a specific date as to when the airline, in which the Barbados and St Vincent and the Grenadines governments have agreed to sell their shares, will resume its operations. Apart from Antigua and Barbuda, the other major shareholder government of the Antigua-based airline is Dominica.

Prime Minister Browne told radio listeners that practically all of the countries in the region are collaborating and that the governments of Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Dominica had written to the administrator agreeing to write off their debts written off

“If I am not mistaken, we are talking close to EC$70 million in debt would be eliminated from the balance books of LIAT as a result of those countries agreeing to write off the amount due to them. Now there are creditors that the receiver is trying to get to cooperate as well and he’s presently negotiating with them.”

Browne said that what the Cabinet has decided is that while the administrator is negotiating, “we have decided that we will provide the funding so that the administrator could continue to do LIAT’s work, but we think it would be important for us to support the administrator putting LIAT back into the air.

“I know that there’s a plan that is being developed presently — it may take another 30 to 45 days to be completed — so as soon as we get that plan from the Administrator, the government of Antigua and Barbuda has committed to provide funding.

“In fact the funding that we are providing, we’re doing so as a preferred creditor, not as a shareholder. So, if things do not work out then the government of Antigua and Barbuda will be the first to be repaid. I want to make that abundantly clear.”

He said the funding would be in the form of a “preferred creditor and not as a shareholder and if things do not work out then the government of Antigua and Barbuda will be the first to be repaid.

“I want to make that abundantly clear as you know we had borrowed US$15 million to invest in LIAT and we have commenced utilising some of those funds and we will make the funds available to assist the [Administrator] in his objective to try and get LIAT back in the air,” Browne said, insistsing “clearly it will be a downsized LIAT’.

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  1. The headline should be written Gaston Browne prepared to collapse LIAT.

    Wherever his slimy fingers are attached, it never goes well.

  2. Running an Airline is not a cheap thing.You cannot cut corners either.Because there are many lives involved in air travel on LIAT and all other Airlines.So Gaston The Great.When are you going to pay the Pensioners for the month of September.Today,is the 13th day of October,2020 and nutten for those poor folks.Thirteen days late already.Your minions are saying that you cared about poor people.Perhaps that was before you became Prime Minister.Back in the days when you were living in your mother in law’s house out by Cedar Grove.Now that you have become a big shot.Living at Jolly Harbor,you forgot where you came from.You forgot what it was like to be without money and food to eat daily.That is what some of those Pensioners are going through at this time.Shame on you Teflon Don.Shame on you World Boss.Pay the pensioners their monies.It was put into Social Security as a means of getting it back every month on their retirements.Now they are stressed every month going back before Covid-19.While you and your bloated/overweight Cabinet Members get their salaries every month on time. Shameful and selfish sets of people.

  3. If GB leaves those Trinis in control of LIAT he better be prepared to collapse it within months. They all came from CAL and have been working feverishly to collapse LIAT from the inside out. That flight attendant with no qualifications has been at tbe exec level and has destroyed everything good about LIAT. It is a mess what goes on at the stations under that leadership. The abuse of company’s priveleges, the ling flights with family members just to have lunch, all paid for by LIAT is what we will see on the return if nothing changes. GB clean up that mess.

    • Firestorm I thought all of that originated in Antigua by antiguans it seems Firestorm that you know plenty of the doings of LIAT come on tell us more the only person that believe Liat can fly again is Browne and some of his lackeys #1 the ticket holders is the most important people to LIAT because they were the ones flying on LIAT they need to be paid #2 all those workers must be paid as well I guess by now some of them are employed else where and they would be stupid to risk going back to LIAT #3 probably most if not all the routes once held by LIAT is gone so they we go #4 when you borrow money it have to be paid back with interest is Browne going to be repaying loan or the Antigua and Barbuda people.

  4. Bugsy, I glad you know running an airline not easy and cheap. What I also hope you know and that all realize and can appreciate is the stress, pressure and responsibility the people on the frontline of ALL airlines are the ones with people lives directly in the palm of their hands. LIAT pilots have an excellent safety record and Caribbean people must never forget that. I know some of them and since they are out of work I have slowly been finding out more about what it takes to become a commercial pilot and what it takes to STAY one. Not sticking up for them……. but damn!!!!!!!!! Educate yourself people. Its disgusting how these LIAT professionals are being treated. It takes lots of money to have and keep a safe pilot and maintain safe aircraft.
    Sadly the Caribbean will loose them all to other countries if LIAT is really liquidated.

    • Swanston it’s not a matter of if but when it’s totally impossible for LIAT to take to the skies without repaying all those customers who you guys think was flying on LIAT all the time those same people and without them LIAT is finish and up to now not one word about repayment of the 11 million us dollars collected so if by some miracle Liat were able to fly again who is going to be flying on it not me for sure they have $ 416.00 us dollars collected from me.

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