Barbados PM announces sale of LIAT shares

LIAT Crew and Staff POS

The Barbados government Tuesday night formally announced plans to sell its shares in the cash strapped regional airline, LIAT, but insisted that it was committed to regional transportation and would continue to hold minimum shares in the Antigua-based carrier.

Barbados along with Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica Grenada and St. Vincent and the Grenadines are the main shareholders of the airline that employs over 600 people and operates 491 flights weekly across 15 destinations.

Prime Minister Mia Mottley in a statement to Parliament confirmed reports that Antigua and Barbuda would be seeking to replace Barbados as the largest shareholder government by seeking to acquire the shares Bridgetown would be outing up for sale.

Prime Minister Mia Mottley speaking in Parliament (CMC Photo)

She said that Attorney General Dale Marshall would lead the negotiations.

“There is only so much that Barbados can responsibly do at this time given our current circumstances and our current position on the journey which I referred to just now,” she said, having earlier made reference to the island’s multi-million dollar agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to turn around the ailing economy.

“Therefore…notwithstanding our absolute commitment to regional air travel and notwithstanding the fact and given in fact that the studies have recommended a different module and restructuring for LIAT and given the inability of the government of Barbados to do for LIAT in the next five to 10 years what the government of Barbados did for LIAT in the last five to 10 years when we moved significantly to assume major shareholder responsibilities, we have taken the determination, a decision as a cabinet that it is time for us to step back while at the same time allowing other governments to continue with their proposals to restructure LIAT in the way which they have determined.”

Last month, Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne said he had ieceived communication from his Barbados  indicating that Bridgetown was willing to sell all but 10 per cent of its shares in the airline that serves 15 Caribbean destinations.

Antigua and Barbuda currently holds 34 per cent of the shares and if it succeeds in convincing Bridgetown to part with its LIAT shares, would have 81 per cent of the airline.

The government in a statement last month had said that “an offer was made for Antigua and Barbuda to acquire the LIAT shares owned by Barbados, through a take-over of the liability of Barbados to the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB).”

The Antigua and Barbuda government chief of staff, Lionel Max Hurst, said that “there are many jobs here in Antigua and Barbuda connected to LIAT and we intend to ensure that those jobs are not lost.

“Many of the route rights that LIAT now possesses would be utilized more fully if Antigua and Barbuda gets its way,’ Hurst said.

Motrley told Parliament that Barbados would not be turning its back on regional transportation or LIAT, adding it would maintain a “minimum shareholding in LIAT should we reach an agreement with our sister governments for them to take over our shareholding with respect to the negotiations.

“We will continue to provide a minimum revenue guarantee, I shouldn’t say continue, we will provide a minimum revenue guarantee on any route that is uncommercial , unprofitable, recognising however that the majority of routes that Barbados is involved in, is in fact profitable with LIAT.

“And it is against this background Mer. Speaker, our commitment continues that such within the last few weeks the government of Barbados would have sent a further one billion dollars (One Barbados dollar=US$0.50 cents) to LIAT and would also have satisfied our commitment to the Caribbean Development Bank with respect to the re-fleeting of LIAT,” she added.

In May, St. Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves said that the shareholder governments had agreed to give further consideration to a proposal by Prime Minister Browne regarding the future direction of the airline.

Gonsalves said he had hoped that the proposal from Antigua and Barbuda would be discussed by the shareholders “before the end of May is out”.

Grenada recently became the latest shareholder in LIAT and Gonsalves confirmed that St. Kitts-Nevis had responded positively to the call for raising US$5.4 million to help the airline deal with its current financial problems.

St. Lucia Prime Minister Allen Chastanet has said that Castries would not contribute any funds unless there’s a significant change to the airline’s structure.

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  1. That lady (PM) is so smart… the future don’t be surprise if Barbados create an airline that will give LIAT some competition and show LIAT’s board, management and shareholders how a regional airline should structure and managed enabling break even or make a small profit. Is it because if LIAT folds there would be “X” amount jobs will be lost in A&B that our government decides to take that amount of majority shares in an airline that has been through so many different managements and restructuring yet fail to break even? The country make be in for a bumpy financial crisis in the next five to ten years. This is not WIOC.

    • They have tried 4 times and failed. Running an airline anywhere, much more the Caribbean is not for the faint of heart and requires DEEEEEEEPPPPPPP pockets. Even with mucho deep pockets and with other people’s money, Caribbean Star also failed.

  2. I agree with Alex…wouldn’t surprise me if a Bajan airlines opens soon…in fact read an article that a new airline opened in St Vincent… so LIAT better be ready to operate effectively and efficiently otherwise roi will be lost for A&B.

  3. Alex
    You are very NEGATIVE.Shows that you DO NOT want to see Antigua and Barbuda moving forward. Where the HELL Barbados will get money to buy Their own Airline. Wake up. Just another U P P grasping at straws. I wish to see the the day When U P P supporters will bring some real issues to the table. You Guys will be complaining for the next 50years at least.

  4. Harris you truly are a Johnny! Barbados PM smarter than and your politicians think. There is $12 billion in private money not government laying idle on Barbados banks. One young Barbados citizen Ambassador Robyn Rihanna Fenty is as wealthy as Antigua’s entire GDP. There is a saying in Barbados day runs until night catches it. As the Johnny you are you may live to eat your words.

    • SO because Rihanna has a couple millions means that the Barbados economy is strong? Her wealth is of no benefit to Barbados unless she invests it there. So what’s your point?

      • When God was sharing brains and commonsense he must have deliberately overlooked UPP people. Leave them alone in their ignorance.

    • Lmao…….Rihanna?!!!!! Is that the best u can do?!!!! Lol!!!!! Rihanna don’t give 2 F’s about Barbadoes and that is a fact. Rihanna dove even care about what made her rich in the first place which is music. If u want go there Rihanna is a member of the Illuminati u think she going to use her devil money for Barbados yeah right!!!! LMAO!!!!!!!!!!!


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