LIAT on Friday reached out to its customers via a message on its website and Facebook page notifying them about its suspended passenger services and future actions.
In April 2020, LIAT suspended its commercial passenger services due to the continued impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
During this suspension, we have been working with a view to restarting our operations as soon as possible. While the Board and Shareholders have considered numerous proposals to safeguard the survival of LIAT, the COVID-19 crisis has created unprecedented challenges. These challenges have led to options which include a proposal to liquidate the airline.
Further information about LIAT’s future will only be available after LIAT’s next Annual General Meeting which has not yet been scheduled. As a result, we deeply regret that we are unable to provide any further information to assure you but promise to update you as soon as a decision has been made.
Please continue to monitor our website and social media platforms for updates.
The Antigua-based regional airline has been struggling financially for several years and the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in the grounding of the airline’s planes in April.
With no income and mounting expenditures, the shareholder governments met on June 27 to discuss a number of issues facing the airline, including the impact the coronavirus (COVID-19) has had on it.
At the end of the meeting by LIAT’s shareholder governments, Antigua’s Prime Minister Gaston Browne announced that the airline will be liquidated, and that a meeting of all shareholders will be held shortly to discuss collapsing it.
LIAT’s shareholders meeting has not yet been scheduled but the appitite for pumping more money into the airline is lacking. St. Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister, Dr. Ralph Gonsalves expressed his confidence that several other airlines will be able to provide cheap and safe air travel.
Speaking at the Caricom Heads of Government meeting, Barbados’ Prime Minister, Mia Mottley said that governments now have to use their funds to be able to deal with health expenditure, water, other forms of transport, the tourism sector and vulnerable populations.
The Antiguan government is holding out for another solution with the pledge of US$15 – US$20 million towards the new LIAT.
Airlines Vying to Replace LIAT
Gonsalves and Mottley said several airlines would fill the gap left by LIAT. They include the Trinidad and Tobago government-owned Caribbean Airlines, The Turks and Caicos-based interCaribbean, One Caribbean in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, SVG Air, United States-based Silver Airways, and the France based Air Antillies.
Moneys Owed to Customers & Staff
Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonslaves revealed on Thursday that at the end of May, LIAT had sold $11 million dollars worth of tickets, even though the carrier stopped flying in March due to COVID-19.
In addition to the $11 million owed to would-be travellers, Gonsalves said LIAT owes its 636 employees severance totalling $84 million, and holiday pay totalling $10 million.
Gonsalves said the airline had retained around 100 employees when flights were grounded due to COVID-19. He said those 100 employees are now owed around $7.2 million dollars in unpaid salaries.