Grenada to make financial contribution to LIAT

(CNS) – The Grenada government Tuesday said it would be making a “cash contribution” to the cash-strapped Antigua-based regional airline, LIAT, less than a week after the regional shareholder governments urged Caribbean countries to contribute to the future of the island-hopping airline.

“We will make a cash contribution to LIAT this month and going forward we will pay LIAT additional funds based on load factor. Government’s decision is based on what was presented at the recently inter-sessional meeting,” said CARICOM Affairs Minister Oliver Joseph.

“LIAT is in a dire financial situation and that one-off contribution is to ensure that it continues flying so that cash contribution for March has nothing to do with the load factor,” he added.

The major shareholders of the airline are Barbados, Antigua and Barbuda, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Dominica and Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne said that there are plans to encourage the governments of St. Kitts-Nevis, St. Lucia, Grenada and Guyana to become shareholders.

“There is a need for us to have a model of shared burden, recognising that from time to time LIAT would need some level of support. We have recognised that LIAT is making a significant contribution, not only in terms of the connectivity of people within the region, but even the airport taxes, the landing charges and so on that are earned by the various governments,” Browne said.

“Even if LIAT was to collapse, LIAT would have to be replaced. We must be in a position to move people within the region. So If LIAT collapses you will have to re-invent it,” he said.

Joseph did not say how much money the Keith Mitchell government would pump into the airline, adding that it will be based on a report from the airline’s board of directors.