The Government of Antigua and Barbuda has confirmed that it has officially submitted a document to authorities in Barbados indicating its interest in purchasing the shares that country owns in the cash-strapped regional airline LIAT.
Prime Minister Gaston Browne says the proposal was submitted Tuesday and the government is anticipating a favorable response.
“We are looking towards the sustainability and viability of LIAT. We now have to await a response from Barbados and then we will develop an action plan on the way forward,” Browne said.
The revelation from Browne follows a recent meeting of LIAT’s shareholder governments in Antigua where it was agreed that a proposal from the Prime Minister, regarding the direction of the airline, would be examined.
As the Barbadian Prime Minister was not present at the meeting, the Barbadian representative said upon his return he would raise with Prime Minister Mottley the issue of Antigua and Barbuda’s intent to purchase all of Barbados’ shares.
During the meeting, Browne presented the proposal which, involves – among other things – a way to finance the keeping of the three planes owned by the Caribbean Development Bank.
There was also a suggestion that the planes be sold as part of the downsizing of LIAT and there is consensus among some shareholders that this is a matter which merits very serious consideration.
The shareholder governments have been asking other Caribbean governments to provide financial assistance to the Antigua-based airline that services 15 Caribbean countries.
St. Kitts-Nevis, Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica and Grenada have responded positively to the call for raising US $5.4 million to help the airline deal with its current financial problems.
Antigua’s leader has insisted that, “My government is determined that LIAT should remain in the air and we will oppose any decision to collapse the airline.”
Meantime, according to recent reports, Grenada has joined Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines by becoming the fifth shareholder in LIAT. (OBSERVER)