As shareholder governments struggle to come up with a viable solution to keep island-hopping LIAT in the skies, Prime Minister Mia Mottley is remaining tight-lipped on the talks while a fellow shareholder suggests Barbados wants to offload its majority stake.
Mottley stopped short of saying whether Government would dispose of its 49 per cent interest in the cash-strapped carrier, declaring instead that she will not be having any discussions in the public domain.
She would only say that she was focussed on ensuring reliable and affordable regional transport.
The Prime Minister was responding to a question during the annual luncheon of the Barbados Employers’ Confederation (BEC) at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre on Wednesday.
Mottley said: “Let’s just say we agree on the mission, and the mission is that there must always be reliable affordable access for travel in the region as there must be nationally. And I can assure you and the country that we are working on this every day.
“But you also have to take the reality of an existence as you find it and then determine whether the modality that you have is the best mechanism by which to deliver on that objective.”
Her comments come amid speculation that Bridgetown intends to give up its shares so it could start its own airline.
It’s been a week since fellow shareholder, the government of Antigua and Barbuda, confirmed that it had officially submitted a document to authorities in Barbados indicating interest in buying its shares.
According to reports out of St John’s, following a recent meeting of the airline’s shareholder governments at which Mottley was not present, Prime Minister Gaston Browne said a proposal was submitted to the Barbados Government on May 7, and he was anticipating a favourable response.
The Barbados representative reportedly indicated that the proposal would be examined.
LIAT and other officials have been engaged in back-to-back meetings trying to find a solution to keep the airline afloat, while exploring the possibility of a minimum guarantee scheme, which would see countries benefiting from the airline services contributing financially.
LIAT currently employs over 600 people and operates 491 flights weekly across 15 destinations.