ANTIGUA PM hints at new LIAT company

Prime Minister Gaston Browne has hinted at the possibility of a new company to administer the affairs of the cash-strapped regional airlines, LIAT, even as he confirmed that talks were ongoing with two potential investors for the airline.

LIAT former major shareholders were the governments of Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica and St Vincent and the Grenadines and in July last year, the Antigua and Barbuda government secured an order from the High Court for administration for LIAT, naming Cleveland Seaforth as the administrator of the company.

Earlier this year, Seaforth in a letter to regional leaders, said that EC$79 million (US$29 million) in severance is owed to the 564 workers already dismissed by the airline.

Seaforth said that apart from any possible severance which may come from the LIAT estate, the Antigua and Barbuda government had indicated it is prepared to offer the staff up to a maximum of 50 per cent of their severance either by cash, land or government bonds or a combination of the three.

Browne, speaking on his radio programme over the weekend, said that the offer to LIAT workers is still on the table even as it awaits an official response from the Antigua and Barbuda Workers Union (ABWU).

“It is for them to accept the proposal that the government of Antigua and Barbuda extended to them to come up to 50 per cent of their liabilities, primarily their severance liabilities.

“We still have at least two entities that are negotiating with the administrator to become shareholders within the LIAT company. It may have to be a new company because when you look at what is happening presently, the threats that are made, the demands that are made by past staff, members of staff and the union, I am not even sure now that LIAT 1974 Limited will be viable so there may have to be a LIAT 2020….recapitalised and start as a new entity,” Browne told radio listeners.

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