Intra-Caribbean airline LIAT may be in need of financial rescuing yet again, at least according to Antigua and Barbuda’s Prime Minister Gaston Browne.
In a recent radio interview, PM Browne stated that the regional carrier has suffered tremendously as a result of border closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He stated that, “LIAT was already in a very precarious situation and COVID would have worsened the situation. So right now LIAT, just like any other airline globally, will be in need of a bailout.”
The matter was brought up while discussing the news that the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) was downgraded to a Category 2 rating by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) after they found that the Eastern Caribbean Civil Aviation Authority (ECCAA) was not in compliance with the safety standards set by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).
Prime Minister Browne said that while he is grateful that the downgraded rating will not affect current operations regarding their U.S. based territories, he says the airline is putting priority on stabilization before expansion.
The FAA downgrade does not affect current operations to U.S. based destinations, but it does impact the airline’s ability to expand service to the relevant territories.
Like many other airlines, LIAT remains grounded as a result of various border restrictions. In their latest announcement, they extended the airline’s suspension by a further two weeks until May 31, 2020. Julie Reifer-Jones, Chief Executive Officer of LIAT said that passengers who booked tickets for travel after the 15th will receive a full credit which can then be used for future travel once restrictions are lifted.
In late 2019, the Antiguan parliament gave government approval to secure a US $15.8 million dollar, 10-year loan from Venezuela-based bank Banco del ALBA to purchase additional shares in LIAT.
[Featured Photo: Bradley Wint/Gate Checked]