Caribbean leaders push new regional carrier or relaunch LIAT

Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Member States Will Discuss Establishment of New Regional Air Carrier or Relaunch of LIAT (Antigua and Barbuda) (LI, Antigua), St. Vincent Prime Minister Says -and-the Grenadines, Ralph Gonsalves.

Speaking at a press conference at the CARICOM Heads of Government Conference in Suriname earlier this month, Gonsalves said it was “urgent” to have a fully operational airline to help the free movement of people and goods across the Caribbean as the region hopes to rebound from the devastation caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, News Room Guyana reported.

Leaders of Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Saint Lucia and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines will lead discussions on new carrier or restart , he explained, adding that an aviation consultant will be needed to help them. establish a framework.

“We have made a decision between these fringe countries that we are going to address the issue of any regional air carrier. This may well be the rebirth of LIAT in one form or another,” he said. “But it has to be done quickly.”

LIAT has been primarily funded by the governments of Barbados, the largest shareholder, as well as Antigua and Barbuda, where it is headquartered, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and Dominica, but since The cash-strapped pan-Caribbean carrier reached a court settlement with the administration in 2020, they were unable to reach an agreement on how to settle outstanding financial obligations.

The Prime Minister of Saint Lucia, Philip Pierre, has agreed that a regional airline – LIAT or a new airline – is needed to facilitate free movement in the Caribbean. Also speaking at the conference, he said travel was hampered by the lack of reliable and affordable transport infrastructure. However, market forces outside the region should not be involved in the project.

“We have not only closed our air and sea space to the expansion and growth of the businesses of our local investors, but we have also abandoned the future of our unification efforts to the whims of service providers whose sole interest is profit,” he lamented. “CARICOM needs LIAT, or CARICOM needs a better version of LIAT.”

Although a statement issued at the end of the event did not specifically mention the issue, it stressed “the need for a significantly improved transport system that can enhance food security and deepen regional integration” and that the leaders of the Member States had “agreed to establish a working group to oversee the project, which will include representatives of the governments of Barbados, Grenada, Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago, as well as the secretariat from CARICOM, the CARICOM Private Sector Organization (CPSO) and the Caribbean Development Bank.” This could, however, focus more on a fast ferry service rather than air travel.

According to ch-aviation’s advanced fleet modules and ch-aviation’s capabilities, LIAT currently operates three ATR42-600s, deploying them on 17 scheduled routes, all but two of which have 1x or 2x weekly frequencies.

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