LIAT delegation meets with St. Kitts and Nevis government; committee established to determine whether to invest in airline
As part of efforts to solicit financial assistance from regional leaders to rescue the cash strapped regional carrier LIAT, a high level delegation from the airline met with the government of St. Kitts and Nevis.
Following the meeting on March 11, St. Kitts and Nevis was still looking at the viability of investing in the airline. A decision was made to establish an advisory committee to thoroughly consider a number of proposals put forward by LIAT and to advise it on the possible way forward.
LIAT’s team to the consultation was led by Diane Shurland, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary. The other two delegation members were Chief Financial Officer, Mr. Rojer J. Inglis and Chief Commercial Officer, Audra Walker.
The advisory committee will be led by the Financial Secretary in the Government of St. Kitts and Nevis, Mrs. Hilary Hazel. It will also consist of representatives from the Ministry of Tourism, representatives of the St. Christopher Air and Sea Ports Authority and a representative from the Office of the Prime Minister.
Caribbean countries are being asked to contribute a total of US$5.4 million in emergency funding need to keep the airline in the sky. At the same time, 11 destinations have been given until Friday, March 15 to respond to the airline’s minimal revenue guarantee (MRG) proposals.
Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves of St. Kitts and Nevis said that countries, including the four major shareholders – Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica and St. Vincent and the Grenadines – along with Grenada, have agreed to contribute to the US$5.4 million.
Barbados, which has the 116 weekly departures, the highest by LIAT, is being asked to contribute US$1.614 million, while Antigua and Barbuda, which has 69 departures, will contribute US$960,310.
Dominica is being asked to contribute US$347,938 in light of its 25 weekly flights, St. Vincent and the Grenadines with 52 departures per week will contribute US$723,711 while Grenada, which has 35 LIAT departures per week, is being asked to contribute US$487,113.
Gonsalves told legislators that said these five countries constitute the “A Group” and that while no other government has come forward in the face of the crisis, the shareholder governments are targeting a further three, namely Guyana, St. Kitts and Nevis and St. Lucia, for contributions of US$292,280, US$389,691, and US$584,536, respectively.
Kittitians and Nevisians have conflicting opinions on whether the country should invest in LIAT. Prime Minister Harris has, in the past, strongly stated that he is not interested in contributing financially to the airline.