Regional airline LIAT has sought to assure that it will continue to fly across the Caribbean, after Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley warned that it could shut down if it does not get a US$5 million injection.
Speaking to reporters recently, after his return from the 30th Intersessional Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of CARICOM in St Kitts and Nevis, Rowley said that regional leaders were informed that the Antigua-based airline is in serious financial difficulties.
“…Within a matter of a fortnight, an injection of a minimum of US$5 million is needed in order to keep flying,” he said.
But in a statement issued on Friday, LIAT’s chief executive officer Julie Reifer-Jones said that although airline is in a challenging financial situation, it has continued flying through the region with support from its principal shareholders – the Governments of Barbados, Antigua and Barbuda, St Vincent and the Grenadines and Dominica – and “will continue to operate in a safe and efficient manner to provide connectivity and service to the region”.
At the same time, she noted that the airline has also been operating to destinations where there has been no support from governments and authorities to ensure that critical connectivity remains.
The airline CEO said current discussions with regional governments are intended to put in place new arrangements which provide a basis for sharing the burden among all the countries currently benefitting from LIAT’s services.
She also noted that all stakeholders, whether labour, suppliers or financiers will be called upon to make adjustments aimed at achieving a viable airline operation.
LIAT is currently undergoing a restructuring exercise which is expected to improve the operations of the airline as the company moves to build a sustainable model.
It currently operates 491 flights weekly across its network of 15 destinations.