Alternate Views -Unfortunate Demise of LIAT

Submitted by Kemar J.D Stuart, Economist and Director Business Development , Finance and Investment Stuart & Perkins Caribbean

Barbados being a 49% shareholder in LIAT 1974 has a story to be told in regards to its actions or inaction which led to the unfortunate demise of the airline. It has been estimated that former Barbadian workers are owed in the region of $13 million EC dollars ($9.7 million) by LIAT.

On his recent visit to Barbados St.Lucia PM Phillip Pierre spoke to an “unfortunate demise” of LIAT. Although St. Lucia is not a shareholder in LIAT 1974, PM Phillip J Pierre during his 2022 budget presentation to Parliament promised that severance payments due to former St Lucian
LIAT workers will be settled.Those workers were paid 100 per cent of their severance in a compensation package exceeding EC$6 million. The former LIAT staff got a one-off gift of $2,000 from the Mottley-led administration and were awaiting an additional $2,000-per-month loan from the government which will be recovered whenever Antigua decides to make good on the owed severance.

The employees from Barbados who contributed to the Antigua social security scheme are entitled to severance by the Antiguan government as LIAT’s headquarters is based in Antigua
which is the second largest shareholder (34%). PM Gaston Browne disclosed that the government of Antigua and Barbuda is proposing to cover about 50 percent of LIAT’s severance liability. Barbados should cover the additional 50% or 4.9 Million in severance liability due to former LIAT workers and easily fix that issue.

The Caribbean market has historically accounted for about 15 percent of total visitor arrivals to
Barbados before the pandemic. While Covid caused visitor arrivals from the Caribbean to drop,
Former Minister of Tourism and International Transport Senator Lisa Cummins has said in May
2022 that the continuous decline in visitor arrivals from the Caribbean is mainly due to a fall-off
in airlift capacity. The minister suggested that the collapse of Antigua-based LIAT airline in mid-
2020 had an impact. The Antiguan government implemented a 50% reduction in Airport service charge for Caribbean visitors and in following a similar path the Barbados government In June 2021 agreed to a 50% reduction in airport service charge for regional visitors.

The Government of Antigua has confirmed that it submitted a document to authorities in
Barbados indicating its interest in purchasing the country’s shares in LIAT. In a letter dated May
16, 2019, PM Mottley indicated a willingness to divest some of Barbados’s shares. Prime
Minister Mia Mottley has admitted that talks with Antigua and Barbuda regarding the sale of
Barbados’ LIAT shares did not go as expected. Those negotiations never got off the ground and discussions came to a halt after only a few hours meeting in Barbados.

Attorney General Dale Marshall Marshall led the negotiations which included former Minister of
Tourism Kerrie Symmonds and Director of Finance Ian Carrington.Prime Minister Mia Mottley’s
insists that Antigua and Barbuda would have to take up Barbados’ almost $100 million loan
commitments from (CDB) which was used to purchase three LIAT aircraft.

Government minister in the Ministry of Finance Antigua and Barbuda Lennox Weston linked
Barbados to what he described as attempts to steal LIAT or destroy the regional airline. Minister Weston said there was a plan to take over LIAT or to destroy it at the meeting in Barbados led by AG Dale Marshall and Minister Keri Symmonds.

Weston read from a memorandum dated March 23, 2019 which indicated that a team from the Eastern Caribbean Civil Aviation Authority (ECCA) met with the lawyer for LIAT who notified
ECCA that the airline was considering relocating its headquarters from Antigua to St.Vincent
and sought information on change of location.

“During the meeting, the lawyer of LIAT invited ECCA officials to attend a meeting in Barbados
to discuss the legal matters pertaining to LIAT. While at that meeting, the lawyer announced
that consideration was being given to relocating the headquarters of the airline to St Vincent but due to legal implications, it was decided to opt for Barbados instead.” Continuing to read from the memo he added: ” the ECCA team understood that a new LIAT would be established, with the name of LIAT 2020 and it would be relocated in Barbados. The lawyer advised that it would be best for Barbados to establish a civil aviation authority.

The Prime Minister of Barbados then instructed the Minister of Civil Aviation within the shortest
possible time…by the weekend. A prime minister who is not even part of ECCA directing
ECCA…’I say kill the civil aviation authority in Antigua…form the one in Barbados in two days,”
the Antigua minister told his parliament. In Oct 2022 Minister Symmonds tabled the Civil
Aviation bill to establish a civil aviation authority after a failed hijacking of ECCA. But who really
is this unknown government appointed lawyer?

Weston said “they rejected the notion, “they used their majority position and their management,
not only to bankrupt LIAT but to try to liquidate it. However Antigua amended the Companies
Act in a statement issued by the Cabinet of Antigua and Barbuda explaining that under the
amended legislation, firms that find themselves in trouble may now apply to the Court for
protection from their creditors, rather than be compelled to liquidate as was the only option
available to owners and creditors before passage of the law Antigua and Barbuda’s Prime Minister Gaston Browne later charged that Barbados was insisting that his Government purchase their 49.4 per cent majority shares in LIAT for $88 million. However, Browne has declared that he will not settle at the US$44 million proposal made by

In an abrupt move, Prime Minister Gaston Browne has declared that he has told Prime Minister
Mia Mottley that Antigua and Barbuda has found $40 million to pump in LIAT and no longer
wants to buy Barbados’ shares in the airline. Gaston Browne says he is anxiously awaiting word from the Barbados Government on whether it will write off millions of dollars in debt owed by regional carrier LIAT. It was understood that Barbados allegedly agreed with LIAT to write off the debt owed.

So far, questions and updates from Minister Kerrie Symmonds and PM Mia Mottley remain
unanswered in connection with the leasing of the GAIA on a 40 years to an unknown company and the stern rebuke by Antiguan Minister in the Ministry of Finance Lennox Weston with allegations of sabotage to LIAT. No clear path has been set out to recover the lost Caribbean
tourism travel therefore Tourism Minister Ian-Gooding Edgehill maybe drowning in sun, sea and

32 thoughts on “Alternate Views -Unfortunate Demise of LIAT

  1. ☎️ Calling David Bu
    dring dring!.. dring dring!..

    fyi some editing of text is required with the line breaks

  2. This is about 33% of the story. The other 66% has been omitted.
    The region needs a carrier, but a LIAT model was a losing one, which sucked cash annually from its owners.
    Who owns the entity the Antiguan PM was willing to sink $40M (EC or US?) in? What has happened to those, other than former employees, who were owed money? What was the ‘liquidation value’ of the former LIAT?

  3. ✈️ Airline values are in their routes
    List of LIAT destinations

    Antigua & Barbuda.
    British Virgin Islands.
    Sint Maarten.
    St. Kitts & Nevis.
    St. Lucia.

  4. Gordon on January 26, 2023 at 6:56 PM said: “This is about 33% of the story. The other 66% has been omitted. The region needs a carrier, but a LIAT model was a losing one, which sucked cash annually from its owners.”

    @ David

    I wholeheartedly agree with Gordon’s above comments.

    And, I’ll add that, if one objectively analyses the facts surrounding the “demise of LIAT,” it becomes obvious Stuart purposely manipulated and misrepresented information to present to the public, what could only be reasonably described as ‘party political diatribe.’

    • @Artax

      Feedback is welcomed. What our leaders (regional) must do is to collaborate to ensure an efficient transportation system. It is what underpins Caricom in the RTOC.

  5. @ David

    Perhaps you may find the following articles interesting.

    ST. JOHN’S, Antigua, March 30, 2015 (AMG) — The Government of Antigua and Barbuda is furious over a leaked document which detailed plans for Barbados to divest its majority share in regional-airline LIAT, and to take several aircraft from its fleet to form a new airline.

    In several strongly-worded statements over the past few days, Prime Minister Gaston Browne described the plans as “treason”, and stated that he will demand the resignation of LIAT CEO, David Evans, if it was found that he played a role in the creation of the plan.

    The “leaked document.”

  6. I wanted to fly to Grenada on one of my visits to Barbados and found the cost to go by LIAT was almost the same as I paid to fly from Canada to Barbados. I have not gone to Grenada yet.

  7. They have been robbing Caribbean people for decades. Those crooks have a lot to pay for, and pay they will.

  8. @ David

    Yes, “IT IS a 2015 issue,” but, REINFORCES Gordon’s point that “66% of the story has been (conveniently) OMITTED.”

    Kemar Stuart is simply attempting to blame the BLP current administration for the “demise of LIAT.”

    • The thrust of Pierre’s presentation is that Caricom must find a way to make regional travel affordable. Our leaders in seat or in waiting should agree on the point and leave the politics at the door.

  9. What about InterCaribbean?
    Affordable is a relative term. They have an extensive regional network.
    And Caribbean, the flag carrier of T&T, Jamaica and Guyana seems less concerned about ‘feeding to its hubs”, than major destination points.

  10. Can one compare “old LIAT rates”, with the effective subsidy by the millions lost? Should all taxpayers be subsidizing those who choose to fly?
    Running airlines isn’t cheap, especially with all the regulations by which they must abide.
    And governments all want their landing fees, departure taxes, ticket fare taxes etc. Many times these extra costs are 50% of the total.
    Otherwise, catch a boat !!!!

  11. Clearly there are areas of Commerce affecting the citizens of Caricom which can only be resolved on the Caricom level. The political will to achieve the best outcomes for Caricom citizens are being hindered by fact challenged political operatives like the writer of this post and the cash strapped economies of Caricom countries. A Caricom Community empowered to act in the future best interests of all is not in evidence with the Liat debacle. The Heads of government should identify areas of commercial enterprise that the Caricom Secretariat can advance to resolution unhindered by the political noises. First up regional travel, by air and by sea. The design of the mechanism to achieve the goal should be left up to the Secretariat. Politicians should only get a review period and an up or down vote. Economy of time is vital and costly.

  12. This is one story that I find very difficult to understand.
    I read. I see BMcDonald and ‘The A guy’ making what seem to be good points, but five minutes later I cannot tell you what they said.

    Question: (Not to “The A guy” or the “The B guy”) Are you able to keep up with this LIAT story? If so, please simplify.

  13. That shit cray
    So I ball so hard, motherfuckers wanna fine me
    But first ni–as gotta find me

  14. @ David

    I found the article in the St. Vincent Times very interesting.

    Updated:14, February 2023 : 11:40 am

    Funding for LIAT 2020 remains grounded

    A much-needed regional airline is still stuck on the runway because regional governments won’t help pay for the full revival of LIAT.

    During the press briefing after Cabinet, Information Minister Melford Nicholas said that Prime Minister Gaston Browne, who went to St. Lucia for a special meeting of the CARICOM Heads of Government more than a week ago, said that other Caribbean governments didn’t want to “embrace LIAT.”

    A government statement said that the meeting was mostly about getting LIAT back up and running and how trade and air travel are linked in the region.

    After LIAT (1974) Ltd went out of business in 2020, mostly because of the Covid-19 pandemic, the government of Antigua and Barbuda, led by Prime Minister Gaston Browne, tried to quickly set up the new LIAT (2020) Ltd, which has been running on a smaller scale.

    But the meeting last week didn’t lead to anything useful for the Gaston Browne administration, as questions about how the new airline will be financed in the region remain unanswered.

    “Everyone has felt the loss of LIAT, and we are still committed to it, but I think the Prime Minister will talk about it more at the right time, and for LIAT 2020, the sky is still the limit,” Minister Nicholas said.

    Many people in the Caribbean have said that they need a regional airline because travel costs within the region are still high.

    But Minister Nicholas said that a “joint venture agreement” with another airline might be a possibility.

    “With an airline like Air Peace, there might be a chance for some kind of joint venture that could help LIAT grow and get back on its feet, as well as get its services from [Africa] to the Caribbean,” he said.

    Air Peace is a private airline based in Lagos, Nigeria. It is owned by Allen Onyema, who is also the CEO. At first, Air Peace was in talks with the Cabinet about starting commercial flights between Nigeria and Antigua. These plans were scrapped when Air Peace said it wanted to start flying to Jamaica because the rules in the Eastern Caribbean were too hard to follow.


    Seems as though, with the exception of Gaston Browne, Caribbean heads of governments are not interested in LIAT.

  15. @ David

    While speaking on his weekly radio programme last month, Gaston Browne has threatened the
    Antigua and Barbuda Workers Trade Union (ABWTU) and former LIAT employees to accept his administration’s compassionate offer of 32%, because the offer will ‘not on the table’ indefinitely.

    Remember, the ‘government’s’ initially offered 50%.

    ‘Barbados joined St. Lucia in announcing a payment scheme for the LIAT workers in their respective islands.’
    ‘But Browne said his administration was no longer prepared to meet bilaterally with local trade unions to discuss the issue and that EFFORTS should be made to INCLUDE the OTHER shareholder governments of the airline.’

    What “other shareholder governments” is Browne referring to, when he and his ‘government’ have been making all the decisions pertaining to LIAT?

    • @Artax

      Browne and a few others epitomize why the region is vision less and happy to operate in a state of dross.

  16. @ David

    The Browne administration had initially offered the workers a compassionate payment of 50%, but more than 90% of them rejected the offer.

    The offer was subsequently reduced to 32%, which represents the percentage of shares Antigua & Barbuda owned in LIAT.

    Browne’s arguments are that the union ‘is playing politics’ and his ‘government’ is not legally obligated to pay the former LIAT employees any money.
    According to him, he and his team ‘have a governance responsibility to the entire nation, not to a group of people called LIAT workers, or former workers.’

    Although St. Vincent and Barbados have paid their nationals, Browne believes ‘regional governments “have a moral obligation” to treat with the issue of severance payment to former employees.’

    As such, the other 68% of severance payments should be paid by the other shareholder governments, according to the percentage of shares they held in the airline.

    And, Browne is wondering why “Antigua and Barbuda is practically standing alone in terms of having an entity that is owned by a group of governments.”

    • InterCaribbean Acquires Seven Additional ATR-42s

      Article by Barbados Today
      Published on
      June 16, 2023

      interCaribbean Airways announces the closing on the acquisition of seven (7) additional ATR-42s. The 48-seat regional aircraft have been acquired from TAROM, S.A., a long-standing Romanian flag network airline.
      BSIR NCTWN Sothebys Lion Castle- June 2023

      Accepting the ATRs from TAROM, Chairman and founder of interCaribbean Airways, Lyndon Gardiner, expressed satisfaction at fulfilling promises to the governments and people of the Caribbean. “We are delighted to introduce these capable aircraft, boldly expanding our capacity and operational flexibility. These aircraft will allow us to implement our commitments to expand in under-served markets, especially in the eastern Caribbean.

      interCaribbean will start adding capacity following this transaction closure in time for the summer peak season when travelers within the region take to the skies. interCaribbean has been determined to increase capacity to meet increasing demand for its services since entering the eastern Caribbean during the pandemic. Today interCaribbean is seven steps closer to realizing that goal.

      Thanking TAROM for their collaborative approach to the transaction, Chairman Gardiner said interCaribbean will benefit from TAROM’s excellent example in sustainable aviation practices, quality assurance in the airline industry, and timeliness in the delivery of the aircraft. Gardiner said, “Strong partnerships as we have developed with TAROM are very helpful to our growth objectives.”

      The newly received ATRs from TAROM brings the number of ATRs operated by the company to 10. The company intends to retire Embraer 120 aircraft by the end of 2023, positioning these newer and larger airplanes to support the growing regional demand.

      With a significant expansion of schedules and routes from its new Barbados hub, interCaribbean reported a first-quarter increase of 83 percent in the number of flights, and a 109 percent increase in seating capacity across its routes.

      As the largest privately-owned airline in the Caribbean, interCaribbean has been making significant progress with a uniquely strong focus on the resilient niche demand for intra-regional travel.

      It is especially responsive to governments, tourism interests, airports, and passenger voices asking for more regional air service.

      Source: Barbados Today

  17. David, in my opinion, that’s good news. I believe more airlines should be allowed to enter the market as well. But, not unregulated. Competition influences companies to be innovative, in an effort to attract demand, which may result in improvements in the quality of service, reduced airfares or an increase in the number of seats to which special rates are allocated, etc.

    • Inter against the adds have gained market penetration. Traveled on the airline a couple times and it did the job albeit it is a no frills experience.

  18. interCaribbean was, initially, servicing territories such as Antigua, Turks & Caicos, Dominican Republic, BVI, Bahamas, Jamaica, Cuba and Haiti. The demise of LIAT provided the airline with an opportunity to expand its services. Unfortunately, people have been complaining about the quality of its customer service. Even Air Canada has commenced providing flights between SVD, GND and BGI.

    • @Artax

      Shouldn’t our regional leaders both in government and private sectors be embarrassed to observe BA offering flights between BGI and GA, SLU?

  19. Similarly to other international airlines, BA is capitalising on opportunities Gaston Browne and the demise of LIAT created. As such, the only person, in my opinion, should be embarrassed, is Browne. David, it is clearly obvious his plans ‘back fired.’

  20. @ David

    From July 24, 2023, Caribbean Airlines will be increasing direct flights between BGI, GND, SLU and SVD.

    The airline has 7 ATRs.

    • Thanks Artax, read the report this morning. Also you read about stranded passengers as a result of delays with InterCaribbean?

  21. Yes, David. Read they were stranded here for two days. Have been hearing interCaribbean’s customer service is very poor, as evidenced by the reviews on their Facebook page.

The blogmaster dares you to join the discussion.