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