(BARBADOS TODAY) – There appears to be some chance for the creation of a new LIAT 2020 Limited after all.
This was indicated to Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne in a letter dated July 7, 2020, sent by Chairman of the LIAT Shareholder Governments, Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves of St Vincent and the Grenadines.
Gonsalves was responding to a letter from Browne dated July 2, which was also sent to the other shareholders of Barbados and Dominica regarding, among other things, the proposed liquidation of the regional airline.
While telling Browne that his concepts for a new air carrier that are accompanied by attacks on the major shareholders of Barbados and St Vincent and the Grenadines, would not help his cause, Gonsalves left the door open for a re-organized LIAT to retain its brand, albeit under certain conditions.
“Of course, there is the suggestion/proposal for a replacement LIAT 2020 Limited for a liquidated LIAT (1974) Limited with public-private sector participation,” said the airline’s shareholder governments chairman in his correspondence, a copy of which has been obtained by Barbados TODAY.
“Those who advocate this must put a workable plan forward with all the requisite financing. I am yet to see such a plan, inclusive of realistic financing,” he added.
Browne told a recent meeting of the Antigua and Barbuda Workers’ Union (ABWU) in St John’s that Barbados and St Vincent and the Grenadines prime ministers seemed bent on liquidating LIAT and did not seem willing to discuss a re-organized company that retained its name.
The Antiguan Prime Minister is on record as saying he has a plan for a LIAT 2020 Limited which he wants to discuss in a last-ditch effort meeting with the leaders of Barbados Mia Mottley and Gonsalves. That meeting is still to be convened.
In his letter to Browne, Gonsalves was adamant his Government “will not fight the future and its requisites for efficacious regional air transport; and it will not look forward to the past, which is pellucidly unsustainable.”
The chairman added: “I am interested in receiving any comprehensive proposal for a viable replacement. I know that you appreciate that a concept, accompanied by polemics, is insufficient.”
Although willing to support the establishment of a LIAT 2020 Limited under the right conditions, the Vincentian Prime Minister sought to make it clear that Antigua – where the airline is based – must first put its legislative house in order.
He noted that all the major shareholders are seized of the facts and law regarding liquidation proceedings under the relevant laws of Antigua and Barbuda.
“Properly speaking, nothing regarding a liquidated LIAT (1974) Limited can be sensibly addressed until that process is underway and completed. It is thus premature to consider matters which necessarily fall within the four walls of the relevant bankruptcy laws. I am sure that you do not favour a disorderly liquidation,” Gonsalves declared.
“I consider that no democratic state in the Caribbean ought to don the cloak of a bandit if it is called upon, post-liquidation, and in the context of right-reason and the propositions’ circumstances, to exercise reasonableness towards all the concerned stakeholders of LIAT (1974) Limited, including the taxpayers of the major shareholder governments,” he contended.
Browne had also accused Barbados of using its majority shareholding power to run rough shod over the minor stakeholders including Antigua and Barbuda.
But when Gonsalves wrote Browne, he reminded him that he was present at a June 27, 2020 meeting of the major shareholders where the agenda, which included liquidation of LIAT, was unanimously approved.