PM Browne Hopes LIAT 2020 Will Receive Approval Next Week to Restore Caribbean Connectivity

The content originally appeared on: Antigua News Room
LIAT 2020 photo by Wayne Mariette via Facebook

Prime Minister Gaston Browne Provides Update on LIAT 2020 and Emphasizes Importance of Taxes for Airport Infrastructure

Prime Minister Gaston Browne has provided updates on LIAT 2020’s progress and discussed the critical role of taxes in maintaining and expanding airport infrastructure in Antigua and the broader Caribbean region.

LIAT 2020’s Progress

In a radio interview today, Prime Minister Browne shared that LIAT 2020 has successfully completed all its test flights and resolved most administrative issues.

However, he noted that a few gaps remain, which the airline’s management and the Eastern Caribbean Civil Aviation Authority (ECCAA) are working to address.

“I believe it’s primarily administrative issues that have been sorted out; there may be some administrative gaps,” Browne said. “I hope that between the management of LIAT 2020 and ECCAA, they can work efficiently and quickly. I’m hoping that by next week, LIAT 2020 can get its AOC so we can get the airline in the air to start providing connectivity for the Caribbean people.”

The Challenge of Reducing Travel Costs

Addressing concerns about the high cost of regional travel due to government taxes, Browne acknowledged the complexities involved.

He explained that maintaining and expanding airport infrastructure is a costly endeavor, with many Caribbean airports having significant financial obligations to various institutions. These debts are often serviced by the revenues generated from airport fees and taxes.

“It’s a difficult proposition to expand and maintain these airports as it takes an enormous amount of money,” Browne stated.

“Many Caribbean airports have financial obligations to various institutions, with revenues often hypothecated to service debt. Reducing charges and revenue is not an easy proposition due to these financial commitments.”

Financial Obligations and Infrastructure Development

Prime Minister Browne cited Antigua and Barbuda’s recent financial activities as an example. The country recently acquired a $25 million loan to refinance a previous loan used for runway expansion.

Additionally, they are preparing to spend approximately $60 million to upgrade the airport.

“When you take on such obligations, you need the funds to service them,” Browne explained. “Credit institutions will not agree to any reduction in fees that could undermine the repayment of their credit facilities.”

while Browne expressed optimism about LIAT 2020’s imminent return to the skies, he underscored the significant financial challenges associated with reducing travel costs.

The need to maintain and expand airport infrastructure remains a critical priority, requiring substantial revenue from taxes and fees to meet financial obligations and ensure the continued development of the region’s aviation facilities.

Watch his radio interview here on the subject:

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