Prime Minister Gaston Browne Unveils Progress on LIAT 2020
Prime Minister Gaston Browne of Antigua and Barbuda has announced significant strides forward during a recent cabinet meeting.
The proposal presented by the government of Antigua and Barbuda has garnered initial approval from all shareholder governments involved in the former airline.
Prime Minister Browne disclosed that one of the prime ministers has already signed in agreement, with others expected to follow suit shortly.
This critical agreement entails the purchase of three aircraft for US$12.1 million, aligning with the current market valuation.
Furthermore, approximately $4.1 million has been earmarked in escrow to be promptly disbursed upon the signing of the agreement.
The imminent release of the first aircraft is poised to expedite its registration under the banner of Le 1974 Limited, a pivotal step towards obtaining the requisite Air Operating Certificate (AOC).
Prime Minister Browne outlined a structured payment plan, with a balance of $8 million due within 60 days of the initial signing.
The financing for this transaction has been secured, with commitments from regional partners.
Moreover, Prime Minister Browne expressed confidence in the expeditious progression of the agreement.
Pending formal concurrence from all involved parties, including Prime Minister Mia Mottley and Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves, Prime Minister Browne anticipates swift advancement.
This includes seeking approval from the court and subsequent payments facilitated through the Caribbean Development Bank.
Addressing concerns about the operational readiness of the airline, Prime Minister Browne acknowledged the necessity for additional funds to rectify issues with two out of the three aircraft.
He estimated the required expenditure to be approximately $7 million, underscoring the substantial investment essential to restoring LIAT’s fleet to full operational capability.
Furthermore, Prime Minister Browne reiterated the ongoing collaboration with Air Peace, which is slated to bolster LIAT’s fleet with three additional aircraft within the next 45 to 60 days.
This strategic partnership aims to enhance LIAT’s service offerings, catering to heightened demand effectively.
Regarding employment prospects, Prime Minister Browne projected that with the initial fleet of six aircraft, employment opportunities could potentially extend to a couple of hundred individuals. While acknowledging the challenges ahead, Prime Minister Browne expressed unwavering confidence in LIAT’s resurgence, underscoring a steadfast commitment to delivering a more resilient and efficient service.
In response to inquiries about ongoing disputes with the Antigua Barbuda Workers Union, Prime Minister Browne refrained from direct commentary but affirmed the government’s dedication to addressing employee concerns.
He referenced ongoing discussions, including the extension of cash payments of up to 32%.
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