Antigua PM to Summon LIAT CEO Over Proposal for Barbados to Quit LIAT

FIE PHOTO: Prime Minister Gaston Alphonso Browne of Antigua and Barbuda addresses the General Assembly. UN Photo/Cia Pak

ST. JOHN’S, Antigua, March 29 2015 – Prime Minister Gaston Browne said LIAT CEO David Evans should resign if he was the author of a document calling for Barbados to quit the regional carrier and set up its own airline.

Speaking on local radio this afternoon, Browne said he plans to hold a meeting with Evans on the matter.

“I will be calling in Mr. Evans very shortly to discuss with him exactly where that plan emanated from. He needs to tell me as the Prime Minister of this country where than plan emanated from. And if it is that he hatched that plan on his own, you can be sure that as Prime Minister of this country, as a shareholder of LIAT that I will be asking for his resignation,” Browne said.

“I’m told that the proposal was discussed at a recent meeting of the Board of Directors but the proposal was actually turned down because of the strong objection of the Government of Antigua and Barbuda on the issue.

“If it is that Mr. Evans took it on his own to prepare that proposal for consideration by the Government of Barbados, then as far as I am concerned, the proposal to cannibalize LIAT is certainly an act of treason against LIAT and obviously an act of hostility against the government and people of Antigua and Barbuda.

The document, allegedly authored at the senior management level of LIAT, proposes that a Barbados air carrier be established with its own Air Operators Certificate (AOC) and Route Licensing Authorisation.

The new company would effectively replace the majority of existing LIAT services throughout the region and would seek to develop new markets.

An approach, methodology and structure for the establishment of the new Barbados air carrier were detailed in the document.

It said a traditional approach to fleet planning in a startup airline with a projected requirement of 10 aircraft would be to launch initially with two to three aircraft and a limited route network and build thereafter incrementally over a period of 18 months to the final fleet number.

The Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) has funded, via shareholder governments, LIAT’s wholly owned ATR -42 aircraft.

The plan calls for the title of those aircraft to be passed on to the Barbados Government either through shareholder agreement or through CDB taking charge of the aircraft and reassigning them.

According to the proposal, Barbados would assume title of the aircraft in return for a surrender of their shareholding in LIAT.

The aircraft and the loan obligation would then be assigned to the new company. At the same time the new company would enter into a wet lease agreement with a third party provider, who has already been identified, for the lease of five aircraft and crew for a period not exceeding 12 months.

The proposal went on to outline that as a first step the new company would be incorporated in Barbados with a registered address. A small team of people comprising Chief Executive Officer, General Counsel and those with specific expertise in finance, flight operations, maintenance and commercial would commence work assembling the necessary operational regulatory documentation and commercial and financial infrastructure.

FILE Photo: Prime Minister Gaston Alphonso Browne of Antigua and Barbuda addresses the General Assembly. UN Photo/Cia Pak