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Antigua PM shares Dickon Mitchell views on regional transportation

Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell (L); Prime Minister Gaston Browne (R)

Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister, Gaston Browne says he shares the considerations of his Grenadian counterpart, Dickon Mitchell, who has stated that his administration is ready to lease a plane if Caribbean governments are unable to sort out the regional transportation sector by yearend.

Caribbean travel has been thrown into chaos following the collapse of the Antigua-based regional airline, LIAT (1974).

Travellers have been left disgruntled due to their incapability to manoeuvre around as freely as they used to with LIAT’s operations.

In an interview aired on WPG10 in Grenada last Friday, Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell indicated that if nothing is done within the next few weeks then Grenada will be doing something decisively.

“…If Grenada has to go and lease the planes in order that we are able to fly between Grenada and Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago we have to take action,” he said.

Prime Minister Gaston Browne told state-owned ABS Radio and TV on Sunday that within the interim “if we don’t scale up LIAT then he (Dickon Mitchell) has (a point).

“I believe we’re going to have a really robust tourism season in 2022 throughout the Caribbean and we (cannot) have LIAT with three planes and simply sit again. So, what we plan to do is that we’re going to add about two extra planes throughout the subsequent few months, hopefully, we are able to get them in place for the subsequent season,” he said.

“We’re presently negotiating with a leaser,” he stated, noting that efforts are being made to take the LIAT model worldwide.

Browne disclosed there is an “initiative with a Chinese group wherein they’re about to include a brand new LIAT entity, LIAT Worldwide, and they’re ready to do worldwide flights, in all probability China, Frankfurt (Germany) and Antigua and also to do some charters with different, some South American locations in places where LIAT doesn’t service.

The Antigua government has already signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with CFA International, a subsidiary of Caribbean Tourism Group (CTG), a regional firm committed to investments in journey, tourism, and aviation.

Prime Minister Browne has often appealed to Caribbean trade unions to re-think their positions concerning their demands on behalf of laid-off staff members of the airline.

The Grenada Prime Minister has taken the position that LIAT (1974) “is bankrupt and that has been made clear and it’s in receivership”.

LIAT (1974) Restricted in June 2020, entered into court-appointed administration after an excessive court docket in Antigua and Barbuda which granted a petition for the cash-strapped airline service re-organisation.

The Guyana-born Cleveland Seaforth has been appointed LIAT’s administrator in the course of proceedings.

The airline owes former workers together with pilots millions of dollars in severance and other forms of payments.

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