ATG | May 18, 2023

Confirmed! Nigerian airline gets majority stake in LIAT

/ Our Today

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New LIAT will not be a regional bus operating on unprofitable routes

Gaston Browne, prime minister, Antigua and Barbuda

It is now official that West Africa’s largest airline is to take a controlling interest in the beleaguered regional air carrier, LIAT under a plan crafted by the Antigua and Barbuda Government.

Confirming the plan earlier this week, Antigua and Barbuda’s Prime Minister, Gaston Browne revealed that Air Peace, owned by Nigerian lawyer and businessman, Allen Onyema is to have a 70 per cent controlling stake in LIAT 2020. The twin-island nation will own the other 30 per cent.

He also disclosed that the parties are set to launch a new look regional carrier. Barbados Today quoted Brown as saying, “This airline will be operated strictly on a commercial basis. It will not be a regional bus that will be operating on unprofitable routes. If indeed it has to operate unprofitable routes, there have to be some revenue guarantees.” 

New LIAT emerging

Continuing Browne asserted, “So, we are looking forward to the eventual operationalisation of this new LIAT, LIAT 2020, and we are committed to do all we can to ensure its viability and sustainability,” noting that his government is now in the process of establishing the Air Operator Certificate (AOC) for LIAT 2020.

LIAT, which is currently owned by the governments of Barbados, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Dominica and Antigua and Barbuda, has been under court administration since 2020 and has been operating limited service. Browne conceded that while some may criticise his decision to have a foreign private entity run the airline instead of regional governments, stressed that better could not be done.

According to the Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister, “I don’t know that there is any other viable option at this point. I would accept that regional governments would have indicated a willingness to invest in a regional airline but in terms of having firm commitments, we are not at that stage and we need to move.” 

Browne stated that once the new arrangement is finalised, LIAT’s current two-plane operations and its limited route service will be boosted. “They [Air Peace] will bring some assets and we will acquire some assets as well and, hopefully, we can have maybe five, six aircraft operating within the region under the name LIAT,” Browne said.

Barbados Today reported that at least one former Barbadian LIAT employee, who preferred not to be identified is adamant that he had no interest in what Prime Minister Browne is doing regarding the airline because of the treatment meted out to the former workers regarding their severance.

“To be honest, I am very apathetic to the whole thing . . . . I am indifferent, quite frankly,” the ex-worker told Barbados Today.


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