In the face of a fresh financial losses of EC$6 million, and a recent fire costing EC$50 million, long-standing regional carrier LIAT is about to embark on a multi-million dollar fleet renewal programme.
The announcement, which the airline’s shareholder governments expect to return the company to profitability in the coming years, came after a shareholder governments meeting in Barbados today. Speaking a Press conference at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre following the talks, St. Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsavles said discussions would be initiated shortly with an unnamed plane manufacturer for LIAT. The company’s chairman, Jean Holder, said the intention was to purchase seven planes.
At the briefing also attended by Prime Minister Freundel Stuart and his Antigua and Barbuda counterpart Baldwin Spencer, Gonsalves said the officials had made several decisions at today’s meeting, including the selection of a new CEO, whose name would be announced soon.
“The company will now proceed to discussions with the manufacturer of the first type selected. The discussions are intended to consummate in an agreement for the acquisition of new aircraft for the airline. For a number of reasons, we do not wish to declare just which aircraft type has been chosen,” Gonsalves said. “It would also be inappropriate at this stage before discussion with the manufacturers to give an indication of the decision of the company in the selection of an aircraft type.”
Gonsalves said LIAT had completed its analysis and evaluation of the proposals submitted by aircraft manufacturers. It was also pointed out that the three prime ministers considered recommendations from the company’s board of directors and management and unanimously decided upon one aircraft type to renew LIAT’s ageing fleet.
They decided to defer the decision on other aircraft types to allow certain matters to be explored. It is anticipated that these decisions will be made in the short term. Gonsalves said today’s meeting was also attended by a representative of the Caribbean Development Bank, but that the financial arrangements to complete the sale were still to be worked out. (SC)