Cash-strapped regional airline LIAT has slated a number of its old planes for departure even before any its new ones touch the ground.
That’s what the company, in which Barbados is the single largest shareholder with Government’s 1.4 million shares representing a 49.33 stake in the carrier, has told American air transport officials in new application for a renewal and amendment of a special exemption to ply a number of routes, including some US territories in the Caribbean.
In the document seen by Barbados TODAY, LIAT told US officials the company was “financially fit” and that while the airline currently operated “a uniform fleet of De Haviland DHC-8 aircraft”, four of them had been removed from the fleet and two more were slated for similar action, leaving 12 of them in operation.
“Beginning in June 2013, LIAT is planning to acquire three ATR-42 aircraft, which are configured for 48 passengers and a gross cargo capacity of 339 cubic feet, and four ATR-72 aircraft, which are configured for 68 passenger seats and a gross cargo capacity of 374.3 cubic feet,” the 12-page application submitted by LIAT attorney Lee A. Bauer of Roller & Bauer PLLC said. At a recent press conference after a meeting in Barbados, LIAT shareholder prime ministers and its management gave an update on plans for the new planes, but did not mention they were removing six of the planes in use from their fleet. The airline’s documentation also revealed that in addition to main shareholder governments Barbados, Antigua and Barbuda (32.3 per cent), St. Vincent and the Grenadines (11.19 per cent), a number of other Caribbean islands also owned a piece of LIAT, although their shareholdings were very small, percentage wise. This included CARICOM countries Trinidad and Tobago, Grenada, St. Lucia, Dominica, Montserrat, Guyana, Jamaica, and St. Kitts and Nevis. Together these governments own 2.7 million of LIAT’s shares, or 93.8 per cent of the company. Private shareholders in the company included BWIA Internatioanl, HKH (Antigua) Limited, LIAT Staff Provident Fund, National Bank of Dominica, State Insurance Corporation, ACB Investment Company Limited, Leewards Islands Engineering Association and Antigua Commercial Bank. Other private shareholders were The Republic Bank (Grenada) Limited, Caribbean Aircraft Handling, Antigua and Barbuda Workers Union, Joan B. Slack, Antigua Barbuda Investment Bank, and St. John’s Cooperative Credit Union Limited. In its application to the US aviation officials, the airline said it “continues to be financially fit, and is willing and able to provide scheduled and charter foreign air transportation of persons, property and mail”. (SC)