Minister of Tourism Richard Sealy is getting a rebuke of sorts from his Antiguan counterpart.
In fact, John Maginley says he wants to have a chat with Sealy over comments he made when referring to the Antigua economy and regional airline LIAT.
Earlier this week, Sealy said it was not fair to ask Barbados – LIAT’s largest shareholder – to shoulder most of the airline’s debt without the commensurate benefit.
But he stopped short of saying Barbados was trying to get the airline to move its headquarters to Bridgetown.
“I am very happy to hear that Prime Minister Spencer doesn’t have to lay off anybody in Antigua and he doesn’t plan to lay off anyone, but if he can make that brag, certainly we are not going to simply take all the burden for the entire Caribbean and not get some of the benefits,” Sealy told the groundbreaking ceremony for the new Civil Aviation Department. But Maginley has taken issue with Sealy’s statements, and has gone one step further to suggest that the cash-strapped airline will not be relocating to Barbados.
“I am going to have to call him and we gone to have a chat because I don’t know why a member of government in Barbados is getting involved in our political issues at this time,” Maginley said at a public meeting of the ruling United Progressive Party last night.
“But I will talk to him, but I want to assure all of you that LIAT is not leaving Antigua . . . . Further to that LIAT has now presented us with their hanger needs for the next 20 years.”
Maginley said the Antigua and Barbuda government had agreed to build a new hanger for the airline, to replace the one that was destroyed by fire in 2012.
He said the financing is in place and once the final drawings are in hand, the construction will move ahead.
The major shareholders of the cash-strapped airline are Barbados, Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica and St Vincent and the Grenadines.