Within the next two weeks Barbados is hoping to start negotiations with Antigua and Barbuda regarding the sale of its LIAT shares.
So says Barbados’ lead negotiator Attorney General Dale Marshall, who has revealed that Government is currently awaiting word from the regional airline carrier on when those negotiations can be held.
Earlier this month and amid much speculation, Prime Minister Mia Mottley announced in Parliament that Barbados would be giving up its majority ownership of LIAT to Antigua and Barbuda.
She however did not disclose if Government would be selling its entire 49.4 per cent stake in the cash-strapped regional airline.
Antigua and Barbuda is the second largest shareholder with 34 per cent ownership of the airline which serves 15 Caribbean destinations with almost 500 flights.
Speaking to members of the media today, Marshall said he was hopeful he would be able to meet with authorities from Antigua and Barbuda before the start of next month’s 40th Regular Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government.
“Negotiations have not commenced yet. We indicated to LIAT dates that were convenient for us a few weeks back and they didn’t respond.
“We’re now trying to see if we can get those negotiations commenced next week. We’ve sent another communication to LIAT to say that we’re available next week and next weekend and we can jump right into it and we’re once more waiting for them to respond to say whether it can be accommodated or not,” Marshall said.
“But we’re hoping that before the Heads’ conference, July 3 to 6, that the negotiations would have begun in earnest.”
Mottley has maintained that Barbados simply was not in a financial position to support LIAT due to the country’s current economic position and as a result had made a decision to “take a step back”.
Suggesting that the regional airline was in a need of an overhaul, the Prime Minister promised Barbados would continue to support intra-regional travel.
“The current model which LIAT has within the 1974 Limited is not an attractive model and what is needed is significant restructuring. Indeed a new model of governance, a new financial model and a new operational model in order for it to be able to extract greater benefits and provide the services which it does,” Mottley said at the time.