Negotiations began today between the governments of Barbados and Antigua and Barbuda over the takeover of Barbados’ majority ownership of island-hopping airline LIAT.
Teams from both countries met today at the Hilton Hotel to begin talks, a week after Barbados’ lead negotiator, Attorney General Dale Marshall, revealed he had tried unsuccessfully to arrange a previous meeting with LIAT officials to discuss the details surrounding selling its 49.4 per cent stake to the Gaston Browne administration.
The Attorney General said he was hopeful he would be able to meet with authorities from St John’s before the start of the CARICOM summit in St Lucia which begins on Wednesday.
Marshall led a team which also included Minister of Tourism Kerrie Symmonds and Director of Finance and Economic Affairs Ian Carrington into today’s proceedings.
The talks are expected to continue tomorrow.
Prime Minister Mia Mottley recently announced Government’s plans to sell its majority ownership to the second highest shareholder. The Antiguan government holds a 34 per cent stake in the carrier, which serves 15 Caribbean destinations with almost 500 flights.
In explaining her reasons for selling the shares, Mottley said that Barbados simply was not in a financial position to support LIAT and as a result had made a decision to “take a step back”.
While acknowledging the regional airline was in a need of an overhaul, the Prime Minister promised Barbados would continue to support intra-regional travel. She gave no further explanation of how that would be achieved.
Mottley said then: “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.”