Chairman of LIAT, Dr. Jean Holder, has praised major shareholders, including Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit, for investing in the airline.
Speaking on Sunday during the arrival of the airline’s new aircraft at the VC Bird International Airport in Antigua, Holder said the major shareholders had the foresight and courage in to invest the regional carrier.
“They had the courage and the foresight to invest in LIAT, the bridge over the Caribbean Sea, without the services of which, regional integration remains a lofty but unachievable aspiration,” he said.
Major shareholder Prime Ministers of LIAT are Dr. Baldwin Spencer of Antigua and Barbuda, Freundel Stuart of Barbados, Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, recently joined by PM Skerrit.
Holder pointed out that reports have already reached him of the “excellent quality of the experience” on board the new aircraft, “…even over sections of some 6 and a half hours duration, portends great news for LIAT customers who have been faithful to LIAT over the long term and who deserve some luxury.”
Holder noted that the arrival marks one in many as the airline seeks to renew its fleet and modernize and improve its network. “This arrival this afternoon, marks the first of seven such arrivals which will take place in 2013 and 2014, revolutionizing the LIAT service to the Caribbean and taking regional air transportation to another, higher level,” he stated.
The aircraft, an ATR, is being leased from the lessor GECAS (GE Capital Aviation Services) based in France.
It is the first of a total of eight ATRs (four 68-seat ATR 72-600 and four 48-seat ATR 42-600s) that will be introduced into LIAT’s fleet.
Earlier this year LIAT announced it had signed deals for the long term lease and purchasing of the ATRs as it continues to modernise.
The new aircraft which arrived on Sunday was ferried from Toulouse in France, to the Canary Islands, to the Cape Verde Islands, to Recife in Brazil, to Georgetown in Guyana, where it flew to St. John’s, Antigua.