LIAT talks between Barbados and Antigua break down

Reports coming out of Bridgetown indicate that negotiations on the sale of LIAT shares between Barbados and Antigua and Barbuda have broken down.

Barbados TODAY reported today ,Thursday, that talks between the teams from Antigua and Barbuda and Barbados, which took place last Monday at the Hilton Hotel lasted only a few hours before stalling.

The visiting team subsequently left the island without a deal being reached, the newspaper said.

Barbados’ negotiation team was led by Attorney General Dale Marshall and also included Minister for Tourism Kerrie Symmonds and Director of Finance and Economic Affairs, Ian Carrington.

According to reports, the home team was not impressed with what Antigua and Barbuda brought to the negotiating table.

Meanwhile a source out of Antigua and Barbuda said it did not appear a deal would be struck anytime soon.

“The outcome so far does not reflect that the two sides are anywhere close to Barbados selling even a portion of its sales. It does not look probable for the near future,” the source added.

The source revealed that among the sticking points to Barbados selling its 49.4 per cent majority stake in LIAT was Prime Minister Mia Mottley’s insistence that Antigua and Barbuda would have to take up Barbados’ almost $100 million loan commitments.

That debt is due mainly to a loan from the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) which was used to purchase three LIAT aircraft.

Additionally, the well-placed source said Barbados’ negotiators had also asked for a guarantee from St John’s that LIAT staff in Brigdetown would not be sacrificed at the expense of staff from Antigua and Barbuda.

The source pointed out that Barbados was not fearful of LIAT pulling any of its flights from the island, as Barbados accounted for five of the six profitable routes traveled by the cash-strapped regional airline.

“Any move to pull LIAT flights out of Barbados would lead to an immediate collapse of the airline,” the source maintained.

LIAT serves 15 Caribbean destinations with almost 500 flights.

The breakdown in talks has come just over a month after Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda Gaston Browne announced that Barbados had agreed to sell almost all of its shares.

The sale would make Antigua and Barbuda, which currently has a 34 per cent ownership in LIAT, the majority owner.

Following Browne’s declaration and after weeks of speculation, Mottley revealed Government’s plans to sell its shares.

In explaining her reasons for offering the shares for sale, the Prime Minister 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”.

While admitting the regional airline was in need of an overhaul, the Prime Minister promised that 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.

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8 Comments

  1. DA2DBONE
    July 13, 2019

    The problem is Barbados is under pressure to unload that financial “burden” under their current IMF program. So something gotta give.

    Remember it was also under IMF austerity that Jamaica was forced to sell a cash strapped Air Jamaica to CAL.

    I believe evetually a deal will get done.

  2. Grayson J. Stedman
    July 13, 2019

    Markey,
    The Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister made the announcement that Barbados had agreed to sell their shares and are in the process of finalizing the sale. This recent meeting in Barbados PM Mottley did not accept PM Brown offer, In additional to the sale of LIAT shares, he must take over Barbados share of the CDB loan of $100.0 million. Barbados has also mention that with its current financial situation it can’t afford to support LIAT financially. PM Brown also mentioned the Sir Richard Branson, Virgin Group to invest in LIAT and expand its routes. Since PM Brown statement that Barbados was selling their shares to Antigua is not factual, I must conclude that his statement on Sir Richard interest in investing in LIAT is also not factual. These days, Politician’s are at great pain to tell the truth, that the nature of their character.

  3. Jack Sparrow
    July 12, 2019

    Brilliant stalling tactic by Mia, until you have signed the deal with Virgin Carribean, subsidiary of Virgin Atlantic, don’t sell your shares yet. In any case with Virgin Carribean coming online Liat will be a dead horse.

  4. Hmmm
    July 12, 2019

    Skerrit is mute? He need to speak up cause these people are playing with our future. He knows we need Liat, since he not going to build an international airport for us (Donald Peters let the 🐱 out of the bag). Skerrit put up your ✋please, you there playing heavy.

    • Neville
      July 14, 2019

      He’s got nothing to bring to the table! He can tell his lies and empty promises in DA and people are still buying stale fish from him. He’s not able to sell that stale fish to Motley and Brown. They would tell him where to go. He’s no match for these two. Just have a look at the Ross affair…!

  5. jackarie
    July 11, 2019

    Mia only now smelling the coffee? Selling Barbados shares in Liat to Antigua was never a good decision.

    • Truth Be Told
      July 12, 2019

      It is a very good idea for Barbados, but maybe you are thinking about Dominica or other interest. However, Prime Minister Mia Mottley is correct. Barbados will profit from the sale and still remain most viable route for LIAT so in effect has nothing to lose but all to gain! Barbados will get paid and LIAT will still need to maintain and service Barbados because it is in LIAT’s interest as its most profitable route! This is a win-win for Barbados. If not Antigua, someone else will buy those shares! Come in Richard Branson, Virgin Group!?

    • Pipo
      July 12, 2019

      Brother, I do not agree. Browne wants control of the airline. let Barbados sell their shares while they still worth something. I would not invest in LIAT right now, would you?

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