Prime Minister Gaston Browne has once again scoffed at suggestions that regional airline LIAT would be better off financially with its headquarters based in Barbados.
Last week the Minister of Tourism and International Transport in Barbados, Richard Sealy, was reported as saying that such a move would be a sensible one which would redound to LIAT’s financial health.
“What is more relevant where LIAT is based in terms of its overall performance is where you have your hubs located. One of the things that we have discovered, is that because of the level of airlift that comes into Barbados, particularly from the UK [and the rest of] Europe, it makes more sense to have more LIAT aircraft based here,” Sealy said.
“The point is, having a large element of your flight operations at the VC Bird [International] Airport in Antigua, didn’t necessarily make as much sense as having some of the flights here . . . and we have an increase in the number of aircraft that are based in Barbados.”
But Browne, LIAT’s second largest shareholder Prime Minister told Caribbean News Service (CNS) that there is absolutely no discussion about moving the headquarters of LIAT to Barbados.
“In any event, Antigua and Barbuda enjoys Category One status and if you were to move LIAT to Barbados then clearly LIAT will then have problems flying into US territories including the Virgin Islands,” Browne said.
“The Minister misspoke. It is true that last year a decision was taken by the Board that there should be some redeployment of assets, particularly the number of airplanes that would be stationed in Barbados. That is distinct from moving the headquarters from Antigua and Barbuda. So the Minister may be comingling the issues.”
LIAT’s major shareholders are Barbados, Antigua & Barbuda, Barbados, St Vincent & the Grenadines and Dominica.