The Administrator of LIAT Cleveland Seaford is confirming that the return of LIAT to the Caribbean skies is not without major challenges.
On Sunday, LIAT made an inaugural flight with just 12 passengers on board, destined for the Dominica.
The flight coincided with Antigua and Barbuda’s Independence celebrations and it was the airline’s first commercial flight since the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court (ECSC) appointed Seaford to restructure LIAT.
He told Observer Radio in St Johns this week that an investment of US $1 million, the termination of approximately 500 employees and the dedication of more than 100 staff members who worked for months without compensation, are just some of the sacrifices that had to be made to ensure that LIAT returned to the skies.
“Had it not been for the staff at LIAT and I mean the rank and file staff, who have gone to work for months without any pay, we would not have seen that airline in the sky on Sunday”, he explained.
He said that since his appointment restructuring has been difficult, having been faced with numerous challenges due to a lack of funds.
“ When I took over the airline, there was a complete absence of funds” he shared, adding that “we’ve had to be dealing with the creditors – some of them who have been quite understanding and some of them who have not been; we’ve had to deal with maintaining the coverage for both of the facilities here in Antigua and also the planes; we got numerous complaints from the passengers and we’ve had to procure a number services in the absence of cash”.
There are currently about 103 people on staff, four of whom are executive members. Seaford said that fortunately, the restart of limited operations will allow more than 20 employees to be rehired.
To date, according to Seaford, the governments of Grenada and Dominica have given commitments to pay outstanding salaries to the LIAT staff employed within their respective countries.
The Administrator hopes that a private investor will soon collaborate with the government of Antigua and Barbuda so that a decision can be made on how the airline will move forward.