(SEARCHLIGHT) — The prime minister of Antigua and Barbuda has stated that COVID-19 is worsening an already very precarious situation for LIAT, and commented that the airline will be in need of a bailout.
Prime Minister Gaston Browne, as reported in “268 Today”, first addressed how LIAT will be impacted by the Federal Aviation Authority’s (FAA) downgrading the Eastern Caribbean Civil Aviation Authority (ECCAA) to a category two after it was determined that it did not comply with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) safety standards.
Browne apparently said that the airline is lucky because this decision did not mean that LIAT could not continue to fly to US territories such as the United States Virgin Islands.
However, on the subject of expansion of services for the airline the prime minister stated “clearly no new schedules could be introduced.”
Furthermore, he added that LIAT would not be in a position to expand its reach, and instead, its priority “now is to stabilize its situation.”
Browne, according to “268 Today” continued, “LIAT was already in a very precarious situation and COVID would have worsened the situation. So right now LIAT, just like any other airline globally, will be in need of a bailout.”
Julie Reifer-Jones, the chief executive officer(CEO) of LIAT, indicated that the suspension of all passenger services, which started from April 4, will extend to May 15, and that it was an “extremely difficult time for the airline, its employees and other stakeholders across the region.”
The decision to extend the suspension of all passenger services was taken by the carrier due to several destinations extending their border closure and “strict travel restrictions which mean that passengers are unable to travel.”
Nonetheless, the airline is still operating cargo flights to “several destinations”.
A press release from the air carrier informed that “While the airline continues to operate with a skeletal staff, (Reifer-Jones) advised that the airline was working to resume operations across the LIAT network as soon as it was feasible to do so.”