Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves, the Chairman of the airline’s four major shareholder governments – Antigua & Barbuda, Dominica, Barbados and St Vincent & the Grenadines - made that statement in a letter addressed the LIAT’s staff on Monday, June 29.
He explained that LIAT has been challenged with the COVID-19 pandemic and a review of of the state of the airline has shown that the airline is “unable to pay its debts”.
The Vincentian Prime Minister said the pandemic only aggravated an already-difficult financial situation, noting that the airline was hit hard by the 2017 hurricanes and has been struggling to recover since.
Gonsalves, in the meantime, has sought to assure the staff members that “payment of … outstanding salaries and severance will be urgently addressed”.
The Antigua-based regional airline is reported to owe its staff an estimated EC$94 million in severance and holiday payment.
“Both the board of directors and the major shareholders agree that the airline cannot survive this crisis … The shareholders understand that this information is disappointing and an unfortunate result of the circumstances but will ensure that the process is fairly and justly undertaken,” Gonsalves stated.
LIAT operates nearly 500 flights to 15 destinations weekly. It had suspended its operations until July 15 because of COVID-19.