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LIAT to re-commence operations in SVG soon

LIAT to re-commence operations in SVG soon
Argyle International Airport Inc’s chief executive officer, Corsel Robertson

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LIAT 1974 Ltd in Administration will begin operations soon in St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG), having complied with requirements laid out by local airport authorities.

The regional carrier attempted to resume flights to SVG earlier this month, but had to suspend services pending several administrative issues that needed to be addressed.

A release issued by the Argyle International Airport Inc’s chief executive officer, Corsel Robertson said “the delay in the restart was not due to any restrictions being placed on the airline, but rather to ensure that adequate arrangements were in place for the operations of that airline”.

The release, which was dated December 21, further said operations of the Antigua-based airline would resume as soon as the agreed arrangements were in place.

LIAT announced in November the resumption of flights five days a week to seven destinations. It is the first time that the airline has operated since it suspended commercial services in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In addition to SVG, the airline also had to suspend flights to Barbados earlier this month.

Gaston Browne, Antigua and Barbuda’s prime minister reportedly accused both countries of making deliberate attempts to block the operation of the regional airline.

Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves said on December 7 that Antigua’s prime minister must not have been given the correct information in relation to the matter.

Gonsalves, in an address via NBC Radio on December 21 commented once again on the matter, noting that “you have to do this thing in a proper manner”.

“It was kind of a mock quarrel. Those who wanted to argue were arguing and shadowboxing, they were boxing against the wind essentially and that’s the story. I don’t know where all this confusion came from, from the Antigua end,” he said.

Unlike what was initially suggested, the prime minister said there was no problem with permission for the airline to enter SVG’s airspace.

Gonsalves said the AIA required formal communication from LIAT 1974 Ltd in Administration as it relates to office space, cargo and ground landing.

Among other things, it has been agreed that the airline would require only three offices at the airport, having slimmed down its operations.

It previously operated from five.

It was also agreed that one month’s rent would be paid in advance.

“You telling me I don’t want the planes them to come?” the prime minister said, noting that SVG and Barbados still make payments to the Caribbean Development Bank for three planes being operated by LIAT.

“You can’t just bring the thing back like is a bus. You have to put the proper arrangements in place. It’s not a minibus from South Rivers to Town and those are the simple facts,” Gonsalves said.

LIAT is currently under Administration, with the administrator being Cleveland Seaforth of BDO Antigua and Barbuda.