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In a matter of days the LIAT Board of Directors will decide whether to go ahead with a merger with its rival Caribbean Star.

“Any formal decisions which are to be taken as to the way forward would be taken at the meeting of the Board (of LIAT),” St Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves said after a five and a half hour high level meeting at Government headquarters in Kingstown of LIAT’s major shareholders and management.{{more}}

He said Wednesday’s meeting also agreed to continue informal merger talks until the board meeting.

Negotiation teams were led by Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer of Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados Minister of International Transport Noel Lynch, and Chairman of LIAT, Dr Jean Holder.

Prime Minister of Barbados Owen Arthur felt ill the night before and could not travel.

Any uncertainties over whether LIAT will remain in the skies would also be put to rest by next week when the board meets October 5.

“LIAT has had a mountain of debt since 1996 onwards,” Gonsalves told journalists adding that the cash-strapped airline required an immediate injection of EC$24 million.

Further commenting on the possible merger with Allen Stanford’s Caribbean Star, Gonsalves said: “We want to see a quality intra-regional air transportation system at the best possible price for the consumers, in which the governments have a sufficiency of influence and control so that the interest of the people of the region can be adequately advanced.”

The regional airline industry has been hit by another bout of financial turbulence this year and the Caribbean Star/LIAT nexus might well be the closest solution towards saving the air transportation system in the OECS sub-region.

A report from LIAT’s management predicting more loss in revenue this year will spill more red ink on the books of the low-budget carrier.

In fact, despite posting fairly reasonable figures last financial period, the outcome this year does not seem as favourable for the airline.

On-going dialogue with Venezuela and the Antiguan government, where some USD $20 million is currently being negotiated to further boost the airline’s finances has been on the discussion table for some months, sending a level of hope for the airline which lost close to USD $25 million last year alone.

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