Regional carrier, LIAT has suspended all passenger services for the next 14 days due to the impact of COVID-19, the airline announced on Friday.

The airline will only operate charters and cargo flights during this period.

Chief Executive Officer, Julie Reifer Jones explained that the imposition of travel bans and border closures had ground regional travel to a halt.

“We tried to maintain a limited schedule. However, the present conditions make this impossible.”

As a result, LIAT has implemented a temporary suspension of passenger services from April 4, for 14 days in the first instance.

The suspension will be reviewed after the first 14 days.

The airline has issued a travel advisory for all affected passengers. Passengers booked during the period of suspension will automatically have their bookings cancelled and will receive a full credit. Passengers will be able to rebook as soon as the airline resumes passenger services.

Reifer-Jones said this is an extremely challenging time for the airline, its employees and other stakeholders.

She disclosed that the airline had implemented several other measures including temporary layoffs and reduced working hours.

In addition, the airline’s board of directors is in direct communication with regional governments to secure a support package that would see the company maintain a limited schedule when the situation allows.

“LIAT will continue to review the rapidly changing situation and remains committed to ensuring that our region is connected. The airline is grateful to our staff, customers and stakeholders for their loyalty and understanding during this unprecedented period,” the airline said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Chair of LIAT’s shareholder government, Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Ralph Gonsalves, said this week that would have cost the airline US$8 million per month to continue flying with its “slim down service”.

“Of course, if we closed it, we require US$6 million. I am talking about the shareholder government, Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, St. Vincent and the Grenadines,” Gonsalves said.