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Chair of LIAT’s shareholder government, Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves says he is now focused on connectivity to and from St. Vincent and the Grenadines, as the airline prepares for liquidation.

“As far as St. Vincent and the Grenadines is concerned, I am very interested in making sure that we have — to make relevant connections, and connections, particularly Trinidad, Barbados, the Windward Islands, go right up to Antigua and I’d expect that in the northern part, there’d be aircraft operating out of Antigua to make some sort of connection,” Gonsalves said on WE FM on Sunday.

“It’s going to be problematic but fortunately, we have in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, two airlines. We have One Caribbean, which has served us well during this period,” he said, referring to two locally owned carriers that provide regional connections.

Gonsalves was speaking one day after chairing a meeting of LIAT’s main shareholder governments, which also include Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, and Dominica.

On Saturday, the Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda announced that LIAT is to be liquidated and a new airline formed.

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Browne also made a case for the new airline to retain the “LIAT” name and for St. John’s to remain its headquarters.

But Gonsalves, in his comments on Saturday, was also focussed on severance pay for Vincentians employed by the airline, but remained non-committal, saying that Kingstown did not want to expose itself to claims from other LIAT creditors in SVG.

The prime minister noted that One Caribbean had two 30-seater SAABs and one 19-seater.

“So they have available 79 seats and then we want to see what SVG Air has at its disposal. I know they operate through Adelphi Air, four twin otters and they have other aircraft.”

Gonsalves, who has ministerial responsibility for civil aviation, noted that SVG Air’s twin otters carry 19 passengers each.

“So I am looking, I am focusing my attention on how I could –what we can do to help these particular airlines in the circumstances. I’m having a discussion this evening with One Caribbean and tomorrow I’m having a discussion with people from SVG Air. And, as always, you would expect me to try to be ahead of the curve,” he said.

The prime minister continued:  

“I’m not getting involved in arguments about if there is a new airline, regional airline, where it is to be located, what private sector should be involved. I hear a lot of private sector people talking, but I want to see where their money is. Remember the number who wanted LIAT to close down and they will spring up?

“I’m dealing with what I have right in front of me. I’m talking about two airlines owned here by Vincentians…”

Gonsalves said he wants to see the liquidation process well underway and complete before he could “talk about providing money for any other source”.

The prime minister said that the union leader for LIAT had written to him requesting a meeting because they were raising issues of severance.

“Well, we have 41 employees in St. Vincent and the severance payment is $1.51 million,” he said, adding that the union leader was surprised that the money had reached so far.

“Of course, none of that they can have from LIAT because LIAT doesn’t have any money,” Gonsalves said, adding that there is another $400,000 outstanding in vacation pay, “which LIAT doesn’t have either”.

He said he had said repeatedly that the democratic state cannot be a bandit.

“I’m not gonna go further than that. I can’t tell you what, if anything, I’m going to offer the LIAT workers. I make a general statement first because I don’t want anybody to be taking any words that I am saying — any creditors of LIAT — to say that I am discriminating by saying that I am going to help LIAT workers but I am not going to help other creditors from St. Vincent with LIAT, maybe a small hotel, maybe a small restaurateur who LIAT might owe money. You see what I mean?

“Once this process is about to begin, I have to be careful with my tongue. I am sufficiently a lawyer. What I can tell you is that it is unlikely, highly unlikely that any of these persons can get anything from LIAT itself because LIAT doesn’t have assets.”

Gonsalves said he had spoken to his Antiguan counterpart about the developments.

“… he has spoken quite expansively and he has said — I saw a report that he has said air transport is the only thing he get out of the region and he wants to maintain the LIAT name, he wants up there to be the headquarters still and creditors will have to take a haircut, including people for severance payment. I am not going into those discussions, except to say I am not hung-up as to what name is retained, or anything like that.” 

Gonsalves reiterated that he was having discussions with the two local airlines, and his objective is to get Vincentians to and from the country to make their connections.

“And I am not leaving it to conjecture. I take into account the confluence of circumstances or what you may call the conjuncture of circumstances. I am not conjecturing.

“I make no promises or pledges to anybody concerned with LIAT because of all the legal circumstances. I am seeking to see what can be done to assist in the most optimal movement of visitors and our people to and from St. Vincent and the Grenadines,” he said.

29 replies on “Gonsalves to focus on local airlines as LIAT goes belly up”

  1. I need my money from Liat for my flight I paid to travel to Barbados this past withsuntide which was interrupted because of Covid-19.
    $2 ,434.00 there about. They know the exact amount.
    Comrade i need my refund before they liquidate.

    1. Lennox Lampkin says:

      Why not use the earmarked 2.7 million LIAT support money to compensate those with tickets they cannot honour as a first priority?

      1. Katzsper Jon says:

        “Earmarked” means it has a specific place it needs to go and its not to the people they owe.

  2. LIAT has been trading for years whilst insolvent based on the shareholders backing the airline with their somewhat tarnished and previously good names. Seeing as all the shareholders knowing the airline to be insolvent and instructing or ordering the directors to continue trading, the shareholders must be responsible for all the money outstanding at the time of liquidation.

    Therefore the shareholders must get together and decide who owes what according to the shareholding of each country.

    Employees band together as a group get yourselves a firm of good lawyers and sue the directors and shareholders for everything LIAT owes you.

  3. In fact anyone who is owed any money for any reason, sue the directors and shareholders. They were knowing trading the company whilst insolvent, get a lawyers opinion today.

  4. The creditors do not need to take a haircut at all, the responsibility for all debts belong to the directors and shareholders because they were trading whilst knowingly being insolvent.

    The creditors under the circumstances are due every cent owed.

  5. Ah’-waay dis me ah hear now dread! First SVG proper now de Airline? Me never did tell yoo, dis man yah could not run a booze party ena ah brewery. Im economics have never left de school yard dread!

    Meck dem nah put im out to grass like all old donkeys dat dome dem time ah’-ready!

  6. My relatives paid for flights they never were able to take because of the shut-down. They were also going to stay on Mystique and Bequia as well as charter a Catamaran. What about a reimbursement?

  7. We can all hope that whatever comes out of the fail,… that the greedy shareholder governments do not drive other companies into bankruptcy with all the high taxes.

  8. Vincentain students had to take loans to get home while Liat was reportedly given Covid money. And now is going belly up? Liat has never been anything but what looks like a money laundering scheme. I for one is glad it is going. It is a waste of money and time. I hope One Caribbean will not become the new Liat.

  9. C. ben-David says:

    According to our insolvency, bankruptcy, and liquidation laws, the secured creditors — those who loaned money to LIAT using the company’s assets, mainly the aircraft as collateral — have to be paid first when the assets are sold (“liquidated”).

    Given LIAT’s huge debts, there will be nothing left for the unsecured creditors, namely the airline’s employees, suppliers, and customers.

    As far as I know, none of these unsecured creditors have any recourse in law for getting any money from the airline’s government owners, nor even for back pay, pensions, and benefits owed to former workers.

  10. For the readers information they are hundreds of people owed money from Liat because of covid I myself is owed $416.00 us dollars of witch it’s looking most likely not to see A RED CENT BACK Bad.B I would like to know how many people we’re in your party to be owed so much and is that US dollars or EC or Bajan ? Just asking for a friend.

  11. Michael comissiong says:

    This is really sad and a bad reflection on our Caribbean leaders and the management of. Liat once again we the people have been let down and used by them they all need to grow up and become more accountable to us their bosses. So now we are going to have every man for them selves and in come the people from over in away and take the few resources that we have. As per usal.

    1. Mr. Comissiong, you know and we all know that none of the leaders of the shareholder governments will feel any negative consequences from this fail. NONE OF THEM HAVE EVER SUFFERED FROM ANYTHING TO DO WITH LIAT! We also know that none of thier governments have ever suffered either: They have just sat back and collected huge taxes! Many of these leaders such as in SVG, have thier own government/private airplanes.
      We have all watched how many CEOs have come and gone from LIAT and NOTHING has ever changed. They have always been known as:
      The problem is not LIAT!

      The problem is the Shareholder Governments relationship to LIAT!
      The airline (PROBABLY THE MOST EXPENSIVE AIRLINE ON EARTH) was never left enough funds to operate properly because the vast majority of the funds were taken by the Shareholder Governments. Remember hearing the PM of Barbados crying that they want EVEN MORE MONEY!
      LIAT has been run like the Vincentian Economy, (the relationship of the Private Sector to Government) whereby most of the money is taken by the government “up front” in taxes and import duties. THE GOVERNMENT CAN NEVER LOSE!!!
      It is like a race between government and business (the prize is 11,000 dollars) where the government dictates that business has to pay an entry fee (say 10,000 dollars) then wear a backpack filled with bricks. No wonder the government comes out the big winner every time!
      In long term “sustainability” the government also loses. Our PM has not figured that out yet, or maybe he does not care!
      Everyone in SVG and the Caribbean has to be educated on these terrible exploitive economics run by our truely greedy Financial Slave Masters that could not run a mauby shop under FAIR conditions..

  12. Marlon Cupid says:

    Now, I would really like to know soonest. Tho it more than likely be a rhetorical question but I feel completely lost to this situation of Liat. The Government shareholders knew how bad things were and tho I do not believe that they hid it as I often see Liat in the news about money troubles, someone has to effectively take the responsibility of debt to the employees and the customers.

    What is suppose to happen if International connections are missed because of this, or additional costs have to be incurred after spending what should be near $1000.00 caribbean dollars based on your location to travel and still through no negligence of there own a customer is expected now source additional funds to make there connecting flights. Who is going to covern that cost. An it is widely know than Covid has made if difficult especially for the regular people so.

    Despite all this talk about Liat doesnt have, someone is going to have to take the heat and give some sort of refund or find an alternative to the situation that doesnt cost the customers anything additional and also get the best possible outcome for the persons who are entitled by contractual law to be paid for their time and effort.

  13. Well I guess the time is ripe for a long overdue Ferry between the islands and we need it BAD Like 3 or more years ago with liat out of the way inter islands travelers are at a stand still, when the dust is settled we all know one of the real reason for it’s failure the Greedy governments with all all the Taxes put on a ticket for a 30 minutes flight .

  14. I was expecting to use my return ticket to SVG now lost. Liat call center phones disconnected. Amazing how last week they were making promises to start flights and by weekend they have gone belly up. This has been on the cards for a while but they said nada, just string us along. Whoever steps in, we want modern planes, no old cheap leased planes please, maintain the high safety record Liat established over the 60 plus years they were in business.

  15. LIAT were/are IATA members, but there is no fund for repayment of prepaid air-tickets. If anyone has a return half of a ticket there is an international scheme to get you home.

    If you have bought and paid for a ticket for a future date or for a cancelled flight and used a credit card to pay, get in touch with your card provider asap because they may be liable to refund you.

    Other than that ask your government to repay you if they are shareholders in LIAT. Because LIAT was trading whilst insolvent with the full knowledge of the shareholder countries. So they are responsible for your losses.

  16. No need to create an other MONOPOLY local airline to replace LIAT. All that is needed is to open our airspace to WINAIR, CAL, AIRANTILLES/Air Martinique and Seabourn . They have the equipment, resources and capability to service the region. No need to create another tax burden on our people.

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