Within another week or so, the government of Antigua and Barbuda will be digging deeper into its pocket to contribute its fair share to the US$5.4 million emergency fund which is aimed at keeping the Antigua-based carrier LIAT in the skies.
Earlier this month, the regional airline asked the 11 regional territories it serves to contribute the monies so that it could remain in operation, and during a meeting last Monday, the four main shareholders – Barbados, Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica and St. Vincent and the Grenadines, as well as Grenada, committed to contributing to the emergency fund to deal with the immediate challenges facing the airline.
Prime Minister Gaston Browne said Antigua will be contributing US$1 million to the US$5.4 which is needed overall and such funds will be available in about a week.
“The reality is that a failed LIAT will have monumental consequences for Antigua and Barbuda. Whereas other countries are in a position to hold LIAT at ransom, in terms of putting in funds, we have no choice. We have to continue to support LIAT,” Browne said during an interview on his radio station on the weekend.
Chairman of the shareholder governments, Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, told reporters in Barbados last week that the contribution from each country is based on the percentage of flight departures per week.
He said Antigua has 69 flight departures per week, which is more than 17 per cent of the departures across the eight countries.
Antigua is being asked to contribute US$960,310.
Barbados, with the most departures per week, 116, is asked to contribute US$1.614 million while Grenada, with 35 departures per week, is being asked to contribute US$487,113.
The St. Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister also stated that there are 52 departures per week from that country, which accounts for 13.4 percent of the flights among the eight countries. And LIAT management is asking St. Vincent to contribute US$723,711.
Dominica, which has 25 departures per week, is asked to contribute US$347,938.
Gonsalves added that no other government of the eight potential contributors have committed to contributing as yet. These other countries are Guyana, St. Kitts /Nevis and St. Lucia.