Employees of LIAT are to begin receiving their long overdue salaries for last month, according to the court appointed administrator for the regional airline, Cleveland Seaforth.
“The first set of payments will occur very soon,” Seaforth said during an interview with state media, adding that the workers are set to be paid within a matter of days.
He explained that although some of the staff have not been paid for May and June, they have continued to work.
“The government of Antigua has delivered on the promise and have transferred the funds to pay the salaries for July…those funds have been provided to us and we are actually in the process now of trying to disburse those funds. It’s a bit challenging because we’ve had to set up new banking accounts and relationships and so on, but as we speak now efforts are being made to pay [at least] half of the salary for July.”
Also, on Saturday, Prime Minister Gaston Browne confirmed that the government has “advanced US $1 million so far to pay all LIAT workers right throughout the system for July.”
He explained however, that “any liability that arose prior to July should form part of the receivership estate because we stepped in in July. That’s when we decided to take some level of responsibility to give support to the administrator.”
Meanwhile, more lay-offs are in the pipeline for the airline’s employees.
According to Seaforth, of the 166 employees left, 40 were terminated last week and “the process is gonna continue; all of the department heads are asked to determine the absolute minimum number of staff which are needed”.
However, those lay-offs are temporary, he added.
“At the moment, all the lay-offs are temporary. To permanently terminate the employees I would have to go back to the court and seek the approval of the court to permanently terminate them,” Seaforth said.
“The initial period, I think, it was for three months. Now we are laying off staff we are doing it for a period not exceeding six months,” he continued to explain.
In late July, the Antigua-based carrier began the process of administration as the government seeks to restructure the airline to avoid it being liquidated.
A plan detailing the effort to reorganise the regional airline will be presented to the court within the next three months.
Specified entities with interest in the carrier will be involved in that discussion.