PM Browne unveils LIAT reorganisation plan

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Prime Minister Gaston Browne has unveiled a dossier outlining the government’s plan to reorganise LIAT in a bid to save it from liquidation.

Details of proposals for a new incarnation of the regional carrier – published on social media today – come days after the administration chided the fact that LIAT’s shareholders had not set another date to meet to discuss the possibility of LIAT 2020 but had managed to find time for other meetings.

Browne said the proposed reorganisation and recapitalisation of LIAT would result in an injection of new equity that would cover at least 50 percent of outstanding staff liabilities. It would require new capital of up to EC$108 million dollars of which Antigua and Barbuda is prepared to invest half.

The Companies (Amendment) Act 2020 recently passed in parliament, he said, would allow for the appointment of an administrator who would replace directors and shareholders as the sole representative of LIAT’s estate.

That administrator would also be in charge of reorganising the company by cutting costs, realigning expenses and reexamining profitable routes.

The government wants to use the Companies Act to enable an automatic stay against the airline’s creditors which would allow the administrator to negotiate better payback terms.

According to the proposal, if the reorganisation fails, then the administrator could proceed to liquidate LIAT.

If existing shareholder governments are not interested in investing in LIAT 2020, they will be required to surrender their shares.

If shareholders choose to liquidate the airline, LIAT workers in Antigua would require more than EC$80 million in severance, as the country has the largest percentage of employees.

Earlier this week, Cabinet spokesperson, Lionel Hurst, claimed the other shareholder governments have already decided how they would pay off the staff in their respective countries, leaving Antigua to bear the weight of the staff working here.

Hurst said this is a part of the sustained battle the government is having on the entire LIAT issue.

A meeting of LIAT creditors is scheduled for July 31 when the government here is expected to contribute to the liquidation discussion.

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