Uncertain Future for Former LIAT Workers as PM Browne Offers Final ‘Compassionate Payment’

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Uncertain Future for Former LIAT Workers as PM Browne Offers Final 'Compassionate Payment' 2

Prime Minister Gaston Browne of Antigua and Barbuda has reiterated his stance to former LIAT workers regarding the ‘compassionate payments’ offer, as LIAT 1974 nears liquidation and LIAT 2020 prepares for operation. The liquidation of LIAT 1974 is seen as a necessary step for a smooth transition to the new airline entity. This development leaves former LIAT employees, who have been seeking severance since 2020, in a precarious position.

During a parliamentary session, Prime Minister Browne mentioned that once LIAT 1974 is liquidated, LIAT 2020 will begin acquiring assets from the defunct airline. However, he noted that the funds generated from these asset sales, estimated at 12 to 13 million US dollars, will be directed towards reducing the debt owed to the Caribbean Development Bank, leaving no surplus for severance payments. Consequently, the government’s ‘compassionate payment’ is presented as the only available option for the workers.

The government has revised the ‘compassionate payment’ offer, reducing it from the initial 50 percent to 32 percent. This reduction reflects the shareholding percentage of the Antiguan and Barbadian government in LIAT. The new LIAT 2020 airline will be primarily financed by Nigerian carrier Air Peace and its CEO, Allen Onyema, holding a majority 70 percent stake, while the Antiguan and Barbadian government will retain a 30 percent share. Several other regional governments have expressed interest in joining the new company, though their exact shareholdings are yet to be finalized.

The Antigua and Barbuda Workers Union (ABWU), representing former LIAT staff, plans to issue a press statement regarding this situation. Patterson Thompson, President of the Leeward Islands Airline Pilots Association (LIALPA), has chosen not to comment on these recent developments. This situation underscores the challenges and uncertainties faced by former LIAT employees amid the transition to LIAT 2020.

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