The Nigerian airline Air Peace will soon take up a 70 percent stake in LIAT 2020 Ltd.
Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne, who made the announcement, said the airline would be strictly commercial.
Browne said it would not be a ‘regional bus’ operating unprofitable routes.
He said moves were underway to establish the operating certificate for LIAT 2020 and establish the partnership with Air Peace.
Air Peace Airline, a private flight servicing agency, was founded in 2013.
On its official website, the carrier said its vision is to expand domestically and beyond as the largest and most profitable airline, achieving safe, efficient and affordable short and long-haul services.
Meanwhile, LIAT is currently operating with two aircraft and is serving a reduced route.
But the Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister indicated to state-owned ABS that would change when the deal with Air Peace is final.
“They will bring some assets, and we will also acquire some assets as well, and hopefully, we could have maybe five, six aircraft operating in the region under the name LIAT,” he told ABS News.
“We think that LIAT is a strong brand. It’s a regional brand which we believe should be maintained and I am hoping that we can make this a reality so we can protect the existing jobs and even to create new jobs for those employees who are displaced, especially the pilots,” Browne explained.
Given the essential nature of regional transportation, he said the original intention was to have a LIAT owned by regional governments.
The Antigua and Barbuda leader acknowledged that some would try to second-guess the Air Peace move.
However, he said he knew of no other viable option currently.
“I will accept that regional governments would have indicated a willingness to invest in the regional airline, but in terms of having firm commitments, we’re not at that stage and we need to move,” Browne declared.
In 2022, the governments of Antigua & Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, and St. Vincent & the Grenadines – the four major shareholders of LIAT (Antigua and Barbuda) (LI, Antigua) – resolved to liquidate the debt-ridden regional airline and transfer its assets to a new company called, LIAT 2020 (Antigua).
The old company, operating under the legal name LIAT (1974) Ltd., had been in bankruptcy restructuring since July 2020.