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Former Barbados prime minister appointed LIAT chairman

Former Prime Minister of Barbados Owen Arthur has been named the new chairman of regional airline, LIAT.

New chairman of LIAT, Owen Arthur

Arthur will head the cash-strapped airline following the departure of Jean, Holder who announced his retirement in December 2019, after 16 years as a director and chairman at the company.

The appointment was shared by Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda Gaston Browne on his radio station this weekend.

“Owen Arthur would have spent a large amount of his prime ministerial equity ensuring the survival of LIAT, and now that it is at the crossroads again, I think that Owen is the right person to lead LIAT out of these difficulties,” said Browne.

Browne further said “We have come to a consensus on the way forward so a lot of the differences that existed we’ve been able to resolve them and I believe LIAT has a very bright future ahead of it.”

Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, Gaston Browne

Arthur served as Barbados’ prime minister from September 1994 to January 2008.

Thirty-four per cent of the airline is owned by Antigua and Barbuda, where it is also based. Other shareholders of LIAT are Barbados, Dominica, Grenada and St Vincent and the Grenadines.

Antigua and Barbuda last year tried to become the airline’s largest shareholder by purchasing Barbados’ 49 per cent stake  however, negotiations fell through when the Browne said the US$44 million asking price by Barbados was too high and his Government had no intentions of “giving away money”.

The troubled LIAT owes approximately US$60 in debt, mostly to the Caribbean Development Bank, and has seen its revenue plummet in recent years, worsened by the devastation of four of its destinations during the 2017 hurricane season.

LIAT employs some 600 people and operates flights to more than fifteen countries in the Caribbean.