Tuesday 26 May, 2020

PM Browne: FAA downgrade & COVID-19 present new challenges for LIAT

[iStock.com/EMPPhotography]

[iStock.com/EMPPhotography]

The COVID-19 pandemic has dealt a severe blow to LIAT.

That’s according to Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, Gaston Browne who also said that the regional airline will be in need of a bailout.

During a local radio show over the weekend, he said the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) downgrade could also negatively impact the beleaguered airline.

On Friday the FAA downgraded the safety rating of the Eastern Caribbean Civil Aviation Authority, after finding that the agency does not sufficiently comply with international safety standards.

The FAA’s Category 2 rating covers Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia and St Vincent and the Grenadines.

The downgrade means that airline carriers in the affected islands are not allowed to start new services.

Prime Minister Browne said luckily the FAA did not implement sanctions that prohibits them from offering any of the existing services.

However, he did note that because of the FAA downgrade LIAT cannot expand its service, which means no new schedules could be introduced.

He said: “LIAT is already in a very precarious situation and COVID would have worsened the situation. So right now LIAT, just like any other airline globally, will be in need of a bailout.”

The airline has suspended passenger services until May 15.

Just last month CEO Julie Reifer-Jones explained that the suspension was based on a review by the airline's Board of Directors and Executive Management.

The airline continues to operate with skeletal staff, but Reifer-Jones advised that the airline is working to resume operations across the network as soon as it is feasible to do so.

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