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Air Peace to acquire Majority Stake in LIAT 2020, Boosting Investments in the Caribbean Airline

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Nigeria’s largest carrier, Air Peace, has entered into a joint initiative with the government of Antigua and Barbuda to bolster investments in LIAT 2020 Ltd, an airline based in Antigua. This strategic move aims to revitalize LIAT 2020 and establish an airline that can cater to the demand for inter-island connectivity in the Eastern Caribbean.

Air Peace will acquire a majority stake in LIAT 2020, based at V. C. Bird International Airport (ANU), which serves Saint John, the Caribbean nation’s capital city, paving the way for safe and reliable air transport services across the region and beyond.

As reported by Loop Caribbean News, both parties will invest through cash and other assets in the revamped LIAT 2020. The plan to launch the brand has been on hold since 2020 due to a lack of funds.

Air Peace’s Expansion and Caribbean Interest

Air Peace, one of Africa’s leading privately owned airline, has demonstrated a keen interest in expanding its presence in the Caribbean. With a fleet of over 38 aircraft and more than 3,000 employees, the Nigerian carrier currently serves markets in Africa, the Middle East, India, China, and Israel. Furthermore, Air Peace is actively working towards launching new transatlantic routes from Africa, including potential scheduled flights between Barbados and Nigeria by the second quarter of 2023.

LIAT’s History and Revival

LIAT, an acronym for Leeward Islands Air Transport, originally commenced operations in 1956 in partnership with BWIA, which is now Caribbean Airlines. Over the years, LIAT expanded its network to serve various islands in the Caribbean, providing crucial air connectivity for local communities. However, the airline faced financial challenges in 1974, leading to the acquisition of LIAT by eleven countries to ensure the continuation of essential island air connections.

LIAT’s Recent Troubles and Court-Appointed Administration

In July 2020, LIAT ceased operations due to significant losses in 2019 and the adverse effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, compounded by border closures. Following this, the governments of Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines, the majority shareholders, decided to liquidate the airline. Consequently, LIAT (1974) entered court-appointed administration to undergo financial restructuring, and on November 30, 2020, the airline partially resumed operations on a temporary basis, with a reduced schedule.

The Joint Initiative and Air Peace’s Majority Stake

Antigua and Barbuda’s government has embraced the goal of maintaining air connectivity within the region and securing the future of LIAT. Through a joint initiative with Air Peace, both parties will invest cash and other assets in the revitalization of LIAT 2020. Air Peace’s acquisition of a majority stake will inject much-needed resources and expertise into the airline, positioning it for sustainable growth and enhanced service quality.

Prime Minister Browne’s Support for Regional Control

Antigua and Barbuda’s Prime Minister, Gaston Browne, has been a vocal advocate for rescuing LIAT and preserving regional control over the airline. Despite an earlier bid from Air Peace to acquire a 75% shareholding, Browne expressed concerns about external control and potential price gouging. He stressed the importance of a regional approach and announced a forthcoming meeting of Caribbean heads-of-state to discuss LIAT’s future structure.


Featured image: @indian_spotter

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