St John’s – The cash-strapped regional airline, LIAT, which is hoping to return to the skies on November 1, has informed retrenched workers that payment of any indebtedness would not be made at this time even as it sent letters of dismissals to several staff members, including, pilots, flight attendants and engineers.
The court appointed administrator, Cleveland Seaforth, in a letter sent to a shipping clerk with the airline, noted that the position had been made redundant.
‘Further to our correspondent to you with respect of your temporary layoff we now write to you advising of the administration’s decision that effective November 20, 2020, your employment with LIAT (1974) Limited has been made redundant,” according to the letter, which was read out on Observer Radio here on Friday.
Seaforth reminded the workers that the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has caused a major downturn in the economy and has had a detrimental impact on the airline, which is now in the process of being recapitalised and owing in excess of EC$100 million to its creditors.
He said that while LIAT recognises its financial obligations to the retrenched workers, all applicable entitlements will be discussed with the relevant bargaining trade union for resolution and finalisation prior to the workers being notified of the amount due to them.
But he said that in light of the company’s current financial state, the payment of any indebtedness cannot be made at this time and is dependent on the outcome of the court supervisory restructuring process.
The Antigua and Barbuda government announced earlier this week that the airline, whose major shareholders had included Barbados, St Vincent and the Grenadines and Dominica, will return to the skies on November 1.
Earlier this month, Prime Minister Gaston Browne said that his administration is prepared to “collapse” the regional airline if it does not emerge as a “new and lean,” entity as part of the re-organisational plans.
Prior to its collapse, LIAT flew to 21 destinations, operating an average of 112 daily flights within a complex network combining profitable and uneconomic routes.
Airline observers said that these 39 unprofitable flights were to 18 territories.