The future of LIAT 2020 (Antigua) remains in limbo as Caribbean governments remain apprehensive about setting up the new entity, says Antigua and Barbuda's Minister of Information, Broadcasting, Telecommunications & Information Technology, Melford Nicholas.

He was speaking at a post-Cabinet meeting news briefing to report back on Prime Minister Gaston Browne's meeting with Caribbean Community (Caricom) heads of state in St Lucia recently.

According to multiple media reports, Nicholas said the Caricom meeting had focused heavily on the revival of LIAT (Antigua and Barbuda) (Antigua) as LIAT 2020 and the vital connection between trade and air transport in the region. Yet, the meeting had ended without a consensus on the way forward.

"There is a significant degree of reticence within other Caribbean member states to embrace LIAT 2020 in the manner we thought that they would want to do at this particular time," Nicholas told reporters.

He said Antigua and Barbuda was still committed to reviving the airline. "The government is committed to advancing the resuscitation of LIAT. LIAT has been able to maintain a degree of operations with just two aircraft and has been able to sustain the livelihood of 167 of its former employees, and we are looking towards LIAT 2020 with a new possibility of increasing its presence in the Caribbean", he was cited by Dominican News Online.

In January, Grenada's Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell said Caricom and the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) were working to establish a framework for a new regional airline. He said the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) had approved a technical assistance grant for consultancy services which were devising urgent provisional measures to re-establish regular flights in the sub-region. This followed a request from the regional governments for assistance in addressing the need for more airlift capacity after LIAT curtailed its services after it entered administration in 2020.

Meanwhile, Nicholas hinted at a joint venture agreement with Nigeria's Air Peace (P4, Lagos) as a possible solution. "There may be an opportunity for some type of joint venture arrangement to be able to facilitate the expansion and resuscitation of LIAT, and the distribution from [Africa] to the Caribbean with an airline like Air Peace," he said. The government initiated talks with Air Peace after it suspended charter flights of virtual carrier Antigua Airways (Antigua) recently.

Last year, LIAT's shareholder governments agreed to restructure LIAT and return it to commercial service. The airline faces liquidation after having been in administration since July 2020. It has been operating a reduced schedule with a limited workforce since November 2020. Only two of its three ATR42-600s are operational at present, according to the ch-aviation fleets module.