Caribbean regional airline, LIAT (Antigua and Barbuda) (Antigua), currently in administration, is to relaunch on November 1, 2020, according to the Office of the Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda.

In a Facebook post, Gaston Browne confirmed the airline’s administrator had confirmed to the country’s Cabinet that LIAT would resume its first commercial flight on November 1, 2020; and that it would restart regular commercial schedules to a limited number of destinations possibly one week later. The administrator informed the Cabinet that a permit had been granted for LIAT to fly to St. Thomas Cyril E. King and San Juan Luis Muñoz Marin.

According to the Antigua Observer, the first flight would take place from Antigua to Dominica Melville Hall, as a sign of the airline’s return to service, while regular flights were expected to start from November 8, 2020, to a limited number of destinations.

Owned by seven Caribbean governments, LIAT suspended its operations in March 2020 after years of financial difficulty were exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The airline owed creditors in excess of XCD100 million East Caribbean dollars (USD27 million) when it entered into administration in July 2020. Cleveland Seaforth of BDO was assigned as the airline’s administrator and was tasked with charting the company’s plan for recovery.

The Antigua Observer reported that Seaforth was given permission by the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court to terminate leases for seven of the airline’s ATR - Avions de Transport Régional turboprops, which would leave them with just three aircraft in their fleet if executed. Before going into administration, LIAT operated five ATR42-600 and five ATR72-600s on high-frequency inter-island scheduled services to 15 destinations in the Caribbean.

LIAT’s restructuring plan requires a re-investment of XCD108 million (USD39.9 million), with the Antigua and Barbuda government prepared to underwrite up to 50% of the required recapitalisation. The remaining XCD54 million (USD19.9 million) is to be raised from the private and public sectors. As part of the process, the governments of Barbados and Saint Vincent & the Grenadines have agreed to sell their shares to Antigua. In August, Browne reported interest from other regional airlines and governments, as well as an unnamed entity from Africa.