A judge in the Superior Court of the United States Virgin Islands has ordered LIAT (LI, Antigua) to pay USD1.55 million in damages that had been awarded to a former employee, dismissing an appeal by the cash-strapped pan-Caribbean carrier.

William Cherubin took the airline to court in February claiming he had been dismissed because of his age, the Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) reported.

LIAT had allegedly fired him without notice in June 2015 citing infringements of company policy, but Cherubin successfully argued in court that his age, 70 at the time of the dismissal, was the dominant factor.

In 2011, LIAT had offered all employees aged over 62 a retirement package in exchange for voluntary resignations, but Cherubin had turned down the offer.

Justice Douglas A Brady said in his May 13 ruling that the Antigua-based airline was in violation of the Virgin Islands Civil Rights Act and “unlawfully discriminated against him by discharging him from employment because of his age and awarded damages for lost wages, and mental pain and suffering.”

Meanwhile, uncertainty over LIAT's future continues. Antigua & Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne told Pointe FM Radio on May 18 that he had received a letter from his counterpart in Barbados, Mia Amor Mottley, which expressed her willingness to sell part of her country's shareholding in the airline. Barbados currently has a 49% stake in LIAT, Antigua & Barbuda a 34% stake.

"She indicated in a letter that they would want to retain at least 10%, and that is certainly desirable because we want to make sure we pursue that model of shared benefits and shared burden, so the idea is not to divest Barbados of all of its shares,” he said.

However, at a press conference on May 23, the Barbados prime minister said only that her country was still willing to support the ailing carrier, but not in its current format, and refused to confirm or deny the letter.

“There’s more than one way to do what we have to do, but at the appropriate time with respect to the details of any discussions. I’m not going to disrespect the process and the people with whom we do business. There’s a right way to do things and I will follow that right way,” she said.