Barbados has confirmed plans to downsize its financial involvement in LIAT (LI, Antigua) by selling some of its stake to Antigua & Barbuda, Prime Minister Mia Mottley revealed in a ministerial statement to the country's parliament on June 4.

The government will sell part of the major shareholding it has held since the regional airline’s inception 45 years ago, she said, but did not specify the likely size of the shareholding to be transferred, the Caribbean Media Corporation reported. Barbados currently has a 49% stake in LIAT, Antigua & Barbuda a 34% stake.

A negotiating team will be appointed to decide the eventual number of shares to be offered to the government of Antigua & Barbuda, where LIAT is headquartered, so that Antigua can take over as the airline's biggest shareholder, Mottley said.

She referred to an agreement Barbados concluded in May with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which provided about USD49 million to the country, bringing the total disbursement to almost USD98 million in an effort to turn around the ailing economy.

“There is only so much that Barbados can responsibly do at this time given our current circumstances and our current position,” she admitted, but insisted that Barbados remained committed to regional transportation and would continue to hold minimum shares in the carrier.

"We have taken the determination, a decision as a cabinet, that it is time for us to step back while at the same time allowing other governments to continue with their proposals to restructure LIAT in the way which they have determined,” she said.

The revelation follows Antigua & Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne telling Pointe FM Radio on May 18 that he had received a letter from his Barbados counterpart expressing her willingness to sell all but 10% of her country's shareholding in the airline.