Sun | Aug 9, 2020

BVI in talks with other carriers to fill void left by LIAT

Published:Sunday | July 5, 2020 | 9:41 AM
The Terrance B Lettsome International Airport in the British Virgin Islands - Contributed photo

TORTOLA, British Virgin Islands, CMC – The government of the British Virgin Islands (BVI) is in the process of having talks with other carriers to fill the void if regional airline LIAT is liquidated. 

According to the chairman of the British Virgin Islands Airport Authority, Bevis Sylvester, the talks are being held to ensure that the territory is not left at a disadvantage.  

“We are currently in heightened discussions with InterCaribbean Airlines and Caribbean Airlines with the hope that those two private partners will be able to expand their BVI routes beyond the pre-COVID structure so that we can quickly fill the void left behind by LIAT.”

Sylvester, in a recent statement, said the authority is “more than ever cognizant” of the need to expand the runway at the territory’s main airport on Beef Island.

He said such an expansion will significantly boost local tourism and “will mean more jobs, both in the short and long- term, for islanders.

“This expansion of our capacity is based on projections for future use as international travellers will be clamouring for destinations that are safe from the pandemic or at least destinations that have proven themselves capable of managing or containing COVID-19,” Sylvester added.

In a statement last month, Premier Andrew Fahie announced that representatives from Caribbean Airlines had visited the Beef Island airport “with a view to adding the BVI to their route network.

“COVID-19 has, expectedly, thrown the timetables off, but we are confident that once air travel and tourism begins reawakening, these initiatives will resume,” he then said.

LIAT has been challenged with the COVID-19 pandemic and a review of the state of the airline has shown that it is “unable to pay its debts.”

Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves, the chairman of the airline’s four major shareholder governments – Antigua & Barbuda, Dominica, Barbados and St Vincent & the Grenadines - said they will be convening a meeting “for the purpose of considering the closure of the airline.”

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