Air Peace (P4, Lagos) is to acquire a majority stake in LIAT 2020 (Antigua), the newco of stricken Caribbean national carrier LIAT (Antigua and Barbuda) (LI, Antigua), following an agreement to form a joint venture with the government of Antigua & Barbuda.
According to several Caribbean news reports, Antigua & Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne has issued a statement announcing the joint venture with the privately-owned Nigerian carrier. The airline was not immediately available for comment.
Antigua & Barbuda and Air Peace would invest “cash and other assets” in LIAT 2020, with “Air Peace acquiring a majority interest,” reports said. The goal is to create an airline that can meet the demand for inter-island connectivity in the Eastern Caribbean, and provide secure and dependable air transport for passengers and goods throughout the region and beyond.
LIAT – which went into administration in July 2020 – is jointly owned by the governments of Antigua & Barbuda, Dominica, Barbados, and St. Vincent & the Grenadines. It restarted in November 2020 under a temporary framework and operating a reduced schedule. The shareholding governments resolved to replace it with LIAT 2020, the newco without legacy costs, but the plan has been stuck in limbo over funding for the new entity. The governments of Antigua and Dominica committed to financing the new company, but the other shareholders failed to do so. LIAT owns three ATR42-600s, according to the ch-aviation fleets advanced module.
The latest announcement followed a visit to Nigeria on April 28 by Antigua & Barbuda’s Foreign Affairs Minister Chet Greene, during which he met his Nigerian counterpart Geoffrey Onyeama and Air Peace Chief Executive Officer Allen Onyema, according to Onyema’s social media posts.
As part of the announcement, Greene underlined the government’s commitment to the revitalisation of LIAT 2020 as a contributor to social and economic development in the region. He also welcomed Onyema’s interest in investing in LIAT 2020. Onyema noted his commitment to developing a viable and sustainable airline.
Air Peace appears to be interested in wider Caribbean connectivity to Lagos. Earlier, the Barbados Government Information Service disclosed the airline was negotiating with Barbados and the Africa Export-Import Bank (also known as Afreximbank) about twice-weekly direct flights between Bridgetown and Lagos from the second quarter of 2023.
Antigua & Barbuda turned to Air Peace after a fraught attempt to start a virtual charter carrier, Antigua Airways (Antigua), to connect the Caribbean with West Africa. Last month, Browne said there was little appetite left for such charters after illegal immigrants exploited them.
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