By Orville Williams
(Antigua Observer) – Establishing two hubs for the newly-formed version of LIAT has been suggested as a potential measure to ensure the carrier’s operations are as efficient as possible.
“I think, based on what has been observed and what we have learned over the past seven to ten years, perhaps the best fit is to have two hubs in the Caribbean for an expanded subregional carrier,” Information Minister Melford Nicholas said yesterday.
Nicholas was asked during the post-Cabinet media briefing whether the Antigua and Barbuda government would be willing to consider relocating LIAT 2020’s primary base to Barbados, as was suggested and explored a couple of years ago with LIAT 1974 Ltd as a move to stabilise the airline’s finances.
Back then, it was proposed that relocating to Barbados would allow the carrier to benefit more from the lucrative southern Caribbean travel market.
“Clearly, when they had moved much of the aircraft into Barbados to make [the] realisation of the natural hub [there], what they had in fact done was to reduce the availability of airlift on the northern side of the Caribbean.
“For example, from Antigua – acting as a hub – to get into the Virgin Islands and even to St Maarten and Puerto Rico as important shopping destinations for persons, or perhaps even getting to the Dominican Republic where there has been a significant traffic flow between residents here who have family, friends and historical ties to [the DR], those markets have not been served well as a result of the movement that took place in the latter stages of LIAT 1974 Ltd,” Nicholas explained.