Air Peace plans Caribbean connection

Nigerian airline Air Peace is in negotiations to take a majority stake in struggling West Indian airline LIAT, apparently with the intention of increasing links between the Caribbean and West Africa.

ATR 72-600

Caribbean carrier LIAT operates a small fleet of ATR 72-600s. Picture: ATR

The Lagos-based carrier has been in talks with the government of Antigua and Barbuda, one of the small island states in the Caribbean, since 2022. LIAT is a longstanding airline in the region, but went into administration in July 2020, early in the Covid-19 pandemic. It has since been operating under administration, at a reduced size compared to its former existence. However, it is operating under a temporary framework and lacks funding.

LIAT 2020 operates a small fleet of three ATR 42-600 turboprops that criss-cross the region, serving around a dozen destinations. Its major shareholders are the governments of Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

Delivering Antigua and Barbuda’s annual budget speech in December 2023, prime minister Gaston Browne told the country’s parliament that his government had taken on the responsibility of restructuring LIAT, "with a vision of returning the airline to the regional skies” noting that the airline “has long been an essential thread in the fabric of Caribbean connectivity”.

Browne added that the Barbados-based Caribbean Development Bank will help bring the various shareholders together, and that this would set the stage for finalising the arrangement with Air Peace.

Browne said that, in 2024, the Antigua and Barbuda government would provide funding to “ensure LIAT 2020 Ltd has all the aircraft needed and appropriate maintenance and operational arrangements are in place for the safe, reliable, and efficient delivery of service.”

Air Peace’s motivation behind its desire to become the driving force behind the revamped LIAT remains uncertain. An Air Peace spokesperson told African Aerospace in December 20203 that “We are not at liberty to discuss LIAT now, as we are still putting things together.”

According to media reports, Air Peace is interested in greater Caribbean connectivity to Nigeria. Earlier in 2023, the Barbados government said that the Nigerian airline was negotiating with Barbados and the Africa Export-Import Bank over the possibility of direct flights between Barbados and Lagos.

Alan Dron

Alan Dron

Alan Dron is air transport editor at Arabian Aerospace for which he has written since its launch.