Africa’s largest private carrier, Air Peace has become the majority shareholder in regional airline company LIAT 2020, after purchasing 70 percent of its shares.

This was confirmed by Antigua and Barbuda’s Prime Minister Gaston Browne who said that LIAT will operate on a viable commercial basis following the agreement with the Nigerian-based company.

“So what we are moving now is to establish the AOC, the air operating certificate for LIAT2020 and to have this partnership with Air Peace in which Air Peace will emerge with 70 percent shareholding in the new LIAT,” Browne stated.

“They will bring some assets and we will also acquire some assets…and hopefully we will have five, six aircraft operating within the region under the name LIAT. You know LIAT is a strong brand, it’s a regional brand which we believe should be maintained,” Browne added.

The prime minister said he is hopeful for the partnership to become a reality, to protect employment, which he said includes existing, displaced and potential hires that can result from the opportunity.

He said the new entity will be operating on a commercial basis even as he awaits some form of financial contributions from other regional governments.

“I know there are many who would want to second guess that decision, but then again, I don’t know of any other viable option at this point. I would accept that regional governments would have indicated a willingness to invest in a regional airline, but in terms of having firm commitments, we are not at that stage,” he stated.

Prime Minister Browne said with regional travel being a major issue presently it is prudent that his government move forward with such a deal.

“It will not be a regional bus that will be operating on unprofitable routes…it has to operate on profitable routes…and we are looking forward to the eventual officialisation of this new LIAT, LIAT 2020 and we are committed to do all we can to ensure its viability and sustainability,” the prime minister added.