The Antigua-based regional airline, LIAT, Thursday said it is extending the suspension of its passenger services to May 31 blaming the current border closures and travel restrictions within the regional network.
LIAT’s chief executive officer, Julie Reifer-Jones, said the cash-strapped airline continues to monitor the efforts to contain the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and that the further extension is necessary at this time.
“While there are ongoing discussions about the reopening of borders, no firm date has been set to facilitate regional travel as yet” she said, noting that this essentially meant that passengers were unable to travel across the LIAT network of 15 destinations.
LIAT, whose major shareholders are the governments of Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada and St. Vincent and the Grenadines, said passengers booked during the extended period of suspension will automatically have their bookings cancelled and will receive full credit for future travel. It said passengers will be able to rebook as soon as the airline announces the resumption of passenger services.
Mrs Reifer-Jones had also sought to reassure the public that the airline was putting plans in place to resume operations as soon as there was a clear timeline by territories for the reopening of their borders.
“We have been working with our stakeholders to develop a plan for resuming flights when this is possible,” she said, adding that the airline has in place strict cleaning protocols for its aircraft to ensure the health and safety of its passengers and staff.
LIAT acknowledged that the situation is an extremely difficult time for its employees and other stakeholders across the region and Mrs Reifer-Jones said that while the airline is operating with a skeletal staff, it continues to offer charter and cargo services.