ST JOHN’S, Antigua – The future of LIAT’s headquarters is yet to be determined after Sunday’s fire that destroyed the airline’s main hangar containing a Dash 8 passenger aircraft, buildings, copies of records, tools and equipment.
While he did not wish to speculate on a possible move of operations, CEO for the airline Brian Challenger said, “Who knows what the future brings. I know the Government of Antigua & Barbuda is committed to keeping LIAT in Antigua. It is a huge investment to replace. I don’t think we want to start the discussion going down that road. We need to consolidate what we have to do and as smoothly as possible.”
Normal services throughout the LIAT network have continued despite the disaster.
Challenger said while the full extent of the loss is still being calculated – which a well-placed source estimated to be in the region of $100 million – LIAT remains a viable and resilient investment for the region.
“The challenge will come with the maintenance but we are a very resilient company and I was really proud to see the way staff came out and did a lot to save aircraft and vehicles from the fire,” Challenger said on OBSERVER Radio’s Snakepit programme Monday night.
“It shows the strength and commitment of the people and we will continue to be there because we have the support amongst the people of the Caribbean, notwithstanding the challenges we may present at times.”
A team of international loss adjusters are scheduled to arrive in Antigua to assess the damage. This follows a similar visit by their local and regional counterparts.
Challenger said the company might have to consider outsourcing some of its maintenance services.
LIAT said the cause of the fire is not yet known and investigations remain underway.
(More in today’s Daily OBSERVER)