CARIB EXPRESS, the Caribbean regional in which British Airways held a 20% stake, has been wound up and its aircraft returned to British Aerospace.

The airline started operations in February 1995 with three BAe 146-100s leased from BAe's Asset Management Organisation (AMO), operating regional services from Barbados. Other than BA, shareholders included local investors holding 70% of the airline and five Caribbean governments holding 10%. The principal investor is understood to have been Trident Holdings. As well as its shareholding, BA also provided its airline-management expertise.

When Carib Express started, its ambitious business plan envisaged its fleet expanding to include turboprops, and additional routes. Co-operation with other carriers in the region was also planned. Sources indicate that the airline had good load factors, but despite this, one of the three BAe 146s was returned "by mutual agreement" this year.

Continuing financial troubles at the airline resulted in discussions being held with shareholders about restructuring and the infusion of fresh capital. Operations were suspended on 18 April when a plan could not be agreed. BA met half the costs of repatriating stranded passengers, with Trident Holdings putting up the remainder. The two remaining BAe 146s have since been ferried to maintenance company FFV's plant in Nashville, and the leases terminated.

British Airways says that it regrets the demise of Carib Express, but it will "...continue to look actively at the feasibility of further expanding its presence in the region".

Source: Flight International