Published On: Fri, Jun 9th, 2017

LIAT goes to court to get pilots back in the skies

liatST JOHN’S - With pilots continuing strike action that has forced the cancellation and delays of flights across the region, LIAT has decided to turn to the court for help.

Management of the airline has filed an application for a court injunction to end the strike that began on Wednesday as pilots refuse to fly LIAT’s ATR 72 series aircraft without additional compensation.

The Leeward Islands Airline Pilots Association (LIALPA) is insisting that the pay rise agreed to in January must be honoured, as flying the ATR 72 aircraft is “increased responsibility in terms of passengers and payload”.

Speaking this morning on Good Morning Caribbean, the link-up between Observer Radio in Antigua and WINN FM in Dominica, LIALPA president Captain Carl Burke said the association is aware of LIAT’s court move and will respond according.

“We have been served with the document filed at the end of the lower court, applying for that injunction….Our attorney right now is preparing a response,” he said.

Burke insisted that while he is aware of the cash-strapped airline’s financial situation, it was only fair that pilots are compensated appropriately.

“The pilots have made it clear time and time again that the managers of LIAT are responsible for the company’s current financial position. The pilots take on a lot of responsibility in terms of the service they provide to the airline and, additionally, they are the only staff [members] that have received additional responsibility with the introduction of the ATR 72 aircraft,” the LIALPA head added.

“Pilots are exposed every day to liability; the captain is responsible for everything on a flight. There is more to it than meets the eye. You are responsible for every single passenger on board….What the LIAT pilots are asking for is nowhere, not even in the ballpark…near what the other ATR pilots in the region are making.”

The airline’s CEO Julie Reifer-Jones has apologized to travellers for the disruption and has reiterated LIAT’s commitment to resolving the current impasse.

In a statement released earlier today, LIAT called on pilots to return the operations of the company to normalcy so they could serve the region.

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