Published On: Mon, Apr 3rd, 2017

Pilots’ union wants LIAT management gone

The management of the regional airline has been accused of incompetence and poor decision making.

liatST JOHN’S – Amid reports of industrial unrest and late salaries, the Leeward Islands Airline Pilots Association (LIALPA) has called on LIAT’s shareholder governments to get rid of the current management.

At the same time, the pilots’ union sought to make it clear it had nothing to do with any industrial unrest which LIAT’s Acting Chief Executive Officer Julie Reifer-Jones said yesterday had led to several flight delays and cancellations.

“We are not involved at all. As a matter of fact, we continue to pledge to the Caribbean people that we are currently going above and beyond the call of duty to get the airline running at optimal levels, even to the extent of not having meal breaks and working 11-hour shifts. We have already worked almost an extra week without pay,” LIALPA said in a statement issued on the heels of the release in which Reifer-Jones was quoted.

However, LIALPA added, that state of affairs is not sustainable and it will not stand idly by and watch the airline’s financial health plummet to the point workers can’t get salaries on time.

In the statement, in which it made the call for the management to be removed, and sought to inform the public about “what management does not want [them] to know”, LIALPA said that over the years it has relayed its concerns to management about the loss of market share, the insufficient crews and poor scheduling practices, yet their cries continue to fall on deaf ears.

Citing what it said were a few examples of the results of incompetence and poor decision making, LIALPA said the aircraft fleet has decreased from 18 to 10; there is in adequate crew following the mass departure of 19 experienced pilots, shortly after the airline had spent over $100,000 to train each of them; and a high-priced consultant was being brought in to train the Head of Flight Operations, study LIAT’s problems and make recommendations to management and the Board.

“To make matters worse, management refuses to accept responsibility for the sad state of the airline’s affairs, and instead is focusing on making the crew the scapegoats. The traveling public deserves to know the truth – The current management at LIAT is not capable of running the airline at this critical time. Their track record speaks for itself,” LIALPA insisted.

“We are telling you the Caribbean public what management does not want you to know. We have done this hoping that public pressure will cause the shareholders to make the only decision that will save LIAT: Remove the existing management. We are also doing this publicly because of LIALPA’s unwavering commitment to LIAT’s survival and the improvement of its financial health; but sadly this is not achievable with the current management team.”

LIALPA, along with other LIAT unions, are scheduled to meet with shareholders – the governments of Barbados, Antigua and Barbuda, St Vincent and the Grenadines, and Dominica – tomorrow. However, LIALPA complained that management had not given its executive council adequate time off to meet and consult union partners before attending the meeting which will be held in Barbados.

“We hope this is not a plan to stop us from attending this critical meeting . . .  where we intend to make our position clear: We are strongly against deferral of salaries and we will no longer subsidize the incompetence of management. Therefore, we reiterate to the Board of Directors that part of putting LIAT on solid financial footing is to get new management. When a company cannot pay salaries on time, then management must accept that they have failed and they should be removed by the board of directors or the shareholders they represent,” LIALPA said.

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