Published On: Mon, Aug 19th, 2013

Dominica Hotelier Calls for Resignation of LIAT’s Chairman

LIATCaribPR Wire, PORSTMOUTH, Dominica - Dominica hotelier, Gregor Nassief, has issued a second letter to LIAT, this time to the Chairman of LIAT's Board of Directors, Mr. Jean Holder, calling for his resignation.  The letter, titled 'Blameless and Shameless,' calls for accountability in "what is probably LIAT's worst operational crisis in its 56 year history."   The letter calls on the Chairman to address the issues, and adds: "If you are unable to force the necessary executive changes at LIAT then you must step up to take responsibility for the current crisis."  The public complaint is enclosed for publication.

 

 

August 19, 2013

 

Mr. Jean Holder

Chairman of the Board of Directors

LIAT (1974) LTD

V.C. Bird International Airport

P O Box 819

Coolidge

Antigua

 

Dear Mr. Holder:

 

Re:  Blameless & Shameless

I attempted to reply to your last e-mail dated August 12th, but this time my reply was returned with the message "The following organization rejected your message: owa.liat.com."  As you have blocked my ability to communicate with you via e-mail, I will respond through this letter.

As a reference, I have attached our e-mail exchanges, including my rejected reply, which you never got.  This is not to expose or ridicule you.  In fact many may see wisdom in your points and arguments and come to your defense.

I, however, do not see wisdom, I see avoidance, apathy and a clinging to the notion that LIAT's management is not in control of or responsible for what is probably LIAT's worst operational crisis in its 56 year history.  Worst is that you take comfort in an assumption that we are all better off with LIAT than without it, so we should effectively put up and shut up.  That is, in essence, your attitude and your response.  And despite your promise to reply to my letter "in some detail in the very near future," to date you have addressed none of the issues raised.

Address the Issues, Please

I refer to my open letter dated August 11th titled 'Heads Must Roll' and ask the questions again:

Did LIAT appropriately plan for the fact that pilots had to be taken off line for ATR training?

Did LIAT appropriately plan for the fact that pilots trained on the ATRs could not fly Dash 8s?

Why did LIAT reduce its Dash 8 fleet before the ATRs were fully operational?

Why was such a high-stakes venture undertaken during the peak summer season?

Was there a contingency plan for things not going perfectly?

Your CEO, in what amounts to a letter of apology to LIAT customers, published in the Trinidad Guardian on August 16th, speaks of "severe weather conditions" and "airport limitations."   Amazingly, the letter ends with "we will be open and honest in communicating with you as we address your concerns."

Let me ask a direct and open question to you and your CEO:  Of the LIAT flights that have been delayed or cancelled since June 1st 2013 until today, please tell me what percent are due to "severe weather conditions" or "airport limitations?"

Another open question - and this one for the benefit of your ultimate shareholders, the taxpayers of the Caribbean: What has this crisis, since June 1st, cost LIAT in terms of having to pay for passenger overnights, food, ground transportation, chartered flights from several other Caribbean carriers to move passengers around, overtime hours, additional contracted crew and so forth?

And then there is of course the unimaginable economic cost to the region as a result of this disaster.  Imagine a class action law suit where everyone claimed for lost time, missed connections and mental anguish.  Imagine the tourism industry stakeholders of the various islands being part of the suit and claiming lost revenue?

A recent couple visiting Dominica for a vacation experience who suffered greatly at the hands of LIAT wrote us the following: "We truly enjoyed the island and we have been to many of the neighboring islands as well. Each has been a different and equally pleasant experience but we will not be back if LIAT is the airline we have to fly. The people of the Islands may not have a choice but we do and our choice will be to go somewhere where we are treated better by the airline and have a fighting chance of getting to our destinations reasonably on time."

Multiply this by thousands and thousands.  Do you begin to understand the damage and what is at stake?

Your CEO, the key decision maker at LIAT responsible for planning the Dash 8 to ATR transition, who has finally apologized but who has taken no direct responsibility for the planning and implementation errors that have occurred, continues to hold his position.

My letter of August 11th also outlined three incidents/areas where I believe LIAT's public relations has been disastrous.  Your only response to this has been: "I agree that in the circumstances our PR has not been as effective as it should be."  Your Commercial & Customer Experience Director, the depth of your indifference to what your customers are suffering, continues to hold her position.

If you are unable to force the necessary executive changes at LIAT then you must step up to take responsibility for the current crisis.

Napoleon once said: "To get power you need to display absolute pettiness; to exercise power, you need to show true greatness."   I ask you to put the pettiness aside, show true greatness, and resign.  Resign because it is the honorable thing to do, resign because it will set an example of accountability to the sitting and future Directors and Executives, resign because the people of the Caribbean and the visitors to the Caribbean need to see that after the more than two months of suffering that LIAT has put them through that at least one person stands tall, takes the blame and feels the shame.

In Closing

Let's roll back the clock.  It is June, 2013, and LIAT's latest edition of Zing Magazine has just hit the back pockets of passenger seats.  Your Commercial & Customer Experience Director opens the issue with:  "We are looking forward to a fantastic summer of service.  We hope you've realized by now that LIAT is about one thing: YOU!  Yes, this year is the Year of the Customer and we want to make you feel special by giving you the service you deserve."

How did we get from there, to here?  Oh yes, right, "bad weather," "airport limitations."

It is time to care.  It is time for change.  Heads must roll.

Respectfully Yours,

Gregor Nassief

Owner/Director - Secret Bay

Executive Chairman - Fort Young Hotel

 

ps:           To the staff of LIAT.

 

A recent visitor wrote to us, "If the governments of the Island who own the airline required that senior management spend some time at the counters dealing with passengers it would at least give these managers a true incentive to improve because the issue stems from the top and not the lower level employees."

The few moments of calm I experienced in my own tribulations over the last two months were given to me by a member of LIAT staff at the check-in counter in Dominica and an air stewardess on a flight from Trinidad.  A caring attitude, a caring smile and clear communication.  I thank them for this.

I appeal to LIAT's staff not to fall temptation to work stoppages and strikes.  You will simply be moving the victims - your customers, LIAT's reason for existence - from the torture chamber to the electric chair.  You will be joining your management in not caring. Instead, join the call for an executive shake-up at LIAT.

It is time to care.  It is time for change.  Heads must roll.

cc:           LIAT Board of Directors

Prime Ministers of Antigua & Barbuda, Dominica, Barbados and St Vincent & the Grenadines

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