Pilots association denies members planning strike action

ST. JOHN’S, Antigua, Wednesday July 31, 2013 – The Leeward Islands Airline Pilots Association (LIALPA) says its members are not involved in any industrial action as the Antigua-based airline, LIAT, deals with a number of problems including flight cancellations in recent days.

LIALPA said it had also taken objection to remarks made by the airline’s chief executive officer, Ian Brunton, who recently suggested that pilots were not being team players.

Brunton had indicated that the cash-strapped company would not have had to further deepen its cash flow problems by, “pulling in contract crews which we may not need, if everybody puts their pedal to the wheel.”

Last week, Brunton confirmed that LIAT had enlisted “contract crews” to replace former Dash-8 pilots who are now flying new ATR aircraft.

Brunton, speaking on a radio programme in Barbdaos, told the travelling public that it will be another “two to three weeks” before the new crews would be pressed into service as they have to “satisfy the regulatory system.”

LIALPA said it was distancing itself from “any insinuations that were broadcast on live radio by Brunton” and was informing the public that its members “have not and are not currently undertaking any industrial action”.

In addition, it said the pilots have “borne great hardship, including loss of vacation and entitled days off, in an effort to work with the company to introduce the new fleet of aircraft” and that the pilots have continued to meet the full obligation of their assigned schedules of work within the scopes of their contract, Eastern Caribbean Civil Aviation regulations, and the company’s operational requirements.

“LIALPA regrets the inconvenience to passengers on its fleet caused by the introduction of these new aircraft but cannot take responsibility for its impact,” the union said, adding it remains hopeful that the management of LIAT “will work with them to put a structured plan in place to move the airline forward in a direction that will mutually benefit its customers and employees.

“We continue to maintain our social contract with the Caribbean people with a firm commitment to transport you in a safe and timely manner,” LIALPA added. (CMC) Click here to receive free news bulletins via email from Caribbean360. (View sample)