ST JOHN’S — Major disruption to a number of LIAT flights scheduled to depart Antigua today has been averted.
OBSERVER media understands a last-minute attempt by LIAT CEO Ian Brunton to bring pilots back to the negotiating table was successful, after pilots had threatened to keep at least eight LIAT flights — due to depart Antigua this morning — on the ground.
That event would have had major knock-on effects for LIAT and other airlines.
The news of the pilots’ plans broke yesterday when Chairman of the Leeward Islands Airline Pilots Association, Carl Burke, revealed the union was forced to call an emergency meeting to seek a mandate from its members on several vexing issues.
“In Antigua, the morning flights will not operate until about 12 p.m. We would like to advise the public of this and we apologise for the delays,” was the warning from Burke.
“We anticipate there will be a chain reaction throughout the day.”
LIALPA’s concerns relate to salary negotiations for flying the new ATR aircraft as well as a new schedule.
“We have shortage of crew right now and the company on Friday unilaterally just changed the crew schedule — the crew advice as we call it — and the flights assigned to the pilots without any notice,” said Burke.
The LIALPA chairman said many of the requirements in the new schedule, for pilots and crew, are illegal.
“We have persons who are scheduled, for instance, to check in at 6 p.m. and they are being called mid-morning and advised they have to check in at 3 p.m. or 2 p.m.,” Burke said.
“This is illegal, according to the civil aviation regulations by ECCA (Eastern Caribbean Civil Aviation Authority) the required notice is 12 hours.”
He said the new schedule, which in some cases includes no meal breaks, has come about because the second ATR aircraft has arrived in Antigua and replaced an older Dash-8, but has not yet been put into service. (Antigua Observer)