One of LIAT’s major shareholder governments is taking a hardline stance against pilots, recommending that they be made part of the emergency services to stave off further industrial action.
The statement today by Dominica’s Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit came as the pilots remained off the job to force the management of the regional carrier to rescind and publicly apologize for indefinitely suspending Barbadian captain Neil Cave and head of the Leeward Islands Airline Pilots Association (LIALPA), Carl Burke.
“There needs to be a solution to this recurring problem. It’s unfortunate to have so many people literally stranded. The impact on our economies is very serious particularly during this period of great economic challenges confronting every single one of the countries . . . . People have their
rights to undertake whatever action they believe is helpful raised concerns about the official paperwork; this led to his
to their cause, but I believe there has to be a greater responsibility,” the prime minister told Barbados TODAY.
“There has always been talk about [placing)] the services which LIAT provides in the essential category . . . . If people know this is going to happen, people with plan accordingly. I do not think we can build a region and we can build a tourism product unless we address this particular challenge.
“I’m hoping that the matter can be resolved this evening but, if not, at least mechanisms can be put in place to address it. But this might just be a temporary fix; we need to find a permanent fix, treating LIAT as an essential service; and I think there’s a case to be made for that.”
LIAT and the bargaining agent for pilots were tonight in deep discussions aimed at resolving the dispute that sparked the action, affecting 24 flights, nine of which were cancelled.
Captain Cave was sent home following disagreement surrounding the grounding of a LIAT aircraft on Saturday to facilitate repairs.
Well placed sources said the Barbadian, who was scheduled to fly the previously grounded aircraft, was not satisfied the appropriate test procedure had been used to bring the aircraft back into operation. Additionally, he
suspension the same day. LIALPA boss Captain Burke attempted to intervene;
however he too was sent home after discussions with director of flight operations George Arthurton. Reports are that threats were made during the meeting and the LIALPA head was evicted from the meeting after it turned stormy.
LIAT passengers at the Grantley Adams International Airport were angry and, in one case, baffled about the situation.
“I would never travel with LIAT again,” vowed Guyanese-born Cheryl Scott, who now resides in Barbados. “I rather REDjet come back into play. Too much of problems with LIAT.”
Trinidadian John Brathwaite, who was due to return to his homeland after a short vacation here said: “I didn’t have any concerns. I didn’t think it [industrial action] was that serious.”
The airline had advised passengers to contact its reservations desk to rebook before proceeding to the airport.
It further stated that customers affected by the disruptions, who wished to rebook, would be given a week from the date of their originally scheduled travel to do so without incurring any additional charge.