The head of the Leeward Islands Airlines Pilots Association has expressed doubt that the 100-day deadline given for a recovery plan to be implemented at regional carrier LIAT will work.
Captain Patterson Thompson insists the airline’s financial problems can only be solved when more accountability is demanded of the management. He was commenting on the outcome of yesterday’s LIAT shareholders meeting in Barbados, during which officials agreed to cut unprofitable routes as part of the recovery plan.
“There’s skepticism of putting money [into LIAT] and certain things have remained the same over a period of time. This can’t work anymore. People want accountability. When they put their money into the airline they want to see that it’s managed properly and I think that is the issue here,” he said.
“The airline is going to struggle to make a massive profit because we have very few people in the Caribbean. We don’t have the mass to make the airline be full everyday . . . but the governments also need to check how they tax tickets because you can’t tax to the point where it becomes a problem for people to travel.”
The LIALPA boss steered clear of speaking about the issues outlined in a letter written by unions representing LIAT workers to the four major shareholder governments.
He said that matter is now in the hands of the leaders for examination, and subsequent talks, if possible.
That aside, Thompson contended that workers should not have their salaries deferred “to facilitate the fleet renewal process”.
“When I work and I fly the plane, I get from ‘A’ to ‘B’ and when the flight attendants do their jobs they should be paid. I can’t foot that transition cost for LIAT,” he argued.
The LIALPA official is also making a case for someone who is well-rounded in aviation management to lead the regional carrier.
“If your executive management doesn’t have a lot of experience, the CEO must have the experience. He or she must have years of experience working in the airline environment that is comparable to LIAT. That is absolutely essential,” he said.