LIAT’s management has again come under fire from another group of the airline’s employees.
The Leeward Islands Flight Attendant Association (LIFAA) this evening issued a statement declaring that it would not “standby and allow management to use its cabin crew as scapegoats, in order to hide from the public, its ineffective management and incompetence in airline operations.”
LIFAA described as “ unfortunate and misleading” an October 25 press release issued by LIAT’s management in which Chief Executive Officer Julie Reifer-Jones stated that the company had 76 cabin crew and this was sufficient to operate the current schedule. She however reported that LIAT had cancelled 261 flights and delayed a further 564 due to crew sickness.
Adamant that the airline was short of crew members, LIFAA pointed out that the airline presently had a cabinet crew of 56 with another 12 workers on extended leave due to injuries sustained on the job or maternity leave.
“LIAT does indeed have less crew because they have fewer planes, but the schedule has not been adjusted to achieve maximum efficiency. Currently, due to poor scheduling, if two cabin crew were unable to make it to work on any given day, there will be several cancellations. How could an airline be run this way?” LIFAA asked in its statement.
The association charged that the company had ignored its advice against sending home several experienced cabin crew earlier this year and was now “in panic mode”, hiring new crew members who would need two months of training before being placed on active duty.”
“This means that during the airline’s peak Christmas season, new crew members will be on training, as well as existing crew members will have to be taken off flights to train these new members, instead of having all hands on deck,” it cautioned.
A week ago, the Leeward Island Pilots Association (LIALPA) also knocked LIAT’s management in a strong statement, refuting claims that the airline’s delays and cancellations were being caused by sickness among its crew.
LIALPA said there was no abnormal sickness occurring among crew members, revealing that some pilots had fallen ill “ due to extremely high and unbearable cockpit temperatures, and also in part, due to the usage of chemicals/ pesticides to address an existing roach infestation in cockpits and passenger cabins.”
LIFAA supported LIALPA’s charges, saying “ there is indeed an existing roach infestation problem, but it is not only in the cockpits but in the passenger cabins as well. We have already expressed our concerns about the type of chemicals being used to rectify this situation and have asked management for more details as to the harmful effects these chemicals can have on human health,” it said.