In a statement, the airline said that it can confirm that some pilots found themselves away from base as a result of the current action called by the Leeward Islands Airline Pilots Association (LIALPA) and that it was “therefore forced to transfer other pilots to these locations to fly the aircraft to move passengers impacted by the delays and cancellations”.
According to LIAT, it operates 10 ATR aircraft with the ATR72 capable of carrying 68 passengers.
“By refusing to fly the ATR72 on the morning of June 7th, several aircraft and passengers were delayed at points of departure, including Trinidad, St Vincent, Tortola and Guyana,” the airline said, noting “in this situation, the company’s priority remains to transport our loyal and paying passengers”.
LIAT’s acting chief executive officer, Julie Reifer-Jones said the company remains committed to meeting the needs of its pilots away from base while acting on the instructions of the company through its Operations Control Centre.”
“LIAT is calling on LIALPA to let common sense prevail and to return the operations of the company to normalcy so we can serve the region.”
LIAT pilots have refused to fly the ATR 72 aircraft that were acquired by the airline in 2013 as a part of the company’s restructuring plans aiming at fleet modernization and network improvements.
LIALPA in a letter to airline, said it “is not convinced it should subject its members to further exposure and responsibility without the agreed compensation…the ATR-72 with its increased capacity over the Dash-8 is in fact increased responsibility in terms of passengers and payload.”
The union said that its members will not fly the planes until the company honours the salary package agreed to in January.
The Observer newspaper reported Friday that the airline had filed for an application for an injunction before the Industrial Court on Thursday in a move aimed at getting the pilots back on the job.
The financially strapped airline, whose major shareholders are the governments of Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica and St. Vincent and the Grenadines, has since apologised to customers for the delays or cancellations.
LIAT’s Corporate Communications Manager Shavar Maloney has warned that more cancellations were expected on Friday, even as the Antigua and Barbuda government appealed to the pilots to immediately resume their duties.
The government said that the current strike would ultimately harm the Caribbean and “undermine the probabilities of attracting more governments to share the burdens of providing for our own air links.
“Its destruction, fueled by unreasonable demands, can benefit no one,” the government said, urging the parties to continue the negotiations leading to the payment in full “of the amounts agreed-to, in a mutually satisfying period”.
- Countries: Antigua_Barbuda