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.
The Leeward Islands Airline Pilots Association (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.
Earlier this week, LIAT issued a statement informing passengers that “in the ongoing negotiations for higher wages, which includes the operation of the ATR aircraft, the pilots have taken action to refuse to fly the ATR 72 aircraft until an agreement is reached”.
The financially strapped airline, whose major shareholders are the governments of Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica and St. Vincent and the Grenadines, said ‘as a consequence of this action we have not been able to operate flights scheduled with ATR 72 aircraft at this time.
Reifer-Jones said that “LIAT apologises for these disruptions to our passengers and their plans and wishes to reiterate its commitment to work with LIALPA to resolve any issues”.
LIAT’s Corporate Communications Manager Shavar Maloney has warned that more cancellations were expected on Friday, even as the Antigua 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