Sick airline


A top official of regional airline LIAT today warned that the current level of sickness plaguing the Antigua-based carrier was simply “unsustainable for a commercial airline”.

 Julie Reifer-Jones
Julie Reifer-Jones

Acting Chief Executive Officer Julie Reifer-Jones issued the warning in a statement in which the company revealed that so far this year, it has had to cancel a total of 261 flights and delay a further 564 due to the sickness of crew members.

“The average number of sick days, per member of crew, is around 21 days,” the statement said.

Reifer-Jones however sought to assure customers that LIAT’s management was doing all within its power to ensure the flight schedule was maintained with little or no disruption.

She also maintained that the airline, which currently employs 104 pilots and 76 cabin crew to fly a schedule based on a fleet of nine ATR’s, had sufficient crew to meet its current schedule.

“The airline’s pilots fly an average of 42 hours over a period of 28 days, well within regulatory requirements and they are guaranteed payment for a minimum of 55 flight hours,” the statement said.

However, it was pointed out that while the industry daily average for crew sickness for an airline was between three and five per cent, LIAT’s crew sickness levels for 2016, equated to 13 per cent, a pattern, which the company said, had been in existence for some time.

Just last week, the Vincentian prime minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves, who is the chairman of the airline’s shareholder governments, had complained that there were too many flight cancellations caused by illness of flight crew

“. . . we have too many bouts of illness which results in cancellations” he said, adding that “the main priority of the management is to stabilize the schedule by resolving operational challenges, take action to reduce crew sickness.

“[Management] will do this in a sensible manner and a sensitive way,” Gonsalves had said at the time, while reporting that the airline was on course to record an EC$9.2 million (Bds$6.8 million) loss for 2016.

10 Responses to Sick airline

  1. jrsmith October 26, 2016 at 5:50 am

    Is this official telling the region that the pilots who is flying these aircraft are not in good health….so they should hire pilots from abroad , stop the pay of the employed pilots until they have health checks, this is frightening ..

  2. Tony Webster October 26, 2016 at 5:51 am

    Lackadaisical, Incapacitated, Arthritic and Tragi-comic.

    Keeps on flying on one wing; one prayer; one eyebrow; sweat of many pilots who worried ’bout their pension funds; and loaded wid losses, debts….and cockroaches too I hear.

    Lord…cumfa. Can you fly a plane, Lord?

  3. SJ October 26, 2016 at 7:16 am

    @Barbadostoday I believe you have misquoted the number of crew employed by LIAT. Please check

  4. Phil October 26, 2016 at 8:27 am

    Hmmm. Let’s see. How about a PAYYF – Pay As You Fly system Where the pilots are paid for the miles they fly. No turn arounds or circling . just straight distance between journeys. point to point in terms of distance in a straight line from origin to destination. Or, percentage per passenger payment on that particular journey. This will eliminate all those staff free flights and discounted fares. Just an Idea. Travel agencies are paid that way. It’s like a kind of commission. Pilots will be kind of self employed and pay their own taxes. They can’t cheat and avoid paying because the airline will submit their payments to those pilots.

  5. Alex Alleyne October 26, 2016 at 8:49 am

    LIAT , like titts on a bull.

  6. James Lynch October 26, 2016 at 10:08 am

    So LIAT pilots fly as little as 42 hours a week, hmm??

    Is the airline also telling you the DUTY times they are expected to work? Because the pilot contract and the LAW do not limit FLIGHT hours, they do limit DUTY hours.

    Flight hours are NOTHING compared to time on duty – especially with LIAT and their interminable delays.

    If every flight is an hour and the turn-around time is 45 minutes, that 42 hours automatically turns into 74 hours (a week = 15 hour work days). Now add in 0:45 before and 0:30 minutes after every flight for the time required – by the law and by the company – for crews to be at work before and after a day’s flight and you get about another 7 hours of duty time – now we are up to 81 hours (a week = 16 hour work days).

    And this is only a 5-day week – with no delays.

    With the usual and inevitable LIAT delays, add two or three hours – a day – in that 5-day week and yes, 42 hours FLIGHT, but we are still looking at 100 hours DUTY (a week = 20 hour work days).

    Would YOU work 20 hours a day? Would YOU work 100 hours a week? That’s day after day, week after week, with no relief in sight. Might YOU get a little “sick” after a while?

    In the shortage of pilots, let’s look at a the 6-day week being forced on many – nay, MOST – of these professionals… add 14 hours duty time (8 hours flight time) a week, and for those “lucky” pilots the airline is probably pushing pilots to do close to 115 hours of WORK (a week = still 20 hour work days).

    Then they get a day off – IF they are not called at 5:00am and asked to do yet another flight instead. What would YOUR response be?

    So much for the 40-hour work week.

    As usual, the incompetent shareholders, Board and executive management expect the travelling and tax-paying public to swallow their bold-faced half-lies whole, without benefit of even a gulp of coconut water.

    What are MY qualifications for presenting such details? 16 years as a pilot, with over 13,000 flying hours and 24,000 landings. 16 years of being abused at LIAT by Board and management so abysmal we sometimes wondered if we needed them at all. 8 years on the Executive of LIALPA, seeing and hearing all the abuse and gross incompetence from the inside – most of which the average employee and pilot never knew about.

    While we are on the subject of LIAT, I will again wonder WHEN the long-syffering taxpayers will get a look at LIAT’s annual accounts – which they certainly have paid for, year after year – missing in action and kept Top Secret these last half a century.

    What are the politicians hiding?

    • Donild Trimp October 26, 2016 at 1:05 pm

      Thank you James for explaining it so that the ordinary consumer can get a clear picture of what is really going on.

      I was going to present similar facts but you beat me to it and i must say did an excellent job in explaining things.

      LIAT is a disaster waiting to happen and when it does the evidence against them is so clear cut that they will be out of business in a heartbeat.

  7. jrsmith October 26, 2016 at 10:17 am

    @, James L, hail, hail, on the button , annual accounts , What are these politicians really hiding.. be reminded nothing was said about the 100s of millions not accounted for in the (AUDIT GENERAL’S) report,,,,,

  8. James Lynch October 26, 2016 at 10:41 am

    By the way, LIAT pilots fly an average of 42 hours a WEEK, not every 28 days.

    Is the public expected to believe that pilots on a 5-day work week are actually working for as little as 1.5 hours a DAY?

    How many lies are we supposed to swallow?

    And Riefer-Jones is squawking about DISHONESTY?

  9. F.A.Rudder October 27, 2016 at 2:35 pm

    The Regional flight surgeon ; if there is one for the Airline should have been monitoring these trends and making reports to the personnel – department at the airline’s main hub. If this trend is recorded as redundant it may have been a company discrepancy and not the share holders negligence of input!


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