Barbados counts losses from LIAT strike

Last week’s industrial action by pilots of cash-strapped regional carrier LIAT impacted significantly on Barbados’ Caribbean tourism thrust, Minister of Tourism Richard Sealy has revealed.

Speaking to the media at the tenth anniversary celebrations of the Airlines Executive Lounge at Grantley Adams International Airport, Sealy said while the cost to Barbados of the three-day protest was still being tabulated, a preliminary assessment was enough for his ministry to take notice.

“The region is our third largest source market and a very important one. Barbados is, of course, a hub for LIAT operations so I have no doubt that it would have been impacted. I wouldn’t want to speculate, in the absence of hard data, exactly the precise level but there is no question that it had an impact,” he said.

The latest in a series of pay disputes between the Antigua-based airline and the Leeward Islands Airline Pilots Association (LIALPA) resulted in pilots refusing to fly LIAT’s ATR 72 aircraft unless they were compensated for the additional responsibility of flying those larger planes.

The industrial action began last Wednesday and ended late Friday after management of the airline and the pilots agreed payment terms for the additional compensation, as well as retroactive pay.

However, Sealy is fearful that the embattled airline cannot survive the continuous infighting and is urging LIALPA to look past its personal agenda and consider the company’s.

“LIAT is a very peculiar creature in how it is structured and in terms of its relations with the various unions throughout the Caribbean. These issues are not new but one has to wonder how much more the company can take,” he said.

“It is very well for unions to speak about their perspective, but right now we need to look at the company . . . . What doesn’t help us is for management and unions to be on any kamikaze mission. It does not help for them to be on any suicide mission. It just doesn’t make sense!

“It is not in anybody’s interest, so clearly we have to work these issues out for the sake of the region. The truth is that there are some economies in the Caribbean that would literally collapse if LIAT was not around,” Sealy added.

The minister also spared a thought for the passengers displaced during the impasse, arguing that they deserved better.

Last Thursday, LIAT reported that four flights out of Barbados – including two to Trinidad, one to Guyana and another to Tortola – had to be cancelled, while others were delayed, leaving scores of travellers stranded.

“Caribbean travellers are no different to travellers from around the world. They are discerning, their expectations are high and they are going to expect a certain quality of service,” the air transport minister said.

“And that is one of the reasons we had to re-fleet in the first place, because people deserve better in terms of comfort and on-time performance. We do keep the concerns of the public at large utmost in mind, and certainly as the representative of the largest shareholder we have to do better for our people.”

One Response to Barbados counts losses from LIAT strike

  1. BimJim June 15, 2017 at 9:04 am

    The higher monkey climb, the more he show his ass. EEk! EEK!

    “However, Sealy is fearful that the embattled airline cannot survive the continuous infighting and is urging LIALPA to look past its personal agenda and consider the company’s.”

    How about examining the LIAT management, Mr. MBA Sealy? Barbados is the majority shareholder and has the most unqualified incompetent freeloaders on the Board, yet in all the time the “strike” was going on Barbados had NOTHING TO SAY. Nothing. Not a word. From anybody.

    How about addressing the Trump-like LIAT management, Mr. MBA Sealy? The management which agreed to do something and then reneged? The management which is partly composed of a Board Member’s “close friend”? The management which lied and caused the rift in the first place? The management which is unqualified and inexperienced in running ANY aspect of airlines? The management which needs replacing, but will soldier on regardless of the damage they cause?

    “Caribbean travellers are no different to travellers from around the world. They are discerning, their expectations are high and they are going to expect a certain quality of service, And that is one of the reasons we had to re-fleet in the first place, because people deserve better in terms of comfort and on-time performance.”

    What utter nonsense. YOUR majority Board was completely brambled by a scheme to sell LIAT nine useless new aircraft incompatible to the routes to be flown. Had there been even ONE Board Member who knew more than a mosquito bite about aviation, that commission-laden proposal would never have made it to the second reading.

    When the sturdy, HARDY 30-year-old Dash-8s left LIAT they were in better condition – inside and out – than the brand new ATRs are now. And the ATRs have gone steadily downhill ever since they arrived.

    LIAT shareholders – you and me – spent US$100 million – BS$200 million – on unsuitable aircraft when the Dash-8s could have been cycled through Bombardier to be refurbished, one by one, to new condition for a total cost of less than 10% of what we paid for the ATRs. Can’t be done? Look up the word Ikhana as it relates to airplanes.

    Knowledge is a powerful; thng, Mr. MBA Sealy, and loading up a Board with VFRs ignorant of the business at hand has cost the taxpayers MAJOR bucks over bnthe decades – simply because a politician says it must be so.

    Perhaps – globally – it might be time to do away with politicis altoigether and replace them with country managers who at least have some training and expertise in MANAGING THINGS and who are at least ACCOUNTABLE more often than every four years of extreme damage to the country.

    Reply

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