Friday, June 18, 2010

Sickout by LIAT pilots


Hungry, tired and upset.

This was the lament of scores of LIAT passengers who were again left stranded at the Grantley Adams International Airport yesterday, as the sick-out by pilots went into its second day.

Forced to cancel flights on Wednesday because of the industrial action, the regional airline was left no choice but to scrap those scheduled for yesterday as well, leaving many passengers annoyed and unaware of when they would be able to continue their travelling.

Several expressed frustration, stating that they had slept in the terminal and had been forced to find meals for themselves as the airline was not providing room and board for these grounded passengers.

Others were concerned about what they termed a lack of communication between themselves and the Antigua-based airline as to how much longer they would have to wait.

A statement released to the media yesterday morning by LIAT’s Corporate Communications Manager Desmond Browne stated, “While the company is doing everything to minimise the effect on passengers, they are being advised that for the rest of the day they should expect further cancellations,” before issuing an apology for the disruptions.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, expressed his concern over the stranded passengers, while speaking to NBC news yesterday afternoon.

He said that his talks would continue with LIAT’s CEO Brian Challenger and with the leadership of the pilots to quickly resolve this matter to get this “essential service” back up and running.

“I spoke with the two directors for St. Vincent and the Grenadines on the board, Prime Minister (Baldwin) Spencer, CEO of LIAT and with the pilots’ leader. I put the suggestion to them that they go back to work today and that we will organise a meeting here in St. Vincent for us to discuss all of the issues, outside of those which are before the arbitration. They said to me that they appreciated my efforts, but they were not so sure. I told them we could be in touch during the night. Nothing (has) emerged out of that initiative as yet,” he outlined.

“I am really, really concerned and about our passengers with people who have to move to meet their families, to do business, some who have to go for medical attention overseas and it’s a terrible thing,” Gonsalves stressed. (JMB)