‘Unfortunate and misleading,’ say flight attendants, in response to LIAT statement
November 1, 2016
‘Unfortunate and misleading,’ say flight attendants, in response to LIAT statement

The Leeward Islands Flight Attendant Association (LIFAA) has come out in support of the Leeward Islands Airline Pilots Association (LIALPA), describing a release by LIAT’s management issued on October 25 as “unfortunate and misleading”.

The release from LIAT’s Acting CEO, Julie Reifer-Jones, had said the company has sufficient crew to operate the current schedule and currently employs 104 pilots {{more}}and 76 cabin crew to fly a schedule which is based on a reduced fleet of 9 ATR’s.

“Commercial airlines operate on the basis that all employees including its’ flight crew will come to work. The industry daily average for crew sickness for an airline is between 3 per cent and 5 per cent. LIAT’s crew sickness levels for 2016, equates to 13 per cent, a pattern that has been in existence for some time. These sickness levels are unsustainable for a commercial airline.

“So far this year, LIAT has cancelled 261 flights and delayed a further 564 due to crew sickness. The average number of sick days, per member of crew, is around 21 days,” Reifer-Jones said in the release.

LIFAA however said over the past years, “despite pressure from many quarters, it has maintained its silence and has refused to speak publicly on certain matters with regards to LIAT. However, the Company has brought some of these matters pertaining to our members to the public, we are left with no other choice but to respond. We would have preferred if Management would have discussed these issues with LIFAA internally….

“LIAT does NOT have 76 Cabin Crew members, and we are surprised that even something as simple as knowing how many Crew Members the Company has is unknown to Management. Our last count put Cabin Crew at 56 operational members. There are another 12 on extended leave due to injuries sustained on the job or maternity leave. LIFAA would like to categorically state that LIAT is indeed short of crew members,” the release from LIFAA said.

The release said earlier this year, several cabin crew were made redundant against the strong advice of LIFAA and now, the airline is “in panic mode and has begun hiring new Crew members to replace and even add to those already made redundant.” The flight attendant association said these new cabin crew members will not be available for active duty during the airline’s peak Christmas season, as they will need to be trained for two months.

LIFAA says it longs for the day when management realizes that it does not have all the answers.

“We have tried our best to assist management on some of these very issues, and we have made repeated sacrifices, but our solution-oriented advisories always seem to fall on deaf ears.

“Misleading statements to the public by LIAT is not the way forward. Accepting full responsibility is.

“LIFAA will not standby and allow Management to use its Cabin Crew as scapegoats, in order to hide from the public, its ineffective management and incompetence in airline operations,” the release said.

The flight attendants association confirmed the accuracy of the statement made by LIALPA, in that there is indeed an existing roach infestation problem, but it is not only in the cockpits but in the passenger cabins as well.

“We have already expressed our concerns about the type of chemicals being used to rectify this situation and have asked Management for more details as to the harmful effects these chemicals can have on human health…. LIALPA is telling the travelling public the truth, and we stand in solidarity with them, because hiding the truth to cover managerial and operational flaws does not help LIAT to be successful.

“LIFAA wishes to assure the traveling public that we will continue to be committed and dedicated to serving you to the best of our ability, and to ensure that you receive the ‘reliable’ product that you desire and deserve. However, we can only do so much, as we are not responsible for making managerial decisions such as crew employment, working conditions, operational scheduling, and other critical matters. We hope that Manage-ment will refrain from making inaccurate statements to the public, where we will always be ready to clarify and set the record straight.”