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LIAT seeks injunction to force pilots to fly

With angry, stranded passengers on their back due to protesting pilots demanding more money, LIAT has applied for an injunction seeking to temporarily get the pilots back into the cockpits of the ATR 72 planes.

LIAT’s Chief Executive Officer, Julie Reifer-Jones told OBSERVER media that the company filed the application in the Industrial Court yesterday and is anxious to have it heard.

Yesterday marked the second day the pilots refused to specifically fly the ATR 72s and this affected about a dozen flights which had to be cancelled, and several others which were delayed, according to LIAT sources.

According to a letter from the Leeward Islands Airline Pilots Association (LIALPA) to the LIAT management, the organisation “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.”

They insist they will not fly those planes until the company honours the salary package agreed to in January.

Reifer-Jones confirmed that scores of passengers have been displaced but said she was unable to give an exact number since the carrier is still assessing the impact.

On the first day of the pilots’ protest, OBSERVER media was told over 1,000 passengers were affected.

The CEO says LIAT is trying its best to rebook passengers and so far, hundreds of them have been given new bookings.

Out of its nine aircraft, LIAT is reportedly flying five ATR 42s which the pilots are not objecting to fly.

After the pilots refused to fly the ATR 72s, on Wednesday, three management pilots picked up the slack and started flying three of the ATR 72s but this was after several flights were already cancelled.

Another ATR 72 is reportedly down in Canada for maintenance checks. With only three pilots and civil aviation restrictions in place on the number of hours they can fly, this is affecting the operations, according to a LIAT source.

And now, according to a well-placed source, LIALPA is moving to get those management pilots blacklisted by the International Federation of Air Line Pilots Association (IFALPA). That association has since pledged solidarity with the pilots for the regional carrier, even while the Gaston Browne led administration in Antigua & Barbuda has condemned the pilots and called on them to end the impasse and allow negotiations to continue amicably.

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