The Leeward Islands Flight Attendant Association (LIFAA), has described a recent statement from the management of regional carrier, LIAT, as “unfortunate and misleading”.
The association, in a release on Sunday, dismissed a claim from LIAT’s CEO, Julie Reifer-Jones, that the airline has sufficient crew to operate the current schedule.
According to Reifer-Jones, LIAT employs 76-cabin crew and the airline’s crew sickness levels for 2016 equates to 13 per cent – a pattern that has been in existence for some time. In response, LIFAA said that over the years, it has maintained its silence and has refused to speak publicly on certain matters with regards to the airline.
The association said LIAT’s management should have discussed the issues with the association before going public.
“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.”
“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 puts Cabin Crew at 56 operational members.
There are another 12 on extended leave due to injuries sustained on the job or maternity leave.”
LIFAA has attributed the shortage to the fact that LIAT has fewer planes.
“…. but the schedule has not been adjusted to achieve maximum efficiency. Currently, due to poor scheduling, if two Cabin Crew were unable to make it to work on any given day, there will be several cancellations.
The association also said the company made the position of several crewmembers redundant and this was against the “strong advice of LIFAA”.
“At that time, they claimed they had more crew than was needed. Fast forward a few short months, where after taking the decision to make redundant several trained and experienced Crew Members, LIAT is in a panic mode and has begun hiring new Crew members to replace and even add to those already made redundant.”
According to LIFAA, the new crewmembers will need approximately two months to be trained before they can be put on active duty.
“This means that during the airline’s peak Christmas Season, new Crew Members will be on training, as well as existing Crew Members will have to be taken off flights to train these new members, instead of having all hands on deck.”
The association said the stance taken by the airline amounts to “ (the) lack of proper planning and ineffective management (and this ) is highly inefficient, especially considering that we warned you of this foreseeable debacle. LIFAA longs or the day when Management realizes that it does NOT have all the answers.”
The association said 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.”
Concerning a complaint from the Leeward Islands Airline Pilots Association (LIFAA) confirmed the reports of a problem of a roach infestation on the aircraft and the chemicals being used to rectify the situation.
“We have asked management for more details as to the harmful effects these chemicals can have on human health.”
LIALPA is also sought to assure the public that they will stand by the truth and in solidarity with public.
“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.”
LIALPA added that the association 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 Management will refrain from making inaccurate statements to the public, where we will always be ready to clarify and set the record straight.”