ST JOHN’S, Antigua – Regional carrier, LIAT, severed ties, effective July 25, 2014, with Director of Flight Operations (DFO), Captain George Arthurton, months after an independent investigation by a retired Barbados Judge found him guilty of endangering the airline’s license.
The executive’s “compromising action”, last November, resulted in the Eastern Caribbean Civil Aviation Authority (ECCAA) fining the company $30 000 for breaching regulations when he ordered a test flight to be carried out by an unauthorised captain in breach of the Operations Manual.
Leroy Inniss QC agreed with LIAT’s pilots that Arthurton acted in a high-handed manner and invoked the authority of his office in many cases, rather than having regard to relevant rules and regulations.
During the independent probe, pilots alleged that the former DFO placed commercial considerations above safety.
“I do not find the that the DFO has deliberately taken any action in which he was of the view that safety could be compromised, but yet, pursued it for commercial reasons. However, a misguided directive, even without malice, can have the same result as a deliberate action,” Inniss concluded.
In terminating Arthurton’s employment, LIAT went a step further than QC’s recommendation to “replace and if possible place him in a position where there is a minimal direct contact with pilots.”
The renowned jurist said this was in the “best interest” of the company since the relationship between the DFO and cockpit crews had reached such a low point that constant “antagonism” and confrontation” were inevitable.
When contacted, LIAT’s Communication’s Manager, Desmond Browne, said “the company does not comment in the media about internal matters.”
In the corporation communication brief announcing Captain Arthurton’s departure, LIAT’s workers were informed that the process to appoint a new Director of Flight Operations would commence shortly. Former LIALPA chairman, Captain Arthur Senhouse has been appointed to act in the position. Efforts to contact Arthurton for comment were unsuccessful.
(More in today’s Daily OBSERVER)