ST JOHN’S, Antigua – Following last weekend’s fanfare and celebration surrounding LIAT’s acquisition of the first of eight new ATR aircraft, cash flow problems resulting from the re-fleeting exercise have surfaced.
LIAT management warned staff that June salaries may be paid late because of “severe cash flow constraints” – a direct result of shareholder governments’ failure to keep their promise to finance the purchase of LIATs new fleet.
CEO Ian Brunton also put the various unions representing LIAT workers on alert last week that salary payments for June may be up to a week late.
“While every effort is being made to process normal salary payments, there is a strong possibility that the company will not be able to effect salary payments for all categories of staff as scheduled,” a letter from Brunton to LIAT staff read.
The memo continued that should payments be late, the delay was expected to be a few days but “certainly not exceeding one week.”
Captain Carl Burke, chairman of Leeward Islands Airline Pilots Association (LIALPA), said his organisation told LIAT management that it would only accept up to a two-day delay in payment; from June 26, when pilot’s salaries are due, to the 28th.
“The month ends on Sunday 30th, and for individuals who have mortgage, loan payments, credit card payments, etc, they would start accruing unnecessary interest from July 1. As a trade union we can’t expose our members to that sort of hardship,” Burke said.
“Failure to (make payment) and I am going to have to revert back to my membership to get some guidance on how we should proceed.”
Chairman of the LIAT Association of Trade Unions Chester Humphrey said the Grenada-based Technical and Allied Workers Union, of which he is president, was also concerned about banks’ late fees.
(More in today’s Daily OBSERVER)