By Makeida Antonio
Even though they continue to await their outstanding severance payments, the employees of a once prominent regional airline have been successfully venturing into other aviation markets across the globe
Currently, Frontier Airlines is seeking to fill up to 10,000 new positions by the year 2026. The airline’s CEO Barry Biffle has already targeted former LIAT workers who are still experiencing unemployment, for first preference.
Vice Chairman of the Leeward Island Airline Pilots Association (LIALPA), Euton Henry, recently told Observer that he would like to see many of his former colleagues get the opportunity to have financial security again, after struggling through the pandemic.
“It is an offer and there is something afoot. The proof, as the saying goes is in the pudding, so we’d see how many of our former pilots actually get through with the new entity coming out of the merger with Spirit [Airlines] and Frontier. I hope it will be a significant number. After sitting down for two years, it’s very hard on individuals,” Henry said during an interview.
He announced that due to the growing demand of pilots, some of the former LIAT workers have already secured jobs in major markets as far away as Africa and the Middle East.
“In the United States, Canada, Europe and Asia, there is a big void for pilots so I am not at all surprised by this. Some of our pilots have already done interviews with American [airlines] already and they are in the process of organising visas or work permits for them to operate inside of the United States of America,” the LIAPLA VP stated.
Henry also highlighted the loss of experienced aviation workers the region may experience as a result of the interest in international airline companies being expressed by engineers and cabin crew as well.
Additionally, he pointed to a potential compensation issue which could arise from sourcing international personnel to come to work in the region, saying that accommodation and currency differences would have to be factored in.
“It’s so important that when you have people with years of experience that you hold on to that skillset because you have to now start from zero if you lose that skillset. I can tell you when you have people coming into your country or the region, it is much more costly to employ these people,” Henry added.
Former LIAT workers including pilots, engineers and cabin crew are still owed in excess of EC $120 million in outstanding payments following LIAT 1974 Limited’s demise as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic which severely affected regional travel in 2020.