How long before déjà vu becomes insanity?

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Oh boy! Here we go again. Liat is back in the news. Headline news, no less! We have reached such a stage of dysfunction that the pilots union is calling for the immediate removal of the airline’s top managers. It all seems so déjà vu in so many ways.
The call to axe the management came amidst the implementation of a salary deferral system that was rejected by the staff and the union, among other issues. In a press release dated April 2, 2017, the Leeward Islands Airline Pilots Association (LIALPA) stated, “Unfortunately, it has no other choice but to call on the shareholder governments to remove the current Liat management.”
The rhetoric is really just a continuation, or rather, the culmination, of the rocky relationship between the staff and management. It was not too long ago that we commented on the bad blood between the two (as well as the board and shareholders) and the self-defeating policy of making everything public.
In a piece entitled “What next for Liat”, we lamented the challenges facing the company and the very public spats between the board, the management and the staff. We said back then, “We hoped that by bringing the matter to the fore, cooler heads would prevail and Liat could move towards peaceful negotiations and establish a path towards resolution.” Little did we know how dysfunctional Liat had become; we could repeat those exact words today … seems like déjà vu.
Back then, the President of LIALPA, Carl Burke, stated that what Liat needed was not “a CEO with training wheels”. His vice-president backed him up. Neil Cave may have been a bit more politically correct but he pulled no punches when he made this statement: “A lot of things have changed, but in my opinion … if various things have been changed and the airline is still in the position that it is in, then the constant that hasn’t been changed needs to be looked at.” That firmly laid the blame at the feet of management as the clear inference was that the one constant in Liat has been its management.
We said, back then, that the whole affair reminded us of the famous Albert Einstein quote: “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.” That may be the best definition of the ultimate déjà vu. Even from our perspective it would appear that we keep writing the same things over and over again (with regard to Liat) hoping for different results but achieving the same.
Having said all of that, we are going to take the risk of exposing our insanity but repeating what we have stated in the past. So here goes: “The Caribbean without Liat would be a different place, and a future without Liat would be difficult to imagine. There should be no reason why the airline should not be a profitable entity providing great service to our communities.” We ended that statement by pointing to “politics” as a possible reason but that obviously is just one of many.
Whether it is politics or personalities or whatever, some serious action needs to be taken to fix what is broken at Liat. The alternative is just to admit defeat and find a new solution to regional air travel. That does not seem to be a solution that would be of greatest benefit to the region, but who knows? Maybe from the ashes of Liat, a phoenix may rise and this new bird would be better suited to roam our skies, free from the burdens that currently weigh down “The Caribbean Airline”.
Let’s be clear. This is not a solution that we are advocating but rather the presentation of a reality that we are facing. How long can we continue with Liat in its current incarnation? Because of this latest spat between LIALPA, the engineers and management, we learned that 23 flights were cancelled in a single day (Sunday). One was due to action by the engineers, who apparently share the same beef regarding salary deferrals, and 22 because of crew unavailability. Twenty-three cancelled flights in one day?!? Can you imagine how many angry, frustrated people that created?
Judging by the response from Mr Burke, this kind of situation may be more frequent that we know. He said that, “there were issues … primarily because of the unavailability of crew.” Remember, LIALPA disassociated itself from any “industrial unrest”, as reported by Liat, and stated that any unrest “has nothing to do with LIALPA and we are not involved at all”. So, the “unavailability of crew” was not related to any labour action but for some other reason that we are not entirely familiar with. In the past, Burke has routinely chided the company for an “unrealistic” flight schedule which he said demands “100 per cent attendance” from the crew at all times, so maybe this was just related to unrealistic flight schedules.
As this ground-hog day, déjà vu insanity continues, there are few, if any, winners; so why are we all torturing ourselves? It is costing taxpayers money and frustrating passengers who simply want to get from point A to point B. It is time we do something differently so that we are not all labelled insane and sent to the loony bin.
Oh boy! Here we go again. Liat is back in the news. Headline news, no less! We have reached such a stage of dysfunction that the pilots union is calling for the immediate removal of the airline’s top managers. It all seems so déjà vu in so many ways.
The call to axe the management came amidst the implementation of a salary deferral system that was rejected by the staff and the union, among other issues. In a press release dated April 2, 2017, the Leeward Islands Airline Pilots Association (LIALPA) stated, “Unfortunately, it has no other choice but to call on the shareholder governments to remove the current Liat management.”
The rhetoric is really just a continuation, or rather, the culmination, of the rocky relationship between the staff and management. It was not too long ago that we commented on the bad blood between the two (as well as the board and shareholders) and the self-defeating policy of making everything public.
In a piece entitled “What next for Liat”, we lamented the challenges facing the company and the very public spats between the board, the management and the staff. We said back then, “We hoped that by bringing the matter to the fore, cooler heads would prevail and Liat could move towards peaceful negotiations and establish a path towards resolution.” Little did we know how dysfunctional Liat had become; we could repeat those exact words today … seems like déjà vu.
Back then, the President of LIALPA, Carl Burke, stated that what Liat needed was not “a CEO with training wheels”. His vice-president backed him up. Neil Cave may have been a bit more politically correct but he pulled no punches when he made this statement: “A lot of things have changed, but in my opinion … if various things have been changed and the airline is still in the position that it is in, then the constant that hasn’t been changed needs to be looked at.” That firmly laid the blame at the feet of management as the clear inference was that the one constant in Liat has been its management.
We said, back then, that the whole affair reminded us of the famous Albert Einstein quote: “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.” That may be the best definition of the ultimate déjà vu. Even from our perspective it would appear that we keep writing the same things over and over again (with regard to Liat) hoping for different results but achieving the same.
Having said all of that, we are going to take the risk of exposing our insanity but repeating what we have stated in the past. So here goes: “The Caribbean without Liat would be a different place, and a future without Liat would be difficult to imagine. There should be no reason why the airline should not be a profitable entity providing great service to our communities.” We ended that statement by pointing to “politics” as a possible reason but that obviously is just one of many.
Whether it is politics or personalities or whatever, some serious action needs to be taken to fix what is broken at Liat. The alternative is just to admit defeat and find a new solution to regional air travel. That does not seem to be a solution that would be of greatest benefit to the region, but who knows? Maybe from the ashes of Liat, a phoenix may rise and this new bird would be better suited to roam our skies, free from the burdens that currently weigh down “The Caribbean Airline”.
Let’s be clear. This is not a solution that we are advocating but rather the presentation of a reality that we are facing. How long can we continue with Liat in its current incarnation? Because of this latest spat between LIALPA, the engineers and management, we learned that 23 flights were cancelled in a single day (Sunday). One was due to action by the engineers, who apparently share the same beef regarding salary deferrals, and 22 because of crew unavailability. Twenty-three cancelled flights in one day?!? Can you imagine how many angry, frustrated people that created?
Judging by the response from Mr Burke, this kind of situation may be more frequent that we know. He said that, “there were issues … primarily because of the unavailability of crew.” Remember, LIALPA disassociated itself from any “industrial unrest”, as reported by Liat, and stated that any unrest “has nothing to do with LIALPA and we are not involved at all”. So, the “unavailability of crew” was not related to any labour action but for some other reason that we are not entirely familiar with. In the past, Burke has routinely chided the company for an “unrealistic” flight schedule which he said demands “100 per cent attendance” from the crew at all times, so maybe this was just related to unrealistic flight schedules.
As this ground-hog day, déjà vu insanity continues, there are few, if any, winners; so why are we all torturing ourselves? It is costing taxpayers money and frustrating passengers who simply want to get from point A to point B. It is time we do something differently so that we are not all labelled insane and sent to the loony bin.

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