The union representing Leeward Island Air Transport (LIAT) pilots is expressing disappointment with their new schedule, saying it does nothing to relieve pressure on pilots.
The President of Leeward Islands Airline Pilots Association (LIALPA) Captain Carl Burke said he is more than sceptical of the new flight schedule which has been in effect for just a week.
He said he believes it has introduced a new problem for pilots and the airline. “We are seeing an increase in overnight which is going to be an increase in cost,” he claimed.
The captain also mentioned that where pilots are concerned, it would mean more time away from base.
“What is happening is, that in order for them to operate the schedule, they are moving them from Antigua and have them overnight in Barbados which makes no sense,” he explained.
This comment by the LIALPA comes on the heels of a promise by LIAT for better summer services after implementing a new flight schedule last week Thursday.
LIAT’s acting Chief Executive Officer Julie Reifer-Jones earlier said the new schedule was drafted with the pilots in mind.
“There are some significant changes in it, in terms of trying to improve on the reliability of the schedule,” she said.
According to Reifer-Jones, ground-time in certain areas have been increased to address the issues affecting the staff.
“We can also accommodate the meal break for the pilots,” she said.
The changes, according to the CEO, will also ensure a more stable and consistent schedule for the summer period. But LIALPA has said that LIAT’s previous schedule was unrealistic and placed too much burden on pilots. And the body has reiterated that the new schedule has not improved the situation.
Reifer-Jones said however “we are still working on some of those issues and we have confidence that the changes will address some of the issues they have raised.”
LIAT said it is also working with a team to look at some of the other components that create challenges for the pilots.
Supporting his colleague, LIAT’s Chief Commercial Officer (CCO) Lloyd Carswell said in addition to giving more time for crew activities, the new schedule has dropped more unprofitable routes such as St Thomas, St Croix and San Juan. He said the routes were being flown just to maintain regional connectivity.
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