LIAT CEO says salary increase for pilots still possible

LIAT CEO Ian Brunton

ST JOHN’S, Antigua – Hours after coming under heavy criticism for his remarks on the issue of increased pay for LIAT’s pilots, the airline’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Captain Ian Brunton said the company has not made any decision on the matter.

Late Saturday, Chairman of the Leeward Islands Airline Pilots Association (LIALPA) Captain Carl Burke, criticised Bruntion for saying, “Pilots have asked for more money but of course, as you well know and they know, LIAT is extremely cash-strapped. Until we get the benefit of these cost reductions, which won’t take effect until 2014 or so, it’ll be difficult for LIAT to say, and be responsible, to say we can pay salary increases and that’s a problem that we face.”

Captain Burke concluded the remark suggested that LIAT had decided not to give pilots an increase, just days after making an offer to LIALPA.

However, to clarify his statement, Captain Brunton yesterday said, “There has been no agreement yet. Negotiations are going on … We have difficulty paying our payroll every month. That doesn’t mean that we will not be giving increases.”

The LIAT CEO said the company is awaiting the association’s response and no decision would be made without the pilots’ input.

Captain Burke threatened there would definitely be a face-off between workers and LIAT management should LIAT make a decision without giving consideration to the pilots’ position.

According to Captain Burke, talks on the increase commenced months after LIALPA asked LIAT to review page 58 of the business plan that indicated there would be no raise for the pilots.

He noted the association is seeking an increase for pilots because LIAT is replacing its Dash 8 planes and pilots would be required to fly larger aircraft, not covered by their existing contract.

He noted that for the past eight years, LIAT’s pilots have not been given any increases and they were patient so as to “give the company time to catch itself.”

(More in today’s Daily OBSERVER)