A strike by LIAT pilots yesterday left passengers here and in the eastern Caribbean stranded and fuming.
Only a limited number of flights were able to operate from Antigua, Barbados and Trinidad.
LIAT has been hobbled by industrial relations problems in recent years and yesterday like a bolt out of the blue, pilots struck.
The regional airline later said that it had not been provided with the required notification of industrial action under its agreement with the pilots.
Last night, the airline said that it had held held discussions with the pilots’ trade union, LIALPA following the industrial action. The company has indicated its willingness to address any legitimate issues and has given a firm commitment that it will meet with LIALPA today in an effort to discuss the union’s concerns.
“The company remains hopeful that good sense would prevail and that there will be a resumption of its services early tomorrow”, LIAT said.
Customers are reminded to contact the following numbers to reschedule their travel arrangements: from Antigua – 1-268-480-5582; toll free from the rest of the Caribbean – 1-888-844-5428 and from Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands – 1-866-549-5428.
A LIAT flight scheduled to leave the Ogle International Airport yesterday at 2 pm for Barbados was eventually cancelled but not until prospective passengers had waited around three hours at the cramped airport for word on what has happening.
There were few chairs to cater for the passengers who milled about.
An Antiguan passenger travelling from Guyana told Stabroek News that she was fearful of losing her job since she had received a letter from her employers informing her that she has to turn out to work today.
“I came here for a month but stayed an extra week to get some work done, I got a letter from my boss saying that I have to turn up to work tomorrow, or I will be fired. I don’t even have extra money, I didn’t plan for a setback like this”.
Another passenger travelling to Barbados said that they were not properly informed of the problems while waiting at the airport and that all of their inquiries were unsuccessful since the airport staff members were tightlipped. He added that it was not until around 4.30 pm that they were told that the flight had been cancelled.
He said that they were later told that pilots had decided to strike over the dismissal of one of their colleagues.
He added that he needed to urgently get to Barbados and was told that the flight scheduled for today was filled to capacity.
Passengers also complained of having to spend additional money on accommodation for which they felt they should be compensated by the airline.
LIAT stated that customers affected by the disruption will be allowed to re-book free of charge for a week from the date of their originally scheduled travel.