The not so secret LIAT Airlines incident

LIAT Airlines 1985 HS748

1985: Leeward Islands Air Transport – LIAT –  Hawker Siddeley HS 748

(The HS748 was a fine aircraft: Reliable, forgiving with excellent control at touchdown…

It also served in a time when the pilot in command was GOD. If the PIC said an aircraft was not fit to fly, then by god it would not fly.

How things have changed with LIAT. Passengers beware!

BFP editor Robert)

by Peter Binose

The LIAT incident that happened November 2nd 2013, an affair that has eventually resulted in the airline receiving a penalty from the Eastern Caribbean Civil Aviation Authority, is undisclosed in fear of public backlash.

Two pilots were suspended by LIAT following the grounding of an aircraft for technical repairs.

Saturday November 2, 2013, Captain Cave, who was scheduled to fly a LIAT aircraft, was not satisfied that the appropriate test procedure was used before bringing the aircraft back into passenger operation. Captain Cave also reported discrepancies with the official paperwork.

Because of his refusal to fly the plane LIAT suspended him, disregarding his protests about safety.

Monday 4th November Cave had brought the matter to Leeward Islands Airline Pilots Association [LIALPA] and Captain Burke the LIAT Pilots Association President while acting in his capacity as Union Representative tried to intervene on Cave’s behalf with Director of Flight Operations Captain George Arthurton at a meeting on this day. Captain Burke was then also placed on suspension.

The suspending of the two pilots Captain Cave and Captain Burke brought about a general industrial dispute by all the LIAT pilots and crews.

Absolute turmoil followed with flights cancelled and passengers stranded. 

Wednesday the 6th of November: LIAT Management then had a pilots meeting during that day. A meeting took place with [Acting] CEO Ms. Julie Reifer-Jones [Vincentian], to discuss what had led to the affair. Management withdrew the suspensions of the two pilots. November 6th 2013 Dominica’s Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit said the time has come to make the regional airline, LIAT, an essential service as the airline deals with a strike by its pilots that have led to several cancellations and flight delays.

Skerret was just reiterating what the other pair of LIAT share holder had previously said in June 2013, when Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer and St. Vincent and the Grenadines prime minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves said in a statement by then LIAT’s chief executive officer, Ian Brunton, that the aviation industry should be classified as an essential service, with legislated restricted rights to strike.

November 7th 2013, PM Gonsalves said he was still of the opinion that Liat should be declared an essential service, having said the same in June 2013, adding that the shareholder governments had already agreed to go that route. He said he raised the matter at the Caricom level and member states now have to decide on whether to accept his proposals.

What we should all keep in mind as the travelling public is the fact that a pilot has to have the responsibility in the care and safety of his passengers and the aircraft, in that order. LIAT management disallowed the pilots their constitutional right to oppose company orders on the ground of safety, victimization followed coming from that refusal, and all other forms of suppression that followed must become a disgraceful act by LIAT‘s management.

Perhaps its time for them all to go, from bottom to top.

LIAT late

As a Vincentian I would like to know who is the Vincentian acting CEO Julie Reifer-Jones, who appointed her and who is she related to?

If you remember when asked to invest in LIAT, Anthony and Mitchel demanded better management in LIAT before pumping their tax payers hard earned money into a company so terribly run. Those brave pilots had no other option but to exercise their legal right and withdraw or disrupt their labour. As passengers we should be thankful for the way they acted on our behalf.

How can a bunch of left wing twerps make such stupid statements, very Marxist at that? If we took notice of them, can you imagine, pilots would be expected to fly aircraft with one wing missing or no wheels. The pilots must be fully in control of making decisions on the travelling public’s behalf if an aircraft should fly or not.

I do not believe these controlling prime ministers are very prime, they are not very prom prom. What on earth do they know about running an airline? And, from what I can see even running their own respective countries. Between crap management and crap directors what chance has LIAT got? Well, what chance have they got? They were all mugs enough to go along with buying a fleet of new aircraft on the advice of Brunton, aircraft that much of the time will be unable to fly because of wind conditions. As for flying to the new airport being built in Saint Vincent, because of wind conditions there, perhaps less than half the time will they be able to land and take off.

The amount of times I have had to advise our collection of Caribbean oldies not to engage their mouths until their brains are in gear. Their very silly comments about LIAT being classified as an essential service has come back to bite them in the bum.

To cap it all and prove the pilots were right and the management and all the socialist political “know all know nothing pratts”, they were all in the wrong. LIAT, has received a penalty from the Eastern Caribbean Civil Aviation Authority (ECCAA) in connection with this incident that occurred on Nov. 2, 2013.

Now boys, pay up and look big –  the cat’s out of the bag. In fact, put your hands in your pockets and pay it yourselves, for being such silly boys.

Peter Binose

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16 Comments

Filed under Aviation, Barbados

16 responses to “The not so secret LIAT Airlines incident

  1. Adrian Loveridge

    Julie Reifer-Jones is listed in UK company records as a Barbadian who was a director (financial controller) of Almond Resorts Marketing Limited, a British registered company (Godalming) between 22 June 2001 and 1st January 2008.

  2. Anita D

    Can someone explain why this Chairman still remains in the job? You mean to tell me this is the best we can do??

  3. Sankofa

    Julie Reifer-Jones is not Vincentian. Does this writer have a Vincentian axe to grind? Mrs. Reifer Jones is BARBADIAN.

  4. Ann Marie John

    If what the writer state is correct I am happy that the matter was made public. We should first think of our safety as a traveler. and the Pilots would have done the right thing. Recently flights were disrupted because of high winds in St. Vincent and the new fleet could not of fly because of the way the tail end of the planes were designed. What a waste of money. Competition is so needed where LIAT is concerned. We have seen in some instances that passengers are paying a a thousand and more to fly to St. Lucia a 20 minutes travel by plane. Utter ridiculous

  5. Anonymous

    What is wrong by Mitchel and Anthony wanting better accountability of LIAT, before committing millions of public money into an airline that has not made a profit in decades. LIAT is the only game in town for connecting the Eastern Caribbean, it should be made an essential service. All the major legacy carriers in the US such as AA, United, and Delta are considered to be an essential services and it works well. LIAT treated those pilots wrong, and they paid for it. After all at the end of the day I am still not convinced, that relocating the LIAT headquarters to Barbados would bring about any form of positive change. It would be nothing but a new broom, and old sweep. It would be same marginal service, same unprofitability, and the same pathetic mentality. Remember Calypso, Carib Express, and more recently Red Jet, all out of Barbados and all abject failures.

  6. bimjim

    Here’s a theory: As a strategy to defeat the refusal of the LIAT shareholders to sell or give it to “The National Airline Of Trinidad And Tobago” Caribbean Airlines, Brunton was “fired” from CAL so that LIAT could pick him up and he could be a Trojan Horse to enter and destroy LIAT.

    The illustrious “aviation expert” Chairman Jean Holder took the bait – hook, line, sinker, rod, boat and fisherman – at one gulp, and Brunton had a year to achieve his goal.

    What is the result of the “meltdown” and pilot strike? Apart from a total loss of confidence from its passengers system-wide, LIAT now has the same turboprop fleet as CAL, is US$ 65 million further in debt, is still pulling US$ 110 million out of its shareholders every year (rising 5% annually), and passengers all over LIAT’s network are actually inviting other carriers to come in and reliably carry them where they want to go.

    So I’m waiting to hear two things:
    1. an offer from T&T/CAL to buy LIAT (it WILL be for a song and one TT dollar), and…
    2. that Brunton has been re-assigned to be CEO of CAL, a position he never really left, as far as I am concerned. After all, that position was not advertised ONCE over the entire two/three years he was gone!!

    With the intrusion of challengers – such as WinAir, Seaborne and others already making inroads – my estimate is that LIAT will be gone in 5 to 10 years, if not sooner, thanks to the short-sightedness, incompetence, stupidity and political lack of sincere interest (but I am told there is no more political interference, which I find hard to believe).

    Further, I have been trying since mid-December to make a proposal to the shareholders to save LIAT, but only two of the PMs even acknowledge my communications – Antigua and Dominica. The rest behave as if from their lofty and Godly position they don’t communicate with mere common people.

    I am serious and will keep trying, but when all is said and done if LIAT folds you can place the blame squarely on three shoulders – Freundel Stuart, Jean Holder and Ralph Gonsalves.

    Stuart et al are also responsible for the shambles that is aviation in Barbados and the continuing ICAO Category 2 status that keeps aviation entrepreneurs away from this country.

  7. bimjim

    I would like to address the folly of bringing LIAT Head Office to Barbados.

    First, the cost of moving the offices and employees would be stupendous and one of the worst ways of wasting precious money.
    Second, Barbados has ICAO Category 2 status because basically there is almost no oversight – aviation in Barbados is in a shambles, and the FAA’s departing shot was “don’t call again for about ten years”. LIAT would be in serious trouble with sheer paperwork if everything came to Barbados.
    Third, the red tape, bureaucracy, sloth, lack of interest and lack of productivity in Barbados alone would kill LIAT. Go and travel the islands for yourself, you will see exactly what I mean.
    Fourth, Barbados is near the tail end of the network – Antigua is close to the middle, where a Head Office should be.
    Fifth, currency. Can you see accountants running over to the Central Bank for Exchange Control Authority several times a day every time they want to buy parts or transfer funds and having to wait, and wait, and wait, and wait…

    And many more. Stop calling for a move to Barbados, it is a terrible idea.

  8. bimjim

    The Chairman resigned two years ago, but that’s a secret. He is still there because the great aviation expert can’t navigate his way out of the Boardroom.

  9. Skyhigh

    Anonymous…..am not too sure where you get your info.from but I’ve been a pilot at American since 91 and we are fully unionized and can take industrial action at the request of our union…the same goes for our flight attendants and the same with united and delta..we are an Airline in a democratic society and we place significant emphasis on safety …
    This is not a rum shop on bruster’s road in Barbados..nor is a dictatorship like In North Korea …An essential service is one like the armed forces or the police force not an airline where safety is of paramount importance…
    The Prime Minister of St.Vincent thinks he is Chavez but he has a long way to go…however we all know he is just protecting his investment because he owns airplanes that he leases to LIAT. (V2-LGI AND V2-GG)
    So In fact if LIAT shuts down he will loose considerably…

  10. Pingback: Report of Conflict of Interest: Saint Vincent PM Ralph Gonsalves said to own 2 LIAT aircraft | Barbados Free Press

  11. bimjim

    Being declared an essential service is a silly facade that fools almost nobody who has a brain.

    If a group of workers feel strongly enough to cause industrial action, with or without the union’s consent, they only need to all call sick individually and make sure to get medical certificates, and no court in the world can convict them of anything.

    And Ralph is a lawyer, he should know better than to keep harping on something that is totally impractical and cannot be implemented.

    Or is it pure politics??

  12. R Mack

    LIAT is the most unprofessional airline I’ve ever flown…and I’m going to leave it at that!

  13. Anonymous

    Seems to me like these people are just playing politics with people’s lives…we need to take our heads out the sand as a people and demand better!

  14. Gene Lawrence

    The Goverments of the region must concede that LIAT today ( foget about yesteryear) does not fulfill it’s responsibility as offering the region an economically viable organization & reliable competitive service We,.the tax payers of the region are having our monies squandered by our Governents
    continued support & financial investment in an airline that has repeatedly failed to deliver on it’s charter over the last two decades & more.
    It is high time that they ( Govmts) remove “pride & politics” from the equation & establish a new organized Regional Airline Service with the help of our other Caribbean countries who have the necessary financial depth to support & maintain the proper reliable service that we deserve.

  15. bimjim

    Here’s a scenario… I have a dry goods business in the main town, and business is so bad that on occasion I need to choose between my rent and my hard-working employees salaries.

    But I keep staying at the Royal Ritz hotel down the road and I only eat from The Royale Room Service Menu – which is triple the price of the restaurant downstairs, but comes with a red rose and a chocolates.

    Then I hire a high-priced manager, who tells all my loyal customers to go screw themselves, and runs away after a year. So I hire more employees, and continue to empty my own bank account – after all, the flower and chocolate are well worth the expense.

    Then I declare, in a loud voice and by newspaper advertisement, that I will not sell my goods to anyone who lives on the other side of the street.

    Question: What is the name of the airline?