By Ken Richards
BASSETERRE, St Kitts (WINN) -- The apparent meltdown of regional airline LIAT continues to claim victims and turn them into irate passengers, despite assurances this week from LIAT CEO Ian Brunton that the situation is improving, and that there would be less disruption, less flight delays and cancellations.
Kittitian businessman Carlton Dupont told WINN FM on Thursday that he remained stranded in Antigua on his way back to Basseterre from Guyana.
In a telephone conversation from Antigua, he said it took him two days to get to Georgetown, and that the return leg of the journey was even more problematic.
“Tuesday evening I got here from Guyana eight o’clock in the evening, and even though I’m so close to St Kitts I am still here in Antigua in a nice hotel, getting good food – something has to be wrong with the operation of LIAT and who is running it,” the businessman said.
According to Dupont, he was among several Kittitians whose flight was delayed and awaiting word from the airline on when they would get home.
He said LIAT was incurring expenses in providing accommodation to stranded passengers, and predicted that “one of these mornings we could wake up and the whole operation of LIAT will be completely closed down”.
Dupont blamed the company’s management for the current state of affairs.
WINN FM’s Lorraine Wilkin, who has just returned from a visit to Grenada, described her LIAT experience as “traumatic and disastrous”.
She reported having experienced delays in both going to and coming from Grenada, her luggage delayed even longer, and damaged on the return leg of the trip.
Wilkin’s advice to LIAT: “Shut down.”
Meanwhile St Lucian hotelier Bertia Parle said the airline can do much better, especially in the area of customer relations.
Parle wants the company to improve communications “and don’t treat people like cattle”.
She is advising LIAT to communicate accurately.
“Don’t give people false promises that just doesn’t happen in some cases,” she suggested to LIAT when asked about the matter by WINN FM.
LIAT is reported to have bitten off more than it can chew this summer, as the company tries to re-fleet while attempting to operate a hectic schedule.
That’s according to Captain Carl Burke, the president of LIALPA – the Leeward Islands Airline Pilots Association.
He told WINN FM that training of pilots for the new planes being purchased has led to a shortage of manpower, with the current crew overworked, and the operations stretched to the limit.
Republished with permission of West Indies News Network