By Ken Richards
BASSETERRE, St Kitts (WINN) -- Regional airline LIAT says it is fully aware of the difficulties its customers across the region are having, with the airline blaming a breakdown of planes and the weather for some of the ongoing problems. LIAT is insisting that passenger safety remains a priority as it engages in its ongoing re-fleeting exercise now being supported financially by the Caribbean Development Bank.
LIAT chairman Gene Holder confirmed on Monday that he had responded to an open letter from an angry Dominican hotelier who has called for an executive shake-up and for “heads to roll”. The letter from hotelier Gregor Nassief complains of “disastrous customer service over the past two months”.
It also points to alleged disastrous public relations and the damage this is causing to the region and to fragile economies of island states like Dominica. Holder says in the ongoing circumstances the airline and its staff are having a very difficult time but are attempting to give of their best.
“I have every confidence in the CEO (Captain Ian Brunton) and LIAT,” the company chairman told WINN FM. “Running an airline is an extremely complex activity … it is alright to talk about heads will roll but where are you going to go and find the new heads that you want to get rid of the ones that have a track record,” Holder said.
“If you think the stress on the public is tough let me tell you, the stress on the (LIAT) staff is incredible,” the Barbados-based Holder said. One businessman who was stuck in Basseterre over the weekend because of a delayed LIAT flight told his Facebook friends Monday morning that he was stuck compliments LIAT in St Maarten after leaving St Kitts on Sunday. He was posting a bet on just when he would reach his final destination – Dominica.
Holder is reiterating that the company is working under trying circumstances and has appealed for understanding. LIAT’s re-fleeting exercise is being supported by the Caribbean Development Bank to the tune of US$65 million. The company expects to have seven new planes operational by January of next year.
In the interim safety considerations that include ensuring that the existing fleet is airworthy, are continuing to result in what LIAT officials admit is poor on-time performance. The overall re-fleeting initiative speaks to the purchase of twelve new aircraft at the cost of US$100 million.
Republished with permission of West Indies News Network