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LIAT under fire, chairman responds to complaints
Published on August 14, 2013 Email To Friend    Print Version

liat_new.jpg

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
 
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Comments:

Karen Steele:

There is simply no excuse for the conduct of LIAT which I encountered this summer. The CEO's need to be fired! It is bad enough that the delays are incredible but no one knew what to tell the passengers who knew nothing for hours and days as to when they would leave the airport. My luggage (for which I paid extra!) was lost for a week during which time I called every day and was passed around for hours! This incompetence is definitely hurting tourism in the Caribbean. If you cannot count on transportation, you cannot go!

SoFla:

I'm sure the ground staff is suffering too, it cant be easy dealing with irate (rightly so) customer all day every day. But truthfully there is no excuse for the poor communication and ill treatment of the passengers. Liat staff needs to learn customer service and the importance of timely and honest communication. The executives need to find themselves ON THE GROUND, assisting ground staff, a show of concern and a promise to make things right. Liat needs to show some regard and respect for travelers who's vacation and time is general is being wasted literally sitting in hot airports all over the region. Refund baggage charges to persons who's luggage becomes delayed. Serve refreshments in the lounge etc..show some humanity. Our people are humble people but deserve some respect. Truth is we love to support our own and would love to throw our support wholeheartedly behind LIAT after all they're OUR regional airline, but by gosh its hard to do when Liats treats us like this. The financial loss to many individuals has not been considered and calculated. Liat needs to extend SOMETHING to all passengers who've suffered during this time. So many people are saying they're cancelling any intention of travelling to DOMINICA for the creole and National day season. They are concerned for the uncertainty they will face, how long will it take them to get to D/ca , when will they see their luggage etc...peoples time is precious and accounted for. PLEASE STOP WASTING PEOPLES TIME!!! Yes! this summer has been BAD but sadly this is par for the course with LIAT, for decades the reputation has NOT been good, its time for CHANGE!!!!!


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