After negative feedback, LIAT this week pulled two video responses to a customer complaint highlighted by Virgin Atlantic owner, Sir Richard Branson, less than 24 hours after the videos were published on YouTube.
But Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, chair of LIAT’s shareholder government, says the LIAT executive who appeared in the video did “quite well”. (See video at end of post)
Netizens have criticised LIAT’s director for commercial and customer experience, Leesa Parris-Rudder, for her performance in the video, saying she was insensitive to the complaints of passenger Arthur Hicks, who wrote the letter published in April in the BVI Beacon.
Critics also say that Parris-Rudder misdirected her attention at Sir Richard, when she challenged Virgin Airline to a race against LIAT to Necker Island and gave an insensitive response to Hicks, seemingly as an afterthought.
Hicks letter become popular and was republished in regional and international media after Sir Richard tweeted it to his three million followers last month.
“I think Leesa handled it quite well,” Gonsalves said of the response.
He further stated that while he had not seen the video, he had read reports about it.
“She poked fun at Sir Richard and she acknowledged that we do have challenges and we are working on them. But the specific case (Hicks’ complaint), they said they have been trying to track it down and they have not been able to,” he further said.
In the letter, Hicks complained about island hopping, the number of security checks and lost luggage.
But asked what would explain LIAT removing the video hours after it was published, Gonsalves said, “I don’t know.
“I haven’t spoken to them about that. To tell you the truth, these are internal management issues; … that is a sideshow as far as I am concerned.
“Branson can make his side show. I don’t get involved in sideshows fashioned by others. We have a number of pilots, I want to see how many of them I can get to get into the training,” he further said.
“I like Sir Richard, I met him before; he is a fantastic entrepreneur. But I ain’t getting involved with sideshow created by other fellas.
“That is an internal management thing. If Leesa feels that she wants to poke some fun at Branson because Branson had once gotten a letter from a fella who took a picture of the food on Virgin Atlantic and said the meal he had is prepared by a chef from hell. That is not easy wud compared to what this lady taking about, hopping from island to island and so on.”
Gonsalves said a lot of the customer’s complaints were “not the fault of LIAT.
“Some of the things with her bags, that’s LIAT fault. But the things which she has to go through and check security, LIAT doesn’t control security. That’s the requirement of the various countries. Quarrel with them.
“I read the thing. I saw it as just a piece of humour. But you know, in this day and age, a big name does something, it gone viral, three million persons, and Leesa feels compelled to react and she reacts in a way. I ain’t even asking them ‘bout that. I just there by the ring side watching that sideshow, cheupsing my teeth over it because I know I got more serious things to do,” the prime minister said.
He, however said that that does not mean that he doesn’t follow the issues, but added that he is more interested in the public response to his appearance in a video at Soca Monarch before Skinny Fabulous’ winning performance.
“That is another one which is a sideshow but that is one in which I was involved,” the prime minister said.