BRIDGETOWN (CMC) — The cash-strapped, Antigua-based regional airline, LIAT, says despite pilots and its workers across all its destinations agreeing to a 6 per cent salary cut, the airline is still facing a severe financial problem and may require additional salary cuts from its employees, the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC) has learned.

According to an internal document seen by the CMC, following a shareholders’ meeting in St Vincent and the Grenadines last Friday, the regional airline said that the 6 per cent cut did not go far enough.

“The shareholders are of the view that this proposal did not go far enough and that the six per cent cut did not meet the immediate cost reduction objectives of the company at this time.”

The document said that the shareholders are “considering additional measures to address the financial challenges of the airline and that it would continue to update staff on discussions and the proposed measures that will be agreed upon”.

Efforts to get an official comment from the airline, have so far proven futile.

Last month, pilots employed with the regional airline agreed to a less than 10 per cent salary cut in a bid to keep the airline in the air.

The shareholder governments of the airline are Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica and St Vincent and the Grenadines and they have been seeking to get other Caribbean countries to contribute a total of US$5.4 million in emergency funding needed to keep the airline in the sky.

At the same time, 11 destinations had been given until March 15, to respond to the airline’s minimal revenue guarantee (MRG) proposals.

Under an MRG model, it is likely that a few flights may be cut if the government is not prepared to fund them with a guarantee.

Trade unions representing the airline’s workers at its 15 destinations, had during a six-hour meeting in Barbados with Prime Minister Mia Mottley and her St Vincent and the Grenadines counterpart, Ralph Gonsalves, agreed in principle to a six per cent salary cut, pending further deliberations with their members.

President of the Leeward Islands Airline Pilots Association (LIAPA), Carl Burke said last month that during a meeting with LIAT a request had been made for the ten per cent pay cut across the board and that the pilots “wrote to them and said we did not have the confidence in LIAT’s management to take us out (of this)… and we were very cautious about making an investment in the company at this time.

He said that pilots “actually voted” on the salary cut, which has since been communicated to Mottley.

The workers had also agreed to allow LIAT to suspend its matching contributions to the five per cent deductions from their wages for a pension fund scheme.

The Antigua-based Observer Radio reported Friday that there seems to have been a misunderstanding between the workers and LIAT management regarding the payment cuts.

It said that the workers were of the impression that the salary cuts would come from their basic salaries while LIAT thought the 6 per cent cut would be from all the earnings of the workers.

12 replies on “6 per cent LIAT pay cuts ‘not enough’”

  1. The trouble with Liat will not be solved by cutting the pay of the workers. Anyone who has been watching the news about Liat for all these years knows this. The single good thing about Liat is the safety record; everything else is terrible. Anyone using the airlines is unhappy, the Liat employees are unhappy and anyone that has anything to do with anything Liat does is unhappy, EXCEPT ALL THE BIG GUYS IN THE SHAREHOLDER GOVERNMENTS!
    What does that tell you?
    These Shareholder Governments have done an excellent job making everyone look the other way when the problems become public. We all know who the mastermind of this is. Who benefits from the high cost of flying Liat? That will tell you everything! Liat may be the most expensive airline on earth and you do not even get a meal or a movie, but they do have a very expensive magazine, which we hope is paid for by the advertisers and not we the people.
    It has been demonstrated that no matter who manages Liat, they are always in trouble and need more money. What we need is an insider to expose what really goes on in this relationship between the governments and the airlines and why, no matter how much money is thrown at Liat, no matter who manages it, no matter how many pay-cuts the employees take, no matter how expensive the tickets and how high the taxes go it will always be struggling, needing more money and only the governments will be happy.
    If we look at the financial relationship between these governments and Liat all will be revealed!

    “pay full attention to that man behind the curtain!”

  2. An airline that’s similar in size to LIAT in Europe will have about half of the staff that LIAT has..Antigua has about a third of LIAT’s total staff..so there’s two choices for the shareholder governments of LIAT; Lay off staff if you want to make LIAT profitable or cease operations if you don’t want to lay off workers..pick your poison.

    1. Mike,
      I do not know about how much staff Liat has but maybe there is an up-side to having more staff, if it means better safety or better Customer Service.
      I have noticed, however that the cost to fly Liat is very high and it seems that is the case partly because the taxes are way too high. All of the Caribbean has to use more creative thinking rather than whenever things are not working properly they enact ways to make the product or the service to be more expensive when often exactly that is why it is not working in the first place. This more efficient way of thinking has to be adopted by our Prime Minister. Raising costs for everyone may seem to him the solution because he and all his associates can afford it, but what about the rest of us? Armed with that knowledge may explain to him why there are so many empty seats on Liat flights.

    2. Your are quite correct.

      Dr. Gonsalves has often mentioned the issue of low worker productivity in SVG. By extension this applies to much of the Caribbean, including the personnel at LIAT.

      The social science literature supports this: it is well known but today politically incorrect to point out that the work ethic and productivity of the Black people of the New World (but not Africa) is lower than the work ethic and productivity of other ethnic groups.

      There is a straightforward reason for this that can be summarized by one word: slavery. Slaves only survived by doing as little of the backbreaking work they were forced to do by working as slowly as the avoidance of severe corporal punishment allowed. Given their meagre diet, a hard-working slave ended up dying from working hard.

      This survival strategy is still with us today even if it is ignorantly called “laziness” and even if it is a legacy of slavery that has long retarded our economic development.

  3. This airline is run like a mauby shop. Governments can’t be taken taxpayers money all the time to float this aircraft and they can turn over a profit. Why not open up the skies for other competition.

  4. Curtis D Harry says:

    Why liat Staff hav to take Salary Cut thats really Unfair Liat Staff In Some Countrys R Bein Under payed in dis Hard Economy
    Liat for Years Always Want Money
    If The Dance Cant Pay For The Light Close down the Dance

  5. Why not charge less for flight so people can visit other Caribbean islands more often. With them kind of ticket prices I now travel once or not at all I used to go three times a year

  6. Why is it that when these businesses run themselves into the ground; through bad management, their first recourse is to pick on staff salaries? I am willing to bet that even if Liat sent home 75% of their staff it will not save the airline because like other businesses that have decided that staff have to go to save cost, it has not worked. And they end up giving worse customer service. Salaries is rarely where the wastage is. What they need to do is concentrate on getting bums in the seats and they do that by getting rid of these ridiculous taxes they all have. They want to tax the hell out of flyers through tickets and then we have to turn around and bare the same burden through local taxes for the money these governments keep pumping into Liat. They want to have it both ways. Just let it die.

  7. Concerned Vincy says:

    This company is operating decade old technologies and not innovating in its operations, to much manual input and the mis-coordination of effective routes coupled with bad press and marketing for a consecutive stretch of years has not done any good for the company. Liat needs to die and rise from the ashes as a phoenix. Bring forward the birth of Caribbean Phoenix Airlines with new management, a solid action plan for marketing and regaining the caribbean hearts for travelling, the natives of the various countries can keep the company profitable, but its so expensive to fly I haven’t flown to neighbouring countries for years or dream to explore the ones I haven’t.

    Out with the old in with the new!

  8. C. ben-David says:

    My understanding is that there is a global shortage of well trained pilots in a profession where standards and remuneration are high and growing. If true, the pilots would likely stand firm on their current offer knowing that greener salary and benefit packages lie elsewhere.

    What LIAT needs to do most of all is introduce and enforce high passenger load packages with non-owner governments. If this is not possible, non-performing routes need to be cancelled and excess aircraft sold off.

    The bottom line for LIAT as a governments-owned airline should be at least a break even operation. If this cannot be achieved, the airline should be sold to the private sector in whole or in parts.

    To be sure, there would be many eager buyers if this were to happen. If countless other cases of airline privatization are any example, the result would be one or more profitable and efficient operations.

    1. Well C. Ben after what I have been hearing, your belief that a private entity can make it work may be false because there seems to be information that has not been made public. Like operating a hotel in SVG I believe any private company will stay clear of acquiring Liat. It looks like Liat has substantial debt and that any private firm would be paying to buy debt. Liat does not even own those airplanes they fly. It would be better for any firm to do everything from scratch. Particularly not to call any new airline “Liat” because anyone who is familiar with the region and the name “Liat” becomes very depressed and concerned when they hear thier trip to the Caribbean concerns being dependent on Liat to get them and thier baggage to a destination on time.

  9. According to a different news site, the PM has mentioned that Liat will shut down when and if more of the Shareholder Governments do not throw more money at the perpetually failing airline. That news site or possibly the PM is giving us the impression that the shut-down and closure is IMMINENT! Apparently the Prime Minister is already contemplating what to do with the leased airplanes and those owned by other entities because apparently Liat does not own any airplanes!. I may be wrong, but I thought Liat had to pay a very large sum of money for some of these planes. Now I am getting the impression that Liat does not own any of these planes. Does anyone else reading this know the real deal? I thought that the ever-increasing cost of passengers to fly was due in part to pay for these new airplanes.
    It seems like when taxpayer’s money is involved with anything that governments tell us something publicly at the time, or at least cause us to have a perception, and at sometime down the road we find out that our perception was inaccurate, because…?…? It reminds me of how we the public somehow were mistaken in believing that our new airport in SVG will be paid for by others and not by we the people. Now we are not only paying the cost for decades but realizing how expensive it is just to keep the airport operating, apparently at a loss.
    I am getting angry that our Prime Minister seems to have a certain touch that everything he gets involved in for the taxpayer turns out to be a financial failure but, conversely, he personally seems to be doing very well financially.

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