ST JOHN’S, Antigua, Dec 30 2016 – The union that represents LIAT pilots wants the airline to punish the passenger who made a “mischievous allegation” against a pilot earlier this month.
In a release issued today, the Antigua-based Leeward Islands Airline Pilots Association (LIALPA) stopped just short of demanding that the regional carrier bans or takes legal action against the passenger, who on December 13 accused the pilot of smelling of alcohol.
Neither the airman nor the passenger has been named, but the accusation led to the cancellation of the flight to St Vincent as some passengers and staff were required to submit formal reports to the relevant authorities.
“LIALPA is aware of the standing procedures the company has in dealing with disruptive passengers. In the past, these measures have included legal action taken against the passenger (s) and/or the passenger (s) being blacklisted on all LIAT operated flights. We are confident that LIAT will deal with this situation no differently,” the statement said.
The pilots’ union made reference to a statement issued by the airline less than a week after the incident refuting the passenger’s claim, expressing its gratitude to LIAT “for clearing the air and letting the public know that the pilot was completely innocent” of the allegation.
However, LIALPA said it was not enough to defend the pilot’s reputation and the passenger ought not escape punishment.
“Based on precedent, we are not satisfied with LIAT simply saying that no findings or action was taken by any airport or other authority on the passenger’s allegation. Therefore, we await the company informing us of the actions it will take against this disruptive passenger,” it said.
“LIALPA wishes to state categorically that we were never in doubt that our pilot was innocent of the mischievous allegation and we continue to stand unequivocally in support of our pilot. We will also do whatever is necessary to protect our pilot’s reputation and will explore all avenues in doing so,” the statement added.
LIALPA also said it regretted the disruption and subsequent cancellation of the flight.
In its statement on December 19 LIAT had said the pilot had voluntarily submitted to independent testing by medical professionals here.
“As expected, all results were negative,” the LIAT statement said at the time.