LIAT letter not a complaint, says CEO

By Caribbean News Now contributor

ST JOHN’S, Antigua — Chief executive officer (CEO) of LIAT Captain Ian Brunton said that a widely circulated open letter to the airline by a long-standing LIAT customer, Arthur Hicks, was not a complaint, but a light-hearted Facebook entry.

The CEO noted that as soon as the letter was brought to the company’s attention, an investigation was launched into the alleged service failures; and LIAT’s director of commercial and customer experience, the department that is charged with handling all customer issues, made telephone contact with Hicks.

“Based on the information provided by Mr Hicks during the telephone call, it is important to point out that the substantive letter was not by way of a complaint, but a light-hearted Facebook entry to his friends,” Brunton said.

The letter written by Hicks (reproduced below) appeared to resonate with a great many travelers around the region and beyond.

Dear LIAT,

May I say how considerate it is of you to enable your passengers such an in-depth and thorough tour of the Caribbean.

Most other airlines I have travelled on would simply wish to take me from point A to B in rather a hurry. I was intrigued that we were allowed to stop at not a lowly one or two but a magnificent six airports yesterday. And who wants to fly on the same airplane the entire time? We got to change and refuel every step of the way!

I particularly enjoyed sampling the security scanners at each and every airport. I find it preposterous that people imagine them all to be the same. And as for being patted down by a variety of islanders, well, I feel as if I’ve been hugged by most of the Caribbean already.

I also found it unique that this was all done on “island time,” because I do like to have time to absorb the atmosphere of the various departure lounges. As for our arrival, well, who wants to have to take a ferry at the end of all that flying anyway? I’m glad the boat was long gone by the time we arrived into Tortola last night — and that all those noisy bars and restaurants were closed.

So thank you, LIAT. I now truly understand why you are “The Caribbean Airline.”

P.S. Keep the bag. I never liked it anyway.

Brunton assured the traveling public of the company’s continued commitment to raising the level of customer service offered by the airline and noted the many emails sent to the company and comments in social media that were generated as a result of Hicks’ letter.

“To our employees, our millions of friends and valued customers, we have taken note of all your comments and suggestions. We appreciate all of them and express profound thanks,” Brunton said.

The CEO continued, “In the face of serious challenges, our focus remains on improving customer experience and achieving profitability.”

Some weeks ago, LIAT commenced a re-fleeting exercise, with 12 new ATR 600 series aircraft, which is expected to be completed by the end of 2014.

“Over the coming weeks and months we look forward to your continued cooperation and understanding as we proceed with our aggressive retooling exercise that includes the training of pilots and other staff to meet the new requirements,” Brunton said.

The first two new ATR 72-600 aircraft commenced commercial service earlier this month with an additional four due to be added by the end of this year.

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