Sky Bahamas Pledge: 'We Will Survive'

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Sky Bahamas Pledge: 'We Will Survive'

Unread post by bimjim » Wed Oct 23, 2013

http://www.tribune242.com/news/2013/oct ... l-survive/

Sky Bahamas Pledge: 'We Will Survive'
NEIL HARTNELL Tribune Business Editor
Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Sky Bahamas’ chief executive yesterday pledged that the airline would survive, even as it had to contend with more staff lay-offs and a trade dispute filed against it.

Telling Tribune Business that he would know the full lay-off count by today, Captain Randy Butler said that “whether intentional or not”, the recent sick-out by 10 of its pilots and the actions of the union purporting to represent them had “seriously impacted the lives’ of both Sky Bahamas and its 126 employees.

Hinting that there seemed to be a ‘hidden agenda’ behind the actions of his ‘furloughed’ pilots and the Bahamas Pilots’ Alliance, Captain Butler accused the union of being “duplicitous” in denying that it had anything to do with the sick out, or that it was an industrial action.

He said the action was timed to inflict “maximum” financial damage upon Sky Bahamas, as it coincided wit the National Heroes Day holiday weekend - the one occasion during the traditional tourism season ‘low’ when it stood to make money.

“We’re still flying, we’re still operating. My operations continue,” Captain Butler told Tribune Business.

But with 33-seater planes going out with just one or two passengers, and load factors around a maximum of seven, the Sky Bahamas chief executive said he had little choice but to adjust staffing levels and route frequencies.

Adding that “the rumours on Facebook” about Sky Bahamas not flying were taking a toll on the airline’s immediate passenger numbers, and long-term brand and reputation, Captain Butler said it would have to look at cutting flight frequencies into islands such as Abaco and Exuma from three to two on some days.

The carrier had already “pulled back” from Long Island with the seasonal closure of resorts there, and reduced frequencies on its routes from Nassau and Freeport to Fort Lauderdale to bring them in line with demand.

“We did some this morning, and did some on Friday,” Captain Butler added of lay-offs, saying the final total would be known today.

He added that last Thursday he had asked the Bahamas Pilots’ Alliance to work out an agreement with Sky Bahamas. Yet union president, Mark Johnson, came back a day later saying that after consultation with his Sky Bahamas ‘members’, they wanted to be paid their severance pay.

Captain Butler said he duly obliged and ‘furloughed’ the 10 pilots involved, adding that it was impossible to determine what the Bahamas Pilots’ Alliance wanted.

“I have told the pilots I will not negotiate with them individually,” Captain Butler told Tribune Business. “The union speaks for them. I just got notice this morning that they filed a Trade Dispute.”

He added that this was happening “at a critical time when we should be moving to find new business and expanding”, and suggested it was an attempt to either bring Bahamasair-style working conditions and practices to Sky Bahamas or reduce his company’s competitiveness.

“Bahamasair took some of my employees a couple of weeks ago, five cabin attendants and one or two pilots,” said Captain Butler, an odd move for an airline acknowledged to be 20 per cent overstaffed already.

“The people behind the union for the most part are all Bahamasair. The leaders are from Bahamasair. I’m suspicious something is going on here, but I don’t know what it is. I’m trying to work out the details.”

With the Bahamas Pilots’ Alliance pressing for contract negotiations, but saying there was no pilot ‘sick out’, Captain Butler told Tribune Business: “That’s being duplicitous. They’re not being straight up.

“The fall out from this, whether intentional or not, has seriously impacted on the lives of Sky Bahamas and the people it employs.”

He added that the effects of the ‘sick out’ had exacerbated the slower-than-normal fall season, combining to force the airline into cut backs.

Sky Bahamas is now exiting its Blake Road offices to cut costs, as it moves to consolidate all operations at Lynden Pindling International Airport (LPIA).

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