LIAT and former CEO settle termination issues

Friday, February 22, 2013

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ST JOHN'S, Antigua - LIAT and former CEO Mark Darby have amicably resolved all issues related to the termination of Darby's employment with LIAT and they have both agreed to withdraw their respective claims in the High Court, the airline has announced.

Darby claimed unfair dismissal, following his release from the company in 2009.

In an interview back then with the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC), he said the decision by the LIAT Board to terminate his services was for having made merit award payments to select employees and he claimed that the action amounted to a case of unfair dismissal.

"They said that I acted outside of my level of authority but I was never given any particular guidance on where the limits of my authority went to," Darby told CMC, adding that the mandate given to him on arrival at the carrier in 2006 was to transform a "bankrupt and inefficient regional airline that was losing EC$80 million (US$30 million) a year.

"In 2007 it broke even and last year we made a small profit so this doesn't happen by magic," he said in the interview.

Darby further defended his decision to compensate workers for going beyond the call of duty, saying the payments to staffers were not exorbitant and were in the range of EC$1,000 - EC$2,000 (US$374-US$749) a month.

LIAT is owned by regional shareholders, with major shareholders being the Governments of Barbados, Antigua & Barbuda and St Vincent & the Grenadines.

The company's network stretches over 21 destinations along the Eastern Caribbean, and over to Puerto Rico and Dominican Republic. It also flies to Curacao from Trinidad.

The Antigua-based regional airline in December unveiled a new business plan it said would help reverse an EC$43 million (One EC Dollar = US0.37 cents) loss in 2011 while projecting a two per cent profit in 2013.

Recently appointed chief executive officer Ian Brunton told a news conference that the airline was expected to record EC$23 million in losses at the end of 2012.

"The projections show strong revenues and significant bottom line improvement. LIAT is projected to reverse its current losses and record a profit of EC$7 million in 2013 and by 2017, profits in excess of EC$40 million are projected," said Brunton, who noted that since 2009, the airline has had to deal with high fuel costs and lower passenger traffic that has seriously affected its finances.

In 2010, LIAT recorded losses of EC$20.2 million, which increased to EC$43 million in 2011 "largely driven by higher fuel costs combined with lower passenger volumes".

— Additional reporting by CMC

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