By RASHAD ROLLE
PILOTS of Southern Air Charter said The Bahamian Pilot Alliance misrepresented them during a press conference yesterday.
They denied the BPA’s claims that Southern Air management intimidate pilots into disobeying their contract obligations.
A petition, signed by 10 of the airline’s 12 pilots, refute the BPA’s claims. It was presented to members of the press at a conference a day after the BPA raised fears over the safety of Southern Air and the treatment of its pilots.
Meanwhile, pilots declined to comment in detail on the issue involving a pilot who was reportedly fired for refusing to fly a plane that lacked enough fuel to meet legal requirements. However, Byron Ferguson, operations manager at Southern Air, said that it was “in the best interest of the company to terminate him.”
In a press statement released Tuesday, the BPA accused Southern Air of using “blatant intimidation tactics” on the pilots, including forcing them to violate an Employment Act by having their “fingerprints taken and saved on a laptop computer without explanation” as well as giving the pilots letters and new contract proposals of employment even though a previous one had already been drafted by the BPA and ratified by its members.
The counter petition signed by the pilots said: “We, the pilots of Southern Air Charter Company Limited, would like to assure the public that in no way are we being threatened or intimidated by management to do our job. As professional pilots of Southern Air, we pride ourselves in upholding the highest safety standards at all times. There are rules and regulations that we adhere to with no exception. The accusations made by the Bahamas Pilots’ Alliance are false and are not representative of the pilots of Southern Air Charter Company Limited.”
Mr Ferguson added that the BPA’s messages were “strange” and that the pilots were not aware of problems between Southern Air and the union until they read articles about the issues in yesterday’s newspapers.
“I don’t know if the man who got terminated is taking this personally and is the one behind this because he is a member of the union board, but we the pilots had a meeting this morning about the issues,” he said, adding: “The general consensus was that the union’s message was false and misrepresented us.”
Mr Ferguson said the fact that legal action was being considered as a step to be taken against the union is unfortunate because the union has the support of most of the pilots, including himself, a founding member.
The pilots also said: “No set of employee fingerprints were asked for or obtained by management on any laptop.”