Chief Justice Sir Salamo Injia sitting as a single Supreme Court judge today heard submissions from lawyers representing Air Niugini, Ian Shepherd and the eight national pilots, Moses Murray. He reserved his ruling to Dec 9.
Sir Salamo in reserving his decision said he needs to go through the National Airline Commission Act to see the status of Air Niugini.
Air Niugini is seeking leave of the Supreme Court to appeal the National Court decision dated Oct 7 which allowed a judicial review to be conducted by the court on the termination of the pilots.
A stay against the termination of the eight pilots also came as an order when leave was allowed for a review to be conducted.
Air Niugini filed the appeal on grounds the Judicial review in the National Court is an abuse of process because Air Niugini is subject to Company Act and its decisions cannot be reviewed through a judicial review proceeding.
Shepherd submitted to the court today that leave that was granted in the National Court for judicial review should not have been allowed.
But Murray said his eight clients satisfied all four principles of applications seeking leave for judicial reviews; that their case was arguable, they exhausted all available remedies before coming to court, that they had an interest in the case and that delay would disadvantage them.
He went on to say the Justice Collin Makail of the National Court made no error when he issued the interim orders on Oct 7.
The substantive hearing of this review is set for Dec 22.
Between July 13 and 20, 2016, Air Niugini experienced an increase in the number of national pilots reporting sick and unable to attend work after a stop- work took place, calling on Prime Minister Peter O’Neill to step down from office. The stop work was not an industrial issue and began on 13 July, 2016.
Captains Joseph Kumasi, Vincent Tongia, Norman Daniel, Boris Ageda, Benjamin Lopa, and first officers Elijah Yuangi, David Seken and Abel Kanego, were terminated by the Air Niugini management between Sept 1 and 15 over allegations of misconduct.
They were terminated by Air Niugini for refusing to attend to the company’s approved doctor for a second medical opinion after they provided medical certificates for days they missed work on.
They were also terminated for failing to report for duty for reasons of security concern, and sharing Facebook posts that called for civilians not to go for work during the month of July.
They were terminated because they did not turn up for work, which resulted in many flights being interrupted and many passengers stranded during the stop work period.