PX appeals stay on pilots’ termination

Air Niugini has filed an appeal in the Supreme Court against the National Court’s decision to allow a judicial review to be conducted into the termination of eight national pilots.

The granting of leave by the National Court on Oct 7 saw the court stay the termination of the respective pilots affected.

The appeal Air Niugini filed came before Justice Stephen Kassman on Tuesday this week, however, it was adjourned to next week Monday. It is expected to return before Chief Justice Sir Salamo Injia.

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.

Meanwhile, the judicial review in the National Court is also returnable before Justice Collin Makail on Monday, Nov 28.

Between July 13 and 20, 2016, Air Niugini experienced a sudden 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 Tonga, 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.

(Loop PNG file picture of the pilots and their lawyer, Moses Murray, on Oct 7 outside court.)

Sally Pokiton