PX pilots termination “not reviewable”

The Waigani National Court has dismissed the Judicial Review proceeding that was filed by the eight Air Niugini pilots over their respective termination last September.

Justice Collin Makail today dismissed the review and also discharged the stay order which was issued on Oct 7, 2016 against their termination.

On Oct 7, the National Court stayed the pilots’ termination when it allowed their case to go through for judicial review.

The judicial review was filed by Captains Joseph Kumasi, Vincent Tongia, Norman Daniel, Boris Ageda, Benjamin Lopa, and first officers Elijah Yuangi, David Seken and Abel Kanego.

They were terminated by the Air Niugini management between Sept 1-15,2016  over allegations of misconduct.

Justice Makail in his decision today said Air Niugini is a company and the employment of the pilots and their termination was not reviewable because they are not public office holders.

“Their remedy lies elsewhere”, he said when dismissing their case.

He said the State may control Air Niugini but it is unclear how the State comes in when dealing with disciplinary processes and dismissal of employees.

He went on to also say that the pilot’s employment is based on individual contracts between them and Air Niugini and they cannot be equated with those employed as public office holders.

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.

The eight pilots were terminated 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 7,2016 outside court)



Sally Pokiton