Court stays termination of pilots

The Waigani National Court has stayed the termination of eight national Air Niugini pilots after they were terminated between Sept 1st and 15th over allegations of misconduct.

Their lawyer Moses Murray successfully obtained a stay order that was issued by Justice Collin Makail this afternoon against their termination.

Captains Joseph Kumasi, Vincent Tonga, Norman Daniel, Boris Ageda, Benjamin Lopa, and first officers  Elijah Yuangi, David Seken and Abel Kanego, have been allowed by the court to resume work, pending the hearing of the judicial review.

The decision of the National Court today came after leave was granted for a judicial review into their respective terminations.

Air Niugini has also been restrained from evicting the pilots from its properties.

First Officer David Seken was evicted from the Air Niugini accommodation on Sept 30.

The court today issued an order to Air Niugini to allow him to return to his place of residence until further orders of the court.

Their lawyer will have 21 days from today to file the review documents. They are expected back in court on Nov 7.

The fundamental issue that the court will deal with in the review hearing is how the pilots were dealt with administratively over disciplinary matters.

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.

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.

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.

 (The pilots with their lawyer, Moses Murray, today.) 

Sally Pokiton