19 Jul 2002

Air Pacific flights disrupted by employees phoning in sick

10:41 am on 19 July 2002

Flights of Fiji's national airline, Air Pacific, are being severely disrupted by cabin crew and engineering staff calling in sick in unprecedented numbers.

Up to eighty per cent of engineering and two thirds of cabin crew have phoned in sick signalling a walkout.

This follows inconclusive talks between Air Pacific and the Fiji Aviation Workers Association which have been going on for over a week.

The airline's managing director, John Campbell says a flight to Christchurch was cancelled and another to Auckland delayed.

Today, flights from Suva to Auckland and Sydney have been cancelled.

Mr Campbell says aircraft scheduled to fly will be operated by a combination of rostered and volunteer cabin crew while management will provide engineering services.

But the association's general secretary, Attar Singh, says the volunteers are not qualified to respond to emergencies during flight and this will put lives at risk.

A report from Radio Fiji says Air Pacific has charterd Air New Zealand and Qantas aircraft in an effort to maintain services.

The action comes just as hundreds of delegates to the ACP summit finish their meeting tonight and prepare to leave the country at the weekend.

Thousands of tourists are also booked to fly home at the weekend.