14 Jan 2005

Air Vanuatu board sacks chief executive and sales director

7:28 am on 14 January 2005

The most senior officers in Vanuatu's aviation industry have been sacked under unexplained circumstances.

Air Vanuatu's new board of directors has terminated the contracts of the chief executive, Jean Paul Virelala and the sales director, Joseph Laloyer.

The chairman of the board, Harry Iauko hasn't given any reason for the board decision to terminate their contracts.

Both Mr Virelala and Mr Laloyer had worked for the airline for over ten years and remain the most experienced people in the airline industry.

Whilst they couldn't be reached for comment, reliable sources have indicated they are seeking legal advice for wrongful dismissal.

But sources from the Ministry of Public Utilities have described the board decision as in line with the law.

Mr Virelala who used to head the former development bank is believed to be the most highly paid ni-Vanuatu in the country and has extensive experience in the business.

Mr Laloyer used to head Air Caledonie international, and is also a former chairman of the board of directors of the national tourism office.

The Vanuatu hotel and resort association has expressed shock at his removal saying his departure is a grave loss to the hospitality industry.