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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (September 1, 1997 - PACNEWS)---Papua New Guinea's airline unions have expressed strong opposition to the Port Moresby government's moves to privatize the national airline, Air Niugini.

The President of the Airline Employees Association, Desmond Nicholas, says all the airline unions are totally against the plan, adding that the government is trying to move too quickly and the privitization plan has serious negative implications for the country.

PNG's airline unions, including the Flight Attendants Association, the Pilots Union, and the National Airline Employees Association have proposed, if privatization takes place, that most of the airlines shares be left "on shore," in PNG. The unions claim, however, that the government now is considering selling 60 percent of Air Niugini's shares to a foreign company, while only 40 percent will remain within Papua New Guinea.

Nicholas warns that the airline unions will close down Air Niugini operations if response to union concerns by the PNG government is not favorable.

In addition, he said, the unions will seek the support of the PNG Trade Union Congress and international union organizations.

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