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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, Aug. 31) – The Papua New Guinea Public Accounts Committee has directed Air Niugini to pay Papua New Guinean pilots on the same level as foreign pilots employed by the state-run airline.

Committee chairman John Hickey also directed the company to explain why expatriate pilots were not living in Port Moresby but staying in Cairns and other parts of Australia while employed by Air Niugini.

He angrily ordered the airline’s board to look at it as a matter of fairness to review the salaries of the PNG pilots.

"Whether its government policy, the Papua New Guinean pilots should be paid the same as the expatriate pilots," Mr Hickey said.

Air Niugini chief executive officer Rod Nelson admitted to the inquiry yesterday that the expatriate pilots, just like surgeons and lecturers, were paid more than the locals as was the practice.

"The marginal difference between the expatriate and local pilots is about 20 percent," he said.

Mr Nelson said the base rates for the two were the same and the nationals were paid remuneration and other benefits, but the expatriate pilots’ salaries were calculated in relation to the depreciation and appreciation of the country’s currency.

Mr Hickey said it was sad to see Papua New Guinean pilots leave the country to work elsewhere because they were not paid properly.

"People are extremely proud when they see Papua New Guineans flying an aircraft and it’s a great sorrow to see them go and fly in the Middle East or in other countries," he said.

Mr Hickey also asked the company why expatriate pilots were not living in the country but living in Australia and working for the company.

"These times have got to stop when someone says that they want to work but not live in Port Moresby," he said.

Committee member and Western Province Governor Dr Bob Danaya said this was the reason why Papua New Guinean pilots were leaving to work outside the country.

"If these people are not prepared to stay in Papua New Guinea, then don’t employ them and sack them," Dr Danaya angrily said.

September 1, 2005

Papua New Guinea Post-Courier: www.postcourier.com.pg/

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