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Sacked Air New Zealand pilot fails to get job back

15 November 2004

A former Air New Zealand captain with assault and aviation convictions has failed to get his job back pending a hearing of his claim that he was unfairly dismissed.

Grant Craigie was sacked from his pilot's job in September following a disciplinary investigation by Air NZ.

Mr Craigie, 46, who captained 737 aircraft and was a co-pilot on 747s which fly internationally, asked the Employment Relations Authority to order Air NZ to reinstate him until it decides on his personal grievance claim next year.

In his decision declining the application, the authority's Alastair Dumbleton said safety was "a paramount consideration to Air NZ and that it had a strong case that five aviation convictions – resulting from his use of a flying boat without airworthiness documentation – amounted to serious misconduct which may warrant dismissal".

Even though it was not his employer's plane, such behaviour "struck at the heart of his employment relationship with Air NZ".

He quotes in his decision, released last week, Air NZ's letter of dismissal which sets out the conduct it considered unacceptable:

Your actions in June 1996 involving an incident. . .which resulted in five police charges being made against you. Male assaults male, male assaults female, possession of a disabling substance and two counts of wilful damage to property.


Your actions on 27 December 2001. . . resulting in your conviction and sentencing for that assault in December 2002; and

Your actions in April 2001 involving the operation of a home-built aircraft resulting in your conviction in December 2002.

Mr Craigie was discharged without conviction on charges arising from the 1996 incident, "an outcome he achieved by pleading guilty", Mr Dumbleton said.

Both assaults occurred outside work time, although on one occasion Mr Craigie was wearing his Air NZ uniform.

Air NZ argues that cumulatively the incidents justified dismissal and called into question whether Mr Craigie was able to "respond consistently under stress and exercise sound judgment".

Mr Craigie has alleged the airline's inquiry was biased. Mr Dumbleton said that claim was unfounded on the evidence before him so far.

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