Aviation

Regional Express wins case over intimidation charges

A case brought against Regional Express over controversial claims has ruled in favour of the carrier.

The High Court has cleared Regional Express of claims it contravened the Fair Work Act, following legal action by the Australian Federation of Air Pilots (AFAP) over letters sent in 2014 to cadets.

In the letter, obtained by The Australian, cadets were asked to “acknowledge the privilege” of working at Regional Express and “commit to paying back to the company by being fiercely loyal and company-minded and by going above and beyond the call of duty especially in times of need by the company”.

According to the AFAP, which put forward concerns to the court five years ago, the letter constituted “adverse action, coercion and misrepresentation under the Fair Work Act, and should be retracted with Rex ordered to pay civil penalties”.

Rex opposed the AFAP in the High Court on the grounds cadets were not members of the association, but the regional carrier was ultimately defeated.

Further examples highlighted by the AFAP from the letter include the instance of cadets urged to stay at local motels rather than more basic academy accommodation during simulator training, which comes at a cost to the company of an extra $100 a night.

“For us at Rex, pure technical skills alone are not enough,” the letter said, as reported by The Australian.

“You should be aware the Rex Group considers such cadets to be totally lacking in integrity and the Rex Group will not allow any pilot lacking in integrity to hold a command.”

The AFAP also highlighted Rex’s controversial demand that prospective cadets provide a handwritten “solemn promise to give back to the company by volunteering to undertake various activities and actions”.

However, after a reported three days of hearings in Melbourne in October, Federal Circuit Court judge Karl Blake ruled in favour of Rex late last week.

He said the emphasis on integrity was “unexceptional” given the cost of pilot training. AFAP is reportedly reviewing the decision.

Featured image: Regional Express Airlines (VH-PRX) Saab 340B taxiing at Wagga Wagga Airport (Bidgee)

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