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Air New Zealand

Airline justified in dismissing woman over fare discounts

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Feb 20, 2008

The dismissal of an Air New Zealand worker who had tried to organise discounted fares for personal associates outside company policy has been upheld by the Employment Relations Authority.

Fiona Barton, the airline's group sales co-ordinator, was sacked last November after an investigation into her attempts to buy an Agent Discount (AD75) premium economy airfare to the United States and London for her partner, when they were only available for bona-fide IATA travel agents.

The investigation also found she had provided favourable ticketing arrangements to a friend or acquaintance in relation to a trip from Auckland to Sydney in 2006.

At the end of the investigation the airline's sales support manager, Jason O'Connell, concluded Ms Barton's actions constituted serious misconduct in that she "made decisions and took actions for personal gain and for the improper benefit of another party".

Authority member Yvonne Oldfield held a hearing in Auckland last month into Ms Barton's claim that she had been unfairly dismissed and was seeking permanent reinstatement, compensation for humiliation, loss of dignity and injury to her feelings and reimbursement of lost wages.

Ms Barton accepted that she had attempted to purchase an AD75 ticket for her partner, but said that she did not know what the ticket was or what rules applied to it.

She claimed there were compassionate grounds for the favourable ticketing arrangements in 2006 and that in the circumstances none of her actions amounted to serious misconduct.

In her determination issued today, Ms Oldfield said she was satisfied Ms Barton had "engaged in a series of actions that breached policy, including misleading the respondent's investigation into her conduct".

She concluded that the dismissal was what a fair and reasonable employer would have done in all the circumstances at the time.

"It was justified. I can do nothing more to assist with this employer relationship problem," Ms Oldfield said.

She reserved the issue of costs.

Airline justified in dismissing woman over fare discounts

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