An Air Nelson pilot sacked for having sex with a flight attendant is expected to return to work following a Court of Appeal judgment in his favour.
Lawyer John Haigh QC, acting for the pilot who has permanent name suppression, said the latest Appeal Court judgment was a ''just and fair'' outcome in the ''sorry saga'' stemming from an unscheduled stopover in May 2008.
The married pilot was fired for serious misconduct after a 19-year-old flight attendant claimed they had sex without her consent following a night of drinking in a Napier hotel.
She said she had no memory of the encounter and he claimed she left his hotel room with ''a smile on her face''.
Air Nelson failed in seeking the Court of Appeal's permission to challenge an earlier Employment Court decision criticising Air Nelson's handling of the pilot's dismissal and ordering he be reinstated.
Air Nelson general manager Grant Kerr today refused to comment, saying the case was ''still with the courts as far as I'm concerned''.
A statement later issued by the company today said it was ''still considering its options''.
''Air Nelson remains disappointed that the Employment Court in its judgment sets a far lower standard of expectation on the behaviour and professional standards of pilots than the airline.
''The Court of Appeal decision declining Air Nelson's request once again highlights the very high threshold facing employers when trying to review Employment Court judgments believed to be erroneous. The process does not allow factual findings to be challenged.''
Haigh said there was no avenue for Air New Zealand to challenge the Appeal Court judgment although there may be ''another route'' for it to take the case to the Supreme Court.
He hasn't been notified of it taking any such action but said he'd be the ''last to know''.
''Nothing surprises me about Air New Zealand or Air Nelson.
''It's the end of it as far as I'm concerned.''
Haigh said it was now up to the airline to comply with the requirements of the Appeal Court judgment.
Air Nelson had argued that it was not practicable to reinstate the pilot to his position where he would be required to fly with crews who were aware of the incident and whose confidence in him may be impaired.
The court agreed with the Employment Court's conclusion that ''this evidence was exaggerated''.
Air Nelson was also ordered to pay the pilot's costs in the Appeal Court case.
Haigh expects Air Nelson to reinstate the pilot in accordance with the court order.
''They have to comply with the requirements of the Court of Appeal decision. It's early days. I don't think they've been asked to do it yet. These things take time.''
Haigh said it was up to the pilot or his union representatives to discuss with Air Nelson how that would occur.
A union spokesman told the Nelson Mail today that the issue was yet to be addressed but it was ''entirely feasible'' that it could seek a negotiated settlement with the airline.
''We'll be seeking whatever the member concerned is after. If he wants to return to work, that's what we'll be after.''