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Union groups in Fiji and abroad claim that Pflieger, as head of the national airline in the military-dominated country, played an instrumental role in drafting the 2011 Essential National Industries (Employment) Decree, which human rights groups say eliminated collective bargaining and worker rights.
The Fiji Trades Union Congress is one of the groups welcoming Pflieger’s exit, stating:
Mr Pflieger has been instrumental in the drafting and imposition of the Essential Industries Decree that have with a stroke of a pen, denied workers their fundamental rights at their workplaces and altered their terms and conditions of work to levels far inferior to what workers have enjoyed over many years.
He will go down in history as the most irresponsible and anti-worker CEO Fiji has witnessed.
Air Pacific, which is in the midst of rebranding in 2013 as Fiji Airways and refreshing its fleet with Airbus 330-200s, is now hunting for a new CEO. Air Pacific announced February 8 that Pflieger would be leaving May 1 to return to the U.S. after completing a three-year contract.
Silver Airways, which has codeshare and alliance pacts with United Airlines and Copa Airlines, and an interline agreement with Delta, confirmed that Pfleiger would become CEO of Silver Airlines May 1, succeeding CEO Darrell Richardson, who retired.
A spokesperson for Silver Airways indicated he was unaware of any controversy surrounding Pfleiger and his role at Air Pacific. Pfleiger couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.
Pflieger is former chairman of Tourism Fiji, served as general counsel at Virgin America (2004-2010), was vp of operations at Delta’s now-defunct Song low cost carrier (1998-2004), and is a pilot.