Saturday, July 2, 2011

Tiger Airways

Passengers affected by the grounding of all Tiger Airways flights around Australia are angry about how the budget airline has treated them.
The Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) has grounded all domestic flights by the carrier until next Saturday because of "serious" safety concerns, including two cases of flying below the lowest safe altitude.
Federal Transport Minister Anthony Albanese says over 30,000 passengers will be affected by the grounding.
Cameron Buchanan at Sydney Airport says he has tickets to an event in Melbourne tonight and would have appreciated an alert from the airline.
"I've just shown up now, I've actually paid in advance for my parking, done all the things I need to do, and we've just found out the flights have been grounded for safety," he said.
"Now, I appreciate safety, but doing a text message, or something like that, or an email would have been really helpful just for my planning and organising other arrangements."
Other passengers also say they wish the airline had informed them about the cancellations earlier.
"My mother-in-law is stuck here at the moment, so I've got to get her home as well, that's the big problem," one said.
"Going home today, well I was going home today. I'm all for safety, but it's the inconvenience and not letting us know early enough," another said.
Lisa, stranded at Sydney airport, says affected passengers are now out of pocket hundreds of dollars and cannot expect compensation for several weeks.
"The fact is that they can't reimburse you straight away, you have to wait a couple of weeks," she said.
"So if you don't have that $600, or that money there, you don't get to your destination, so plans are... out the door.
"We're just one of the many people here today with the same frustrations."

Plane turned back
Celia Blackwood was on a Tiger flight from Melbourne to Cairns last night when the plane was forced to turn back because of the groundings.
She says the captain announced over the speaker that the "safety was paramount and the flight would be returning to Melbourne".
Ms Blackwood says a lot of people on the flight were scared, but the staff did not do anything to reassure them.
"I just wish they had have been clearer with what the reason was [for] why we were returning, she said.
"That it wasn't mechanical failure, it was a management directive or even a CASA directive, something that would have informed us and not treated us like idiots."
Passengers are being turned away from the Tiger terminal at Melbourne Airport this morning.
Airport spokeswoman Anna Gillet says it is a frustrating time for those travellers who booked flights for the school holidays.
"Today is a particularly busy time for us, we know it's really frustrating and we are doing what we can to assist but it is very unfortunate and we just definitely appreciate people's patience and cooperation, she said.
So I would encourage people to not come to Melbourne Airport but to speak to the Tiger Airways call centre."
In a statement, Tiger says it is cooperating fully with CASA.
It says passengers flying domestically between now and next Saturday should not go to the airport.
Customers affected will receive a full refund or credit for deferred travel.
Virgin Australia, Qantas and Jetstar are putting on additional services over the next week to accommodate affected Tiger Airways passengers.

'Dropping standards'
CASA says it is the first time it has grounded an airline.
"Tiger has not been able to, at this stage, convince us that they can continue operations safely, so that's why they're on the ground," CASA spokesman Peter Gibson said.
"We believe this is symptomatic of problems within the airline [and] we've put them on the ground while we consider all these issues."
Some aviation analysts say the grounding could spell the end for Tiger in Australia.
Ben Sandilands is the author of the Crikey blog Plane Talking.
"Tiger's history in Australia has been an extremely poor one," he said.
"It has a management which seems to be completely oblivious to its obligations under Australian law.
"I've been monitoring this since Tiger began flying and they say various things but they totally failed to obey the regulations in this country and CASA came under new management over a year ago and its new CEO takes the view that the law must be enforced.
"He has enforced the law, the course will give Tiger an opportunity to argue that this suspension should not be kept in place. But I think it has done extraordinary damage to Tiger in this country."
While not wanting to comment specifically on the grounding of Tiger, Australian and International Pilots Association president Captain Barry Jackson says it is not a surprise.
"I'm concerned as we have been, as I say, for quite a while about the dropping standards in the airline industry, particularly in the low-cost sector," he said.
"Because we are driving to lower and lower costs, the public expects lower and lower airfares."
He says he is also concerned that an airline has flown below the lowest altitude considered safe.
"In cloud there's a minimum set of altitudes around airports and particularly when you're approaching an airport, those minimum standards give a buffer above terrain," he said.
"There's a safety margin in there but it is the absolute minimum if in cloud. If you can't see the ground you must not go below those altitudes so it's pretty serious."
Mr Albanese says Tiger could seek an injunction against the flight ban.
A CASA spokesman says the authority is considering whether it needs to go to the Federal Court to extend the grounding.

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