Australia grounds Tiger over safety fears

tiger airways, indian newspaper melbourneAviation regulators grounded budget carrier Tiger Airways Australia threw the travel plans of thousands of people into chaos today as it posed a “serious and imminent risk to air safety”.
Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) said Tiger’s domestic services had been suspended with immediate effect following a series of incidents that had raised questions about its airworthiness.
The ban, the first imposed by CASA in Australian aviation history, is for an initial five days, after which officials can apply for a court-enforced extension to allow for safety investigations.
A subsidiary of Singapore’s Tiger Airways, Tiger Australia operates about 60 domestic flights a day, moving up to 9,000 passengers.
“This action has been taken because CASA believes permitting the airline to continue to fly poses a serious and imminent risk to air safety,”CASA said in a statement.
“CASA no longer has confidence in the ability of Tiger Airways Australia to satisfactorily address the safety issues that have been identified.”
Australian authorities have been closely monitoring Tiger and issued the airline a “show cause” notice in March threatening to vary, suspend or cancel its licence over safety worries.
It was ordered to improve the proficiency of its pilots, boost pilot training and checking procedures, address fatigue management issues and ensure “appropriately qualified people fill management and operational positions”.
CASA also ordered improvements to the airline’s “maintenance control and ongoing airworthiness systems.”
“Since Tiger Airways Australia was served the show cause notice there have been further events raising concerns about the airline’s ability to continue to conduct operations safely,” the regulator said.
Pilots say that budget airlines are eroding national safety standards and said the Tiger ban is proof that the government needs to strengthen flying requirements.
“CASA’s grounding of Tiger flights should serve as a wake-up call to government and industry,” said Barry Jackson, head of Australia’s pilots’union.
Tiger said the suspension related to “two recent operational incidents”– reportedly involving aircraft flying dangerously low — and it would cooperate fully with CASA.
“In the meantime the airline is doing all it can to minimise passenger disruption, especially for passengers who are travelling this weekend and over the next week,” Tiger said, promising full refunds or ticket credits.
The grounding comes at the beginning of the extra busy school holiday period, throwing travel plans into chaos. (AFP)