Budget air travel has been one of the great transport revolutions. Flights are no longer viewed as a luxury but a convenient and cost effective way to travel great distances. Following the grounding of Tiger Airways’ fleet in Australia some have called for a major review of safety standards.
The Singapore based carrier has had all flights grounded on the 1 July for one week while the Civil Aviation Safety Authority(CASA) carries out an investigation into two seperate incidents involving Tiger. The authority has since applied to the federal court to extend this grounding in order to complete the investigation. In a statement they have stated they initiated the grounding as “permitting the airline to continue to fly posed a serious and imminent risk to air safety.”
It is expected that Tiger Airways shall cooperate fully with the authority and take any sanctions imposed upon them in order to restore their damaged reputation. In a statement they have said that “Tiger Airways Australia is committed to working with the industry regulator and other authorities to resolve their issue.” They will however want to get back in the air as soon as possible as the grounding has had a hugely detrimental effect on their share prices.
The Sydney Morning Herald first reported that a Tiger Airways plane had flown below the minimum safe altitude when on an approach to an airport while landing at Sydney Avalon on Thursday 30 June. This was the second such incident in less than a month. Tiger had previously been warned by CASA as early as March.
It is estimated that 35,000 passengers have had their travel plans disrupted with many turning up at the airport only to be turned away. They have all been offered a full refund or deferred travel but still face the task of making alternative arrangements. It is a further challenge to passengers who may have experienced problems with the volcanic ash cloud following Puyehue-Cordon Caulle volcanic complex in southern Chile from the begining of June.
Speaking to The Telegraph a spokesman for the ITF, which represents over 275 aviation unions, has voiced concerns that the boom in air travel has happened too quickly for authorities to properly regulate. There are fears that these budget airlines like Tiger in the southern emisphere and Ryan Air in Europe prioritise profit over safety.
Tiger Airways is partly owned by Air Singapore and launched in Australia in 2007. It became the third domestic airline in the country and acts as a direct competior to Virgin Blue and the Qantas run Jetstar. Although they have a far smaller fleet they have proved popular due to their competitive prices.