Thursday, December 30, 2010

Qantas backs off stupid restrictions

Still no reason why the policy was introduced. It was obviously introduced after zero consultations with the people affected.

QANTAS has bowed to pressure from a social networking campaign against its policy for carrying musical instruments on flights. It has adopted a policy that allows instruments it previously consigned to the cargo hold to be carried on board.

Its policy change follows a campaign on Facebook that drew 8700 supporters who were outraged that Qantas's stand meant instruments were at risk of being damaged in the hold.

The campaign was sparked by Qantas introducing a policy last year that all musical instruments had to be checked in as hold luggage, except violins and violas. Its policy created a furore within the musical community.

The Facebook protest was started by an award-winning Perth saxophonist, Jamie Oehlers, whose tenor saxophone was damaged when Qantas insisted it went in the hold on a flight to Melbourne a couple of months ago.

He started a Stop Qantas "No musical instruments on board policy protest" on the Facebook Causes site. Among those who signed it were the classical guitarist Leonard Grigoryan, Attack of the Mannequins' Jackson Freud and symphony orchestra members.

Qantas confirmed yesterday: "As a result of customer feedback we have revised our policy relating to the carriage of small musical instruments as carry-on baggage. "Due to the delicate nature of musical instruments, customers who travel on Qantas-operated services are no longer required to check in as checked baggage a small musical instrument that slightly exceeds the carry-on baggage limit of a total of 115 centimetres," a spokeswoman said.

The instrument must not exceed 81 centimetres in length, 30 centimetres in height or 19 centimetres in depth, she said.

While joking that travelling musicians will now have to carry a tape measure, Oehlers said: "It seems fair enough. Just the fact that it ends discrimination between violins and violas and any instruments of the same size."

Booked to fly Qantas for a performance in New York in two weeks, he said it was a relief "just to be able to get my horn on board and know it will arrive safely and not bent".


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

How Australian is Jetstar?

Below is a union point of view. It does however overlook the environment Jetstar is operating in. Jetstar could well cease to exist if it has to pay much higher salaries than its Asian rivals. Jetstar offers cheap and nasty travel. If people want better service and greater safety Qantas is positioned to offer that -- though whether it actually does would seem moot

The key take out that everyone in Australia got from the recent Qantas incident in Singapore is that pilot experience is critically important. As more and more information filters about just how serious the situation was with QF32, pilot training and experience are being widely acknowledged, from the CEO of Qantas down, as having arguably made the difference.

Given the travails of Qantas over recent weeks, you would think that Jetstar would think twice about its absurd plans to put less and less experienced pilots in the cockpit of its aircraft.

Until now Jetstar have employed pilots with a minimum of 2000 hours flight time and in fact, most, if not all, have more than 2000 hours flight time experience. What the company, however, is proposing to do in the near future is employ cadet pilots with as little as 200 hours total flight time.

Whilst the 200 hours will be supplemented by a further 1000 hours “supervised training”, what it neglects to mention is that some of this “supervised training” refers to actual flying time with fare paying passengers onboard.

That effectively means that pilots with a minimum of 200 hours total flight time experience will potentially be cutting their teeth with fare paying passengers onboard in an operating environment considered to be complex and demanding of even highly experienced pilots.

These cadets will pay up to $180 000 out of their own pockets for their training with no guarantee of employment at Jetstar. If they are indeed employed by the company they will be paid wages that are proposed to be less than half that of a regular newly recruited pilot at Jetstar.

In fact, their proposed salary is well below the Modern Pilots Award, which sets the minimum standards of employment in Australia.

Despite the cadets huge training debts they will be “bonded” to the company for up to 6 years and during that time will, based on my information, earn approximately $42,000.00 (New Zealand Dollars) a year, less than most secretaries or factory workers (before making the payments on their huge debts).

The people who are really paying for Jetstar CEO Bruce Buchanan’s aggressive cost-cutting strategy could be Jetstar’s fare paying passengers. Is a pilot with 200 hours actual flying experience as safe as a 2000 hours experienced pilot? Are you as competent a driver when you had your P plates for 2 months, as compared to now? You be the judge.

Jetstar’s Australian pilots feel their job security to be coming increasingly under threat as the company moves aggressively to undermine Australian working conditions by creating artificial offshore entities that are able to circumvent the Fair Work Act and pay pilots less than the relevant minimum Australian standards.

The company has recently offered employment to Australian pilots in off-shore entities to operate in and out of Australia and AIPA believes that if this trend is allowed to continue unchecked, the entire Australian Aviation industry could be off-shored using artificial foreign corporate entities to circumvent Australian workplace laws.

This would deprive an entire section of Australian society of their livelihood and irreparably diminish Australia’s reputation for aviation safety and excellence.

Mr Buchanan stated in his address to the National Aviation Press Club on the 15th of November that “Our cost base must reflect the markets we sell seats in and enable us to provide a competitive relevant offering to consumers in each of these markets. To achieve this we are developing significant local bases with locally relevant network offerings”.

Strategies such as these will see Australian Jetstar pilots, having to move their families to bases overseas, fly in and out of Australia, on third world pay rates.

What is the “regional relevance” of paying a pilot in New Zealand Dollars (less than the Australian Award) to fly an Australian aircraft from Sydney to Fiji or even worse, using these NZ$42,000.00-cadet pilots to operate domestically in Australia?

The passengers on those flights are paying their fares in Australian Dollars. It is Australian flying by an Australian company and they should be paying the appropriate Australian salary. It is not about obtaining “regional relevance”.

This term is merely a fa├žade to justify employing people on third world wages to work for an Australian airline, doing Australian work. It begs the question, how ‘Australian’ is Jetstar? Is what Jetstar doing ‘Australian’?

Australian aviation is at the crossroads. I understand that everyone loves cheap fares but nothing is for nothing and those who run Jetstar have failed to comprehend the lessons from recent events: experience may cost a little bit more, but it certainly counts for much, much, more – and I don’t think the travelling public will disagree.


One experience of the difference between Qantas and Jetstar

A few weeks ago I flew Perth-Melb-Newcastle…the first leg was Qantas, great - business class, Qantas lounge….

The second leg was Jetstar. I had a 3.5 hour wait at Melbourne, so I went straight to the check in line….HUGE. It took me a bit over an hour waiting in line to get to the counter, where I was informed by a very disinterested young girl, who had a smart mouth on her, that I couldn’t check in until two hours before the flight.

Fine…I grabbed my luggage (since Qantas and Jetstar couldn’t check anything through). I go back after having a bite to eat, wait in a longer line this time, get to the counter with 45 minutes to spare only to be told check-ins had closed for that flight!!

I calmly explain my predicament and highlight the fact that it was the second time I’d queued - tough luck. Turns out that flight was delayed by over 3 hours anyway…but they still wouldn’t let me on.

I refuse to use Jetstar ever again

SOURCE (Comments)

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Another fail for Qantas

After six hours on tarmac in London, family sent home ... only to see their plane take off on live TV

It was not the first Christmas holiday little George Painter was hoping for. The 10-month-old spent six hours stranded with his parents on the tarmac at Heathrow Airport after the family's QF32 flight to Sydney, via Singapore, was cancelled.

George's father, Robert Painter, said the London airport was in "utter chaos" as snow and ice ground operations to a halt. "After six hours on the tarmac we were finally told the flight would not go," Mr Painter said via email. "Qantas were great until then in keeping us informed and cared for, although [British Airways] were better in cancelling flights much earlier."

"We were then told to leave without clear instruction other than to call a helpline at 6am. "Passengers had nowhere to go, there were no announcements, restaurants at the airport ran out of food and tensions were high."

The family, who had left their north London home at 7am, arrived back about midnight and were told the next morning further flights on Sunday were "unlikely" and they would be telephoned after 8am if there were changes. "So it was a bit of a shock to wake up at 10.30am to discover the flight was due to take off at 11am," Mr Painter said.

"There was no call to passengers as promised and the flight was one of the few to take off today. "So rare that we actually watched the flight take off live on BBC news and heard a plane fly over our house 15 minutes later."


Monday, December 20, 2010

Engine problem diverts Jetstar plane

A JETSTAR flight travelling from Bali to Melbourne was forced to make an emergency landing in Adelaide after one of its two engines failed. The plane, which was carrying 226 passengers, landed in Adelaide airport just before 7am after the pilots reported they were experiencing engine trouble, the Seven Network reported.

Carrol O'Neill, who was a passenger on the flight, said the plane suddenly descended while over South Australia. "They said we were going to make an emergency landing in Adelaide as one of the engines had failed,'' Ms O'Neill said.

The Airbus A330 plane was bought by Qantas in 2008 and transferred into the Jetstar fleet only a few weeks ago. An investigation into the engine failure will be conducted by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau.

A Jetstar spokeswoman said a technical problem meant the aircraft's right engine was "operating on a lower power setting''.


Saturday, December 18, 2010

Transplant patient carried through Melbourne Airport after Jetstar refused wheelchair

Their usual form

A FIVE-year-old recovering from 151 days on a mechanical heart and a traumatic transplant had to be carried through Melbourne Airport because Jetstar wouldn't give his mother a wheelchair.

To add insult to injury, the airline also forced Kellin Hyde's mum to use his Christmas present money to fly his life-saving medication and toys home yesterday because their bags weighed too much, reported the Herald Sun. Jetstar officials yesterday called Ms Hyde to apologise and refund part of the money.

Andrea Hyde said she told the airline her son was ill. "He had a mask on his face and I explained to them he had a transplant, that he had been on a mechanical heart for 151 days and that he was going home for the first time in nine months, and they didn't care," she said.

"Kellin was getting tired and he was struggling because there was so many people around, so we asked if we could have help with a wheelchair to get to the aeroplane, and they said, 'No, we don't have wheelchairs'."

For five months Kellin was kept alive on a mechanical heart after his own heart had all but died. He needed to be revived and saved by Royal Children's Hospital doctors many times before enduring a traumatic transplant recently.

His parents celebrated when they were told he could finally leave the hospital on Thursday night for a dream Christmas at their Gold Coast home.

But Ms Hyde's relief turned to despair when she arrived at the airport to be told her bags were too heavy because they were overflowing with medication and toys donated by children's charities to help him through the trauma, and that she would have to pay extra for them to fly. "I just started crying. It is $200 that we just don't have," she said. "That is his Christmas present gone now. I can't afford to buy him anything.

"I had a rolling bag full of medicine, another square travel bag and a box full of medicine, but I had to take his medication out of the bag and carry it because it made his suitcase too heavy.

"Her (the Jetstar manager's) excuse was that we should have paid for our baggage in advance, but we didn't even know we were going until the night before."

Ms Hyde said she counted 55 empty seats on the flight and couldn't understand why Jetstar had refused to offer her family compassion.
A Jetstar spokeswoman said: "We sincerely regret that in this instance we were not advised a wheelchair was required and so one was not available.

"To minimise the excess baggage, we transferred some of the items to the passengers' hand luggage and halved the amount of fees due as a gesture of good will."


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Qantas jet's 'lucky escape' after water leak

This happened in 2008 but apparently the final report on it has just been released

LEAKING water knocked out electricity to a number of systems during a Qantas 747's flight to Bangkok, forcing the crew to land using limited battery power in a race against the clock.

The plane, with 346 passengers and 19 crew, was on descent in 2008 when the flight crew were alerted to a “substantial” water leak in the galley. As a result of the leak many of the aircraft‘s communication, navigation, monitoring and warning, and flight guidance systems were affected.

Had the event occurred more than 30 minutes flying time from the nearest suitable airport, or if there had been a delay prior to landing, numerous flight-critical systems would have become unavailable, placing the flight at “considerable” risk, air safety investigators warned.

The aircraft‘s batteries were available to provide power to critical systems for a limited period of time if the primary power sources were lost. “The limited battery power available restricted the amount of time that the aircraft‘s remaining functional instrumentation and communication systems were available to the crew, which necessitated an expedited descent and landing in order to reduce the risk of those systems failing,” a report by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) said.

At the end of the taxi to the passenger terminal the plane had been using battery power for approximately 21 minutes. The crew was unable to determine the time at which the aircraft had switched to battery power, or when the 30 minutes of minimum battery life would elapse.

If the plane had missed its approach or been at a different point in the flight when the use of battery power became necessary, the amount of battery power left could have been critical to the safe operation of the aircraft, the investigators said.

The investigation found that the galley leak was caused by an overflowing drain after a drain line was blocked with ice that had formed due to an inoperable drain line heater. The water flowed into the aircraft’s main equipment centre before leaking onto three of the plane’s four generator control units, causing them to malfunction and shut down.

The flight crew manuals did not contain information on means to extend the limited battery life or on managing the aircraft if the batteries were depleted.

The ATSB has issued two safety recommendations and a safety advisory notice as a result of the investigation.


Saturday, December 11, 2010

'Electrical issue' strands Qantas passengers -- again

The Qantas idea of maintenance seems to be to wait for something to go wrong and then fix it

THE Qantas brand has suffered another blow after a mechanical failure left 260 passengers on a San Francisco tarmac for more than four hours before the flight for Sydney was aborted last night.

Passengers had just boarded the Boeing 747 QF74 at 10pm (San Franciscan time) when the cabin blacked out and the emergency lights came on. "The pilot simply said 'APU fail' and then said later 'Don't be alarmed. Fire trucks are at the back of the plane but it is only precautionary. A fire extinguisher has been depleted and the engineers are having a look'," one passenger said last night.

The problem was the auxiliary power unit light which had apparently indicated a fire, setting off extinguishers. "We'd been there for hours when they tried to start the engines again but the APU light came back on so they went back to the (terminus) for more work," the passenger said.

"Then we were told the crew had run out of duty hours. We were on the plane for seven hours before they put us in hotels. "There were a lot of people on the plane very angry about the way this was handled."

The flight was to have arrived today at 8.30am but will now arrive in Sydney at 6.30am tomorrow.

A note to passengers stated there had been an "electrical issue" which required replacement parts not available locally. A spokesman for Qantas confirmed the electrical fault last night but said passengers were left on the tarmac for four-and-a-half hours, not seven.


Tuesday, December 7, 2010

QANTAS: The "must not complain" airline?

Complaints are valuable feedback and should not be penalized

A TRAINEE flight attendant has accused Qantas of sacking her for complaining about inadequate counselling after a mid-air emergency. Jessie Holgersson, 25, watched in horror as the engine outside her window on a Boeing 747-400 flight suffered an explosive engine blowout last month.

Flames burst from the engine shortly after take-off, forcing QF6 to make an emergency landing in Singapore just a day after the engine on a Qantas A380 had blown apart mid-flight.

Despite the seriousness of the incident, which required passengers to go into the brace position, Ms Holgersson complained that no counselling was provided until 9pm the following day. "I was terrified when I realised there was a problem. It was a scary moment," she said.

"Seeing flames out the window is not something you expect on your second training flight, but I stayed calm, I reassured passengers, I yelled out my commands, I did everything by the textbook."

Once safely back in Sydney she spoke to the Qantas cabin crew manager, saying she felt staff had been neglected immediately after the incident.

A week later she was called up by Julia Ross Limited, a recruiting firm Qantas uses to hire and train cabin crew for its UK division, and told they'd decided not to continue with her employment.

"If I'd run around screaming, sure, fire me - but I didn't," said Ms Holgersson, who quit a well-paying job, cancelled her lease, sold her belongings and finalised plans to move to London.

Solicitor Sian Ryan, from Turner Freeman Lawyers, is taking the case to Fair Work Australia next week claiming that Ms Holgersson was adversely treated by Qantas and Julia Ross for exercising her workplace right to complain about the failure to address a health and safety issue. "Jessica is a young woman who due to bad fortune ended up in a terrible situation in the early days of a new job," Ms Ryan said. "We will be arguing the reason her employment didn't go ahead was because she raised matters relating to the QF6 incident."

A Qantas spokeswoman denied the allegations yesterday: "Based on her performance and behaviours during the training phase, the decision was made not to offer her employment."

But a report from Qantas supervisor Brian Lynch, who was on the plane, applauded Ms Holgersson for doing a "fantastic job" during the emergency - and warned it would be a "great shame" if Qantas lost her. He wrote: "Would love Jessica to be in my team again one day."

Jetstar hits family with levy after baby dies suddenly during family holiday

But publicity produces a much more accommodating communication.

JETSTAR yesterday demanded that a distraught family whose baby died of SIDS during a holiday on the Gold Coast pay more than $600 to return a day early to Sydney.

The family of five was spending a week's holiday at the tourist destination when the infant died suddenly, The Australian reported. They were due to return to Sydney today.

When the four remaining members of the family tried to change their bookings to return home yesterday, they were told they would require proof the baby had died or they would be forced to pay the difference in fares and change fees upfront.

Relative Barry Phillips, who travelled to Queensland to accompany the family back to Sydney, said the four family members had to pay more than $160 each. "They reckon they needed to prove that the baby died to change their flight," he said. Mr Phillips said he believed the airline should make it easier for bereaved people to change their flights.

A Jetstar spokeswoman said last night the family would be fully reimbursed for the fare difference and the change fees. "We deeply sympathise with our passengers in such situations and seek to be as flexible and accommodating as possible," she said.

"If documentation is unable to be provided at the time, change fees and fare difference applies. However, the amount is fully reimbursed once the documentation is provided." The spokeswoman said the airline would contact the family.

Jetstar also provides a voucher to passengers no longer able to travel for the amount of the fare originally purchased.


Saturday, December 4, 2010

Hilarious! Superjumbos can now carry only 80 passengers!

QANTAS is alleging in a multi-million-dollar damages claim against Rolls-Royce that it could now carry only 80 passengers across the Pacific in its Airbus 380s, under new operating rules for their troubled engines.

The airline states in Federal Court papers that it bought the Airbus superjumbos because they would carry 450 passengers and a payload of 60,900kg from Australia to Los Angeles.

But the new rules imposed by Rolls-Royce since one of its Trent 900 engines exploded on a Qantas A380 near Singapore last month mean that the world's biggest passenger jet is not a commercial proposition on the airline's Australia-US route. Qantas, which has suspended the route, has asked for damages and costs.

The national carrier is also seeking a declaration from the court ordering the UK engine maker to fund a $1 million credit note relating to a guarantee against "uncontained engine failure" - to stop engine parts perforating the outer shield of an engine. Rolls-Royce is accused of negligence and breach of contract.

Qantas says in its statement of claim that Rolls-Royce continued to modify the Trent 900 engine, but left 23 engines on its big jets unmodified. At the time of the Singapore incident only one engine had been modified.

Meanwhile the nation's top air safety investigator has lauded pilots who landed the faulty Qantas Airbus in Singapore, saying they saved the lives of all the 469 people on board QF32 on November 4.

A preliminary report yesterday confirmed an oil leak as the most likely cause of last month's Qantas A380 engine failure over Indonesia's Batam Island. The leak caused pieces of the Rolls-Royce engine to shear off, penetrating the aircraft's left wing and sections of the fuselage.

Capt Richard Champion de Crespigny and the four other officers safely landed the aircraft under the power of its remaining engines. ATSB chief commissioner Martin Dolan said the cool-headed reaction of the pilots prevented a catastrophic accident. "The aircraft would not have arrived safely in Singapore without the focused and effective action of the flight crew," he said.


Thursday, December 2, 2010

A380 problems continue

QANTAS will conduct more detailed inspections of its A380 Rolls-Royce engines after Australian air safety investigators issued a new safety alert.

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) issued the alert today after identifying a potential manufacturing defect concerning an oil tube connection to the bearing structure of the Trent 900 engines installed in some A380 aircraft.

The problem relates to the potential for misaligned oil pipe counter-boring, which could lead to fatigue cracking, oil leakage and potential engine failure from an oil fire. The issue has been found in the first series of the Rolls Royce Trent 900 engines and airlines which use these parts will be required to undergo further examination. It is believed to be the cause of the dramatic engine failure onboard QF32 on November 4.

Qantas grounded its entire A380 fleet after the incident but has since returned two planes to the skies.

One-off inspections will be conducted on both of the airline's A380 aircraft in Sydney this afternoon. The inspections are not expected to impact on international services, however Qantas says it has contingency arrangements in place if needed. “After discussions with the Australian Transport and Safety Bureau (ATSB) and Rolls-Royce, it was decided it was prudent to conduct further inspections of engine components, although there is no immediate risk to flight safety,” Qantas said. “This is in line with Qantas’ conservative, safety first approach.”

Turbine fragments flew out of the QF32’s engine when it exploded in mid-air last month, severing cables in the wing, narrowly missing the fuel tank and taking out flight control systems, a preliminary report by Airbus found.

The pilots were forced to deal with an "unprecedented" number of issues during the two-hour ordeal, Vice President of the Australian and International Pilots Association, Richard Woodward, said.

The ATSB will release its preliminary factual investigation report into the QF32 incident tomorrow.