Friday, January 28, 2011

The "F*** you" airline again

Jetstar has cancelled all of today's Bali flights due to a volcanic ash cloud, as stranded passengers express anger over a lack of communication.

The airline has rejected accusations it is failing to effectively communicate with stranded Australians in Bali, after passengers claimed they had received little information from the airline.

"We've checked with the airline but they're hopeless," said passenger Simon Hammond, an advertising executive who is reaching the end of a two-week family holiday in Bali. "They've got absolutely no information available [and] don't answer their phones." "There is no information, there is no answer to any telephone calls, there is no SMS when they promise to do so," he said. "It's unbelieveable."

Mr Hammond's sentiments were echoed by other Jetstar passengers who contacted this website. "We have had no communication from Jetstar," said Luanne Hopkinson. "The accommodation they provided was very bad, many people including myself left. [We're] still waiting communication from Jetstar as to what flight we will be placed on," she said.

The travel plans of thousands of Australians have been thrown into chaos after an Indonesian volcano, the Tengger Caldera, erupted, belching a large ash plume into busy airspace yesterday.

About 2000 Jetstar passengers are affected today, about 700 of them are marooned in Bali from flights grounded last night.

Jetstar spokesman Simon Westaway rejected accusations the airline was not doing its utmost to keep passengers informed and was putting contingencies in place. "We are communicating to customers, I take the point people might be frustrated. "We are doing everything we can: we are providing regular updates publicly, we are providing updates on the website and call centre.

"I appreciate that people could be frustrated but we are providing updates as best we can, and as reguarly as we can, and as accurately as we can," he said. "It's bit of a moving issue today - I reject the accusation that our organisation isn't being absolutely pro-active in keeping people informed and, importantly, pro-active in seeking to get people back to Australia. "We appreciate this issue. We are doing our absolute utmost," he said.

Mr Hammond, a brand mangement expert, advises leading companies on how to reach and engage with their customers. "Anyone I talk to about the brand of Jetstar say exactly the same thing: they are the worst service airline when it comes to giving you access to details and reassurance. "It's just re-emphasises that this brand only cares about costs, it doesn't care about passengers.

Mr Westaway said the uncertainty surrounding the movement of the ash cloud was hampering decisions, and in the meantime was assisting passengers. "We are meeting people's accommodation requirements, we will get them on flights to return them home, we are in the process of doing that. "At the moment we can't, as we are yet to make the call as to whether we can get aircraft there from the east coast of Australia.

"It's not a simple solution to say: 'I need information now, where is it?' We are not yet in a position to provide firm information about when people can return home.

"We've really got to get confidence that this volcanic ash plume has moved onwards and won't return and we're looking at a plan now to put in additional services to recover customers. It's a wait and see game for the next 12 to 24 hours. "Once we get comfort that the ash cloud moves well beyond the vacinity of the airport, we will be looking at additional services to bring people back.

Mr Westaway said Jetstar was formulating a recovery plan. "We are putting in place a plan over the next 24 hours to be able to do that. It's just very difficult at the moment to articulate that because we need to get some confidence the airspace is going to be able to be safe to operate in, in the evening when the majority of our services occur," Mr Westaway said. The airline's policy of fee waivers, rebookings and refunds applies, he said.

Flights were initially expected to restart this afternoon, staring with Jetstar's JQ116 10.05am (local time) Perth to Denpasar flight, but this has since been cancelled. Jetstar's website still listed the flight as operating on its volcano information page at 12.39pm and a Jetstar call centre staff member said the flight had departed.


Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Qantas plane drops 20,000 feet during Melbourne-bound flight

Defective aircraft are now routine for Qantas. Their cost cutting will cause deaths in time

"Panicky" attendants were the first sign that something was "awfully wrong" on Qantas Flight 670 yesterday. The Boeing 737-400, which left Adelaide Airport at 6.20am bound for Melbourne, had been in the air for about 30 minutes when the airconditioning system suddenly depressurised and and oxygen masks dropped in the cabin.

The pilot was forced to plunge from 36,000 feet to 10,000 feet to stabilise the cabin pressure. One passenger, Simon, said the first they knew of the drama was when some of the flight attendants looked "panicky". "We knew there was something wrong because we were heading down," he said.

"We started powering down. It was quite a rapid rate. From there the masks dropped and they (the masks) sat there. We didn't know what it was for, there was no communication. "Finally we put on the masks and then the emergency message came across telling us `this is an emergency'.

"It appeared the flight attendants were looking at each other trying not to be the first ones that panicked - we knew something was awfully wrong. There was no yelling or screaming among the passengers, just a few people panicking, shaking, just generally scared for their lives." He said the passengers had their masks on for about 10 minutes.

A Qantas spokeswoman said the plane had a depressurisation problem in the cabin which was the result of an airconditioner fault. "There was no safety issue at any time, emergency services were not required to attend the aircraft, it was a normal routine landing," she said. "They (the crew) asked for a rapid descent as a result of a depressurisation. There was no medical assistance required."


Qantas 747 forced to return to Bangkok after engine problem

HOURS after a Qantas jet plunged almost 8000m during an emergency descent yesterday a Sydney-bound flight was forced to return to Bangkok because of engine problems.

Flight QF2 carrying 352 passengers was about 30 minutes into its flight from Bangkok International Airport when one of its engines began "consuming fuel more quickly than normal" a Qantas spokesman said. It was forced to return to Bangkok where it landed safely about 7pm local time (11pm AEST).

Affected passengers are expected to spend a second night in temporary accommodation with Qantas scrambling to send a replacement engine from Sydney for the troubled Boeing 747 today. "As far as possible we will try and get passengers who need to return to Sydney urgently on other flights but that will be dependent on availability on other airlines," the spokesman said.

"It was not actually an engine failure, (the pilots) did not shut the engine down they just reduced the thrust."

However one passenger on the flight says the engine "blew".

The spokesman said there were no other replacement Qantas aircraft available in Bangkok.

The latest safety drama for the besieged airline follows the emergency descent of a Boeing 737-400 yesterday after its cabin lost pressure on a flight from Adelaide to Melbourne.

Almost 100 passengers on board the flight were forced to wear oxygen masks as the plane plummeted 7900m to a height of 3000m.

Qantas said an air-conditioning fault caused the depressurisation.

Last week a trans-Pacific flight carrying 375 passengers diverted to Fiji after suffering an engine problem while in November Qantas suffered its most serious safety scare when an engine exploded mid-air en route to Sydney on board one of its flagship A380s.

Last night's incident was not the first time flight QF2 has been forced to land because of mechanical problems. In January 2008 the airline and the Australian Transport Safety Bureau launched an investigation after QF2 from London lost power from all four of its generators on its descent into Bangkok.

The 747 with 344 passengers on board lost electrical power about 15 minutes away from landing. At the time the ATSB said if the power failure occurred further away from an airport there could have been a serious accident.


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

AGAIN! Fault forces US-bound Qantas flight to divert to Fiji

A Qantas jet carrying almost 400 people from Sydney to New York was diverted to Fiji after a fuel valve fault yesterday, just four days after another safety scare on one of its planes.

QF107 left Sydney about 12.15pm yesterday and was heading towards New York via Los Angeles when the flight crew spotted a fault in a fuel valve of the Boeing 747-400 aircraft, a Qantas spokeswoman said.

The plane was diverted to Nadi airport in Fiji and landed there at 6.20pm ADST. Twenty passengers were transferred to an Air Pacific flight to Los Angeles, while the remaining 354 passengers, four flight crew and 16 cabin crew were provided accommodation in Nadi for the night, the spokeswoman said. Engineers fixed the fault overnight and the flight has now departed for Los Angeles at 9am ADST.

On Saturday, QF11 from Sydney to Los Angeles was preparing for take off when one of its engines experienced a "contained turbine blade failure". The 344 passengers on board, some of whom described hearing a "loud bang", were moved to a second plane that departed four hours later.

Two weeks ago, Sydney-bound flight QF430 turned back to Melbourne after a possible problem with one of the Boeing 767’s wingflaps.

The incidents took place just as the Australian national carrier resumed its A380 flights to Los Angeles on January 16 after a mid-air engine explosion over Indonesia on November 4 grounded all Airbus planes of the same make.


Monday, January 17, 2011

ANOTHER Qantas jet engine failure

Just dumb luck that the engine failed on the ground. A couple of minutes later and it could have been a disaster. Losing power in the middle of a climb is VERY dicey. Do Qantas do ANY maintenance on their planes?

ANOTHER Qantas jet engine blew up yesterday, this time as the plane was just seconds away from take-off at Sydney Airport.

Flight QF11 to Los Angeles, carrying 344 passengers, was on the runway preparing to take off at 3.30pm when its number one engine suffered a complete failure. Passengers onboard the 747 described hearing "a loud bang" and then watching as black smoke poured out of the crippled engine. The captain then reportedly announced over the intercom that the engine had "cooked itself".

A spokeswoman for Qantas said the plane was on the runway and cleared for take-off when it had a "low-speed engine failure". "As it was taxiing for take-off, it had a low-speed engine failure of the number one engine," the spokeswoman said. "(It) was in the process of speeding up when the engine failed."

She could not confirm the report of the captain's diagnosis. "I don't have those details, but there was a noise and an indication in the cockpit ... it was a contained engine failure, there was no fire," she said.

The stricken aircraft remained on the runway for 30 minutes while engineers assessed it before it was cleared to taxi back to the gate under its own power. The spokeswoman said the passengers disembarked at the gate and a replacement 747 aircraft was scheduled to leave at 7pm. It finally took off at 7.38pm.

It was too early to tell what had caused the engine failure but engineers were "obviously inspecting it" she said.

Yesterday's incident is the latest in a shocking run for the national carrier, which had to ground its entire A380 fleet in November after one of the Rolls-Royce Trent 900 engines exploded in mid-air shortly after take-off from Singapore.

The total cost of grounding its entire fleet of A380s, and replacing 16 of the A380 engines, has been estimated at $80 million.

The day after the A380 near-disaster, a Qantas 747-400 aircraft had a mid-air incident, with flames bursting from an engine just after take-off from Singapore.


Saturday, January 15, 2011

Crooked Qantas hit for $26.5 million

In 2007 they were fined $US61 million for similar behaviour but appeared not to learn from that: Stupid as well as crooked

Australian airline Qantas said Friday it would pay $US26.5 million ($26.58 million) to settle a class action brought in the United States relating to price-fixing in its cargo division.

The deal, which is subject to court approval, would resolve the carrier from its involvement in a legal case brought against a number of airlines related to collusion on fuel surcharges on cargo over a six-year period.

"Under the terms of the settlement agreement, Qantas will pay $US26.5 million, which is based on Qantas' freight revenue to/from the United States," the airline said in a statement. "Qantas must also cooperate with the class action plaintiffs."

In exchange, Qantas would be released from claims made by all class members who were direct purchasers of air cargo services to or from the United States between January 2000 and September 2006, it said.

In 2007 Qantas was fined $US61 million by the US Justice Department for price fixing in the air freight industry and the airline said it was committed to cooperating fully with global antitrust regulators on improper conduct in its freight division.

Qantas has also already resolved its liability in Australia, Canada, South Korea and Europe over the price-fixing.


Sunday, January 9, 2011

Qantas in near-miss at Melbourne Airport

MELBOURNE travellers have told of a near miss between a landing Qantas 767 jet and a Jetstar plane on the ground at Melbourne Airport today. Martin Russell said that just after 3pm (AEDT) a Qantas jet was 10 metres above the runway but aborted the landing and took off, the Herald-Sun reports.

He said 10 seconds later a Jetstar plane appeared on the ground at the spot on the east-west runway where the Qantas jet was about to land. Mr Russell, a businessman from Hawthorn, said that if the Qantas plane had not taken off, there would have been a head-on crash.

But a spokesman for Air Services Australia, which runs the airport control towers, said there had been no reports of a near-miss incident. He said because of wind shear, four planes had aborted landings and done a "go around'' before successfully landing.

A Qantas spokesman said a flight from Sydney had been forced to abort a landing when the plane had been “less than 100 feet” from the ground.


Sunday, January 2, 2011

Qantas plane grounded after cockpit malfunction

A QANTAS international flight had to return to Australia half an hour after take-off after a technical glitch in the cockpit. The plane was travelling from Sydney to Jakarta, in Indonesia, when the crew was alerted to a problem.

"The flight QF41 took off from Sydney at 3.20pm but soon after a cockpit message alert was sent to the crew. "The captain followed procedures and returned to Sydney at 3.55pm.

"Engineers inspected the plane, as passengers stayed on board, and found out it was a false alarm within half an hour. "It then took another half an hour before a take-off slot could be found and the plane left for its destination of Jakarta at 4.55pm," a Qantas spokesman said.