Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Man urinates in plane aisle, let off with warning from Jetstar

Want to have someone piss on you? Fly Jetstar, the "F*** you" airline

JETSTAR have been criticised for being too lenient on an alleged drunk passenger who urinated on fellow travellers. The incident occurred six hours into a flight from Auckland to Singapore, when a male flyer is alleged to have relieved himself in the aisle. The spray is said to have soaked a man’s leg and a female passenger’s scarf.

Passengers said the man was seen mixing whiskey in a Burger King cup with a friend before the incident. "Everyone was yelling at him and he slowly became aware that he was being uncouth,” passenger Amos Chapple told “He pulled up ... and wobbled back to the other end of the plane." Mr Chapple said he was sitting next to a pool of urine for “a good five-and-a-half hours” after the incident.

However, the man is said to have only received a warning from Jetstar staff. Mr Chapple called Jetstar “slack” in the way they handled the situation and confronted the man in Singapore. "I told him that he had pissed everywhere and he looked quite shocked," Mr Chapple said.

JetStar told the man received an official warning from the plane's captain, had his alcohol confiscated, and returned to his seat to sleep off the public incident. "We issued our final warning ... if you don't behave after the warning, then it becomes a matter for federal police," Jetstar spokeswoman Jennifer Timm said.

Jetstar was contacting the customers affected by the incident to arrange compensation.


Thursday, June 23, 2011

Qantas faces Ansett-style extinction

It was failure by management to take on unrealistic unions that brought Ansett down so it looks like Qantas may have learned from that

QANTAS faces Ansett-style extinction unless drastic changes are made to its international business, boss Alan Joyce says. In a stark warning that the airline would take a ruthless approach to overseas operations, Mr Joyce said Qantas could not succeed using its current model and must better use offshore connections and boost its Asian focus.

"Qantas International creates a product and service from an Australian cost base and sells into a global market against international competitors who operate off a far lower cost base," Mr Joyce said. "It is the same problem that has been faced by many other Australian companies in our globalised world. They too have had to change."

Qantas yesterday flagged a $500 million full-year underlying profit, including a payout from Rolls Royce, worth $95 million in settlement over engine problems last November that grounded its A380 fleet.

ACTU secretary Jeff Lawrence said Qantas must remain loyal to its Australian workers as it makes changes to international operations. "Mr Joyce cannot seriously say Qantas proudly calls Australia home at the same time as he speculates about moving the company offshore," Mr Lawrence said. "At the same time, the financial reality he describes to the stock exchange is that of one of the world's most profitable airlines."

Despite enjoying domestic success, the international business arm of Qantas forecasts a $200 million loss.

Mr Joyce said he would unveil plans for changing the company's international operations on August 24. He was committed to growing the number of planes bearing a flying kangaroo that operate to and from Australia. But partnerships with airlines such as British Airways, and forays into Asia, would increase. "We believe that we can leverage joint ventures a lot more than we do today," he said.

Mr Joyce also weighed into the carbon tax debate, signalling new cost pressures would have flow-on effects. He said emissions trading schemes beginning in Europe would result in ticket price increases. "The profitability of these operations is not such that the airlines can digest these costs, so they will be passed on to the consumers," Mr Joyce said. He said protection of the tourism industry was needed under any Australian carbon tax.


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Overseas repairer of Qantas planes 'has problems'

A repair station in the Philippines that does major maintenance work for Qantas, among other international airlines, has shown a pattern of stubborn problems, American inspections have found.

The safety experts say the pattern underscores concerns about the airline industry's outsourcing of maintenance to facilities in developing countries.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspections of Lufthansa Technik Philippines in Manila said the facility had repeated difficulties in following US regulations on matters ranging from record-keeping to calibrating tools used to make repairs.

The records, which cover inspections from 2008 through to last month, also cite recurring problems with training workers to FAA standards and unfamiliarity by in-house inspectors at Lufthansa Technik, a subsidiary of Lufthansa Airlines, with US regulations.

Lufthansa Technik's "quality assurance department demonstrated an inability to effectively audit the repair station for compliance with all aspects of (US regulations), specifically, appropriate facilities, tools/equipment, personnel and training requirements", according to an inspection in May.

A 2009 inspection noted that two in-house inspectors were unfamiliar with FAA aircraft maintenance regulations. The inspectors had recently received four hours of training in the regulations but weren't tested for their knowledge afterward, it said.

The same inspection noted that "throughout the repair station numerous personnel were not aware of which airline they are providing maintenance for" and which country's regulations applied.

The reports show problems scattered throughout the facility rather than in one department, which indicates the problems are systemic, said John Goglia, a former National Transportation Safety Board member and an expert on aircraft maintenance. The result, he said, is an erosion of the margin of safety.

"As they expand into Third World countries to take advantage of the labour rates and lower costs these problems keep coming back because you just don't have the people infrastructure," Goglia said.

"How many trained people do you think there are the Philippines, in Malaysia and in Indonesia? They are expanding a big operation with a relatively thin technical workforce."

The Manila facility employs 2,800 aircraft mechanics and other employees. It's certified by the FAA and aviation authorities from 20 nations to perform maintenance work ranging from routine repairs to major overhauls, according to Lufthansa Technik.

The company recently began construction of a new hangar so that Airbus A380s - the world's largest airliner capable of seating up to 853 passengers - can be serviced at the facility.

The records were obtained from the FAA through a Freedom of Information Act request by a labour union, Unite Here, which represents employees of Lufthansa's catering subsidiary in North America, SkyChef. The union and the airline are in contract negotiations.

"None of the mentioned FAA audit findings had significant impact on safety and reliability of aircraft and components," Lufthansa Technik said in a statement.

"Each finding has been treated as an opportunity to enhance the existing system, as it is an industry standard to deal with findings from internal and external audits," the statement said. "Corrective actions have always been implemented and accepted by the FAA."

However, the report on last month's inspection said numerous problems cited in an August 2010 inspection still had not been corrected. "An acceptable corrective plan has been submitted, but due to recent failures, an on-site follow-up inspection ... is required," it said.

Bill Voss, president of the Flight Safety Foundation, an industry-supported group that promotes aviation safety worldwide, said the inspections indicate Lufthansa Technik Philippines has a problem with quality control, but he cautioned against making more general judgments about offshore aircraft repair stations.

"It's a huge leap to suggest this is representative of all foreign repair stations," Voss said. "I'm not sure offshore equals bad."

The FAA said in a statement that it holds foreign repair facilities to the same standards as US facilities. Repair facilities that don't meet those standards can lose their certification. The FAA has certified Lufthansa Technik Philippines for repairs since 2000.

The Transportation Department Office of Inspector General announced in December it has launched an investigation of the FAA's oversight of maintenance performed for US passenger airlines by outside contractors, including oversight of overseas repair stations.

Lufthansa, one of the world's largest airlines, owns 51 per cent of Lufthansa Technik Philippines, while the Philippine MacroAsia Corp owns 49 per cent.

The only US carrier that sends planes to Lufthansa Technik Philippines for major maintenance work is Hawaiian Airlines, which flies to destinations in the Western United States, the Pacific and Asia.

Lufthansa, Swiss Air, Qantas, LAN, Philippine Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Vietnam Airlines, Gulf Air, Kuwait Airways and Jet Airways are among some of the other airlines that use the facility for major work.


Sunday, June 12, 2011

That good ol' Jetstar charm again

LES Turner was looking forward to a nice trip when be boarded a Jetstar flight to Singapore. Instead, the 86-year-old man died of a mid-air heart attack in the plane's toilet on the return journey to Darwin.

And a fellow passenger who worked frantically to save him was confronted with an attempt by the budget airline to double-charge her for a new flight when she tried to resume her journey.

Parliament has heard evidence "communications difficulties" were encountered when the nurse tried to raise the alarm with the foreign crew about Mr Turner's plight in the toilets.

But Jetstar maintains it is standard practice to ask if medical staff are on board to assist in emergencies and that the pilot was alerted and an ambulance on placed standby at the airport.

When the Sunday Herald Sun contacted him, Mr Turner's stepson, Terry Stanley, was appalled. "All I knew was that he had passed away in the toilet, and they didn't give any details other than that," Mr Stanley said. "If he was visibly in some sort of distress going into the toilet and the cabin crew were made aware of that, but failed to follow through with it, that just isn't good enough."

When told the passenger who had stepped in to assist had been asked to pay for another ticket after she sought medical assistance in Darwin for a bleeding nose and bloodshot eyes after performing CPR on his stepdad, Mr Stanley said: "It's pretty shabby."

Jetstar apologised over the attempt to double charge the nurse who tried to save Mr Turner's life. "An error was made in regards to her travel arrangements for the following day, which Jetstar sincerely apologises for," an airline spokesman said.

Jetstar also said: "All Jetstar cabin crew are competent in first aid. Cabin crew assisted the nurse in the delivery of oxygen to the passenger under her direction."


Saturday, June 4, 2011

Wheel problems force Brisbane-bound Qantas jumbo to return to Singapore

A QANTAS jumbo carrying more than 340 passengers was forced to return to Singapore after its wheels refused to retract early this morning.

An airline spokeswoman confirmed flight QF52, which had been scheduled to land in Brisbane at 6.30am today was forced to return to Changi airport 48 minutes after take-off. She said passengers had been briefed on the mishap aboard the Boeing 747-400 jumbo and were put up at hotels overnight.

No one was injured in the incident and the plane has been checked over and the faulty part replaced, ready to take off at noon local time (2pm Brisbane) today. It was expected to arrive in Brisbane at 9pm with the 344 passengers from its first attempt.

It is the latest in a string of incidents for the airline, with a series of mid air alerts early in the year. In January, engine troubles forced a Qantas flight to land in Bangkok, hours after another plane flying from Adelaide to Melbourne plummeted 8000m during an emergency descent.

That same month, a trans-Pacific flight was forced to divert to Fiji for repairs due to an engine problem while another Qantas flight to Los Angeles had an engine failure as it was preparing to take off at Sydney airport.

Most dramatically, in November, one of the four Rolls-Royce Trent 900 engines on an Airbus A380 exploded mid-air soon after take-off from Singapore, prompting Qantas to ground its entire A380 fleet.

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

The airline has also faced threats of strikes by long-haul pilots and aircraft engineers.


Thursday, June 2, 2011

Fury over Qantas check-in changes

ANGRY Qantas passengers have been caught out by new domestic baggage charges that mean travellers could pay up to $60 a suitcase to check in additional luggage.

Under the change, which began yesterday, passengers must pay between $15 and $60 to check in extra bags as the airline switches from a weight-based penalty system to one based on the number of bags, The Australian reported.

The first bag remains free for all Qantas mainline domestic passengers and some frequent travellers can also get additional luggage through with no extra charge.

But most economy travellers wanting to check in two pieces of luggage must either prepay $15 online for the second bag or fork out $30 at the airport.

Third and subsequent bags cost $60 each and passengers will have to pay a $20 "heavy" fee if the weight is between 23kg and 32kg.

Julia Wylie, 24, a musician from Sydney, said she was disappointed after being charged an extra $30 to check in her guitar, and dumbfounded when Qantas staff told her the onus was on her to find out about the extra fees.

"I can't believe they made me cough up an extra $30 because of my guitar even though my other bag was way under the 23kg weight limit," she said. "I usually fly with Qantas because they don't usually charge me for the guitar, but I won't be anymore."

Qantas said that the baggage changes had been announced last October and were communicated through information posted on, via frequent flyer emails and newsletters and on ticket itineraries.

Choice spokesman Christopher Zinn said yesterday's problems raised issues about how the changes were communicated and what sort of latitude people should be given when a new system was introduced.

Baby rats ground Qantas plane

A Qantas plane has been grounded after five baby rats were discovered inside medical equipment on board. The rats were found on the Boeing 767 during a pre-flight safety check at Sydney Airport on Tuesday. They were inside a defibrillator. There were no passengers on board at the time.

A Qantas spokeswoman says the aircraft, including its wiring, has been thoroughly checked and the plane will return to service today. No other evidence of rats was found during the check, including the baby rats' mother.

Scott Connolly from the Transport Workers Union says the discovery is not ususual, despite the company's assertions. "Our members working out there report that they've increasingly reported concerns about hygiene, sanitation and this isn't the first occasion that they've reported rodents on aircraft and around their workspace," Mr Connolly said.