Grounded Tiger Airways' future in doubt

The future of budget airline Tiger Airways Australia was in serious doubt Thursday after regulators applied to keep it grounded until August, although the carrier insisted it would fly again.

Tiger was last Saturday barred from operating domestic flights for a week by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) over "serious and imminent" safety risks and the regulator wants the suspension prolonged until August 1.

CASA approached the Federal Court in Melbourne on Thursday seeking an extension to give it more time to study the risks and Tiger's response.

"The application has been lodged," said CASA spokesman Peter Gibson, adding that more questions were being thrown up as investigators went through Tiger's books.

"We have to make sure we fully understand the reasons why these problems have occurred - if they are systemic problems, problems with process and problems with safety systems."

In a statement, Tiger Airways Australia, a subsidiary of Singapore's Tiger Airways, suggested it would not oppose the move, while announcing that its Australian chief executive Crawford Rix will leave on July 31.

But it said it remained intent on returning to the skies after a grounding that is costing it US$1.6 million a week.

"Tiger Airways Australia is committed to working with the industry regulator and other authorities to resolve their issues, something we are confident we can do in the coming days and weeks," the airline said.

"We are optimistic of returning to normal services while reassuring the public, staff and stakeholders of our long-term commitment to Australia."

The airline said it would refund fares to passengers holding reservations up until the end of July and a spokeswoman added that the carrier "hopes our customers stand by us".

Rix, formerly at British low-cost carrier bmibaby, will be replaced by Tony Davis, the group president of Tiger Airways Holdings who was sent from Singapore to lead the talks with CASA.

Davis's former responsibilities will be carried out by Chin Yau Seng, executive director at the parent company, who joined Tiger from Singapore Airlines earlier this week.

Singapore Airlines has a 32.9 percent equity stake in Tiger Airways Holdings and said it was monitoring the situation.

"At this point we have no plans to reduce our stake in Tiger Airways," a spokesman told AFP in Singapore.

CASA grounded the airline after a flight approached an airport too low last week - the second such incident in a month - following warnings about pilot proficiency, training and checking, and fatigue management.

A preliminary investigation by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau into the first low-flying incident on Thursday said the error was due to an incorrect lowest descent altitude in the commercial navigational database.

It said the flight crew did not initially notice that the altitude displayed in front of them was 500 feet below what they had been cleared to fly.

While Tiger's shares in Singapore continued to slump, its main rivals in Australia are cashing in.

Virgin stock soared again Thursday with gains of more than 20 percent so far this week, while Qantas has notched up a weekly gain of over nine percent.

Sir Richard Branson, the largest shareholder in Virgin Australia, said he hoped Tiger would fly again.

"I think it's going to be tough to come back from that, but obviously for the sake of all the staff let's hope they manage to get their act together and be back in a month's time," he said in Sydney.

mp/ajc/lb

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Guru Careers: International Project Coordinator / Account Coordinator

    Circa £26,500 DOE: Guru Careers: An International Project Coordinator / Accoun...

    Guru Careers: Plumber / Maintenance Operator

    £25k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Plumber / Mainten...

    Recruitment Genius: Travel Customer Service and Experience Manager

    £14000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The fastest growing travel comp...

    Recruitment Genius: Network Executive - Adrenalin Sports - OTE £21,000

    £19000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you looking for an exciting...

    Day In a Page

    Giants Club: After wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, Uganda’s giants flourish once again

    Uganda's giants are flourishing once again

    After the wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, elephant populations are finally recovering
    The London: After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

    After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

    Archaeologists will recover a crucial item from the wreck of the London which could help shed more light on what happened in the vessel's final seconds
    Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

    Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

    The invention involves turbojets and ramjets - a type of jet engine - and a rocket motor
    10 best sun creams for kids

    10 best sun creams for kids

    Protect delicate and sensitive skin with products specially formulated for little ones
    Tate Sensorium: New exhibition at Tate Britain invites art lovers to taste, smell and hear art

    Tate Sensorium

    New exhibition at Tate Britain invites art lovers to taste, smell and hear art
    Ashes 2015: Nice guy Steven Finn is making up for lost time – and quickly

    Nice guy Finn is making up for lost time – and quickly

    He was man-of-the-match in the third Test following his recall to the England side
    Ashes 2015: Remember Ashton Agar? The No 11 that nearly toppled England

    Remember Ashton Agar?

    The No 11 that nearly toppled England
    Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

    US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

    Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
    VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

    'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

    VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
    Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

    Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

    Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
    The male menopause and intimations of mortality

    Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

    So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
    Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

    'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

    Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
    Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

    Bettany Hughes interview

    The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
    Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

    Art of the state

    Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
    Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

    Vegetarian food gets a makeover

    Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks