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
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    SFL Group: Video Project Manager

    £24,000 pa, plus benefits: SFL Group: Looking for a hard-working and self-moti...

    Recruitment Genius: Hotel Reservations Assistant - French Speaking

    £16000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This rapidly expanding travel c...

    Recruitment Genius: Duty Manager - World-Famous London Museum

    £24000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Do you have a strong record of ...

    Recruitment Genius: Personal Assistant

    £24000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: You will have demonstrable unde...

    Day In a Page

    No postcode? No vote

    Floating voters

    How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
    Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

    By Reason of Insanity

    Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
    Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

    Power dressing is back

    But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
    Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

    Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

    Caves were re-opened to the public
    'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

    Vince Cable interview

    'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
    Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

    Promises, promises

    But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
    The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

    The death of a Gaza fisherman

    He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
    Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
    Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

    The only direction Zayn could go

    We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
    Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

    Spells like teen spirit

    A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
    Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
    Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

    Licence to offend in the land of the free

    Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
    From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

    From farm to fork in Cornwall

    One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
    Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

    Robert Parker interview

    The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor