Thursday, January 04, 2007

Safety issues for Asian budget airlines

The proliferation of budget airlines across Asia has made air travel affordable for millions, but this week's aircraft disaster in Indonesia has underlined the challenge for governments to ensure safety standards are met.
While pioneer Deccan Aviation's inaugural flight was grounded, discount carriers in India have a good safety record.
"Because we cut costs it does not mean we cut corners," said Ajay Singh, a director at budget carrier SpiceJet Ltd.
"In fact, since budget carriers are newer, our fleets and crews are newer than full-service carriers."
Certainly, more technical snags have delayed aircraft operated by state-owned Indian, which has struggled with an ageing fleet for more than a dozen years.
New airlines including Kingfisher Airlines and budget carrier GoAir have also been quicker to adopt technology like CAT-III systems to enable them to fly in fog.
Elsewhere in the region, Malaysia's AirAsia, the region's largest budget carrier with a fleet of 50 planes, and Seoul's Hansung Airlines have had burst tyres and bad landings. No one was injured in any of these incidents.
Still, these instances, along with cases of misleading advertising and poor customer service, have generally given rise to the perception that discount carriers are less safe.
04/01/07 Sydney Morning Herald, Australia