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Aviation Industry
Saturday, March 1, 2008
Attitude, not altitude

Actually you wouldn’t need a magnifying glass, let alone a microscope to see this one. In August last year the US airline industry came under heavy fire for having nearly 30% of flights delayed. This was the second worst record – only August 2005 was lower than 30%. The bad news was that Pres. Bush promised to fix it. That surely means nothing will happen.

The arrivals rate is down about 5% on last year and that wasn’t a year to be proud of either. Customer complaints have skyrocketed.
It’s not just the US either - the punctuality of flights in SA is also a subject for major complaint. It’s not that the flights arrive or take-off late, it’s the deathly hush from the operators who seem incapable of telling the Self Loading Cargo that there will be a delay.
The letters to the editors in a variety of newspapers and magazines indicate that the attitudes and helpfulness levels at check-in counters and airline offices have reached a low worse than our rivers before the rains came.
More attitude comes from United Air, following its two- hour grounding of all aircraft in June last year due to a problem in the ops-management system: 250 000 passengers had their flights delayed or cancelled.
That was minor compared to Cathay Pacific in the same month when it had an aircraft stuck on the ground for seven hours. The 400 pax sat for three hours without any announcements and were fiercely critical of the airline’s handling of the situation. There have been several similar cases recently – it seems that in some airlines service is an afterthought.

Vicious defence by crew withdrawn

In August 2006 flight 5191 prepared for take-off from Lexington’s airport but got onto the wrong runway and crashed. Everyone was killed except the 1st Officer.
Defending against the claims by the passengers’ estates the 1st Officer held that the passengers were largely to blame for their own misfortune because – wait for it – they should have known that taking a commercial flight from that airport was dangerous because of the runway construction work which was well publicised. Furthermore they should have also known that the air traffic control was understaffed and that flying in the dark is dangerous.
One can only have the utmost disdain and repugnance for the attorneys that came up with this one. American law comes in for more than its share of criticism in the ordinary course of the day but this takes the cake. Of course it’s the defendant that gets the bad publicity but it’s a dime to $10 000 that he didn’t suggest the pleading. Fortunately the defence was withdrawn at the last minute.
One does have to ponder whether this was just the 1st Officer’s defence or was it Comair’s Insurers’ since presumably the whole case is against the insurance of the airline. This won’t enhance the insurers’ poor viewing by the public much either. By Henry Tours, Aviation Consultant


Copyright © Insurance Times and Investments® Vol:21.2 1st March, 2008
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