Cockpit scrutiny for Tiger

THE air safety regulator will be keeping a close watch on Tiger Airways, but gave the carrier the all-clear yesterday to resume flights.

The Civil Aviation Safety Authority lifted its six-week suspension of Tiger, but imposed stringent new licence conditions, including limiting the airline to 18 flights a day for at least the rest of the month. At its peak, Tiger was flying about 60 a day.

''Tiger can resume operations that are safe at a time of their choosing,'' said CASA's director of safety, John McCormick.

Tiger has reactivated ticket sales for five Melbourne-to-Sydney flights a day and will resume flying tomorrow.

''Over the coming days and weeks, we'll be adding additional frequencies and destinations to the network,'' said Tiger Australia's new chief executive Tony Davis.

The no-frills airline remains under scrutiny - from the ground to the cockpits.

''CASA will carry out extra surveillance on Tiger's flights, through schedules and spot checks,'' Mr McCormick said.

''On some flights our flying operation inspectors will be in the cockpit, observing the performance of Tiger's crew.

''Any failure to comply with these conditions will be taken very seriously,'' he said.


His agency's investigation had found problems with pilot training and proficiency, rostering, fatigue management and operational manuals.

Mr McCormick suggested Tiger had been a victim of its rapid growth, with its systems and personnel not keeping pace.

Some problems first came under CASA's notice late last year during a routine audit. The airline was grounded on July 1 after two low-flying incidents.

''I am happy that the pilots who fly Tiger Airways aircraft, from this day forward, are qualified to the standard that they should be,'' Mr McCormick said.

On the back of Tiger's $18 million first quarter loss locally, the grounding has cost it nearly $12 million, on top of $13.7 million in forgone ticket sales and refunds, and $1.4 million in lost ancillary revenues.

''What's been demonstrated in the five weeks I've been in Australia is that we've clearly made significant progress because we've addressed the concerns that CASA has raised with us and the air operator's certificate has been reinstated," Mr Davis said.

''We're committed to operating a safe airline with a viable long-term future in Australia."

He downplayed speculation about the tenure of his own future at Tiger.

''...It was appropriate the most senior executive in the group took control. 'My commitment is to get Tiger up to full strength again,'' he said.

The airline had bought him a return ticket he said, not a one-way fare.

''My commitment is open ended,'' Mr Davis said.