Tiger boss to touch down for crisis talks

THE international chief executive of Tiger Airways, Tony Davis, is expected to fly in for crisis talks with the Civil Aviation Safety Authority this morning as speculation about its capacity to re-emerge deepened.

But while grounded, Tiger Airways Australia is still taking bookings and accepting payments for domestic flights from Saturday - although there is no guarantee the airline will be flying by then, with some sources saying the carrier could be grounded for at least a month.

Yesterday, experts suggested each day on the ground made it less likely the airline would continue operating.

''Singapore Airlines [which owns a significant stake in Tiger] probably can afford to have them on the ground for a little while,'' the vice president of the Australian and International Pilots Association, Richard Woodward, said.

''But no carrier can stand losses of $1 million a day for an extended period of time, as well as the cost of leasing airplanes and parking fees. After a few weeks, it would be unlikely they would re-emerge.''

As school holidays begin, Tiger is facing a bill approaching an estimated $1 million a day in refunding air fares.

Virgin Australia has been inundated with requests from thousands of stranded Tiger holidaymakers, who have rushed to buy available seats. It has uplifted about 2000 passengers who held Tiger bookings.

Qantas and Jetstar have each uplifted about 1000 Tiger passengers and Qantas engineers have cancelled industrial action to limit disruption.

As the unprecedented airline safety crisis continues, Mr Davis is expected to be accompanied by senior Singapore Airlines executives to CASA's talks. The airline holds a 32.9 per cent financial stake in Tiger.

Teams of CASA's safety auditors continue to comb Tiger Airways Australia's records covering pilot proficiency, fatigue management, aircraft maintenance control, supervision and airworthiness systems.

''We've got teams of people working away at these issues, that will continue for some days,'' CASA's spokesman, Peter Gibson, said.

Yesterday the no-frills airline said it ''continues to cooperate fully with the industry regulator''.

CASA will make a decision this week on whether it will go to the Federal Court to seek an extension of the airline's grounding beyond 6am on Saturday, July 9, in light of what the audit teams uncover.

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