War of words over ash continues

Departure board.jpgThe war of words continues between Qantas and Air New Zealand about who is and is not right to fly even once CASA clears airlines to fly but leaves decisions with individual airlines. These arguments are all PR control and still do not definitively answer why Qantas is not flying routes other airlines are, but Air NZ has its theory.

In the last installment Qantas justified its decision not to fly as being based on guidance from ICAO. Air New Zealand’s chief pilot David Morgan struck back, saying: “The authorities are providing excellent information about the ash which is at high altitude and very predictable in its movement. By adjusting cruising altitudes of our aircraft we are able to continue to safely deliver customers to their destinations.”

Morgan also more directly stated previous connotations about Qantas not wanting to burn extra fuel in selecting alternatives routes that would avoid ash but required extra fuel. “Lower cruising altitudes mean we need to burn around 10% more fuel than normal, but we don’t believe that’s a reason to stop flying when there are perfectly safe flight paths available below the level of the ash,” Morgan said.

He also treated us to a game of spot-what’s-missing with his statement: “The travelling public will be pleased to know that almost all carriers including Air New Zealand, Virgin Blue, Emirates, Singapore Airlines, Air Asia X, Air Pacific, Malaysia Airlines, Thai Airways, Cathay Pacific, Korean Air and others are today operating international services to and from New Zealand.”

Qantas in turn offered an even shorter response than its “safety before schedule” maxim by appending its Tweets with the hashtag #safetyfirst.

Conspicuously absent from this debate is Virgin Australia, who has made no commentary about it flying when Qantas has not.

Photo: Andy Wilson / Mood Board/Rex Features.

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