Qantas mulls removing life rafts from 737s

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Qantas Airways says it has not decided whether it will remove life rafts from some of its Boeing 737-800 fleet after an Australian politician raised concerns in the media about the safety of such a move.

Senator Nick Xenophon demanded that Qantas abandon plans to remove some life rafts from its 737s that operate mostly on overland routes, which would save the carrier $1 million per year in estimated fuel savings.

In response, Qantas says no decision has been made to remove the equipment on its aircraft. It adds however that historically, it operated flights without life rafts where regulations permitted.

“It is common practice for airlines both here in Australia and internationally, to not carry life rafts on some aircraft, in accordance with safety regulations,” the airline adds.

The Civil Aviation Safety Authority also released a statement confirming that regulations do not require all commercial flights to carry life rafts, and also clarified that Qantas has not informed it that it is planning such a move.

Since announcing a $252 million ($233 million) pre-tax loss for the six months to 31 December 2013, Qantas has embarked on a A$2 billion cost cutting drive, which includes a number of measures aimed at cutting its fuel usage.

Flightglobal’s Ascend Online Fleets database shows that Qantas operates a fleet of 62 737s which fly predominately on domestic routes over mainland Australia. It also has a further eight 737s that are operated by its New Zealand based subsidiary JetConnect on trans-Tasman services.