Vietnam's CAAV says Jetstar Pacific flouted safety regulations

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Vietnamese authorities have alleged that Jetstar Pacific violated safety regulations, and have warned that its license could be revoked if it does not remedy the problems.

Pham Quy Tieu, the head of the Civil Aviation Administration of Vietnam (CAAV), is quoted as saying in the country's newspapers: "We have put Jetstar Pacific under special supervision. CAAV has sent engineersand instructed airport authorities to supervise all flights of Jetstar Pacific. The top priority is to ensure safety for all flights."

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The CAAV's report found that there were several problems at the carrier, including those with the maintenance equipment, efficiency of the maintenance system and training of technicians. It said that it issued five maintenance-related fines to the carriers in 2008-2009 and recommended that "urgent" measures be implemented.

"But reality showed that JPA did not fully implement regulations of the authorities," says the CAAV report, according to the media reports. They added that former Jetstar Pacific CEO Luong Hoai Nam, who left the airline in November, and two unnamed "foreigners" who headed the airline's maintenance and technical quality sections, were responsible. CAAV officials could not be reached for comment.

Last week, Vietnam's "economic police" put Luong Hoai Nam under home detention as part of investigations into multi-million dollar fuel-hedging losses. Jetstar Pacific's COO Daniela Masilli and CFO Tristan Freeman were also prevented from leaving the country over Christmas.

Jetstar Pacific is 27% owned by Australia's Qantas, while Vietnam's government owns the remaining 73%. Qantas today said that it remains confident in its investment in Jetstar Pacific and the airline's maintenance and safety record.

"The CAAV identified some issues and these have already been addressed by the airline. We will work with our Vietnamese partners on the Jetstar Pacific Board as they continue to liaise with the CAAV," says Qantas CEO Alan Joyce.

In addition to the CAAV's investigation, Qantas had supported several "routine and independent audits to assess Jetstar Pacific's maintenance performance", he added. The first of these took place before the airline took on the Jetstar brand in May 2008, and the last was in October 2009.

"This audit concluded there were no safety concerns with Jetstar Pacific's operations and that the airline met regulatory requirements," says Joyce. "Audits are a standard practice in the aviation industry and are an important way that we can continue to improve safety in all our businesses."