Friday, January 18, 2008

Fly Me Safely!

They often talk about this spectacular view on the approach to Changi Airport just before touchdown. Anxious for safety, I never get to notice. :(

My friend and I were just talking about the alert issued by the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) advising its citizens to shun a Philippine carrier. How sad that such a direct hit is bound to affect the country's flag carrier, Philippine Airlines, and with it our nation's economy and the tourism industry. Apparently, PAL's downgrade to category 2 affects travel decision not just of Americans but of everyone else including us Filipino travellers who will then perceive PAL as an unsafe carrier.

What to do? This isn't one of those issues where you can stand by your nation and so eloquently defend it from its supposed attackers. This is about safety, about the value of human life. And so, rather than taking a defensive stance, the civil aviation authorities must answer our questions: Were they aware of the impending downgrade ? I bet they were. Why was nothing done to satisfy FAA's concern? No money. Then, why was this never an issue when the national budget was being passed?

Oh, well, I thought, let me book a budget carrier meanwhile for my flight back to Singapore. Ok, so I will fly Tiger Airways which I have been shunning in the past owing to my exaggerated imaginings: Free-seating arrangement? Actually, I was able to choose a window seat :) No airline food. Who gives a hoot about airline food unless you are on first-class? (lobster, yum!) The attendants are not as good-looking. So not true. Plus, I don't care?? I may have to stand on the aisle if plane is too full? Silly thought. It is so cheaply-priced, oh my, it will crash. Think rationally, for goodness' sake.

Consider the facts. The world’s oldest budget airline, America’s Southwest, has never had a crash in 40 years of operation – that’s over 12 million flights. The UK’s two biggest budget flight operators, Ryanair and Easyjet, have also never suffered a crash throughout their company history. Arguably, safer, at second sight.

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