Tiger executives due in Australia for crisis talks

Senior Tiger Airways executives were due to hold crisis talks with aviation regulators in Australia Monday as the budget carrier attempts to allay safety fears and resume business.

Tiger Airways Australia, a subsidiary of Singapore's Tiger Airways, was grounded for five working days on Saturday by Australia's Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) for posing a "serious and imminent risk to air safety".

It is the first grounding of an entire fleet in Australian aviation history and group president and chief executive Tony Davis has been given the responsibility of getting planes back up in the air.

In a statement to the Singapore Stock Exchange, Tiger said Davis had been instructed to focus on "assisting Tiger Airways Australia to resume operations as soon as possible".

Chin Yau Seng, previously divisional vice president of cabin crew operations at Singapore Airlines, was appointed an additional executive director from July 4.

"The company reassures its customers that safety has been and will continue to be of paramount importance," Tiger said, stressing that only Australian domestic services were affected and not flights to Singapore.

CASA can only ground an airline for five working days -- to go any longer than that it must approach the Federal Court.

The regulator said its next move would depend on what Tiger brings to the table.

Australian authorities have been closely monitoring the airline and issued a "show cause" notice in March threatening to vary, suspend or cancel its licence over safety worries.

It was ordered to improve the proficiency of its pilots, boost pilot training and checking procedures, address fatigue management issues and ensure "appropriately qualified people fill management and operational positions".

The final straw came when a flight approached a Melbourne airport too low late Thursday -- the second such breach in a month.

Tiger estimated the suspension would cost it USê1.6 million a week and analysts said the airline could not sustain such losses indefinitely.

The Australian and International Pilots Association said the grounding should be a wake-up call for the industry.

Association vice-president Richard Woodward told ABC radio that when tickets were sold for an unrealistically low price, something had to give.

"I think we are reaching the point in aviation where they are trimmed right to the bare bones, where we are now seeing service suffer and these sort of issues coming up," he said.

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