Qantas cuts fuel surcharge on its international fares

October 8th, 2008 - 3:42 pm ICT by IANS  

Sydney, Oct 8 (IANS) Australia’s flagship carrier, Qantas, will cut fuel surcharge on its international fares beginning Thursday with flights to India costing 15 Australian dollars or Rs.500 less.The announcement came as air safety investigators said an “irregularity” in the onboard computer equipment caused the mid-air incident on the Qantas flight from Singapore to Perth Tuesday in which 36 passengers were injured.

The Airbus A330-300, with 303 passengers and a crew of 10 onboard, dramatically dropped altitude before making an emergency landing at Learmonth military base, 1,260 km north of Perth on Australia’s west coast.

At least 36 passengers, predominantly at the rear of the aircraft, sustained injuries some serious spinal injuries and others suffered broken bones, bruises and lacerations. However, none of them have life-threatening injuries.

According to one passenger, the plane plunged 8,000 feet (2,440 metres) in about 10 seconds.

“The pilots received electronic centralised aircraft monitoring messages in the cockpit relating to some irregularity with the aircraft’s elevator control system,” Julian Walshe, Australian Transport Safety Bureau’s (ATSB) director of aviation safety investigation, told reporters in Canberra.

The aircraft, which was flying at an altitude of 37,000 feet, plunged then “departed level flight”, and climbed approximately 300 feet.

“The crew had initiated the non-normal checklist response actions. The aircraft is then reported to have abruptly pitched nose down,” Walshe told reporters.

An airline with an impeccable safety record, Qantas has faced turbulent times in recent months with several mid-air incidents involving its aircraft.

The Civil Aviation Safety Authority’s recent review found that there were broad “deficiencies” in Qantas’ maintenance programme.

As a new survey Wednesday revealed that 63 percent Australians believe the safety standards of Qantas have slipped, the airlines announced that surcharge on flights from Australia to Britain and Europe will be cut by $20 to $190 and flights to the US, Canada, South America, South Africa and India will be lower by $15 at $150.

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