Well it's getting better...
Ansett Australia flies around Easter 767 crisis
Friday April 13, 1:33 AM EDT
By Sonali Paul
MELBOURNE, April 13 (Reuters) - Troubled Air New Zealand-owned Ansett Australia expected to avoid mayhem for 35,000 passengers on a busy holiday Friday with the help of four borrowed planes replacing its 10 grounded Boeing (BA) 767s.
Australia's second largest airline was ordered by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) to ground its ten 767 aircraft on Thursday, the busiest travel day in its history, and prove by May 4 that its planes were safe or lose its license.
Ansett spokesman Geoff Lynch said on Friday: "We have put together a recovery plan that has replaced all of the capacity lost with the grounding of our 10 Boeing 767s."
"So we expect to get all 35,000 customers booked with us to get to their destinations today," he told Reuters.
The groundings on a busy Easter weekend followed a string of 767 groundings which has plagued Ansett since Christmas at the same time it has had to cope with high fuel prices and cut-throat competition from two new cheap airlines.
The planes pulled out of service on Thursday accounted for up to 20 percent of the airline's capacity, "which is a lot on a very busy day," Lynch said.
Ansett replaced that capacity with one of its own Boeing 747s pulled off an international route, chartered a 747 and 767 from bigger rival Qantas Airways Ltd (QAN), a 717 from Impulse Airlines, and borrowed a 767 from Air New Zealand.
It also had to book seats on other carriers for many of its passengers, all at an undisclosed cost.
About 1,400 travellers were stranded on Thursday night after Ansett had to cancel seven flights without warning because they could not meet the air safety authority's deadline to be on the ground by 10 p.m. (1200 GMT).
Passengers who had been reassured they would be able to fly were furious about the sudden change and poor service from the airline, whose staff used a loudspeaker to tell travelers to go home because reservations staff could not help them.
"I totally do not understand how they can have a counter that has a sign with 'Customer Service' because that is something they do not understand," Stephen Lamb, who had nowhere to stay on Thursday night, told The Age newspaper.
Ansett's woes, starting with the voluntary grounding of seven 767s last Monday after hairline cracks were found on engine mounts on three, hit Air New Zealand shares and helped boost rival Qantas's shares during the week.
Air New Zealand's unrestricted B shares (AIRVB) fell 3.3 percent over the holiday shortened week to A$1.45 ($0) in a flat market, while its New Zealand resident-only A shares (AIRVA) ended the week down 1.9 percent at A$1.01.
Qantas shares rose 10 percent over the week to close at A$2.73, outpacing a one percent gain in the broader market.
The Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) said it was fed up with safety threats at Ansett, the latest of which was incorrect storing of emergency slides on a 767 last weekend.
"We are taking CASA's move yesterday very, very seriously, although we do not believe it was warranted," Lynch said.
"We'll be working very, very closely with CASA to gain a complete understanding of all of their specific requirements, and we will meet those requirements to the letter. We will certainly do that within three weeks," he told Reuters.
©2000 Reuters Limited.
Anyone can fly, only the best Soar.