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Qantas says passengers weren't at risk -

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Qantas says passengers weren't at risk

The World Today - Tuesday, 29 July , 2008 12:30:00

Reporter: Alison Caldwell

ELEANOR HALL: Qantas' new CEO designate Alan Joyce has hardly had an easy introduction to his job.

He was announced as the new head of Qantas just as the airline was dealing with the worst safety
problem in its history. Now, the day after that announcement, he's having to deal with another

Last night a Qantas plane scheduled to fly from Adelaide to Melbourne was forced to land soon after
taking off because of possible problems with its landing gear.

Mr Joyce says it was a routine incident which was handled well by Qantas staff.

And he stated that safety will always be the number one priority for the national carrier.

Unions representing pilots and engineers are not making things any easier though. They're
expressing concerns about the new CEO's track record with budget carrier, Jetstar.

In Melbourne, Alison Caldwell reports.

ALISON CALDWELL: Qantas is downplaying what happened on board QF692 out of Adelaide early yesterday
evening, describing it as a "routine air turn-back" shortly after take-off.

Coming just three days after the emergency landing in the Philippines, some passengers were rattled
by the experience.

PASSENGER: It was a little more worrying I think than it would have been and I think it was very
noticeable the plane was dead quiet once the first PA announcement was made.

PASSENGER 2: Yeah, I had vibration and they couldn't fix the problem, the door of the
under-carriage and said we had to go back to Adelaide.

PASSENGER 3: I was very frightened and what made it worse is that I'm not well. It was this
vibrating that was worrying me and when they said that they weren't sure whether the door was
closed properly or what was wrong with the door. That was when I got a bit worried.

ALISON CALDWELL: A Qantas spokeswoman said there was an indication one of the landing gear doors
failed to retract. She said the 737, 800 landed safely and all passengers were accommodated on
other flights.

Qantas' new CEO Alan Joyce says it was a routine incident.

ALAN JOYCE: You know what, I think there's come to be you know the aviation industry and all
airlines are faced with items that do occur, it's part of the business that we're in and I think at
the moment you know there's a bit more focus on Qantas because of the incident last Friday and
that's to be expected, but I think some of these incidents that are now just now a course of
business and our people are well trained to handle them.

ALISON CALDWELL: He says he remains committed to the two airline strategy, maintaining both Qantas
and the budget carrier Jetstar.

Cutting jobs and budgets and guaranteeing profits in the face of rising fuel costs, he says fears
Qantas and Jetstar are sacrificing safety are misplaced.

ALAN JOYCE: Safety is never going to be compromised in this organisation, it's the same for all
Qantas group airlines, Jetstar included, it is a top priority. And that doesn't mean that we can't
do things smarter and more efficient and that's been part of what the management in Qantas have
done for some time.

ALISON CALDWELL: He says that means investments in new technologies and aircraft including the
carbon-fibre composite Boeing 787 and A380's.

ALAN JOYCE: You know the 787 is made of composite material, it's structure is a lot different from
aircraft in existence today and that does save in the long run on maintenance and maintenance
costs, it doesn't mean that the aircraft is in anyway less reliable than anything else, it's in
fact more reliable but it is a big save in terms of doing things differently.

ALISON CALDWELL: While welcoming the guarantees to maintain safety, the union representing flight
engineers is concerned about pay and conditions under the new CEO.

Paul Cousins is with the Australian Licensed Aircraft Engineers Association.

PAUL COUSINS: We would be concerned in regards to the opportunities that were taken previously at
Jetstar in regards to individual contracts and commonwealth contracts instead of negotiated
agreements between the parties, but at this present time since Alan's only been in a short period,
we'll wait and see how it pans out.

ALISON CALDWELL: The union representing pilots shares those concerns.

Peter Somerville is with the Australian and International Pilots Association.

PETER SOMERVILLE: We look at the immediate incident, the QF30 incident that happened and the great
teamwork that was shown by the crew on that aircraft and think going forward now there's an
opportunity and the challenge for Alan Joyce is to bring the employees and in particular the pilots
together and to go ahead as a team. That's one of Alan Joyce's key challenges, he's got to reach
out to the employees.

ELEANOR HALL: Peter Somerville ending Alison Caldwell's report.