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Union seeks mass support to ban flights over war zones

August 8, 2014 Aviation, Headline News No Comments Email Email

egtmedia59Transport Workers Union (TWU) national secretary Tony Sheldon said yesterday he would seek international support for action to force air safety regulators “to take their responsibilities seriously in preventing commercial flights from passing over conflict zones”.

“Since MH17, we’ve seen government inaction, airline inaction and watchdog inaction,” Sheldon said.

“Commercial flights are still routed over conflict zones, placing passengers and air crew at risk. Airline managements are playing Russian roulette with their passenger’s lives.”

“But if regulators won’t act, the workforce will. We will be seeking to lodge the issue with the International Transport Federation, representing 648,000 aviation workers in 121 countries.

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“We will be asking the ITF to use its industrial and political strength to force safety watchdogs to strengthen warnings and compel airlines to avoid conflict zones.

“Airlines must not be allowed to put profits ahead of safety by ignoring global safety warnings.

“And safety warnings must be tough enough to protect the lives of passengers and crew.”

Sheldon said ITF action could include pressure on governments and airlines, forcing action in bodies such as the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).

“ICAO is the global safety watchdog, with prime responsibility for issuing safety warnings on commercial routes,” Sheldon said.

“Yet ICAO crisis talks after MH17 simply resulted in an agreement to meet again next year.

“There are thousands of flights every day. Passengers and aircrew cannot afford the risk of waiting till next year for tougher warnings and safety rules.

“I welcome Qantas’ recent decision to finally avoid flight paths over Iraq conflict zones. But this was caused by public and union pressure. It should have been done by regulators and airlines as a matter of safety and principle.

“The ultimate decision on air routes is still being made by the airlines themselves. And that means cost will always be calculated against risk.

“Air safety warnings should not be subject to this kind of economic calculation.

“That’s why we are calling for changes to aviation regulations, to make adherence to ICAO warnings a compulsory requirement.

“We are also seeking protections for pilots or aircrew who exercise their right to a safe workplace by refusing to fly on unsafe international flight paths or where ICAO warnings have been ignored or are inadequate in protecting lives.”

Edited by : Peter Needham

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