2007 a record year for Australian domestic airlines

By: Chris Smith

Last year a record 47.2 million passengers flew almost 54 billion kilometres on Australian domestic airlines, according to new official

Last year a record 47.2 million passengers flew almost 54 billion kilometres on Australian domestic airlines, according to new official statistics released, but can this be achieved in 2008.

The Aviation Statistics: Australian Domestic Airline Activity 2007 report reveals that our domestic airlines are operating at record levels, with last year's passenger numbers up 6.6 percent on 2006.

The accumulated distance travelled by these paying passengers rose by an even greater 7 percent to 53.6 billion kilometres - equivalent to about 180 round trips to the Sun.

What's more, passenger numbers for each month of the current year have so far come in higher than the corresponding month of any previous year - a remarkable result considering the challenges confronting the aviation industry such as higher fuel prices and skill shortages.

The question is will the trend extend to 2008?

Qantas this week said it would work with the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) on the latest review it planned for some of the airline's operations after a spate of incidents bruising the company’s reputation.

The Executive General Manager of Qantas Engineering, David Cox, says Qantas has a long and respected history of safety, engineering and maintenance excellence, and that the flying public should have confidence in the airline.

"Our operations are first class and are continually subject to the scrutiny of Australian and overseas regulators as well as our own internal audits," Cox says.

"We have no issue with this latest review and CASA says it has no evidence to suggest that safety standards at Qantas have fallen. We agree and are totally confident these checks will confirm the integrity our engineering and maintenance operations and our commitment to safety.

"CASA regularly audits a range of Qantas' operations. Qantas Engineering, for example, successfully completed 13 audits in the last year alone, and a recent comprehensive audit of Qantas' Air Operators Certificate resulted in the airlines operating approval being again confirmed."

Cox says Qantas also conducted up to 150 internal audits each year on Qantas Engineering's operations, and was the subject of extensive audits by around 75 external regulators, manufacturers and customer airlines. These included CASA's equivalents in the United States, the European Union, Japan and New Zealand.

"On any given day, Qantas Engineering is working with multiple audit teams, both internal and external, who are forensically scrutinising every part of our operations, and our compliance, openness and responsiveness to regulator audits is well known across the industry," he says.

"We always have been, and always will be, fully open to this intense and constant scrutiny in the knowledge that our standards are confirmed every time these auditors renew our approvals."

Cox claims this week’s B767-300 air turn back was a routine and appropriate response to an issue with the aircraft's hydraulic system.

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