Is Air New Zealand’s cost-cutting compromising its safety record?

One thing passengers don’t want to hear is that their flight has been delayed because of engineering problems.

It seems to be happening more frequently. Why? And is Air New Zealand massaging its safety record? Incidents which cause alarm to passengers are not being reported in the media.

Why so many engineering problems? Could the reason be partly due to the fact that, according to one long-time New Zealand engineer, the shifts were changed? Whereas three engineers worked eight-hour shifts each, now two engineers are rostered to work 12 hour shifts instead. As an engineer involved comments, the last three hours are when the mistakes happen. Understandably, given the extraordinary concentration needed by maintenance staff to keep these planes safe in the air.

It is almost incredible that Air New Zealand’s aeronautical engineers are being required to work 12 hour shifts when public safety is an issue – let alone the health and stress consequences for individuals.  An article in The CAA September/October 2002 journal points out there is probably no way to avoid the need for maintenance to be done at night. While arguing that this does not mean that fatigue levels can’t be managed, it concedes that almost all night-shift workers suffer from a lack of quality sleep.

Moreover “Australian research has shown that moderate sleep deprivation of the kind experienced by shift workers can produce effects very similar to those produced by alcohol.” Noting that “a relatively limited number of unsafe acts such as work-arounds, memory lapses and situational awareness errors typically occur in the context of problems such as unclear or poor procedures, lack of equipment or spares, communication breakdowns, time pressure and fatigue, the article concludes: “Unfortunately, advances in aviation technology have not necessarily matched by improvements in the way we organise the work of the people who maintain aircraft.”

Plus ça change? How much credibility should we give to the claim a twelve hour shift roster was given the support of 84% of hangar staff after a 12 month trial? What about the high degree of probability that qualified staff, anxious not to lose their jobs, would feel the necessity to agree to a situation which is overly-taxing, and clearly not optimum?

Feedback from readers in this area would be interesting. Some are reporting that on one particular busy route, a trouble-free flight is now an exception. Even allowing for possible exaggeration, these incidents are certainly regularly occurring.   And being required to remain penned on a plane sitting on the hot tarmac of Auckland airport for an extra hour and more in these high summer temperatures (a recent reported occurrence) is not only a worry for passengers who have no idea what the problem is – but adds to the stress of all who are suffering the effects of the heat while the plane is stationary.

When asked some time back why Air New Zealand causes alarm to passengers by telling them that their plane has an engineering problem, the answer came that the airline was required to do so, in the interests of freedom of information. However, when then asked why the passengers weren’t told exactly what the problem was  – the answer was that Air New Zealand isn’t required to do so.

Why not – in the interests of keeping passengers fully informed? And why aren’t passengers given the choice of leaving a plane which they have been told has engineering problems – to choose another plane? Not to allow passengers the choice of disembarking, if there are problems with the plane, seems entirely unreasonable.

Moreover, a number of incidents which should cause concern are not being reported in the media… such as a plane required to turn back to Auckland some little while ago – at the slowest possible speed manageable without stalling…

We need better answers from Air New Zealand – whose prices have also headed back up to about what they were before Jetstar came on the scene. As frequently noted,  it is usually more affordable for New Zealanders to fly to Australia than within our own country.  Grab-A-Seat offers have limited value only.  And we can rely on Air New Zealand’s prices shooting up around the times of special public holidays like the Christmas period, when families hope to visit one anther again. For many it is simply unaffordable.

Our pilots may be among the best in the world, our engineers, too. But isn’t it time we required more accountability from the usual suspects… from management, whose  first concern – as with so many of today’s corporations  – seems to be to increase returns to shareholders  – and to  CEOs?

 

© Amy Brooke  © Amy Brooke, Convener. See my book “100 Days – Claiming Back New Zealand …what has gone wrong, and how we can control our politicians.” Available through www.amybrooke.co.nz, Kindle, or HATM Publishers.

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© Amy Brooke, Convener. See my book “100 Days – Claiming Back New Zealand …what has gone wrong, and how we can control our politicians.” Available through www.amybrooke.co.nz, Kindle, or HATM Publishers.

It helps a lot to SHARE or LIKE us through the social media network! https://www.facebook.com/100daystodemocracy?ref=br_tf

Help us fight for the 100 Days – Claiming Back New Zealand movement!

We need you to help get our message further out by donating. See www.100days.co.nz-  Thank you!

What taxes? The National Party’s stunning hypocrisy – versus Labour’s learning curve?

How many New Zealanders are aware of one of the National Party’s most damaging impositions on the country  – that in these three years since the 2008 election, it has imposed, or increased, reportedly 15 taxes, without prior warning?

Bill English increased GST from 12.5% to 15%. Remember ? John Key promised this wouldn’t happen. Any surprises here?

So let’s look at this list  – while National tries its best distraction tactic – pointing the finger at the Opposition.

However, among the National Party’s legacy?

Taxes were raised on KiwiSaver

Charges were increased for Internal Affairs – Births, deaths & Marriages

Student loan repayments increased from 10% to 12 %. Overseas-based New  Zealanders are also being charged interest on their loans

The average fee for tertiary education has also increased.

Passport charges increased from $135.00 to $180.00

Civil Aviation Authority fees rose

Road user charges increased

National slapped on an additional 9 % fuel tax increase

What about the large, reportedly unnecessary ACC levy increase?

Prescription charges increased by 66%

New online company filing fees were imposed on businesses

Revising of the scope of Fringe Benefit Taxes

National tried to tax car parks and plainclothes police uniforms

A lowering of Working for Families abatement threshold and the abatement   rate – taking money out of the pockets of families.

Imposing an incredible $900 Family Court fee

Descending to squeeze even children’s earning, by imposing what many consider a contemptible tax on the small earnings of paper delivery boys and girls.

Yes, Labour’s over-confident proposals to impose taxes did not go down with the electorate – any more than Gareth Morgan’s ill-thought proposal to apparently punish people who own their own homes. On the basis that people who rent pay for renting, Morgan apparently thinks it would be a wonderful idea if people owning their houses should also pay rent. The arguably unjust, even bizarre idea that this multimillionaire has come up with, completely ignores the fact that the equivalent of paying rent by home-owners has been the many years of paying off a mortgage. And of course they already pay an additional rent in the form of local government rates on their housing and land. Morgan makes no acknowledgement of the fact that those renting properties make no contribution to rates.

Jacinda Ardern obviously still has a lot to learn – at least she seems to have taken this on board. Just as well. Her hint that Labour might not tax the family home – but could tax the land underneath it  – is also weasel territory. It overlooks the fact that this land is already taxed by the rates that local government demands – constantly upping them, and always above the rate of inflation.

Between the extortions of central and local government, New Zealanders have been having a very hard time – and this doesn’t even take into account the best of our farmland and scenic reserves now being snapped up, under National’s too comfortable accommodation with the mega-wealthy – including, worryingly, Communist Chinese – and being priced inevitably out of the reach of New Zealanders. We are losing our land – at the same time that we have been incrementally losing our freedoms,   and if there is any more money to be squeezed out of us, National will not hesitate to do so.  Already another fuel tax by National is mooted.

In the past  three years, since the 2008 election, what National has basically been doing is scraping the barrel. We already know that their boast of the surplus they have achieved has been based on squeezing tight every single important service they could get their hands on – the hospitals constantly ordered to return more to the government; mental health services in shocking disarray; youth help and drug rehabilitation under-funded – no tax too mean-minded not to be imposed. Yes, Labour is still an unknown risk  – but National’s avaricious grab for any possible tax, its utter arrogance and lack of consultation with the country. make it too undeserving and too big a risk to vote back in.

However, apparently the media never learn. A too–often soppy-sounding  Dompost columnist, who has apparently stayed close to the political scene for too long, has attacked Labour’s consideration of the capital gains tax… (but doesn’t mention any of National’s taxation impositions, during its recent three year term. ) She describes Labour’s  airing of a  possible capital gains tax  as “cavalier and uncaring about the uncertainty it created among people whose financial future was tied up in property.” What an extraordinary statement!  – given her failure to recognise that one of the reasons the capital gains tax has been so often kicked out of the arena is that most MPs own multiple properties – they themselves, while cavalier about inflicting taxes on others – are not quite so keen when it comes to their own pockets being raided.

It is not just as Tracey Watkins blandly reports,  that “a capital gains tax has always been fraught electorally because of the kiwi love affair with property.”  What about our MPs love affair with multiple properties?  And her what of her inability to stand off and analyse the issues – without over-praising the politicians with whom she is constantly in touch ?  E.g. No guesses about  “probably two of the nicest people you will meet in politics. They are both supersmart, genuinely care, and have empathy and emotional and  intelligence in spades.”

Grief…what about a lot more  objectivity, Tracey – instead of what sounds like a failure to remain emotionally detached? Why fall for the smarm and charm offensive that is so crucial for politicians to dish out – around election time?  It doesn’t help if  female reporters gush like this – Watkins  apparently needs to toughen up. And she is still finding excuses to praise the evasive and slippery John Key – “ One of National’s most successful Prime Ministers, because he never let ideology  get too far ahead of pubic opinion.” Sheer nonsense, Tracey –  he had the gift of the gab, and is regarded as having had far too close an attraction to the Communist Chinese super-wealthy, who were keen to support  him  to get rid of the Union Jack  from our flag. They are still massively contributing to the National Party’s fund-raising efforts.  Is it really too much to wonder why?

Key opened the floodgates to unmanageable immigration, was basically responsible for all the sneaky tax increases National introduced this last term  – and he took no notice of the country when he wanted his way – the TPPA was a very good example of this… Many will argue he got out  – seeing the writing on the wall.

Let’s hope it’s also on the way for this damaging government – and that New Zealand First, the one party which has a chance of reining in the excesses that the two major parties consistently indulge in – is able to make its presence a formidable reality in the new period of government ahead.

 

© Amy Brooke Help us fight for the 100 Days – Claiming Back New Zealand movement!

© Amy Brooke, Convener. See my book “100 Days – Claiming Back New Zealand …what has gone wrong, and how we can control our politicians.” Available through www.amybrooke.co.nz, Kindle, or HATM Publishers.

It helps a lot to SHARE or LIKE us through the social media network! https://www.facebook.com/100daystodemocracy?ref=br_tf

Do help us to get our message further out by donating. See www.100days.co.nz!