- Dec 6, 2004
Sydney Morning Herald said:OzJet cuts flights, old planes playing up
Stand by for take-off … the airline could be losing $2 million a month.
By Scott Rochfort - December 5, 2005
JUST five days after its first commercial flight, OzJet now not only faces a lack of passengers but mechanical glitches with its fleet of 737-200s.
It has emerged that the cancellation of two of the eight OzJet return services between Sydney and Melbourne last Thursday was not just the result of a lack of passengers, as cited by the airline's founder, Paul Stoddart.
The cancellation may also have been caused by mechanical problems with one of OzJet's 30-year-old 737s.
Mr Stoddart did not return the Herald's phone calls yesterday. An OzJet spokesman said he was unaware of any problem but said any comment should be left to the "owner of the airline".
It is understood the part of the wing flap which helps the plane slow down during landing, known as the slat actuator piston, had "let go" or failed on an OzJet 737.
This is not considered a serious safety issue nor an unusual event for an aircraft. However, it will no doubt be a major disappointment - and embarrassment - given Ozjet's claims that its fleet of three 737s were recently given a major overhaul in Romania.
At the launch of OzJet's first commercial flight last Wednesday, Mr Stoddart said the aircraft had had "D" checks, which involved 18,000 man-hours and the replacement of every moving component that needed replacement.
After the cancellation of the flights last Thursday, Mr Stoddart blamed it on the lack of midday and mid-afternoon demand. But on Friday OzJet resumed the flights that were cancelled on Thursday.
Mr Stoddart told the Herald last week that OzJet would decide whether to have flights at the weekend. Judging by the airline's website yesterday, OzJet has decided to scale back its services from eight to six return flights between Sydney and Melbourne today and tomorrow.
However, flights have been bumped back up to eight flights from Sydney to Melbourne on Wednesday but maintained at six in the other direction.
Despite saying OzJet only had a "couple" of passengers on some of its mid-afternoon flights, last week Mr Stoddart said the business-class-only airline was filling 43 per cent of its seats on average, about 25 seats for each of the airline's 60-seat 737s.
In another blow to the airline, which boasts that one of its advantages is its on-time performance, OzJet has so far proved a tardy performer in its first days of operation. For instance, at least two of the airline's flights were about 40 minutes late on Thursday on top of the two that were already cancelled.
The scaling back of OzJet's schedule could make it tougher for the airline to secure business and government travellers. Virgin Blue and Qantas fly a combined 100 return flights a day between Sydney and Melbourne and, on top of that, both have frequent flyer schemes and business lounges.
In a bid to draw more passengers, OzJet has cut its standard one-way fares from $325 to $249 until the end of January.
OzJet has previously stated it only needed to fill 50 per cent of its seats to break even, based on the $325 air fare.