Australia's Transport Workers' Union (TWU) on Tuesday demanded that all AirAsia Indonesia flights in Australia be suspended, the union said in a statement. The demand comes after AirAsia Flight 8501 crashed in the Java Sea late December, killing all 162 people on board.
The group, which represents more than 90,000 transport workers, has asked for an urgent audit of the training and aircraft maintenance on flights that fly in and out of Darwin and Perth. TWU said in a statement that it has concerns over the airline’s operations after information leaked from a preliminary report "questioned pilot training."
The statement claimed that the pilots flew the plane without assessing the atmospheric conditions as a weather report was taken by AirAsia more than an hour after the flight took off. The union said the flight had also not been authorized to fly the route on the day of the incident.
“We need to ensure that a rapidly expanding airline like AirAsia Indonesia is not cutting corners to suit a low standard model,” Tony Sheldon, the union's national secretary, said in the statement, adding: “We also want to see greater transparency and do not want to have to wait several months before an official report from Indonesia is made public.”
AirAsia and Indonesia AirAsia had established Indonesia AirAsia X, a joint venture, which had planned its inaugural flight on Dec. 26, 2014, from Bali to Melbourne. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is currently investigating AirAsia Indonesia for canceling the flights from Melbourne on Dec. 26 because it did not receive an approval from the Civil Aviation Safety Authority, the union said in the statement.
“Passengers flying in Australia must be able to make informed choices about the airline they travel with. For this reason we want to see AirAsia Indonesia flights suspended until the government can guarantee that pilot training and aircraft maintenance are of a standard acceptable to the Australian authorities,” Sheldon said, in the statement, adding: “We also want to ensure that AirAsia Indonesia have a robust industrial relations structure in place so that if staff are concerned about lack of training or inappropriate practices that there is an avenue for them to voice those concerns without risking their jobs.”
AirAsia Indonesia currently has 29 Airbus A320-200 in its fleet. The carrier, which shares 5.5 percent of the Australian aviation market, has also ordered 60 Airbus A320neo. It has carried 1.6 million passengers since 2009, but was banned from the European Union airspace between 2007 and 2010.