Air France defends its safety record
Air France/KLM has defended its safety record in the wake of a damning new book being published that brings Europe’s biggest airline under scrutiny.The Hidden Face of Air France, an investigation by journalist Fabrice Amedeo into what he alleges are failures in Air France’s management culture, accuses the French airline of having a relaxed attitude towards flight safety.The airline has flatly rejected the allegations with CEO Pierre-Henri Gourgeon stating: “Air transport safety is by definition the top priority of any airline worthy of its name and is the leading concern of all Air France staff, including pilots and cabin crew, maintenance, ground and head office staff. “Let me solemnly state that I have every confidence in the way company staff are mobilised to ensure the airline’s operations are carried out in complete safety.”The company’s recent record of disastrous crashes have been splashed across the front pages of French daily Liberation where statistics compiled online ranked Air France’s safety record as only the 65th best in the world.The reports coincided with Air France/KLM posting losses of 1.55 billion Euros between March 2009 and March 2010.Amedeo’s book refers to several Air France crashes including flight 447 from Rio to Paris in June last year, which broke apart and plunged into the Atlantic killing all 228 people on board. The cause of the crash has not been officially determined, but investigators found that cockpit flight computers were receiving incorrect airspeed readings and Air France has since replaced speed probes on its other jets.An Air France statement said: “The accident to flight AF447 deeply affected all of us and has marked the history of our airline. Following this tragedy, we all met to discuss ways to further improve our safety standards, which by no means shed any doubt on the possible causes of the accident that have been brought to our attention at the present time. “We aim to not only meet high standards, but attain the highest standards possible. To do this, we have recourse to various authorities.” In more positive Air France news, the French carrier launched its non-stop five times weekly Abu Dhabi to Paris service on 3 May.The addition of the new non-stop route takes the total combined number of Air France and KLM flights from the UAE from 28 to 30 per week with the start of the 2010 summer programme.