Aviation

Aussie airline slams “baseless accusations” about its safety culture and bullying of employees

Huntley Mitchell

Huntley Mitchell

Regional Express (Rex) has hit back at claims it committed serious safety breaches and intimidated employees into keeping quiet about major defects of its aircraft.

A number of media outlets have reported that the Australian Licensed Aircraft Engineers Association (ALAEA) filed a complaint with the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) in May against the Aussie airline.

The complaint alleged Rex had committed “serious breaches of safety obligations” which included “coercion, intimidation and bullying of employees” to a point where they were fearful of reporting aircraft defects.

“The apparent discouragement of reporting of maintenance defects has created a circumstance where an unknown number of serious defects may have not been reported and aircraft have operated with a serious and imminent risk to air safety,” the complaint alleges.

After Rex’s share price dropped by more than 10 per cent this morning, the company temporarily halted trading on the ASX to issue its response to the media reports.

In a statement, Rex confirmed the “same wild accusations have been raised by a disgruntled engineer and his union”, first to the Fair Work Commission and then to the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA).

“Realising that these baseless accusations are not getting any traction, some are now taking the despicable and cowardly approach of launching anonymous malicious attacks on Rex in the press,” the airline’s chief operating officer, Neville Howell, said.

“Rex has been advised by the Australian Licenced Aircraft Engineers’ Association (ALAEA) that it is CASA that is behind the anonymous leaks.

“Rex had already invited senior management of CASA on 18 June 2019 to have a full briefing on the matter, as well as to discuss the professional failings of the disgruntled engineer.”

Howell said Rex’s safety management system was “second to none” and that CASA wrote to the airline on 22 May 2019 to advise that the authority had no safety concerns.

“Rex will not be making any further comments on this matter and we will leave it to the safety authority to judge if our safety culture is lacking in any manner,” he said.

A CASA spokesperson told Travel Weekly the authority “is carefully examining the allegations and now has responses from Rex”.

“We will be asking further questions of Rex this week to make sure maintenance work at the airline is meeting all required standards,” the spokesperson said.

“If any safety issues are found, CASA will take appropriate and timely action. At this point, CASA has not taken any steps which impact on Rex operations.

Travel Weekly has contacted ALAEA for comment.

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