May 19, 2008
Ninety-six times over the past year, aircraft operated by Continental Airlines arrived in New York from Paris almost out of fuel– this was reported in the Wall Street Journal on April 17.
Continental’s smaller-sized Boeing planes were originally designed for flights within the United States. But for economic reasons – to increase profits – Continental decided to use them for intercontinental flights in the off-season. These planes have a smaller sized fuel tank that holds just 30 minutes more fuel than is required to make the flight across the Atlantic ocean. Thirty minutes is the mandatory minimum airlines are required to carry in case of difficulties that can arise, for example, delays at airports or poor weather conditions that force delays or strong headwinds that gobble up fuel.
Continental pilots were told they could divert to Canada – if they make it there – in order to refuel. But the management of Continental Airlines warned the pilots not to use this procedure. A memo warned that diverting a plane could “reduce profits and consequently the ability to finance retirement plans”! If this isn’t blackmail of the pilots, it sure looks a lot like it.
Until an accident happens, the airline will continue consciously to put the lives of its passengers and crews in danger. The law of profit demands it.