Tiger Airways’ domestic debut this Friday is coming down to the wire. The issuing of its Air Operator’s Certificate or AOC depends on a review now underway of test flights it made yesterday, between Melbourne and the Gold Coast and in night time conditions to Launceston, with Civil Aviation Safety Authority examiners on board.

While the Singapore owned carrier is expected to win last minute approval of its AOC in time for the inaugural passenger carrying services to Rockhampton, Mackay and the Gold Coast from Melbourne this Friday, CASA says the review has to be satisfactorily completed for this to occur.

Tiger would been sweating over any risk of a repeat of the Virgin Blue situation in 2000, when that carrier had to defer its first services by more than four weeks and refund millions of dollars in canceled bookings because of delays in having its AOC approved. And there is the matter of its chief pilot. Tiger’s originally designated chief pilot is said to have been deemed inappropriate by CASA, and is understood to have been replaced recently by a former Ansett captain, although Crikey has been unable to contact Tiger for comment and CASA won’t comment.

It is not unheard of among smaller carriers for CASA to block initial appointments as the designated chief pilot or chief of engineering in AOC applications.

Tiger must also at least symbolically replace Tony Davis, the chief executive officer of the Singapore based low cost airline franchise with an Australian national as the CEO of its Melbourne headquartered domestic division. An announcement of the local CEO was expected on Friday, but whomever it is will have to be accepted by CASA before then.

Tiger is 49 per cent owned by Singapore Airlines, and 11 per cent owned by Temasek Holdings, the government fund which in turn owns about 55 per cent of Singapore Airlines.

Peter Fray

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