OPINION

The cost of low fares

No reasonable person would buy an air ticket at a super-low price knowing that the discount signifies any deterioration in safety standards. Consumers take for granted that low-fair air carriers trim costs by cutting on luxury services, such as food and comfort – but that no compromise is made on safety. Regrettably, the deregulation of the air transport sector does not seem to confirm common sense. Accidents are more common among small private firms, leading to the conclusion that competition has taken its toll on safety, meaning the purchase of reliable aircraft, thorough maintenance and the training of flight staff. Failure by a sea or land transport company to meet these regulations usually causes passenger inconvenience but rarely does it have any effect on safety standards. On the contrary, such omissions in air travel have often proved fatal. This means that, first, authorities must be very strict in punishing those responsible for mistakes or omissions; second, the state must intensify inspections; and, third, the public must become more aware of the ugly side of the low-budget airliners that have flourished over the past few years. The owners of a small company with four of five aircraft naturally cannot be expected to have the same sense of responsibility or worry as the heads of a major airline. Nor can they be expected to match the safety standards of the bigger carriers. This is the gap that the state must fill by intensifying controls on both staff and aircraft. Reports on the circumstances under which the fatal flight took place and ongoing investigation into the causes of the crash point to a number of unforgivable omissions. It also speaks volumes that the company was unable to confirm the exact age of the four attendants: they were said to be aged «between 20 and 30».