Page last updated at 19:15 GMT, Thursday, 28 August 2008 20:15 UK

Airline lifevests go to cut costs

Life vest. File pic
Transport Canada has approved the change

An airline in Canada is removing lifevests from all its planes to cut weight and so reduce fuel costs.

The regional airline Jazz says government regulations allow it to use flotation devices if the planes stay within 50 miles (80km) of shore.

Passengers will be directed to use seat cushions as flotation devices.

The move has drawn angry criticism. One Newfoundland politician, Woody French, said Jazz's passengers were "a distant second to profits".

Bill of rights

Jazz spokeswoman Manon Stuart said: "We used to carry both the flotation device, which is the seat cushion, as well as lifevests.

"The nature of our operations doesn't require that we carry both."

Jazz does not have any ocean-going flights but does fly over the Great Lakes and close to the east coast.

Ms Stuart said only two routes within its 85-destination network across North America had to be adjusted to meet the 50-mile requirement.

"Transport Canada was satisfied that we met the regulation, and they approved the change," she said.

But Mr French, who has been advocating an airline passenger bill of rights, said he would protest to the transport ministry.

"They are going to save about 50 pounds (23kg). Taking off 50 pounds is not going to make a hell of a lot of difference to the fuel consumption," he said.

"I think in this decision that's been made by Jazz, passengers are a distant second to profits."

Many airlines are reducing costs to meet difficult trading conditions.

On Thursday, the low-cost transatlantic carrier, Zoom Airlines, which employs 450 staff in Canada, said it was suspending operations with immediate effect.

It said aviation fuel rises had increased operating costs by $50m during the past year.

Zoom airline suspends all flights
28 Aug 08 |  Business

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