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Tiger Airways Australia suspends all July flights, as safety investigation continues
SYDNEY (AP) ' Tiger Airways domestic flights in Australia have been suspended through July and an executive is resigning amid a safety investigation, the airline said late Wednesday.
Australia's Civil Aviation Safety Authority imposed a five-day ban this week on the budget airline's domestic flights, and Tiger Airways said it won't oppose an extension through July 31 that the regulators plan to seek in court Thursday.
The statement also said Australia chief executive Crawford Rix is leaving the airline July 31, and will be replaced by Tony Davis, the group president of Tiger Airways Holdings who had been leading safety talks with the regulatory agency.
Regulators have said Tiger planes twice flew too low on approaches to Australian airports, and that broader safety concerns would be discussed as well with the airline.
As investigators went through Tiger's books, they had more questions and needed more time, safety authority spokesman Peter Gibson said Wednesday.
"We have to make sure we fully understand the reasons why these problems have occurred ' if they are systemic problems, problems with process and problems with safety systems," Gibson said.
But he said the extension was not a suggestion that investigators had discovered improper activity. The agency also noted the ban could be lifted earlier if its concerns were resolved.
The airline said it was working constructively with the agency to resume services quickly and is refunding the affected fares.
Consumer advocates had questioned why Tiger was selling tickets for flights beginning Saturday without warning buyers that the safety agency had not yet cleared it to fly.
The grounding of the 10-plane domestic fleet for five business days affected about 35,000 passengers. It would cost the airline 2 million Singapore dollars ($1.63 million) a week, Singapore-based Tiger Airways Holdings Ltd. said.
Tiger, the fourth-largest domestic airline in Australia, is 49 percent owned by national carrier Singapore Airlines Ltd. and 11 percent owned by state-owned investment company Temasek Holdings.