MIRABEL (Quebec), Sept. 1
As the first passengers of the August 23, 2001 Flight TS 236 begin to arrive home, Air Transat is continuing to provide assistance both in Portugal and in Canada. Two hundred and ninety-one passengers (plus two infants) were on board flight TS 236 when it was forced to make an emergency landing on the island of Terceira in the Azores on August 24, 2001. 'We were and remain completely committed to providing assistance to the passengers of Flight TS 236,' said Denis Jacob, President and Chief Executive Officer, Air Transat, 'We will continue to be there for the passengers and their families as they deal with a situation that has been both difficult and challenging.' From the moment that the incident occurred, Air Transat responded quickly to deploy resources including its own personnel and additional specialists. Some of the initiatives taken by Air Transat are as follows: In Terceira and Lisbon Air Transat provided transportation, psychological counseling and medical assistance, accommodations and meals and telephone communications. Air Transat is reimbursing all passengers airfare and provided passengers a lump sum amount to cover irregular out-of-pockets expenses.
Air Transat also arranged for families requiring special assistance to travel from Canada to Portugal. For their return to Canada, Air Transat will be providing immediate return travel if desired and complimentary upgrades whenever possible. The airline has also arranged for dedicated 1-800 telephone lines to answer questions of passengers and their families and access to confidential counseling services. Despite the fact that passengers had a trying experience, unsolicited comments of gratitude were expressed to the flight crew and the airline. In particular the pilot Captain Robert Piché was commended for his ability to land the plane. 'He is a member of the Air Transat family and we look forward to having him resume his duties after a much deserved rest. Air Transat was aware of information related to his personal background reported in the media. This information is not pertinent to the performance of his duties with Air Transat and remains a private matter' added Jacob. In addition to the support and assistance to passengers, Air Transat continues to work with Transport Canada to implement new precautionary measures swiftly, some of which were already in the company's plans. In addition, measures including training sessions for pilots operating long haul flights on twin-engine aircraft are being introduced.
In addition, Air Transat will be among the first airlines in Canada to provide its maintenance personnel with training on human factor management. Also, Air Transat will be the first airline to implement a new Safety Management System program, something that is expected to become law shortly. 'We welcome these measures which will enhance our overall performance' said Jacob. Air Transat continues the re-engineering of its processes and procedures in the maintenance and engineering division, which began several months ago, and will report the results to Transport Canada. Air Transat has also voluntarily designed and begun implementing a corrective action plan including the hiring of additional inspection and quality assurance personnel. Air Transat had begun the recruitment of a newly created position of Senior Director, Safety and Prevention in early August. The incumbent assumes his position on September 4, 2001. Air Transat is co-operating fully with the ETOPS (Extended range twin-engine operation) special audit. We will continue to provide our full support and co-operation to ensure that the audit is completed in a full and comprehensive manner.
The ETOPS-related measures announced by Transport Canada on August 25, 2001 have a minor impact on the day-to-day operations of Air Transat's three Airbus A330 and no impact on its other 21 aircraft or its transatlantic operations.
Air Transat is working closely with Portuguese and Canadian authorities as the investigation into the incident continues.