Tragic news hit today that a Germanwings flight carrying 144 passengers and six crew traveling from Barcelona to Dusseldorf crashed in the French Alps, killing all onboard. There are a lot of questions surrounding the crash, primarily why the flight crew never declared an emergency as the Airbus A320 aircraft slowly lost altitude, but it will do no good to speculate further at this point. I do want to make the point that must be made — commercial flying remains the safest mode of flying and European budget carriers do not cut corners when it comes to safety. Let us not forget that in this tragedy.
It is of no comfort to the families and friends of those lost today that the Lufthansa-owned subsidiary maintains a stellar safety record. My goal here is not to downplay their loss but caution against knee-jerk reactions.
In light of the two Malyasia Airlines tragedies I had several clients insist that they would not fly on MH and instruct me to modify their ticketed reservations. Already today, a client has contacted me asking to be rebooked from a Germanwings flight we purchased using United miles.
Unfortunately, I envision a whole political cloud falling over the accident in the coming days — Lufthansa pilots have often protested against Germanwings — in solidarity with their flying brethren at the low-cost subsidiary seeking LH-mainline benefits like retirement at age 55 and generous defined benefit pension plans. Lufthansa plans to eliminate the Germanwings brand by the end of the year, merging it into its Eurowings service to become the #3 budget carrier in Europe behind Ryanair and Easy Jet. Why? Much lower labor costs. Look for a suggestion — perhaps even an outright charge — in the coming days that Lufthana’s cost-cutting led to this disaster. I do not believe it for one moment. But that’s a different topic than this–
Flying remains the safest mode of travel.
By every measure, you are safer flying on an airplane than you are riding a bicycle or driving a car. This crash today will not jar those statistics. European and German safety requirements are just as stringent as the USA and the German’s take particular pride in anally retentive maintenance.
We encounter risk every day, but commerical flying in the West is not and should not be a safety concern.
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Germanwings turned its website to black and white to reflect the somber tone that sets over this day and this airline. My thoughts and prayers are directed tonight toward the loved ones of each lost soul and I hope that answers quickly emerge as to what exactly happened onboard this ill-fated flight over the French Alps.