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  • The saga continues for major airlines around the world as infrastructure scares in Boeing 737s continue to plague Qantas
  • The Australian airline grounded a handful of its Boeing 737 models over the last month after discovering cracks between the aircraft’s wing and body
  • Indonesian airline Lion Air and Irish airline Ryanair have both discovered additional cracks along the sides of their Boeing 737 jets
  • The scares follow orders from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration for 737 jets with considerable mileage to undergo checks
  • Whilst Lion Air’s jets haven’t accrued enough mileage to merit a review, Qantas and Virgin are being urged to check their aircraft again
  • Shares in Qantas are trading higher today for $6.68, while Virgin Australia trades flat at 15.5 cents

The saga continues for major airlines around the world as infrastructure scares in Boeing 737s continue to plague carriers.

During October, Qantas grounded a handful of its jets that fit the profile for inspection: Boeing 737 models that had surpassed 30,000 flights.

As a result, the Australian airline found infrastructure cracks on the adjoining spot between the plane’s wing and body.

The airline conducted reviews after American engineers union, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), made a global call for planes to undergo inspection.

At the time, Qantas Domestic Chief Operating Officer Andrew David said the cracks did not pose an immediate danger and the engineering union was reckless in scaring the public.

“Qantas will never fly a plane if we do not believe it is safe to do so,” he said.

“Our entire reputation, our brand, is built on a safety record.”

New discoveries

But new developments have hit the news with budget Indonesian airline, Lion Air, finding cracks on its aircraft under the expected mileage profile, clocking in with only 22,000 flights.

Now the public has put airlines like Qantas and Virgin back in the hot seat to check again.

These cracks were discovered on what is known as the “pickle fork” — a hidden part of the infrastructure that connects the wing to the fuselage.

Since earlier developments, Qantas has inspected 33 aircraft, leaving a further 42 unchecked.

Virgin has checked 25 of its planes.

A diagram of the “pickle fork” in a modern aircraft

Irish airline Ryanair discovered pickle fork cracks earlier this week as well. It has since grounded three of its Boeing 737 jets.

Ryanair is Europe’s biggest budget airline, with over 400 major Boeing jets in operation. However, the company hit back at The Guardian‘s “rubbish” reporting on the cracks.

“Ryanair openly confirmed to The Guardian newspaper yesterday that this tiny number of findings would not affect either Ryanair’s operating fleet or flights, because the airline has moved to its winter schedule from the end of October,” A Ryanair spokesperson said.

The 737 jet is the world’s most common flyer, with at least 50 planes grounded over the past year due to the recent infrastructure worries.

Head office cuts for Qantas

Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce
Image sourced from My Business

Qantas also confirmed today the major airline will cut jobs in its head office branch.

Staff were first told of the cuts last week, but specifics are still unknown.

Qantas head of human resources, Lesley Grant, is poised to retire by year’s end — yet her position will remain empty. According to media outlets, a letter distributed to the company’s staff says HR offices roles will be merged to cover Lesley’s duties.

Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce says the decision will improve efficiency.

Alan is one of Australia’s highest-paid CEOs, pocketing $23.8 million last year. This figure is over 270 times the average Australian salary.

Shares in Qantas are trading higher today for $6.68, while Virgin Australia trades flat at 15.5 cents

QAN by the numbers
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