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Skymark Airlines, Tokyo

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Skymark Airlines, Tokyo

Old 11th Mar 2010, 20:25
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Angry Skymark Airlines, Tokyo

A Skymark Captain (foreign national) decided to have a sick flight attendant replaced because she was too sick to work. (Haneda to Fukuoka on 5 Feb.) Japanese Aviation Law stipulates that the captain has the final say on the crew's fitness for duty.
Management disagreed with him and ordered him to fly with the sick crewmember. The captain protested the decision and was replaced by another pilot. Later in the day he was fired after a heated argument and was slapped around by the Skymark president. The pilot filed a report with the police and the Transport Ministry lashed out at Skymark for this unprecedented ignoring of the captain's authority.
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Old 11th Mar 2010, 21:30
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Sounds awful, but not unlikely, based on the rumoured safety culture in that part of the world. Sorry to say so.

Good one on the skipper for doing his job. I'm sure he will find greener pastures.
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Old 11th Mar 2010, 21:54
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Sounds awful, but not unlikely, based on the rumoured safety culture in that part of the world. Sorry to say so.
In that part of the world??? you mean to say in Skymark, yes that individual that is running this company has a pretty bad rep and does some very unorthodox things but it is an Isolated company that is under the watchful eye of the JCAB precisely due to the odd behavior of it's management. But to paint all companies in Japan with a broad stroke is inaccurate at best, If the case would have been at ANA or JAL, the cabin crew is changed with a standby, no questions asked
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Old 11th Mar 2010, 22:51
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Guess I opened a can of worms there....

...but I stand by that statement. The key word being rumoured, and "that part of the world" extending way beyond Japan.

I have no evidence to prove anything, I stamd by that also, and don't expect my statement to be much merited, so I'll leave it be. Hat, coat, door.
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Old 11th Mar 2010, 23:05
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Rumors and questions about the captain's authority are guaranteed to expand a thread beyond several pages in a day.

go for it
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Old 12th Mar 2010, 06:08
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You cannot associate Japanese safety culture with some of the other countries in the region. Japanese take their safety seriously. I am happy to say that JCAB, what ever their limitations might culturally be, is not suspect to corruption like in many of the other countries in the region.

As it is said, Skymark has been under the eye of JCAB for some time and this latest incident is more likely to increase the said supervision.
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Old 12th Mar 2010, 06:44
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Replacement pilot

Why did the other pilot accept to fly the trip? Nice collegue
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Old 12th Mar 2010, 08:59
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Why did the other pilot accept to fly the trip? Nice collegue
He probably knew what was coming to him if he didn't.

If the above is all true the airline should be grounded immediately. And for those of you who believe that it's "normal" in "that region", my more recent experiences here in the perfect world is that we're slowly heading towards similar managerial ways.
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Old 12th Mar 2010, 10:42
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I agree, except with the "slowly" bit.

With airlines operating in a more international manner than the regulating authorities, and "safety" being a very fancy word that often is paid lipservice as long as it does not interfere with the profitmaking bit, general dumbing down of the profession and requirements and overreliance on SOPs rather than experience and good judgement within the context of a learning organisation, I think we are headed very quickly towards the lowest common denominator. And it is very low.

With the market as it is, it is all very well to condemn someone for not taking a principal stand that would have cost him his job (perhaps he was not even told the complete picture) for him simply to be replaced by another again. But it would not have resulted in anything other than another unemployed pilot, probably a family man trying to put food on the table.
It should be the regulator to step in and call a halt to these practices. I hope they do.
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Old 12th Mar 2010, 12:38
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I heard that the Japanese aviation authority already issued a press release a couple of days ago after their investigation and concluded that the Skymark management is in the wrong. Supposedly this is such an unprecedented incident like Tokyo Driver said, that even the Japanese TV network picked up the story and aired the news on TV prime time.

Anyone who can translate the Japanese news into English?

Sorry for this captain who got fired but this is the kind of guy we need nowadays. Maybe what he did by standing up for what's right will help the other fellow pilots at this company.

The Aviation authority in Japan sounds pretty impressive.
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Old 12th Mar 2010, 15:55
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One wonders...will the company be forced to rehire said Captain...or...pay through the nose, in court?
Suspect the latter.
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Old 12th Mar 2010, 16:34
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One wonders...will the company be forced to rehire said Captain...or...pay through the nose, in court?
Suspect the latter.
In the US and a few other places, that would almost certainly be the case, unless there's more to the story. I'm not familiar enough with Japanese employment law or litigative history to venture a guess in this case, though I hope such a remedy is available to him.
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Old 12th Mar 2010, 18:58
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Skymark

There is likely a bit more to this story than we have read. The Captain made the right decision and has the authority to see it through. Unfortunately, in Japan, operations often clashes with culture.

First, a word about Skymark. I worked under contract with them for 3 1/2 years while on leave from my airline. They maintained the highest standards in both maintenance and operations. At this time, they were primarily a B767 operation and were starting their transition to B737 when I finished my contract in 2007.

The primary shareholder and president on Skymark did not have any background in airlines. He relied on a very astute team of subordinates to manage operations. Unfortunately, he would occasionally try a "hands-on" approach which would usually prove to be not so wise. The culture dictates "face" as being very important, and bad decisions where often left to ferment as rescinding them would be embarrassing to the instigator.

Operations as a Captain are much the same. The approach in Japan is toward consensus rather than confrontation. It may take more work and time to achieve the desired end, but it can be done. For westerners, parking one's ego to see through an issue is often difficult but if not done, can lead to a situation such as this. Once into "conflict mode", face will override common sense. This pilot should be commended for placing his passengers' safety first even in this difficult situation. The replacement pilot should be given a private remedial training session by his peers.

In 2007, Skymark flew good aircraft with good people. I have kept contact with several of their employees and have not heard of anything other than the usual grumbles. Hopefully, this is an isolated incident and the government response will get them back on the right track. Certainly it should empower and validate the authority of their flight crews.
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Old 13th Mar 2010, 03:40
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asahi.com????????Skymark ordered sick attendant to fly - English

Skymark ordered sick attendant to fly
THE ASAHI SHIMBUN

2010/03/11
The transport ministry has reprimanded Skymark Airlines Inc. in writing for forcing a cabin attendant who was sick to work, thereby overriding the captain's decision to replace her with someone else.

The Aviation Law stipulates that a captain has the final say on cabin crews for individual flights.

According to the ministry, the captain of a flight heading from Haneda to Fukuoka on Feb. 5 learned before departure that a female crew member had lost her voice due to a cold. He ordered that she be replaced by another crew member.

The captain, a foreign national, cited possible problems in case of emergency.

But Skymark's Chairman Takashi Ide and President Shinichi Nishikubo canceled the captain's decision and ordered him to fly with the sick crew member.

The captain protested the decision and was replaced by another pilot and fired later that day after a heated exchange.

The fired captain filed a damage report with Tokyo police, alleging that he was slapped by the president and others during the argument.

The flight took off an hour later than scheduled with the sick attendant on board.

The ministry lashed out at Skymark for ignoring the captain's decision on the flight, calling the incident "unprecedented."
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Old 13th Mar 2010, 10:08
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Unfortunately Skymark has changed...
Upper management has changed...
Unfortunately not for better, but for worse...


The version of the story I heard is that the sick cabin attendant is not just a cabin attendant. She is the purser. And believe it or not, the purser is the only cabin attendant who is able to communicate in functional English at Skymark.

Nobody knows the true version of the exchange between the senior management and the said captain, though. Many stories tossed around from discussion to heated discussion; from slapping to grabbing. A second hand version I heard was that this senior manager did the non-stop yelling himself and even demanded this said captain (non-Japanese) to speak Japanese with him!
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Old 13th Mar 2010, 11:18
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" Lost in Translation "
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