Save Yourself! Airline Removes Life Vests to Save Fuel

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Air Canada's regional carrier Jazz is removing life vests from all its planes to save weight and fuel.

Jazz spokeswoman Manon Stuart said Thursday that government regulations set by Transport Canada allow airlines to use floatation devices instead of life vests provided the planes remain within 50 miles of shore.

Safety cards in the seat pockets of Jazz aircraft now direct passengers to use the seat cushions as floatation devices.

"The nature of our operations doesn't require that we carry both," Stuart said.

Stuart said Jazz is a transcontinental carrier that doesn't fly over the ocean.

Jazz planes do fly over the Great Lakes and along the Eastern seaboard from Halifax to Boston to New York.

Stuart said all of Jazz's flights operate within 50 miles of shore. She said they operate 880 flights daily to 85 destinations in North America and says the number of flights that operate over water are minimal.

A commercial-style life vest weighs roughly a pound, meaning 50 pounds would be saved by removing them from a Dash-8 aircraft with 50 seats, the most common aircraft the company uses.

"Transport Canada was satisfied that we met the regulation, and they approved the change," Stuart said.

Stuart has said that with the high cost of fuel they are looking at everything.

Woody French, mayor of Conception Bay South, Newfoundland, called it a cheap move. French has been advocating for an airline passenger bill of rights.

"A lot of these airlines say 'Well, our passengers our are main concern.' That's a bit of a misnomer," French said. "We're a distant second. Profits are the first."

French is sending a letter of protest to Canada's transport minister.

"They are going to save about 50 pounds," he said. "Taking off 50 pounds is not going to make a hell of a lot of difference to the fuel consumption."