Jetfoil safety fears

PUBLISHED : Monday, 11 May, 1998, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 11 May, 1998, 12:00am

I regularly visit Macau for the weekend and always travel by jetfoil, because the alternatives are beyond my budget or make me feel ill. However, on my last journey to Macau on Friday, May 1, on the 2.30pm sailing, I was disturbed to find that there were no seatbelts in either of the seats assigned to me and my husband in the jetfoil's economy class.

Despite this, a notice was affixed to the seatbacks and announcements made by staff advising passengers to fasten their seatbelts. The next day a collision with a submerged object resulted in injury to unbelted passengers thrown from their seats by the impact. One of the first statements from Far East Jetfoils claimed it advises all passengers to wear their seatbelts at all times. This advice seems rather hollow in the light of my experience. Can Far East Jetfoils explain why the two seats occupied by me and my husband had no seatbelts and is this the case in other economy section seats? And can the company give a commitment that where there are no seatbelts, they will now be fitted as soon as possible? The further question of whether all staff have been fully trained to deal with an emergency is certainly one that needs to be answered, but in addition to improving staff training, Far East Jetfoils should update the safety cards tucked in the seat pockets in front of every seat. At present these safety cards are poorly designed and lack much information - including instructions for locating and releasing lifeboats - which would enable passengers to help staff more effectively in an emergency.

I have loved Macau for 26 years and even the recent crimewave has not put me off travelling there. But concerns about jetfoil safety could.