Life rafts are deployed in the event of a landing on water, as US Airways flight 1549 did on the Hudson River in New York on January 15, 2009. Photo: Reuters
Qantas has not made a final decision on a plan to remove life rafts from some flights but insists no action will be taken that might compromise the safety of passengers.
The airline is considering removing life rafts from Boeing 737s on some routes that do not take aircraft more than 400 nautical miles off the coast.
The move would save about $1 million a year in fuel.
However, the removal or life rafts from the 737s on these routes is also within regulations set out by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) governing flotation equipment for overwater flights.
It's understood other local airlines have also removed life rafts from planes on routes in line with these regulations. Virgin has been asked for comment.
Qantas is adamant the safety of passengers would not be put at risk and any suggestion to the contrary was "scaremongering".
"I think CASA would reject that because it's their regulation," a Qantas spokesman said.
"What I can confirm is that no decision on this has been made."
The comments come after South Australian Independent Senator Nick Xenophon demanded the airline abandon the plan, saying he had been approached by Qantas pilots and cabin crew who had privately told him of their concerns.
"If a plane has to ditch off shore, every minute counts, and the savings are a joke," said Senator Xenophon, who has written to Qantas chief executive Allan Joyce.
The Qantas spokesman said the airline would never do anything "that we felt compromised passenger safety", adding that the removal of life rafts on some routes was "not necessarily a new thing".
"... in the past Qantas has not had life rafts on flights when it's not required by legislation," he said.
Comment has been sought from CASA.