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A Jetstar plane was forced to avoid a Qantas aircraft above Hamilton Island at the weekend, Jetstar said yesterday.
Following passenger accounts of a near miss, the airline's chief executive officer, Alan Joyce, backed his crew, both of whom had continued flying since the incident, which happened at 4.20pm on Saturday.
"They did the right thing," he said. "They took appropriate action, which involved changing course to maintain separation."
All pilots and air traffic controllers had returned to normal duties after the incident, according to the airlines and the air safety authority.
Passengers on the right-hand side of Jetstar's flight 711 to Sydney reported seeing Qantas flight 1174 flying straight towards them as they prepared to take off from Hamilton Island, a popular resort.
Jetstar's Boeing 717 reportedly banked sharply to the left to avoid the larger Boeing 737 from Brisbane.
Investigators said it was not clear whether the planes had been dangerously close.
"These aircraft were under air traffic control, so they may have come close to each other, but that does not mean there was a safety hazard," said Australian Transport Safety Bureau deputy director Alan Stray.
He said each plane was aware of the other, and Qantas had had permission to pass behind the Jetstar aircraft.
The bureau was reviewing radar and voice tapes, and pilots and air traffic controllers would be interviewed, Mr Stray said.
But there was no evidence to suggest that the incident should be upgraded from category four, the lowest level of seriousness for high-capacity air transport.
He said such incidents involving commercial passenger aircraft occurred roughly eight to 10 times a year.
Jetstar travellers have described the incident as terrifying and complained that there had been no explanation from cabin crew or the pilots.
Qantas said both aircraft were under the control of Hamilton Island tower, which controlled air space around the island.
"Hamilton tower gave the incoming Qantas aircraft clearance to make a visual approach," the statement said.
"The Qantas flight crew could see the Jetstar aircraft at all times."
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