All EasyJet planes are to be fitted with a ‘safety canary’, to provide an early warning system against flying into clouds of dangerous volcanic ash.
‘The canary system is foolproof,’ said EasyJet chief executive, Andy Harrison,‘the little bird is fitted to the nose cone of the plane and sings along happily to itself. However, if the plane enters an ash cloud it will start to cough and splutter, telling the pilot that it may be time to change course.’
However, animal lovers are concerned. ‘These creatures are being shamelessly exploited,’ said animal rights campaigner, Carla Lane, ‘what kind of life is it for these defenceless little birds to be locked up in a cage and left swinging from the nose cone of an Airbus A319? And I absolutely refuse to pay EasyJet's £5 canary surcharge.'
Mr Harrison rejected the criticism: ‘For most domestic canaries this is the best chance they will ever get to fly. They will see the world and be given as much cuttlebone as they can eat.’
However, the unions remain unconvinced. ‘These safety canaries might sound like a good idea,’ said UNITE leader, Tony Woodley, ‘but they are unfocused little birds who are easily distracted by jingly bells and their own reflection. Our members would prefer to see the use of tried and tested ‘safety coal miners’ who have lungs specially attuned to identifying all the many varieties of dust.’
Transport Secretary, Philip Hammond welcomed the decision: 'these safety canaries are a victory for common sense. And if any of them do die then they also make a tasty alternative to airline food.’