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Posts Tagged ‘world’

Well, I’m back from a little-longer-than-usual Thanksgiving break. My day job has been busy and I have a couple of side editing projects that have been butting into my blogging time. But I was rousted from my bloggy slumber by this piece of non-news from Reuters:

New pact could shake up airlines: Barron’s

New pact? Why, what new pact? Who signed a new agreement? This is big news. Oh, wait:

A new international aviation pact signed by the United States and the European Union could lead to lower prices for trans-Atlantic air travel and cause a shake-up among airlines, according to a report in Barron’s.

You mean the open skies agreement signed this spring? The one already extensively covered in the business and aviation press, including your humble blogger in an article that predates this blog post? Welcome to the party, Barron’s–you’re only more than six months (fashionably) late. Also, good for Barron’s: I see your analysis is the same as everyone else’s. Glad to see that it only takes you several months to come out with the conventional wisdom.

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The Cranky Flier draws attention to a little-noticed aspect of this past weekend’s end of daylight savings time: its effects on airline schedules. Normally airlines deal with these sorts of things by making necessary adjustments (especially complicated, he says, for flights between the northern and southern hemisphere, where daylight savings is going on when it’s not for us.). But Congress’s extension of DST for two weeks in October is really throwing a monkey wrench into transatlantic scheduling:

[A]t congested airports like London/Heathrow or Frankfurt, the airlines don’t have slot flexibility so I assumed they’d have to just change around their flights in the US. But what about when that involves flights at New York/JFK or Chicago/O’Hare, also congested airports? This gets very tricky and the result is a hodgepodge of schedule changes for some airlines. . . .

Look at JFK, however, and the London flights change both their US departure and arrival times. As you can imagine, arriving into the US an hour later means missed connections and longer waits for the next flight.

Aviation policy turns up where you least expect it

How Daylight Savings Time Impacts the Airlines [The Cranky Flier]

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I mean, I expect this from Michael O’Leary . . .

“Don’t talk to me about global warming… I just do not buy it whatsoever,” Maurice Flanagan, Emirates executive vice chairman, said at a regional aviation conference in Singapore.

“Al Gore’s ‘Inconvenient Truth’ is absolute rubbish,” added Flanagan, who said he had watched the documentary three times.

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Irwin Stelzer, a very intelligent commentator on economic issues, indulges too much air rage in his latest column. After running through a laundry list of typical air travel complaints, he reveals that his understanding of air traffic control funding, for example, is shaky:

Now consider the world’s airlines’ roles in all of this. They have by and large acted as if their customers’ experience in airports is none of their concern. . . . Unless, of course, he or she is sitting on the tarmac for a few hours, in which case the airlines are guessing that their customers are not completely up-to-date on the carriers’ reluctance to fund a new air-traffic control system that might eliminate such annoyances.

Well, the airlines are actually trying to set up a “new” system, which has its own merits but no hope of alleviating such annoyances in the next few years. They want general aviation to bear a greater share of the ATC funding burden. The airlines are indeed “reluctant” to continue funding an air traffic control system that cannot accommodate the increasing demand for air travel. The key to relieving congestion is to charge higher prices at the (less than ten) crowded hub airports where such congestion occurs. Of course, this will increase fares, but it’s a rational way to allocate seats on flights at premium times of day–times when Mr. Stelzer presumably prefers to fly. (more…)

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After a fifteen-year-old Russian boy survived a two-hour flight at high altitude as a stowaway inside the wheel well of a Boeing 737, his story received some attention. He stowed away at the Perm Airport by sneaking through a hole in the airport fence. Everyone wondered how a modern airport could allow such a major lapse–how did the boy get from the fence to the wheel well without being stopped? Well, it looks like the lapse continues. Six days later, two newspaper reporters found the hole intact, entered the secured area, and in poorly translated English:

When the correspondents had reached the runway, no one stopped to ask them what they were doing at a closed object. . . . In the middle of the day, when all of the airport’s services were working, two men (correspondents) freely accessed a plane standing in front of the airdrome control point and looked into the plane’s right wing. Finally, one of the technicians noticed some strangers near the plane, looked at them, and . . . went on working.

Well, da, that sure inspires confidence in the safety of Russian aviation. This is surely not what they wanted on the day after the unveiling of the Sukhoi SuperJet 100.

Experiment: Zero Security of Russian Airports [Russia-InfoCentre]

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The Department of Transportation has awarded new China route authority (see my earlier post on this), and all the major airline applicants took home a prize. Delta goes first, with immediate approval for Atlanta-Shanghai. The 2008 route is for Guangzhou only, and only United submitted a bid, for service from San Francisco. Finally, in 2009, US Airways will begin serving Philadelphia-Beijing, Northwest will fly Detroit-Shanghai, American will add Chicago-Beijing, and Continental will launch Newark-Shanghai service.

What’s too bad about this is that there is so much pent-up demand for China flights stymied by trade restrictions and tight control. Chinese airlines won’t even use all their allocated routes, but U.S. carriers can’t step in and take them over. Hopefully, recognition of this demand will stimulate movement toward an open skies agreement with China.

What’s great about this is the increased connectivity. By 2009, virtually every U.S. airport with commercial service will have one-stop access to China. This is an impressive gain since deregulation, when Pan Am and Northwest Orient dominated Asia routes (and often flew through intermediate gateways like Honolulu, Anchorage, and Seattle), and especially with respect to service to nonstop service to China itself, which was very limited and did not begin until the 1980s. The remarkable expansion of accessible China service to almost everywhere in the United States is something to applaud.

Delta, United get first crack at new China routes [USA Today via Today in the Sky]

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The British government is pressuring British Airways to purchase UK-made products in the interests of British jobs, the Times reports. “Government ministers and officials are understood to be urging Willie Walsh, chief executive of BA, to ‘buy British’ by supporting Rolls [engines] and Airbus, both of which have large manufacturing operations in the UK.”

I can’t even begin to go into how backward this is, but I’ll try: First, if Airbus and Rolls Royce offer products superior to their competitors’ (they are both certainly right up there with their competitors), then the decision would require no intervention. Second, BA is a mostly-Boeing airline, although the Times article fervently pushes a scenario in which BA might need to buy the A380. But it doesn’t make sense for BA to buy Airbuses unless it gets a good deal, which is something it needs to negotiate with Airbus. For the British government to get involved in a pricing deal with a private company would be illegal.

That’s right, illegal! (more…)

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