29 February 2008

The Professor will be away for a week.

I will try and write but I am going to enjoy the rigors of ... Berlin and the world's largest travel trade show - ITB.

So if you are there and want to contact me (ply me full of alcohol etc) then please email me timothyo@t2impact.com

Cheers and have a good week


28 February 2008

Allegis again?

OK Hands up those who remember the name Allegis?

Well it seems that a small part of it must live on in people's memories. United and Westin are cooperating on the PS service (premium 757 transcon). Nice pillows and blankies an an Oasis of Calm in the red carpet clubs.

It was a cool idea... too bad it didn't work.



27 February 2008

Gunfight in the West

The West Coast Market Heats Up.

It has been a bit sleepy on the West Coast of late. Sure we have seen a lot of service that went to hubs but not a lot that went North to South. But that is about to change.

Despite an interesting but short lived incursion from Skybus, there has been very little brand new service.

The new services started in 3rd quarter 2007 with a little heralded but very useful new service from Delta’s new partner ExpressJet. Flying Embraer 145s this is not going to set the world alight. Virgin America’s new service though between the major Southern California cities – particularly into San Francisco did spark a reaction. Southwest and Jetblue moved across the Bay and added service from SFO in addition to their OAK service. But this year the Northwest’s airline (Alaska Air based in Seattle) wanted to ensure that no one stepped into their market and offered a very strong schedule of hourly service from LA to Seattle. Beefing up also San Franscico and more flights from PDX sees AS becoming the largest individual airline between the Pacific Northwest and California.

Not to be outdone Virgin announced new service from LAX and SFO to SEA. Then JetBlue started to connect the dots similarly announcing service between LAX and SEA as well as from LGB.

So for one who lives in the Seattle metro area – thanks guys. I appreciate you picking on this market to have a battle. With new service to Germany (LH, FRA-SEA), UK (NW LHR-SEA) and already beefed up service from BA and last year’s addition of flights from CDG to SEA, the place is a hopping. We are looking forward to Air China coming this year.



Congratulations to Heifer International

I am a huge fan of sustainability in development. And despite being in the Travel and Tourism business – I am a big fan of programs that enable people to help themselves. For the past several years we have supported Heifer International as a part of both the T2 and my personal annual charity activity. I have encouraged clients and other members of the T2 team to do the same. Now comes news that they have been recognized with a grant from the Gates Foundation. Here is the official blurb:

On January 25, Heifer announced a four-year $42.8 million grant from The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to fund a project to help poor rural farmers in East Africa double their incomes by increasing their production of high quality raw milk to sell to dairies. This is the largest single grant in Heifer's history

I urge you to sign up with Heifer. It is probably one of the most effective forms of giving out there.

Cheers and thanks


Don’t say its over already? DL+NW merger rumours.

I hear Dusty Springfield in the background singing – you don’t have to say forever just be close at hand….

It looks like things are not going well with the merger discussions at DL and NW. First it was the pilots arguing over the seniority lists. Now it is rumoured (totally unsubstantiated so far) that AF-KL may not be too happy with the current arrangement. However anyway you cut it – things are not rosy with the merger. Both parties on Tuesday put out notes saying “we want to but..”

We remain clearly unimpressed with the merger concept in general at this stage without a clear policy of opening up competition from external sources. Mergers cause less competition and higher prices in the airline market. Therefore by definition failing to meet one of the key criteria established publically by Delta. So any illusions of efficiency are not going to positively impact the consumer. If the US Administration (either current or next) wants to approve it – then they should do so ONLY if there are safeguards to open competition. The easiest way to ensure that is by removing the foreign restrictions and allowed 7th, 8th and 9th freedom traffic. Over at IAG they have been discussing this. Here is the podcast:



25 February 2008

Dude - where's my audience? Facebook (Shock Horror) Audience Decline

In October while preparing a piece on Web Trends I noticed that MySpace on Alexa was starting to show some declines. At the time when I showed this data to an audience in Singapore I was almost booed off the stage for such heresy. Well dearly beloved - it does seem that there are quite a few swallows around so we may actually be witnessing the decline of vanilla Social Networking.

No lesser authority than the UK TIMES online is reporting the same thing now. Here is the article in its entirety.

Speaking purely personally and from a bar stool research study of - well one, I can tell you that I have noticed this fatigue occurring more frequently and persistently. I am a true experimenter. I am always trying new things. However managing all of the distractions is VERY HARD. In January - I turned off Facebook alerts. (Sorry MySpace never really got going). I also unsubscribed to most of the Facebook apps after one of them caused me a lot of bad spam and other assorted nasties to appear on my computer.

Honestly I do not have enough time for a lot of this junk. Facebook is OK but i cannot say I am a huge fan. I cannot see how people live their lives there. Although I empathize with those who do. There are only so many hours in the day. Some times just resting my fingers feels really good. So I am no web socialite (of course being a Cambridge Man don't necessarily support Oxford folks like Boris) but i think I am probably a representative sample of others who are - well just too damned busy for this stuff.


From The Times

February 22, 2008

Web socialites succumb to ‘Facebook fatigue’Adam Sherwin, Media Correspondent

From politicians to film stars, anyone who was anyone had a Facebook profile. But the social networking phenomenon may have peaked now that the number of British users of the site has fallen for the first time.

Analysts are speaking of “Facebook fatigue” after figures showed a 5 per cent decline from 8.9 million unique visitors to the website in December to 8.5 million last month. The fall could be a seasonal dip - Facebook’s audience is still 712 per cent higher than it was a year ago and 9 per cent higher than three months ago.

The actress Sienna Miller and the Tory MP Boris Johnson are Facebook members. Yet in the fickle world of internet “cool”, the popularity of the site, where users socialise, discuss their passions and exchange photographs, may have reached a plateau.

Facebook, which has an implied valuation of £7 billion after Microsoft took a minority stake, annoyed members last November by publicising details of their shopping habits without their permission.

Facebook: The bluffer’s guide
Forced to sign up by repeated friend requests? Hit the virtual ground running with our virtual guide

Facebook section - full coverage

Careless Facebook users ‘open to identity theft’
Ten essential Facebook accessories
Parents are turning into online spies
Networkers who click with 1,000 ‘friends’
Nic Howell, of the internet industry magazine New Media Age, said: “Social networking is as much about who isn’t on the site as who is. When Tory MPs and major corporations start profiles on Facebook its brand is devalued, driving its core user base into the arms of newer, more credible alternatives.”

Alex Burmaster, European internet analyst at Nielsen Online, which compiled the statistics, believes that Facebook users are finding that managing their virtual life too demanding. “There could be an element of Facebook-fatigue. While building up the number of friends and getting all the alerts was fun for a while, people are possibly finding it hard to manage their networks and the sheer amount of information/updates they now get from this network. For some of the early adopters the novelty has possibly worn off.” He added: “One month of falling audiences doesn’t spell the decline of Facebook or social networking. At some point its phenomenal growth rate would have to end and it’s simply a case of having reached that point.” Other social networking sites panel of nearly 40,000 internet users who have a meter attached to their suffered a decline during the last quarter, including MySpace, owned by News Corporation, the parent company of The Times, which was down 14 per cent and Bebo (8 per cent).

Networks on Yahoo! and Google-owned sites experienced falls of 16 cent and 30 per cent respectively, while Piczo, a site intended for teenagers, lost 56 per cent of its audience.

Nielsen predicted that the next generation of social network sites would cater to specific interests such as travel, business, or wealth. WAYN (Where Are You Now), a travel networking site, had a 25 per cent increase in its British audience in the past year to 461,000, and LinkedIn, a network for professional and business people, recorded a jump from 161,000 to 433,000 users.

Fears over the dissemination of personal information may be affecting Facebook. Members have been warned that they could become victims of identity fraud after giving personal details to strangers.

Neilsen found that 19.2 million (58 per cent of the active UK Internet population) visited a social networking site in January, with the average visitor spending 2 hours 26 minutes on it.

Facebook is being challenged by the BBC’s community web pages, which recorded a 21 per cent increase in the last quarter. The BBC said traffic to the pages was being driven by the popularity of its iPlayer “on demand” service, which has recorded 17 million programme downloads in seven weeks.

Nielsen Online's dtat comes from a panel off nearly 40,000 internet users who have a meter attached to thier computers

Virgins seem to be everywhere - and not so cheap

For some time we have seen Virgin Blue evolve from a LCC into - well something that looks remarkably like Ansett except better managed and making some money. However in recent years after the initial blush it too has seen its share of back room ownership struggles that I am sure is still making dear Sir Reg spin in his grave.

Now days after reporting that we believe Virgin Blue is no longer a true LCC airline - it seems the management paid attention and has fallen in love with Air Asia's model. It is rumoured to be looking at setting up JV based in OZ for a true new LCC based on Air Asia.

Virgin Blue is still not quite fish nor fowl and has not been able to achieve the stellar results of some of its fellow (now former) brethren such as RyanAir. Its yields last year were only 9.7% compared to the 21.1% for the aforementioned Irish LCC.

So far Virgin has not done well in trying to get a formal LCC operating, sustaining profits in the model. Perhaps it should not try again! Indeed the last 2 Virgin operations have been anything but LCC.


New Brazillian Airline - the Richard and David show?

Rampant rumours floating around concerning a possible new airline to start in Brazil with David Needleman and Richard Branson as investors.

While it would seem to make sense - this has to be a little on the outside of credibility. Why don't I think this will fly?


Brazil is a notorious pit of failed airlines. But $200 million is a nice round number.
The purported plan for Embraer E Jets flying all over the country would be rather nice.
But I think TAM and GoL might have something to say about this. With landing slots at both Sao Paolo airports pretty tight, anything else is going to be tough.

Anyway the rumour of adding Branson to the mix would create even greater mystique. But what would they call it? Virgin Blue is already taken. Jet Virgin seems to be somewhat prosaic how about Virgin Agogo. Yes - that will do nicely.