16 May 2008

BA announces record profits - Walsh vows no more low fares

Free Willie no more. Now you pay.

In an interview with BBC after BA announced record profits, the BA CEO announced 'the era of very low fares is over in the short-term’.

He also announced that he intends to stay in the job for the next 10 years.

I think he knows something we don't.

Germany launches Nude Airline.

From the world of bizarre comes the specially covered seats of a charter flight for nudists.

For the story and many comments go here:


However I have to saw as someone who flies a lot, I definitely wouldn't want my carefully matured skin anywhere near an airline seat.



15 May 2008

Multi GDS Desktop - not the smartest idea in the deck

Travelport plonked down a few pennies and salvaged G2's desktop app just before the company shut down. It will be used to replace the Datalex powered Worldspan desktop, the VERY old and creaking Focal point, and help resolve the issues of multiple hosts that the company will not consolidate.

This is probably not the smartest thing to do for client management. Consolidating a smart desktop using desktop apps in the days of SaaS just doesn't seem logical or economical. As its a year away from delivery, this one will have to wait for approval by the market.

As someone who laboured long and hard to bring advanced functionality to the desktop in the 1980s, I believe that this is a major regressive step for Travelport. The UI should be a webtop. Pure and Simple.



BA's Directors look beyond Willie's flaws and will likely award $1.4million

So the BA board wants to reward Willie for all his faults.

Here you go my son - now run along home with your bag of loot.

Frankly very poor show on behalf of the board for rewarding him this way. As if the fiasco at T5 was not enough (you have seen my previous blog on his follies), today the latest stats show a significant fall in traffic.

The chop came down on Ayling much faster. If Willie has to go - and there are many who believe his performance is adversely affecting the airline - then the Board will have to eat a lot of humble pie.

14 May 2008

Boeing to Airbus - I feel your plane pain

So it seems the Gremlins have left Everett and moved back into Toulouse. Airbus announced yesterday - formally - that the move to Wave 2 production will be delayed. This will slow the delivery rate until at least 2011 maybe further.

The biggest impact will be felt at Emirates.

For the rest of the customers - this may not be such a bad thing given the current likely over-capacity of the market.

Still it shows, this stuff is REALLY hard. Boeing is feeling the pain too and while things are getting better - the chances of a simple 15 month delay are remote. For some customers the 787 delivery schedule will stretch into a 30 month delay for some of their equipment.

Boeing should seriously consider new build 767-300/400 passenger types. Airbus is purring along with A330 deliveries. If you are desperate they can give you an early slot on A340s.



13 May 2008

The shame of T5

From the outside it is a shining edifice ( a bit grubby with all that glass. I hope someone has remembered that glass needs to be cleaned to look nice). Landing at LHR these days is an impressive sight because T5 dominates the airport. It is a like a well choreographed ballet to watch. I enjoyed today BA’s hospitality for 7 hours between flights. I sampled as much as I could of the fare and facilities. Here are my impressions. Will T5 be able to handle the future volume? Will the $800 million emergency cash injection be enough. Can BAA recover, Will BA recover??? Read on.

1. It reminds me of the New BKK airport. That is not a positive comparison with other new terminals like the those in the Gulf.
2. The T5 design is a mess, I had heard other travelers describe it as good but not great. I will be more critical in saying there are some distinct design flaws and both BAA and BA are at fault
3. It is a very bad flow control airport.
4. The transfer features from T4 (where I landed ) to T5 were bad. However when more traffic is transferred then this should iron itself out.
5. Signage inside the terminal is confusing, the change in methodology will annoy many a frequent traveler, I guess we will have to get over it.
6. The boarding areas are simply too small. They are also WAY too complicated. The two story levels are just not good. Understandably this is due to the lack of space. However who ever came up with this idea should probably be shot. There are many other examples of better designs than this. New USA terminals like Seattle’s do a much better job.
7. Focus on smaller aircraft will come back to bite the airline as LHR continues to be restricted at its home base. Watching several flights board – I believe that BA better start having some flow control people come in and take over because when more Wide Bodies are in place then the airline is going to have a lot of problems.
8. Its too small. WHAT??? Yes it is just too small. Operating at about 50% capacity the terminal is going to have serious problems in the gate areas and other air side areas.
9. BA has abolished the Gold and First Class areas in the New Gallery concept. Gee – I don’t feel special any more. At the moment only the North area is open. If the South doesn’t have it then it wont exist. BA might as well abolish First Class and forget about the top tier of its FF class.
10. There is some VERY expensive and unnecessary kit – specifically the bag screening system is SLOWER than that of the conventional airports. It must have cost a fortune.
11. The entrance to Galleries, is both stupid and insulting. Its in a bad place its got very poor.
12. The quality of the build is clearly – well I could sugar coat it – but its crap. Poor fitting, bad finish, poor selection of materials. It is not going to wear well.

The only bright spot I was able to avoid the BAA Bag Gestapo. The measurement is enforced at security with the new bag screening system. They use the standard IATA size and the bags fit, YEA!!!

I guess you can say that T5 is better than T4. However my verdict? I think that BAA and BA should be chastened over the worst possible implementation of a new airport. However there is one positive thing we can say. Its better than the sewage farm who was the former occupant of the site. If you need to connect in Europe – avoid LHR.



Willie's Follies

Oh to be Willie Walsh. To have your PR department formally issue a statement saying that you are not going must be ignominious at best and soul destroying at worst. At a time when the airline should be on top of its game, Willies Follies are not coming out into public. Let’s enumerate them:

1. Letting BMED go. What a toe stubbing exercise #1
2. Letting GB Airways go. What a toe stubbing exercise #2
3. T5 the calculated risk – UGH (more in the future on T5 as I have just experienced its wonders).
4. Focusing on top end yield and then screwing up the Gold Members (more on this in my T5 story)
5. Refusing to pressure BAA at a time when they should have done to improve LHR
6. OpenSkies. The way to guarantee a fight with the pilots. Bravo Willie
7. A318 service LCY-JFK
8. The cargo scandal
9. Etc etc

As a shareholder and as Gold Card holder, I can tell you I am not happy. The litany of mistakes under Willie’s watch is palpable. The morale among the staff is very poor. So Willie – go back to Ireland. We need someone who can do a man’s job. Come back Jerry – we need you at BA since you did such a good job with Delta. Oh wait – he probably has a non-compete. Then come back Sir Rod…..

Yes Virginia there is a recession

Sssshhhh don’t tell George but there is a Recession on and its going to affect the airline travel and tourism industry in the USA.

The impact and depth of the downturn has surprised many. For eCommerce there have been a number of studies on how it affects the market. Frankly we have no real indicators to help us understand. So we will have to wait a little longer until we have seen the hard numbers from multiple sources. Still its not pretty. There will be blood – much more blood, yet to come in the market. Weak airlines as we have written before have several more factors against them, The price of fuel is the obvious one that will drive up the cost of doing business. What is interesting this time round is that the ability to weather the storm in the safety of Chapter 11 is vastly diminished.

So to all those commentators and pundits who say the worst is behind us – I say PHOWEE. This recession will be deeper and longer. The recovery will be slower. The silver lining? This time transformation is inevitable. If you don’t transform the model you will be crushed.

T5 Walsh admits it was OK to go ahead even though the staff weren’t ready.

You have to wonder about the arrogance of BA and its CEO. He freely admits in front of a UK parliament Select Committee on Transport that BA was not ready but it took a calculated risk. At the same time he laid the blame of delays on BAA, pointing that their failure to keep to the timetable deprived BA’s staff from completing training. So he was quite happy to take the risk and eat the cost as a delay of 6 months would have been the alternative at a much higher cost (presumably to BA).

You have to wonder why this was allowed to be like that. Perhaps Willie should admit that perhaps his training at Aer Lingus was not quite good enough for his real job at BA.

You can be the judge of that.

Oh dear - another down month in Vegas

Never mind what stays in Vegas... Getting it to Vegas seems to be the problem.

It is visitors and their cash.

THE NUMBER OF VISITORS to Las Vegas declined by 1% in March, according to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, the largest drop in more than a year. The total number of passengers traveling through Las Vegas' McCarran Airport in March was down 1.7%.
GAMING REVENUES on the Las Vegas Strip sunk nearly 5% for the month of March, according to the Nevada Gaming Control Board, marking the third straight month that revenues have fallen. The Las Vegas Strip hasn't seen three consecutive months of declining gaming revenues in nearly seven years.
THE MAJOR Las Vegas corporations reported their first quarter earnings last week, and the numbers were down across the board.

Do I hear any bids on the word recession?



HP Swallows up EDS gets back into Airline Hosting biz

I doubt that the airline biz was deep in their minds when EDS and HP finally got together. Rumours have been swirling on this for weeks. Some of us thought the MS+EDS announcement was the truth, but not so... now the real story.

This is going to incapacitate both companies in the near future if recent history is anything to go by.

You would think that HP had been burned once on the Airline biz with their abysmal management of OpenSkies. But they say that we are all doomed to repeat history.

This puts even more pressure on Sabre as to what they are going to do next.