21 June 2008

The Digital Sybil - Our multiple personalities

There is a great webinar available at ATWOnline concerning the digital traveler. http://www.atwonline.com/

While of course the webinar is self serving for SITA - it is a good primer on the adoption of mobile technologies.

However I would like to raise two issues which I think will inhibit adoption. I am going to gloss over issues of security and personal information which in themselves are huge issues.

The first issue is the cost of holding the digital personality wallet. There is no way that the mobile companies are going to offer this capability at no charge. So there will be a cost. Who pays? if not free or bundled then you create a digital divide between haves and have nots. This is going to be a large behind the scenes bun fight again between the operators and the application providers. One of the main reasons for the slow adoption of mobile applications has been the guarding of the digital real estate that the mobile operators well the barriers are not insignificant.

The second issue is the assumption that every player thus far has made. IE that we have a single digital personality and a single wallet - AND that we want to have a single personality. We don't, we don't and well we don't.

I encourage you to read the novels of William Gibson. His groundbreaking 1984 book Neuromancer accurately predicted issues that we are now starting to face.

Before you jump into mobile adoption - think and bear in mind the issues of these items I have laid out here. Our Team at T2Impact has DEEP understanding and experience in Mobile apps going back more than 10 years. As the Watsons used to say "THINK" Do that first and you will at least reduce your mistakes.



Don't get mad - get even. Join fellow FFs and fight back

From where I sit, service sucks on airlines. Chris Elliot is one guy who comments writes as both an advocate and an industry pundit (sounds like me - Ed). http://www.elliott.org/

For heavy flyers there is always Randy Petersen's sites. Great forums.

And then there is the the former US Airways disgruntled crew now much broader in scope:
FFOCUS - Frequent Flyers Organized and Concerned about Unacceptable Service


If you want to stay clued up on what's going on. These are useful resources. Particularly if you are a consumer. As a supplier, (hotelier, airline etc) then you know your service - well politely (in general) sucks. So I hope this will be useful to all sides.



20 June 2008

So you think you know the airline business?

Our sister blog's writer - Professor Sabena - was waxing lyrically (like Mr O'Leary earlier this week) on the possibilities of starting an airline. While this is a bit tongue in cheek actually it is a serious message. Now is a good time to start an airline.

Check it out:


US Airlines - Cheap Inventory is being pulled back.

So the game of chicken is being played out by the US Airlines. Who can cut deeper and faster?

We are entering the season when many contracts with the airlines for Tour Operators for Wholesalers are negotiated. These are typically based on a combination of rates and inventory availability.

Word on the street is not good. Rates are skyrocketing and inventory availability is plummeting. This is not just anecdotal. We have looked at discount seats for even the Thanksgiving and Christmas periods and basically conventional cheap seats are non-existent. And you can forget about using your FF miles.

Our advice - if you have Xmas plans - better get a booking now. These prices are going to be higher than even the peaks of last year's holiday season.

From our view we believe that the airlines have not right sized enough. There needs to be either less planes cut or more people cut. Since Wall Street is looking at capacity cuts then there is a further round of people cuts that need to happen. Fundamentally I believe that the capacity cuts are too deep. So far we see Southwest looking to capitalize on the nature of the cuts and reducing their cutbacks. Certain other carriers can take advantage of the situation. We believe that there will be some carriers who will be looking to expand. While we don't see any evidence yet, there are some prime markets where the cuts have been too deep.

Is this a good time to start an airline... maybe........



Bravo Sita - Sure IT can help save money but why stop there?

Research by SITA and trumpeted by their top brass at the recent SITA event in BRU (the past week) shows that the airline industry could save a lot of money.

The report distributed this week at SITA’s Air Transport IT Summit in Brussels, includes research from Cambridge University which demonstrates that technology such as location sensing via mobile devices could save airlines up to $600 million by tracking passengers, sending messages and moving them to gates more efficiently; improving turnaround times and reducing delays.

At current growth rates, there will be five billion mobile customers by 2011 and functionality on mobile devices will be increasingly sophisticated. For the air transport industry this opens the door to a new way of doing business as mobile phones are currently used by 90% of airline passengers. Bear in mind that this would mean about north of 80% of all the world's population will have Mobile phones. No other technology in the history of the world has been so universally distributed.

Jim Peters, Chief Technology Officer, SITA said, “These ‘digital travellers’, will have on-demand access to a range of mobile-enabled services such as real time flight updates; self-service booking, check-in and boarding; and mobile payments.”

OK so here is a challenge. Why not be really smart about it and start re-thinking the process of travel and eliminating now obsolete and useless technology components - like for example e-tickets.

Just our small direct research on an 8 million passenger airline showed savings of between $2-20 per ticket. That would return savings far in excess of the numbers mentioned here. This was conservative and didn't include the savings from removing hardware and even organizations like IATA's BSP from the stage.

Will the airlines do it? Nah - not in yours and my life time. Or will they?

Let me know what you think.

Send me a comment or private note!



Is she really going out with him? CO dates the old broad UA

I just don't know - maybe I am feeling nostalgic. Continental the "new" young Turk has agreed to date the Old Girl United.

Driven from the arms of Northwest by the wiles of Delta - Continental has been invited to join Star and is getting the Royal Family Treatment. However joining is not going to be allowed for quite some time.

So now we see the Alliance map being re-drawn. Non-US Airlines and Star (in particular LH and SQ) have been coveting a domestic base in New York the largest metro in the USA. Clearly the pull back by United from JFK left a void in the Star Alliance route structure. (Heck it shows how much UA cared - they even sold the JFK-LHR route and slots to DL).

The sickest airline of all in the Star Alliance (now that Varig is long gone from there) is now US Airways. So you can just hear Mr Parker singing that song.

But I have a hunch that this is not going to be smooth sailing. Remember that LH bought a large chunk of the now Neelemanless JetBlue.

I suspect that there is a lot of conflict and soul searching going on in route planners spreadsheets right now. And if for no other reason than there is now some really heavy duty anti-competitive influences at work - I think Mr Oberstar and Mr Minetta might want to think about opening an investigation into concentration in the airline marketplace.

For sure this is a story that is going to run for a long time. And it ain't over till the fat lady sings. So if the smooth headed Mr Joe Jackson would get up to the Mike and start singing... he may be there a while.



19 June 2008

MyEgoAir.com Premium Service To offer "Free Blowjobs"

Michael O'Leary was waxing lyrically in Germany yesterday at a press conference. When asked about the proposed transatlantic airline (that we have dubbed MyEgoAir.com) - he was quite specific about some of the amenities and a two class operation.

In economy it will be a chargeable service but free in Biz Class.

Go here to see the video...


Way to go Michael!

18 June 2008

Spirit withdraws from ARC. Is this another nail in the coffin?

ARC is no longer the holistic nutral ticketing solution it once thought it was.

With non-code share interline traffic for domestic down to sub levels of a single percentage point - you have to ask yourself what useful function does ARC provide these days.

Frankly - I am very hard pressed to come up with any justification for either ARC or BSP in most markets.

Disagree? Send me a note or post a comment



Latest - GAO sides with Boeing in Tanker Contract

In a big blow to EADS - the GAO (whose decision is not binding on the Air Force) has confirmed that the complaints filed by Boeing in the contract award are indeed valid.

While much of the noise will be focused on the protagonists - the real loser here is the US Defence Department procurement process which once again shows itself as being less than competent.

New EC Commissioner Confirmed - Tajani now in the hot seat

The Italian Antonio Tajani has now been confirmed as the replacement for Jacques Barrot who moves over the Justice Commissioner.

This move has been welcomed by fellow Italian and head of IATA Giovanni Bisignani. (What's with all these Italians!!!).

Levity aside below you will find the PR release from IATA. However not one mention of the critical issue of Alitalia which remains the number one urgent practical issue in front of the new Commissioner.

Mr Tajani will have his hands full. We wish him the best of luck and hope that he displays wisdom in his handling of these critical issues.

PR Release follows

IATA Welcomes EC VP Tajani’s Single European Sky Priority

Geneva – The International Air Transport Association (IATA) congratulated Antonio Tajani on his confirmation as Vice President of the European Commission and Commissioner for Transport.

“Vice President Tajani has picked the right priorities, starting with delivering a Single European Sky (SES),” said Giovanni Bisignani, IATA’s Director General and CEO. “We’ve been talking about a SES for decades. Now is the time to make it a reality. An effective SES would help alleviate two critical issues related to fuel burn. First, with oil in the US$135 a barrel (Brent) range, the industry fuel bill will balloon to over US$176 billion this year. Already we have seen 24 airlines go bust and thousands of layoffs. An effective SES would shave EUR5.5 billion off the fuel bill with more efficient air traffic management. And it would reduce carbon emissions from airlines by as much as 12 million tonnes. I am confident that Vice President Tajani will deliver the political will to turn the technical solutions into reality,” said Bisignani.

Bisignani also encouraged Vice President Tajani to weigh-in on Europe’s misguided debate on bringing aviation into the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS). “First, the timing is wrong. Bringing aviation into Europe’s ETS was conceived when oil was at US$60 a barrel. Today, with the price more than double that, it’s a completely different world. If oil stays at the current price level for the next 12 months, airlines will face US$99 billion in extra fuel costs. Airlines have the biggest incentive of any industry to improve environmental performance. With jobs disappearing from the industry already, I hope that Vice President Tajani will bring a strong message that this is not the time for reckless decisions that could put more jobs at risk,” said Bisignani.

Bisignani emphasised the illegal nature of Europe’s unilateral approach. “All this effort at a time of crisis for something that is illegal makes no sense. Countries in the developed and developing world are opposed to Europe’s unilateral approach - and rightly so. What right does Europe have to charge non-European carriers for emissions outside European territory? I encourage Vice President Tajani to bring a strong reality check to his Commission colleagues: the best thing that Europe can do to tackle the important issue of aviation and the environment is to facilitate a global solution through the International Civil Aviation Organization - a UN body with a proven track record of promoting global standards,” said Bisignani.

Bisignani noted that the aviation industry takes responsibility for its 2% of global carbon emissions seriously. “Our vision to achieve carbon neutral growth sets the benchmark for other industries to follow. And our four-pillar strategy based on technology, operations, infrastructure and positive economic measures is delivering results. Last year IATA’s efforts delivered 10.5 million tonnes of CO2 savings. If Vice President Tajani is successful with SES, we will deliver much more,” said Bisignani.

Got Startup Pitch? Here's a chance to make yourself heard

Web in Travel Asia 2008, aka WIT the Premier Asian Travel Conference, is taking a leaf out of partner's PhocusWright's playbook and will offer an opportunity to get a pitch in front of investors.

So if you think you have what it takes - Read on...

Be part of WIT’s "The Start-Up Pitch" and get your ideas heard by investors
Always wanted to run your own start-up? Got a great idea? An idea that you think is unique and differentiated in the online travel space? An idea that will make potential investors sit up and take notice?
If so, this could be your chance to be heard.
What: WIT-Web In Travel 2008 (Oct 21-22, 2008) is organising “The Start-Up Pitch” as part of its conference programme this year. Three finalists will be given a chance to pitch their ideas in 5 minutes each to a panel of investor judges.
Vote: The audience will also get a chance to pose questions of the finalists, after which they will vote for the winning idea via SMS.
Win! The winner of WIT's Start-Up Pitch will win a Professional Development Program (PDP) voucher from the Cornell-Nanyang Institute of Hospitality Management (CNI) worth US$2,500 (valid for 2009) as well as the opportunity to take their winning idea to the next level with the investor judges.

For more details go here:




Singapore Airlines signs for ALTEA/CITP

SQ signs for ALTEA/CITP. Another expected result as the Singapore based carrier had signed for exclusive negotiation status. SQ joins a very long list of carriers ditching their current own internal systems for Amadeus’s current Airline portfolio of products. This is not a good situation for the industry. Setting aside the questions of Amadeus and its ability to meet the market’s needs, I firmly believe that the commercial model for these airlines outsource contracts will come back to bite significantly. There will be blood. Not this year, probably not even next – but in future years.

Interestingly the early PR waffle did not specifically state CITP.

One of the issues I believe will come back to haunt Amadeus is the variants of the system that they will have to support. When the product is finally released there will be a lot of disappointed airlines who will lose functionality in the early time periods until their custom code is delivered.

Still you have to hand it to Amadeus for gaining this momentum. It will look good when they come to IPO. However it will be a huge rod to beat up the client base. The airlines will now come to realize they have replaced one cost monster (aka the GDS companies) for an even more voracious and controlling one. The airline lemming model is alive and well.

Expressjet dodges the Bullet, Other ACMI carriers not so good

Expressjet. Well done chaps. Finally resolution to their current dispute with former parent CO. I believe that this marks the turning point in the ACMI type contracts. Other airlines from Skywest to Mesa need to read the fine print of these new contracts which work for both parent airline and contract carrier.

So who is next for the heat? Probably Pinnacle. However all the airlines who have size able numbers of 35-50 seater RJs are vulnerable now.

TUI rebrands airlines (again)

So now Thomsonfly Ne Britania is now to be called Thomson Airways. And First Choice Airways (ne Air 2000) is to be also called the same. PHEW! I thought we would be lumbered with that really silly ThomsonFly common branding thingie name.

So lets wait before we take pictures until they start re-naming their ships such as the SS Lunn Poly ;-)

17 June 2008

Strangely liberating with 10 days of no web access.

I can report that you can cruise round the Greek Islands and use your crackberry everywhere from Crete to Thessoloniki to Corfu . Being totally out of sight of land – yet still getting a decent signal was really good!

So many things going on….I am hoping to catch up with all my posts during the next few days


The Professor

Amadeus announces distribution deal with Arab Carriers

Bad news for Travelport. Amadeus gets to be the AACO’s new Distribution company. I believe that Galileo let this one drop. Their recent actions of going it alone do not sound like they will make much impact in the significant deficit in segments that will occur from January 1 2009.
Now Amadeus has another scalp on its bedpost. A nice swansong for Jose Tazon as he prepares to ride off into the Sunset.


European Sick Carriers Parts 1 and 2

I was originally going to do this as a 2 part post.

Nah - lets combine it...

Sick Carriers 1

The EC is finally confronting the overwhelming evidence of abuse by the Italian government over its handling of the AZ bail out. The new Commissioner will have to confront the problem. If anyone is interested we have a very innovative solution to the problem. But since the politics of this are just too hard to contemplate - AZ may still survive and emerge Phoenix-like (only to fail yet again).

Sick Carriers 2

Right next to one of the most fashionable suburbs in Athens is the now abandoned airport of Athens. While the new Attica facility built and implemented in time for the 2004 Olympic games, the previous facility lies abandoned. The Olympic Airways (not Airlines) signs are still very much in evidence. A sad reminder that this national airline should be allowed to quietly die. Olympic is so hopeless that there is no answer or bailout that can be viable other than a miracle. Clearly no one is interested in this relic. Nor is one such event likely in the next few years. Positively speaking however. Aegean is now of sufficient size to accommodate the final collapse of the Greek national airline. Let it die.

Delta joins the list of Paypal Carriers. Where is Google?

Accepting the inevitable DL has joined the airlines who are now accepting Paypal. This will really help globalize the financial fulfillment of Airline tickets. US/UA/AA – pay attention this is important. So Google seems to have taken its eye of the ball here too….

EU Traffic powers ahead driven by LCCs and mega carriers

While BA's traffic continues to show declines – albeit at a lesser pace – the big 3 LCCs are powering ahead. So too are the other strong legacy carriers in particular LH and AF+KL. All 3 big LCCs report strong traffic gains – FR +22%, Easyjet +16%, Air Berlin +28%. The model still works. But Air Berlin should be looking for better solutions. It has essentially dumped the long haul scheduled business and is now looking to cut elsewhere.

Even those carriers who are most vulnerable in the second Tier EU legacy carriers (SK, IB etc) are appearing quite strong. But this is going to be short term. We believe that the top tier big 3 EU carriers have the ability to easily weather the economic climate. Similarly the 2 British Isles based LCCs. Everyone else without exception is vulnerable.

US airline Traffic suffers – May demonstrates the extent of the Stagnation

You knew it was coming. Despite the drop in capacity due to the failure of several US airlines. The current carriers are now reporting being way off. Of the US majors only Southwest has positive news. The rest of the legacy carriers are just off. With the announced capacity (not factored in yet) we are getting increasingly concerned that the total capacity cuts will be too severe. Our opinion is that the cutting of the fabric of the US transportation system is ill advised and will impact the US economy significantly. The current Administration should be paying considerable attention to this issue.

The response from the Industry and echoed by Wall Street analysts is that the cuts are good. This is where they are wrong. Cutting back on capacity is not the catch all panacea.

Here we agree wholeheartedly with the BTC's intent but perhaps not quite the detail of their scary report that has been widely reported.

Further we do not believe that the solution proposed by TIA is a good one. Adding a "tax" to the current visa waiver program to fund a $200 million advertising effort is plain stupid. It will - in my humble opinion drive away inbound visitors. All this at the very time when the USA needs foreign tourists more than ever before.

In conclusion, we believe that the US Travel and Tourism Industry is headed for a decline of epic proportions. We already know the airline industry is headed for a disastrous time - but the fall out will affect the overall US GDP far greater than anyone has calculated so far. The combination of the economic slowdown, failed Bush Administration policies and ill advised responses is creating a multiplier effect that will cause significant damage to the Aviation, Travel and Tourism industries in the USA. The ability to recover will also be seriously affected. Emergence at the other side will be a chastened but not necessarily more healthy sector. For sure there will be significant job losses. Time to polish the resumes.

16 June 2008

Silverjet's Final Thank You Letter

Today Lawrence Hunt finally threw in the towel on Silverjet and sent out a farewell letter to prospective and actual Silverjet users.

So the excuse for the demise was the high bonding requirement set by the CAA. However this requirement is standard and given the first failure and cessation of services it was a wise move by the regulator.

The only value left is in the AOC and perhaps the name. The former now comes with a high bond requirement and the latter probably is not worth anything.

The staff were a fine group and clearly provided an above average service. Finding jobs in this current climate with a huge number of axed and soon to be axed Airline staff, their job prospects will be low. Although the Middle East Carriers are anxiously looking for qualified customer facing staff.

Best of luck to them