22 August 2008

Renaming Icons: Be careful how it tranlates

So Carlson Leisure Group is rebranding and renaming.

Having worked extensively in multiple parts of the world I am a little sensitive to the possible use of words.

A Direct translation of Travel Leaders becomes Reisef├╝hrer

I am sure the branding folks considered that and also we can note that there is no presence in that market of the business - still - lets hope they consider options before launching in Germany.



21 August 2008

The Winter of Discontent 2 - American Pilots are unhappy

I wrote recently about the Pilot Troubles at United. Well... this is not the only group of unhappy people.

This is from the Dallas Morning News Travel Blog this morning...

The union representing the staff of the American Airlines' pilots union plans to picket today to generate attention to the fact that its members have gone 417 days without a new contract.

The Allied Pilots Staff Employee Association (APSEA) -- which represents 23 employees of the Allied Pilots Association (APA), plans to picket from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. at the APA headquarters.


Can we say coming up chaps - at an airport near you - unhappy pilots.

TSA wants unlimited access to Airliners - scary!

The TSA is reported by several pilot forums and airline news sources to be considering a rule making that would give TSA employees unfettered access to any airliner in the USA.

OK that's scary enough. But then comes this wonderful story of a "Clouseau" like TSA inspector who managed to damage 9 EMB145s of American Eagle at O'Hare this week resulting in 40 flights delayed or cancelled and putting passengers and crews lives at risk.

Here is the story...


But wait it gets better. This chap lets call him Jacques had done this before.


It gives me no comfort at all to know that those nice people (whose long noses now allow them; into my bags without impunity and to throw Grannies off a plane and be arrested just for not following a flight attendant's instructions), will now be able to break parts of an aircraft and have access to where before only trained personnel used were allowed to tread - with impunity.

Write your local Congressman and Senators.... the policy wonks are mad and the implementation wonks are REALLY dangerous.

If they really want to stop activities perhaps they should fix the freight problems in our ports first before they start trying this sort of crap....

Yours Disgustedly

UK to Tourism Industry - Fund Your Olympics

So crowing about how single handedly the UK Government won the 2012, 30th Olympiad, those nice people in Whitehall have decided to delegate the responsibility for promoting the Country (UK and London) leading up to the 2012 event. Why? Because the Central Government has determined in its infinite wisdom that since the reward will benefit the tourism industry, then the beneficiaries should contribute by funding the promotion and marketing. The UK Tourism industry is represented by UK Inbound. http://www.ukinbound.org/ . The Mayor's office is found here: http://www.london.gov.uk/

The debate has fired up the UK players but this is not likely to be a simple outcome.


There are more than one set of players here. The Central Government Gnomes in Whitehall believe they have done their job and despite the value to the balance of payments that Tourism brings - they don't feel inclined to contribute more where there will be specific groups of people who will benefit - in this case assumed to be the tourism providers in the London and rest of UK area. There is also a hidden sub message from the Labour Central Government to the (now) Conservative Mayor of London's office is that "don't expect us to finance your political benefits". Remember that the Olympics are not awarded to a Country - they are awarded to a City.

One of the other sub-plots is that the US Government has drip fed the Tourism promotion (TIA http://www.tia.org/index.html ) inadequately for YEARS. So what's good for the US goes the Gnomes logic, is good for the UK.

Of course the implicit message in this pronouncement is "Go take care of the promotion of the tourism since you the industry will benefit, its the right thing to do and the American's do it anyway".

If you follow that then clearly you can see that the London Olympics could be a less than fully successful tourism event, rather like the Beijing Olympics has been less than stellar for the Beijing Tourism and regional economy. Smart? Wise? Let's hope history does not come to judge such a failure.



20 August 2008

Not a good day for the MD80

Yesterday was not a good day for the MD80.

The tragedy of the Spanair accident in Madrid has yet to be determined. The impact of a potential grounding would still be pretty devastating across airlines and indeed whole countries if that was to be determined. However the detailed inspections of the US fleet during the early summer would have likely uncovered a specific endemic fault.

Next week the final Alaska Airlines MD80 makes its last revenue trip. Despite the accident caused by a jackscrew failure, the aircraft has done sterling service for Alaska. Now AS becomes an all pure Boeing fleet with only 737s - -400s, 700, 800, and 900s making exclusive aircraft.

The MD80 had an auspicious start at Douglas then was the first aircraft to bear the MDC combined name. Final version delivered from Long Beach was the re-named Boeing 717 aka MD95

Still AA and DL have a bunch of them left and of course Allegiant will be keeping them in the air for a while yet.



BAA Breakup - Sir Francis Drake is smiling

The rivalry that began with the Spanish Armada may be long forgotten but Ferrovial's purchase of BAA has been a long festering problem. We should be clear that the seeds of BAA's problems were sown long before the Spanish Builder was even on the horizon. It stems from the business focus and the stricture of UK Government policy.

The government inquiry that today recommended a divestiture of Stansted and Gatwick from BAA is the first start. A development of a competitive marketplace for airports in the capital will be a pretty unique situation that has never been tried in the scale of London. All the major multi-airport large cities such as NYC and Paris have a common authority that manages the airports. (Port Authority and ADP).

So for this to happen it would be a stimulus for the market and change the dynamics which have created the current status quo. So I believe this will actually benefit the travelling public with caveats of course. I will go even further and say that the idea of a bidding battle for the airports will be good even to the point where Ryanair may be a good bidder. (Those of us old enough to remember will recall Tony Ryan's efforts to sponsor a South Dublin Airport in the 1990s!).

So BAA's defense of the monopoly is pointless. Let's just hope the process doesnt take long or else the 3rd world airport that is LHR will remain a piece of garbage that will continue to be ridiculed.

OAG reports massive drop in Capacity in Q4 2008

OK this is straight forward and needs no comment. It speaks for itself. I simply reprint the notes from OAG's email blast today.

Its ugly and will be out there for at least the majority of 2009.

OAG's comments follow:

"We report on a 7% drop in global airline capacity of 59.7million seats
The world's airlines will offer 59.7 million fewer seats in the 4th quarter of 2008 than they did a year ago, in our 10 year view of the global aviation industry.
The latest figures from our consolidated database reveal a 7% drop both in the number of flights and in seat capacity for October, November and December 2008 compared with the same time last year. The U.S. domestic market will account for just under 20 million of that figure, or 33% of the global decline in capacity, in what could potentially be the most widespread crisis to hit the aviation industry in recent memory."



Silverjet - Serious Fraud Squad investigates

The UK's SFO has received a complaint and has opened an investigation according to the UK's Daily Telegraph into the circumstances surrounding the abortive attempts to salvage the airline prior to its demise in May of this year.

It has always been somewhat fishy in the public announcements that came from Silverjet up to and including its CEO standing up in public at the Arab Travel Mart in Dubai earlier that month. Whether the Silverjet people were telling porkies to hype up their value and close the deal before it was actually consummated or the proposed investors were telling porkies remains to be seen. Possibly both.

Either way it was ugly and a lot of people lost money and jobs. If this is what it takes to get to the bottom of the mess - so be it.

I for one will be very interested in this outcome.



18 August 2008

Easyjet and Stelios head to court over ancillary revenues

This is probably one of the more bizarre cases. Stelios is suing his baby in the High Court in the UK over the amount of ancillary share of gross revenues.

At 16% it was reasonably OK to assume that the airline's business was in transporting people. At the time that EasyGroup was created and then spun out EasyJet that would have been appropriate.

My natural instinct is to support Stelios in this. However I really think he is being just a little unreasonable. While I do not know the reasons that precipitated the need for this move - I believe that an unfavorable to EasyJet verdict will harm the airline. Now everyone needs additional revenue to counter the high price of oil.

That said - I will put up another argument. There shouldn't need to be ancillary revenues to support the airline. But the inability due to lack of cojones of the airlines to charge the right price openly is plain for all the world to see. So EasyJet which is now a Hybrid Value Carrier no longer a pure LCC will suffer as a result.

Let's follow the case and see what happens - it should be interesting


Save Pandora

The web has created some wonderful new tools and services. One of my favorite toys over the past 5 years has been Pandora internet radio. It is such a cool tool.

It has turned me on to new music some of which I have bought and would never have even considered. Now the RIAA and other music "owners" are going to shutter the site. Already it is not available outside of the USA - now it looks like the fees to be charged will put the site out of business.

So once again the traditional models win. I really will be sorry to see it go. I really love the site. I have 3 stations set up. It allows me to reflect my mood and sense. It is so easy to set up and use.

To comment go here:


or here better...




Ryanair vs Scrapers - Round 2 to Ryanair?

Seems like the efforts by Ryanair against the Type 2 (that's the people who dont make it obvious that it is making the booking in the background) scrapers is working.

I know how frustrated the consumers feel. But its caveat emptor. I should know - I just did a stupid and similar thing. Let me tell you about my faux pas. I tried to unlock a phone. So I went to Google and found the cheapest site. Paid my fee... then found out that this particular site doesn't unlock my phone. BUT for another fee there is a site who unlocks my particular phone. And no I cant have my money back!!! Oh yes and read the fine print - we told you so.... and no you cant reach us.

More the fool me!

In the case of Ryanair - I am really on the side of the airline on this one. Not because I am a fan of Ryanair - I am because of the way they have reduced the cost of flying and fly to places that I can now go to non-stop!!! - but really because there is an issue that the Consumer advocates really didnt focus on. IE that there are multiple types of screen scrapers. The bad type 2s are actually the ones causing the problems. Ryanair is well within its rights to go after those guys. If however Ryanair went after the Type 1 scrapers (who redirect to the Ryanair site) then I would be less enthusiastic.

It seems not to be the case as this article in Aviation Week attests.


No more BAAABI - now it's No Slot Back Willie

Just when I was getting very happy with the BAAABI acronym for the OneWorld super alliance, i find I have to include Finnair (AY) and Royal Jordanian (RJ).

dang it...

I was so close to such anagrams as I BRA AJAR, or I GRAB A BRA. So I will have to go back to the drawing board and hope that QF and CX dont join as well....

Which leaves me to the point about Mr Walsh and his resounding - "what me give back slots at LHR - are you nuts" attitude.

BA has not yet put a value on its slots at LHR. While BMI values its slots @ GBP770 Million which given the number of slots that means GBP 10 million per slot pair. Given the number of slots and the current market value of each slot pair - shall we say $75 million - then BA is surely not going to be letting any go any time soon.

So Willie is not going to let the slots go. Which means that my argument for dominant position holds and even with the best intentions - the shares that the alliance holds at LHR is still pretty dominant. Anyway you cut it its darn close to 50%.

I think Mr Ridgeway has a point.


For all of you frustrated with Windows - look here

OK Olympic glory abounds. But occasionally a glitch will occur.

One of them was during the Opening Ceremonies - when the Olympic chappies was racing round the stadium. I thought I caught a glimse of something that looked like the Blue Screen of Death (XP style). Well despite looking back at Tivo I couldn't tell. so I left it alone until I saw a post about it this morning. Sure enough - there was!!!

So despite the magnificent staging of the opening ceremonies - here is the true picture....