Follow your own Sheep, Airline Style

You do wonder what sort of credentials you need to run an Airline, it is very difficult, in fact it is one of the worse sort of businesses to do business, there are so many factors in the fact that can send you broke on a weekly basis, some can be the changeable climate of the traveling public, others are anything from hijackings to tsunamis, fuel shortages, volcanos, snow, pilot and ground staff strikes, computer catastrophic failures, bad press, engine explosions or the worse of all, the loss of aircraft, passengers and crew.

Airlines as a whole don’t make money, losing it is easy, making it is very difficult, so why do you want to be in this business, because it is glamorous, well maybe yes to a point, some call it the “bus service in the air”, which is a fair comment in todays highly regulated on time service environment, but there is something in that fact as flying is a still a wonderous thing to do even for people who hate it, nothing is more amazing than the fact you can circle half the globe and land within minutes of the scheduled timetable, and within the hours of a 24hour day, Sydney to London, in the time of only one day of your life, and for only $2000.00 is in anyone’s terms  a great deal.

With all these issues to face everyday you would want to minimize your losses by selecting routes that are profitable and useable, but there is a strange fact that sometimes in doing this, all reason goes out of the window, take for instance New Zealand.

Now New Zealand is a pretty country that is somewhere in the low South Pacific Ocean and at last count there was 4,315,800 people residing there, and of that  1,110, 456 of them visited Australia, and from Australia they have in the fact that 1,115,285 of them then returned the favour by going over there.

So that would seem like a pretty big market, plenty for everyone to have a slice of the travelling cake, however if you are in an airline management position this would seem to be a rainbow gold mine just waiting to be dug.

It is but a strange thing happened, for such a small country airlines have been swapping and changing around to the point that it is a lottery to seem which one will be ready for you at the airport when you get there!

Almost all have been non New Zealand Airlines and mostly come from big brother Australia, long forgotten Ansett ruled the roost for years with a massive 30% share of the cake, then Qantas in some form or the other took over the debris when the airline was grounded in 2001 and being renamed Qantas New Zealand, in 2003 Qantas created their successful LCC (low Cost Carrier) offshoot Jetstar which commenced New Zealand operations on the 1 December 2005  to Christchuch (CHC) and on the 10 June 2009 Jetstar commenced domestic New Zealand flights between Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Queenstown.

New Zealand has it’s own national airline called Air New Zealand which by all cases in the last decade has been a total basketcase, New Zealand as a market that is so very small for a large legacy carrier that has 6 Boeing 747-400’s always parked under the window, but under the stewardship of Rob Fyfe who was appointed in 2005 the airline has become the one to watch and now covers 27 domestic destinations and 26 international destinations, making money in a creative way which much like Singapore Airlines in Singapore, and in doing so out go the big thirsty B747’s and in come B777’s which are more suited to long thin routes, in other words good management.

Another upstart that tasted the New Zealand gold rush is Virgin Blue, based in Brisbane (BNE) , started in 2000, it had the good fortune in that Ansett dissolved right in front of them and created a market almost overnight, a LCC that was on the hunt soon dominated the Australian low-cost market and in 2003 a subsidiary of Virgin blue, Pacific Blue was heading over the Tasman Sea wanting some of the ready cash.

But in most cases you always found yourself on a Virgin Blue aircraft as the fleet was rotated around to cover the only few Pacific Blue Boeing 737’s flying, and Virgin then thought “well we are over there so why don’t we do domestic New Zealand as well”, well why not, it’s a free world.

So if you wanted a flight from Aussieland to Kiwi Land, then the choice is large, Qantas, Jetstar, Virgin Blue, Pacific Blue and not forgetting Air New Zealand, now on top of all that it is because New Zealand is where it is then most international carriers will terminate their service in either Auckland (AKL) or Christchurch (CHC), and in most case many have 5th freedoms of the air rights, which means that “they have the right to fly between two foreign countries during flights while the flight originates or ends in one’s own country”, so you can sway your way down to Sydney Airport, drop $210.00 into a Emirates passenger ticket and then rumble right along and taste the space and giantness of their double decker bus, the A380, well they are getting 90 of them so why not drop a few on the Trans Tasman route and pick a few shekels moving Australia to New Zealand or vice- versa, 460 seats is a lot to fill, Melbourne’s the same, In Brisbane you can jump on a Singapore Airlines Jet and swan over in style, and not on a cramped B737 or Airbus A320.

If there is then a saturated market it is New Zealand, with only two major ports (AKL/CHC), and as sheep following sheep its getting seriously crowded parking in Auckland with empty planes, so what happens, they lose mountains of money, and it becomes a poker game of who will hold out till the last, all of them holding their breath, fares go to bucket levels, almost coming down to stealing passengers at airports trying to board the competition, and it goes on for years, upping the frequency or adding even more ports (Gold Coast, Cairns) to get a leg over the others…..

So who gave up first…..Virgin Blue/Pacific Blue, “what the hell it’s not worth it”, so they decided that we will put our precious resources somewhere else…and that is?

Perth (PER), the resource boom of shipping the whole of Western Australia to either China or Japan is in full swing and a market just waiting to be exploited, did they learn from losing all that cash in New Zealand, “hell no”, as “thar’s gold in those W.A. Hills”

Virgin Blue decided to ship people over to W.A. wholesale, by buying a couple of large Airbus A330’s and going business class too.

Qantas not to be out done looks around and realises that Jetstar has few loose A332’s available and  so puts them on the same route, Jetstar meanwhile is a regular customer at Perth, so is Singapore  Airlines offshoot Tiger (one Dollar seats) Airlines, Strategic Airlines is also based there, Skywest too, in fact there is 12 domestic airlines based in Perth, and how many people live there?

1,659,000, less than New Zealand, in fact far less than New Zealand, oh and there are a few 5th Rights Carriers passing through there too, suicide!

And on it goes, Sheep following Sheep, Perth has not even been on the map for decades, if you wanted to fly there it cost less to fly to Hong Kong, Japan even, in fact the cheapest way was to fly to Singapore and backtrack to Perth, those were the days, going international to fly to a domestic port?

Soon it will be dollar dazzlers, free meals, face painting to fill empty seats…Suicide.

So here we go, which one will pull out first, Qantas, Nah!, Jetstar, Nah!, Virgin Blue, Nah! too much at stake, Tiger..well maybe but their numbers are low anyway.

So it’s going to be a blood bath, and coming to an airport near you.

Say, there is a good traffic going down to Antarctica, could be on a winner there, seasonal is the only problem, “could you land an Airbus A330 on the ice?”

Sheep following Sheep, Oh by the way Tiger Airlines are going to do a new route……going over the Tasman to New Zealand….

……”oh for Christ’s sake”

British Airways…Bah Humbug! to you too travellers

Its our rights, we want you to listen to us, if not then…we will strike over Christmas..so there!

As 90% of the British Airways cabin crews decide to ruin Christmas for everyone involved, you really do wonder at what they will achieve, more money..probably, better conditions..maybe, being fired, yes every chance in hell of that one…and they deserve to be.

I was brought up during the bitter Miners Strikes of the 70’s that achieved the downfall of the British Industry as we know it, so I don’t sing a Union’s praises.

But if you want to achieve your goals in bargaining the first thing you have to do is have pubic opinion and sympathy to your cause on your side, it’s the biggest chip you can bring to the table, but Unite (union) have already blew that one, pretty well everybody now not only loath’s them (that is not just like but hatred), by doing this again at Christmas to try to leverage their case, It failed, your members will be (have been) booed from every corner of the Aviation Globe including here, this sort of blackmail doesn’t get things fixed anymore but drives a wedge between you and pretty well everybody else and even giving sympathy to British Airways, which in most cases is very hard to do, and worse is the very opposite of what the union is trying to achieve.

Worse is the fact that at this time of the year, and boy what a fun year 2009 was with that Global Financial Crisis thingy, is that the very company you are working for (British Airways) is guzzling money at a rate that sends the CFO home looking like a zombie and putting a shaking drink to his mouth to calm the shakes he gets when he looks at the balance sheets, is the fact that in the season to be jolly is one of the few seasons that you can actually put up your airfares and recover some of the debris, which by some strange factor of twelve x fourteen is paying your wages that you  take home at the end of your shift to feed your families and pay your rent and if anything is left over can buy a present for your hunk of a man (same for gay stewards) to give you a hug and cry on Christmas Morn.

Worse still is the fact that come April the British Airways management will cut you up with a knife with sadly our overwhelming support.

You may have a completely valid reason to strike or ruin Christmas, need to be heard, give your side of the situation as companies can be callous bastards and treat their staff with the same regard as street people and vagrants, but this is not an effective strategy to help your cause, in 1969 yes, in 2009 it is close to murder.

You will gain nothing..and you lose everything.

If you are even close to having even a small brain, you may be able to save your job and meet me again in the cabin of a Boeing 777, if you don’t then it is to your loss next year….Merry Christmas.

The jury is still out..on the Airbus A380….

AirFrance A380

Some milestones are hard to see clearly until many years pass and the verdict is finally in, but as the 2 year milestone of being in service for the Airbus A380 came around, it is still not clear of whether this machine and Airbus are in the clear.

to date  there are 20 A380s in service with three airlines – SIA, Emirates and Qantas -which have accumulated 75,000h, operated 8,000 flights and carried at least 2.5 million passengers, and firm orders for the A380 to 202 aircraft from 17 customers.

Sales have dropped to only 2 orders for 2009, and the many A380’s that have been ordered have been referred or given delayed deliveries, many commentators have said the double-decker is just too big and will lose money constantly and the severely delayed Boeing 787 was still the better way to go.

The two years in service report notes that the aircraft did have issues of reliability which is typical for like Emirates based in Dubai, their technical dispatch reliability benchmark is above 98.5%, and Tim Clark (Emirates CEO) says that while Airbus is guaranteeing 98.5% “we’re not there yet. We’re at 97%, sometimes 96%.

Most faults have been through oversensitive sensors (moisture contamination was another pain) that go off and create a no-go fault warning and a (return to gate), Airbus have worked quickly to rectify the situation and most warnings are now nulled as they adjusted the computer algorithms for failure detection as to not be so sensitive, main gear steering system (MEL) caused some concerns too, the trailing axle of the two six-wheel centre bogies is articulated to avoid tyre scrub on the inside wheels, and the wedge that must lock the steering in place for take-off has proved problematic, again a fix has been sorted and the problems solved, a nose wheel problem on a Qantas service to London stranded the machine on the runway and had to towed to the gate for disembarkation and finally two in-flight shutdown of the Trent 900 engine were “non-basic”, which means the engine’s basic design was not at fault.

It feels like a long bad list but all new aircraft (and remember the A380 is a generational design) have such new operational problems and in fact the list is very small, the real problem is that if the aircraft is not serviceable is then what do you do with nearly 500 passengers!, luckily it hasn’t happened often, but when it does it creates a major logistical problem.

So what of the other factors, in this case the A380 has been a spectacular success, passengers just rave about the space, the quietness of the design and load factors are extremely high, pilots are gushing with praise for its flying characteristics and low turbulence factors (its noted that its like the Queen Mary 2 in the sky, it just plows on through) and the plane is more efficient than promised by the manufacturer (since when has that happened in the past), SIA generally cruises its A380s at M0.83-0.85, and the approach speed – for a landing weight close to the 397t maximum take-off of a 747-400 – is an impressively slow 130-135kt (240-250km/h). they found the faster you flew the more efficient the A380 became so in service the machine has not only delivered but is well above expectations and will get better again with improvements of weight reduction and engine upgrades coming after 2012.

On the ground it again has not proved to be problematic with its size and weight, turnaround times range from 90-110min, depending on route and operator. For example, Emirates does 90min turns at London Heathrow between the inbound EK001 and outbound EK002, which is impressive with such huge numbers (Passengers,Cargo & Catering) to cater for.

2010 will be the year that the Airbus A380 will be declared a success or failure, a major step forward in design and operations, unfortunately the GFC crisis was the worst situation to be faced by a machine designed to carry such high load factors (hence the delayed deliveries and few new orders) and could have, but didn’t turn it into a loss making albatross (a la Concorde), in fact its extremely high load factors bids it well in the future.

The reason that 2010 is significant is in the way Air France intends to introduce its first A380’s into service in December 2009 and Lufthansa in the Late1stQ 2010, unlike the 3 current airlines (Singapore/Qantas/Emirates) these European Carriers are going more for the higher seating configurations of 538-seat Air France and 550 seat Lufthansa, the Aircraft is already known to very efficient and now you have a considerable higher load factors and certainly higher yields and profit, the Boeing 747 was a game changer in price (seats per mile) in the early 70’s and the fares plummeted, that won’t happen here but it will give the two European airlines a significant advantage as with what Qantas is finding with its A380 SYD-LAX services against newcomer VAustralia, in fact Qantas is mulling over the fact of whether to pull back its yield losing 1st Class and Business class sections to go the from the current 450 seats to 500+, its 72 business class seating is a folly and change will certainly and must be forthcoming, but the point is it is doing the busines without the better (higher) configurations, Air France and Lufthansa will be doing so from the start of their operations, if it is a success the A380 will be declared a winner, if it flys with plenty of empty seats it could damage it’s too big for the market image beyond doubt, however if the new services are successful then the Airbus will certainly be declared a success and more orders will follow.

In most cases already the A380 is a spectacular success, but this too large a capacity is still lead weight around its neck and could hurt the design (and Sales), again with 787 still nowhere close to being in service, the A380 over the next 12 months could finally cement its position in the industry.

Another breakthrough is if an American Airline chooses the A380 to fly from the mainland to Asia (japan, China), Americans are very territorial and anything Boeing builds is far better than Airbus can build, but significantly today many Airbus products are flying in the mainland USA (A320/321, A330, A340) and the Americans are liking what they are flying on and with its capacity/yields/profit the A380 can make serious money on the Pacific Routes and if the Americans don’t use them someone else will.

The Airbus A380 is a game changer, hub to hub it has no peers except for the Boeing 777, but from mega city to mega city and fare wise it is a real profit machine, the Boeing 787 will still be a serious competitor but cheap fares and space are winners if you want to attract passengers and over the summer of 2010 with AirFrance/Lufthansa will prove that theory …..as the Airbus A380 has both the space and the case for cheaper airfares in spades.

Airline passengers are back, so lets get back to work….

Growth, the mantra of any airline business is coming back, the planes are full again and the losses are falling, well not by much, even Singapore Airlines took a reported a net loss of S$159 million ($114.6 million) compared to a net profit of S$324 million a year ago, but that’s good isn’t it…well maybe.

No doubt most all airlines have taken a battering and any news is good news, thank god, but what of Japan Airlines, it is still losing more than ever and is still sinking slowly into the Sea of Japan, Qantas declared a profit before tax of $181 million for the full-year ended 30 June 2009, down 87 per cent on the prior year, but most of that if not all came from its ultra successful Jetstar operations, for the International branch well they don’t want to highlight that portion of the cake.

If you wanted to travel and were one of the few mortals that still had cash or your credit card has some disposable income to dispose of then 2009 was a bumper year for deals and airfares, in fact it was downright amazing, Europe from Australia was only AUS $1600.00, USA AUS $1000.00 or even less, Asia was the same as a few years ago as going to Melbourne to Brisbane, instead it is now Melbourne – Thailand for less, and the Aussies love to travel and the emptynesters have all headed off to Europe, so all in all its been a bonza year, even city hotels have been doing games like “Name your price” for a room and have been filling the discounts with business.

But in all this the result has been good and survivable instead of the downright disaster they were predicting last year, in fact it has been a relatively good year by all accounts, the business sector is next to zero in the planes and in the rooms but the eyes glint of a new tomorrow is when it is certainly going to go back to boom and champagne times of the mid-noughtys.

So the general censorship around the Airline and Hotel boardrooms is “Lets get back to normal”…2010 prices are back to normal and “that is your cricket”…insane profit will be back and we can start those wonderful corporate functions, general freebie’s and tax dodges we missed so much this year and bring them all back again.

There is no doubt that 2009 has been a year of horror to most of the Travel Business, but I love years like this as it gets rid of the free loaders, throw out the over expanded fleets and gets the books back onto an even keel, there is nothing like a good house clear out and general stocktake to make your business feel better, out go the old inefficient planes, fire all the good people who fly or service them, in fact everything that is not useful can go to the tip, and soon the balance sheets will balance and the numbers will stabilise and you are where you are right now thinking “Well it could have been worse, but in fact it worked out for the better in the end”.

“and that brings us back to doe”

I don’t want to throw a bad light on a good moment but…

The general feeling is “well if that GFC was the 1930’s type recession then what were they all complaining about”, we have actually enjoyed our small trip into the deficit and back, in fact we have shopped and travelled like well “no tomorrow”, but the little point not to miss was that the stock exchange did the dive in 1929 but the deepest part of the depression was not until 1932, 3½ years after the sudden shock and awe…why.

The effects are really not felt until the game is played out and people start to run out of savings and cash (or have to cut up their Credit Cards), and the plus point is that all those people who have lost jobs are now lost customers, governments have thrown subsides at anyone who wants them just to keep the economies operating but that has to stop sometime and the above sheer survival of keeping your business afloat by doing he greatest deals of the new century.

So what happens when these three or more things change and you think that things are going so well “its time to put your prices back up”, the effect will be no business and the buoyant optimistic of great profits again will soon go the way of Bernard Madoff, in fact it will be suicidal, the point is Qantas still made a profit of Aus $181 million and shouldn’t get greedy in fact they should be able to hold the fares lower because if they have rationalised  their business correctly then they should be saving  enough to keep the wolf’s from the door, but they won’t…and that will be the worst decision since sub-prime loans debacle.

Worse the huge alliances of Star, OneWorld, Skyteam et all will band together to push tickets higher as noted by Tim Clark of Emirates Airlines recently, Emirates won’t play that game and that is why they are growing successfully more than anyone in the industry, so you will have higher tickets on one hand and no money to spend in the other, in fact the effect of the GFC will be after the GFC has happened and not while it has happened.

So the reality should be “all hands on the wheel”, in that in 2010 if you can get away with not losing and make a very small operating profit then adjust your fares to match and that way you won’t lose customers and keep flying, but they will put the fares through the roof for the USA/European summer, and you will crash, as like mentioned “it’s too much too soon”.

It has been an interesting year, but no doubt 2010 will be even more so, we have a chance revolutionise the Global Travel industry within the next few years, but greed must be not part of the new model, service certainly, lower costs from both sides even more and if the new model works then the profits will follow, but greed will cause disaster as it is a road to nowhere, and at the moment we are at that crossroads.

Ryanair. who is more mad, O’leary or his passengers

ryanair_O’Leary

Ryanair the Irish based LCC has grown 323.4% in the last 10 years which is brilliant stuff in any business never mind the airline business, but I want to believe I really do but something really nags me about the Irish Airline, the sheer gall of its CEO elf Michael O’Leary even makes (look at it!..) Richard Branson look amateurish in his stunts and no doubt it works in getting bums on seats.

His latest “crock o crap” is that if passenger would stand up (IATA would have a heart attack) they can fly free?..brilliant PR stuff and an amazing 66% of passengers said they would?…..for 2 hours on a bumpy plane would you stand in the aisle to get to Romania?

Mr O’Leary already has standing passengers anyway in the fact that (one) you have to pay to use his toilet, (two) he has pulled them all out for more seats and left only one to use!, so his standing passengers is really a queue to go to the loo, plus the fact that if you have a aisle seat there is a good chance that standing by your face waiting to use such facility is some older male person with a personal  bladder problem is holding his crotch to stop the dribble going down his legs…I would want to fly free for that view and in a seat please!

besides this ludicrous situation Michael O’Leary charges you for everything except smiling (including the cabin crew) and crying which you do once all the charges are laid out, another latest idea is for you to take all your hand luggage (no checked luggage, so what does he carry in the hold?) and put it in a holding area when you board or collect when you deplane, can you picture a large Indian Family with all their excess baggage carrying it up stairs and carrying it off again including sacks and trunks and “god knows what”, god help us.

Still we haven’t mentioned that you are treated like herded cattle, abused, hustled around and mostly bumped to another flight and for all of this we smile gracefully and pay up and grit our teeth, so why do we put up with it all…because it is a cheap fare……..compared to what…walking, and worse is that other carriers see this as a trendsetter and want to use this despicable model for their own uses.

So for me it just doesn’t add up, I don’t get it, and there are two reasons (one) Michael O’Leary can get away with murder, because (two) his passengers are bloody idiots for putting up with so much for so long and let him get away with murder, yes we complain and get angry at airports because our wallets have been stripped and there is nowhere to sit (except on the cold floor), we are hungry (no food now, remember that), we are late, and tired…and what do we do, “we’ll fly Ryanair again because it won’t be as bad next time”..doh!

But is the penny about to drop as Ryanair’s latest three month net income is 20 million euros lower, you could say that the economic crisis is the cause, however the airline’s strategy is to find niche airports all over Europe and fill them with a service, and to do so at such an alarming rate that passengers take up the service just because it is there and pay such a low price for doing so, the mayors of such destinations will of course welcome the tourists with open arms and give Mr O’Leary a lot of freedom in costs and infrastructure just to put his wheels on their tarmac that even their own established airlines would benefit from more, but the reason other LCC carriers don’t land here is these destinations are a bit obscure and in time a flood becomes a trickle once the gloss wears off, for Mr O’Leary he just does a better special (lower fares) and fills the planes (goats in the hold?), but you can only go down so far and has Ryanair gone to far in its quest for European domination in having too many slight routes going to too many destinations with not having too many load filling routes with good yield, or the opposite were as on any route that is popular to even take out toilets for seats means that the margins are so slight that every seat counts, even the toilet seat.. it has to be a model for problems if the load factors even drop a smidgen.

And to my unease, it feels like a very on the line, week to week survival stuff, but like an Irish magician Micheal O’Leary just creates an illusion of perfection while frantically cutting or finding another way of getting more cash from his customers, its a bit like a Madoff Ponzi scheme for airlines.

But why do people put up with this?

with the economic crisis I am hoping that some reasoning will come back and people will stop thinking that the cheapest fare is the only benchmark for travelling on an airline because it getting ridiculous to the point of stupidity, passengers should reward airlines that give good service, don’t over book them, allow a fair amount of baggage, have fair airport space and seating, are on time and have good equipment (planes), pay a little more and get a better travelling experience, good airlines will breath a sigh of relief too as their margins will be better to give you a better deal and employ a few more staff, that would be a better service, certainly better than Ryanair but until then if the option is there… then take the train, at least you can use the toilet….for free.



Dubai…Still growing in the Airline Market

Dubai-Airport-Emirates

East to West was always a backwater business for the Airlines except for Singapore Airlines, British Airways and Qantas that ruled their golden Kangaroo Route treasure trove with piratical glee for as the real money was over the pond from Europe to the Good Olde USofA, but now suddenly the world has changed mainly with our Globalisation of the planet in that we are now all one world and not the just in the Western hemisphere of doing business, in this process with the opening of up China and its Tiger States the traveller is also changing the the way they see the world and move around it in business and pleasure as it is now East and West.

The old hub of Singapore today has real competition from the cashed up Gulf states that are changing the type of route you would fly East to West or Europe to Asia or vise-versa, it was once only Via SIN (Singapore) or HKG (Hong Kong) and BKK (Bangkok (a British Airways favorite)), Now in the last few years SEO (Seoul) put a foot in the door and so does NRT (Narita Japan).

but now more and more you can jump from Asia Via DBX (Dubai), in fact it is quite a hub, as you if you desire by flying into this gulf state you can suddenly fly straight to Canada or to Brazil or pretty much anywhere which is the expanding vision of Tim Clark Emirates Airlines chief designer of conquering the world from the air.

And it changes the rules so completely and so differently that it will change the way we travel and why, and it is also a gamble of such immense proportions that if it doesn’t come off it could bankrupt a country, a small country but a country never the less, and too make the gamble even harder Dubai’s next door neighbour Abu Dhabi’s Etihad has exactly the same idea and so does Bahrain with its Airline Gulf Air.

Who will win, all of them but Emirates will still be the one with most to gain with its global domination of its order of 58 Airbus A380 mega jets, in fact the plan is for these huge machines to circle the world constantly like satellites carrying passengers to destinations with Dubai as their hub and a stopover which means any travel from East to West will mostly in 10 years time move you through one these of the Gulf states and its pleasure Kingdoms, Etihad will in time join Emirates and not compete directly as a turf war would not be in the best interest of both states but instead create a bigger hub for all to share the foils of passing trade, just like they did in the old days of the desert caravans, for the older hubs like Singapore already the effects are showing, as Hong Kong is already 12.7% down (May 09) which you would put down to the crisis but Dubai after an initial downturn is already 7% ahead of last year with five new carriers starting services and a new local LCC (Low Cost Carrier) flydubai making its debut..and Oh they want your Cargo Business as well!

Dubai (6th busiest) will also overtake Singapore (Changi) in the Airport rankings this year with Hong Kong next on the list to which you would reply that the SAR was hurt badly by H1N1 flu virus and the Asian recession but also that it is tied to the fortunes of Cathay Pacific Airlines (49% of capacity) which is 6.7% down were as Dubai has Emirates (58.4% of capacity) charging into the future as if there was no tomorrow.

The economic crisis has of course put a major knife through the overall plan, but strangely in an odd way will save it as that the building fever was going overboard with bigger and bigger plans and crazier ideas fronting the Dubai planning committees, some are quite breathtaking in their execution and many will not (should not) survive the downturn, If 58 Airbus giants is not enough then what of a Underwater Hotel, Sports City, Pleasure Cities, The World, The Palms, Dubai Pearl not to mention Burj Dubai monster that at the top you can see London, most are already done or are near completion, but a little slowdown could allow the guardians of the desert to smooth out the edges a little, as it seems now a bit like a huge building sandbox that is not really a mirage in the desert type picture that will really draw the hoards they want, plus the fact that Airbus can only build 14 to 20 planes a year means that a little time would be good and if not for a better plan than pushing everything to open in 2012.

In fact the idea is that Dubai will be a world hub, a global hub for nomads and travellers passing through and spending a shekel on the way, an attraction of pleasure like Las Vegas or Orlando to visit and play in, its a big idea, a huge gamble and its very brave but it won’t happen yet, in fact it will take 10 years before it becomes the dream destination that the Emirati are working towards as for the danger is the economic problems facing the world are more challenging and harder than anyone will expect, but there is no doubt that if you travel from Australia or Asia to Europe in five years you will be able stay underwater, ski the slopes, stand on the highest point of a man made building, shop till you drop, play on the best Golf Courses, do any type of sport you desire or see a concert of your favorite artist then Dubai will be your destination on your way to somewhere else, in fact you may not want to even go anywhere else as the those smart business people in the desert will have have everything you want…..for a shekel or two of course.


How Long Can This Go On….Low Airfares

Sale Case

The losses are huge, big, enormous and it has hit every corner of the Travel Market and still it hurts, for the airlines it is Judgement day but for how long?

When Singapore Airlines are doing European specials you know life is bad, People will pay a premium to fly the smile high club so what hope is there for anyone else, British Airways have quickly dropped their premium route fare to nothing just to survive with an AUS$1444.00 fare SYD/LON, so Qantas will have to match that and these three airlines have been the big hitters on this route for decades so for them to drop it has to be the very last resort.

For Qantas their other Premium route SYD/LAX (los Angeles), has been decimated by V Australia’s close to as possible $1000.00 return fares, with United chopping fares as well for market share its going to be banging heads on the table in the offices at Mascot and not before time.

And suddenly as a break into a new market, Delta has already dealt in a sword in the ground deal of  AUD$982.00 from Syd with Air New Zealand’s counter offer of AUD $889.00 (including taxes) from Coolangatta is near as damn soil cheap as you can get.

This is a snapshot of just one aviation market in Oceania/Asia and it is being repeated though out many other markets in every part of the globe, the good side is that it has leveled fares that were overpriced on monopolised routes, Qantas’s SYD/LAX route fare $2000.00 was quite simply Sheriff of Nottingham territory and to have it halved showed the bonuses that flowed though the doors of the Geoff Dixon era, economic crisis or not that still had to happen.

So we are in the shit, so to speak and the few cashed up travellers are having a boom time, it can’t last and it won’t but it will not be all bad news.

The cheap fares are there because most Airlines are over productive with too many planes and the staff that runs them, as the airlines shred older inefficient aircraft they will create a newer tighter business, staff will go because you are not going to go and pickup and then go back to normal when the economy picks up again, today you need to be lean and efficient, and a good old shake out of the mattress will help the restructuring of almost every aspect of the Aviation Business so you can now throw out the old model and send in with the new as for the first time in its history except with a few bumps aviation is faced without its stunning growth year after year and so like any other business it will have to adapt to the current climate changes.

The cheap fares will last this year  but for the rest it should settle back down again which means many fares will rise as they have too because.

1. Airline restructuring will be completed.

2. Airlines are not public services they have to make money, break even at least.

That is the bad news…the good news is they won’t go nowhere near the old prices or will again, this is the new new for the business so SYD/LON should level out at AUS$1600-$1800 and SYD/LAX about AUS$1200 – $1300 which is still brilliant value, most domestic traffic will not push those AUS$1 a seat deals t0o hard and put on an average of AUS$20 per ticket price per sector, really low LCC (Low Cost Carriers) will have to improve their bottom lines as the likes of Ryanair (I’ll charge you), Easyjet et all, will not find profit in expansive growth anymore and will have to fall to the realities of the a real business model, and this is all in cattle class as even more changes will come in business class, but these prices do still depend on very stable Fuel costs going into 2010, if they rise then so will the fares by another 5% to 10%.

The only growth area will be in the International LCC (Low Cost Carriers), many have already failed in this new dimension to travel, but some pioneers are paving the trail like AirAsia and Jestar International but once the model is proven many others will quickly come abroad but don’t expect really stupid low international fares here, they will be cheaper than normal route fares but these carriers will want to survive and there is a boundary limit to how far down you can go down with fares as international travel is a completely different model to domestic and short haul travel (European) as you need infrastructure and personal at the other end of the route.

Another factor if it comes to pass is that many countries like Australia are being pressured to drop or reduce their heavy outbound and inbound airport taxes to encourage more traffic, and its these expensive government add-ons that can really make a biggest difference to an airfare price,and that is even domestically and should be curtailed as why should be the airlines that always have to shoulder the costs, these little termites are in many countries a bigger cancer than anything in a good tourism market and if the governments are scared of lost revenue then that is not the case as visitors will still spend more in the country if they are not robbed at the entry point.

..At the moment fares are too cheap and unsustainable and how long they will last is not very long, my guess is the Christmas/New Year 09 period and will not be as severely discounted going into 2010 as they were in 2009 and maybe a few excellent specials will still crop up in the traditionally really low periods, say March and Oct/Nov next year, so with an economic crisis or not airlines will not survive unless they do so, there is also a chance they could even rise sooner to stop the bleeding quicker and once one large influential carrier does so the rest will quickly follow, so the real push from next year for your dollar will be in super economy class with more leg room and better service and higher profitable fares for the carrier, the deals will be there but they will expect you to pay more for them so you win and you lose at the same time.

So if your going to fly on the cheap then fly now..and book quickly because fares will rise, but not enough to break your credit card limit…….

Updated 18th Nov 2009…..
I noted in the above issue that the fare to Europe would be AUS$1600.00 – $1800.00, the recent Fares for early 2010 are AUS$1685.00, and will be basically around AUS$1750.00 late 2010, but we are having the problem of very high fares coming  (USA/European Summer) to try to pull back some profit see current issue Airline passengers are back-so lets get back to work, as this is a cash in to pull back profit it won’t work except maybe in the early (May/June 2010) period, but it will scare more away than bring passengers back into their seats….

V Australia..About time?

Let the Pacific war begin

Let the Pacific war begin

V Australia in their opening up of the Pacific Routes from a monopoly which will have the greatest impact on Australian Aviation since Virgin Blue created the lower prices that stayed around for more than a few months (Impulse, Compass) , and will give Tourism Australia finally a reason to smile, Protectionism of this immensely profitable route will be a real head holding time for Qantas at Mascot, but the reality is Qantas has been a real thorn in the side of Australian Tourism in its approach of profitability on the Pacific Routes both ways, and shows that overly protecting a national Icon can really hurt the the very thing it upholds.

I was far more expensive to fly to Los Angeles and San Francisco than to go to London or Paris, with these gateway costs so high, a return fare to New York was astronomical, it was cheaper to get a around the world ticket than have a return fare to NYC, or fly to London and go across the Atlantic then return was the same price, in other words it was ridiculous.

Qantas has held the country to ransom and knew what it was doing, and the Politicians in Canberra are to take most of the blame in letting the Airline do so. Tourism Australia should have also banged it’s drum far louder than it did and showed more in its mettle in doing what was right and not what monopoly’s can get away with, but Australia has a history of such head in the sand approach, its Two Airline agreement reigned for years until it was finally buried.. again to the benefit of Qantas but not so to Ansett which went south, but since the demise of the policy the local Australian Aviation has thrived like no other with excellent LCC carriers and good fares, And Qantas even benefited too as Jetstar has been a success they could only dream of..

So why get in such a lava over all of this, well not only did Australians pay way over barrier than what they should like in the Two Airline Policy days, but In that it also made Australia a very expensive country to visit, it is far enough away from prime travel markets as it is, but this was keeping arrivals at far lower levels than they should have been and certainly for years and years this has cost Australian Tourism millions and millions in lost revenue to give Qantas a few extra bucks in the bank, in fact Qantas should apologise for its behaviour and give the Australian Traveller a better deal to make up for all its callousness and greed.

Qantas finally only when forced has the Airline has finally dropped its prices from Aus$ 2000 + to around $1200.00 return to counter V Australia’s prices to date of average $1199.00,(both include taxes) that is in some cases a $850.00 drop (or Profit which ever way you look at it), that is a big drop by any Airline standards, but the benefits for the country will now certainly be apparent, but is it a little too late, today with the economic crisis going at full speed the Americans don’t anymore have the spare cash to pop downunder, one benefit though is the exchange rate is well balanced in the USofA’s favour making Australia an excellent value destination, and it almost always tops the most “I want to go there” lists, But for Australians its a bugger of a bad deal, offset only by the cheaper fare.

Qantas has another problem is the 777’s V Australia is using is very competitive on the routes, only the newly minted A380 Airbus’s came just in time to save the day in efficiency and high load factors, Virgin’s product is usually very good too, there are always accolades on their service and the niceys they throw around, if Qantas only had their 747.400’s still running the line, Qantas would have had a small disaster on their hands, old equipment, old service, expensive to run over the same distance, the Airline would have lost money on every takeoff from Mascot if they had matched the new prices, the only saving grace would have been lower fuel costs, but even that would have helped V Australia more than Qantas..

LA – Sydney is first on the 27th February, Followed by LA-Brisbane April 8th, LA-Melbourne Follows in September, worse for Qantas is the Sydney – Johannesburg SA routes have also been applied for, another cash cow gone, so is all of this fair to Qantas?

The answer is no, they should have rationalised the routes years ago, they have to do it now because they simply have too, if the fares had been fair there would have been no competition needed to show the discrepancy of the high fares people have been paying, Qantas will of course state this or that reason of why the fare were slated so high, but the real reason is two fold, inefficient equipment and good profit, now they will be well behind the ball mostly on the Aus-SA route, with the Boeing 787 coming in sometime in the never never.

There is no doubt it will be a tough year for the boys at Mascot, but for everyone else and mostly for the country it should give V Australia a helping hand in doing something Qantas should have done years ago, give the country and its tourism industry a fair go price wise to one of the worlds largest travel markets, so …good onya mate!


1.52

It hurts, It really hurts…where…there in business Class

business-class

As the first few months of the new economic year slides by the hurt is coming, early January is always a “I don’t care” month as the wining and dining of the festive new year is still in the blood, but come February and the festivities have been replaced by the stark reality of well everything.

Airports are crowded still but the numbers are well down as they should be, but people generally are getting on with their lives, the Airlines living on the edge have already long gone (XL and co) and the majors have already mothballed inefficient aircraft and layed off excess staff, for many it will be a relief as the frantic building and capacity numbers level off for a short while, Airlines will moan, but times like these are generally good not bad, excess can be bad for business, efficiency very good, the industry was always good at getting both right.

Here is not to say everything is now hunky dory, its not and not by a long run, it will drop deeper yet, and numbers will drop steadily more and more as the year goes on and still more Airlines will fail or merge, but again the system will be better and stronger for it and there will be real winners and losers, LCC carriers are already seeing benefits, the good ones that is, but prices are very low and margins are very small, but bums on seats are constant and people are still moving around and fuel is cheap, so that is good new for all, Long Haul LCC’s are moving up as well for Air Asia is going along as if nothing is happening around them and more and more markets will open to these models as the industry gets lower and lower, good LCC’s are certainly going into good boom times and more and more so as the economies go south.

For the everyone else they have a huge stinking lead weight around their necks…Business Class, I touched upon this situation in my Journal “The New Bloody Battlefield” back in October 2008, now it is more than that, it is the game changer.

Problem is Business Class was the central core of most Airline’s (Mainly Legacy Carriers) profit centres, but in trying to reap as much as they could from the bounty harvest there was really not much price or service difference between either First and Business class, and the gap between them and the rest of us just got wider and wider.

Another if bigger problem is for the last few years is that most Airlines have pored mzillions into this class, almost all front line carriers have reseated and redecorated this area as if there was no tomorrow, now they are well up a stream without a paddle and very expensive hardware to sell to the same people who can’t afford it anymore,

Super Economy was put in to fill the gap between Cattle Class and the high nobs and it does work very well, but the Airlines don’t really want to push it that much (but they do now), One it pulls down the executives from Business so that was a really big no no. two they take up to much space were as they could in the same space put in extra tourist rows for more bodies (and more Money), so that was a really bad idea too, but now the game has changed around and the Airlines are in a real tiddle of what to do, but the reality is they have no options, Super Economy has to work, problem is what will happen to business class?…..If you are paying today $5000.00 for a Business class seat and you can afford it then the extra $1000.00 for first as this is not a stretch, otherwise everyone in Business is going to go down to Super Economy to save big dollars, so what do you do, do you pull out your Business Class and replace them with Super Economy like Air New Zealand and (up the service and cost) a little, or severely discount your Business class seats (and services) to stop the drift, in other words closer to Super Economy than first.

Another problem with Business is Frequent Flyer Points (FFP) discount the seats, and everyone wants (loves) the freebies, if you are flying Super Economy and if Business is close in price then go for the upgrade or if you fly Business and carrying chunks of FFP’s then why not go Super Economy free to Las Vegas…

So to trends..no doubt a shift in deep price changes for Business Class has to come and quickly, a lot of freebies will go and just as quickly, so the differences between Business and Super Economy will have to be small(er), mostly the lounges and food, more likely baggage, it would be a good move, someone that flys Super Economy regular now would pay an extra $500.00 to fly business for the extras and the Airlines would stop the drift and prestige of regular business clients going really down market and sitting at the back.

FFP’s are going to be tightened to the point of worthless, extras(which cost little) will be the order of the day for repeat business not free air miles, every seat has to earn now, as the loss of high business traffic income will really hurt the bottom line, the trick will be to be flexible in the fact that Super Economy and Business Class will be almost the same thing, it will be the extras and cap pulling that will change the price, also if you have more business traffic then Super Economy can fill the need and vise-versa, overfill from Super Economy can go up to Business with no loss on either.

But Business Classers don’t expect the grande flourish of attention of yester yore, Airlines and Airports will cut services to the bone to save costs, even First will notice a few cost cutting differences, It is going to hurt Airlines more than you think dropping the price of this lucrative income stream, they will cry loudly as they sweep their pen through the old prices, British Airways and certainly Qantas will have people jumping out of windows at the loss of income..

But what of the redecorating, its is more closer to First than Business in concept so the distance down now from Business to Super Economy is more distinct than ever, the Airlines that skimped a little on the drapes my now have an advantage in flexibility than the more up market redo’s don’t have, so what do you do make it First Class?, or pull out the flashy hardware and put in  something more middle ground, expensive…yes both ways…it will be interesting to watch what they do, otherwise the beautiful seats will be empty, in the short term some upgrades are going to have some very happy clients that will certainly get more of a bang for their buck than they ever dreamed of.

Personally I welcome the idea, it will be more fair than, the them (Rich, First, Business) and the rest of us, they have been lauded and fettled over for years like spoilt rich kids that mostly don’t even pay for their own seats or services, while the rest of us who actually pay for the things (seats) have had services reduced to towel throwing and cups of water and treated as extra cargo (it is a known fact that some Airlines note Economy as Human Cargo!), but we do fill your planes and put profit on your plates, now we are important again to warrant at least some quality services or just plain old fashioned service.

We may even now because the prices are even close to reasonable again pick and fly again in Business Class, now that will be a turnaround, the people who worked and saved their own money getting service……It has to be better…. or I’ll put it on the Visa…oh I forgot, I can’t do that anymore…So just save your money then.

Look at this Richard. Just look at it…

No doubt you have read this, but I’ll list it here for prosperity, Great travel stories can give you day a lift…now all together

‘Look at this Richard. Just look at it’

W
Virgin: the world’s best passenger complaint letter?

Here we reproduce a complaint letter sent to Sir Richard Branson, which is currently being emailed globally and is considered by many to be the world’s funniest passenger complaint letter.
Dear Mr Branson
REF: Mumbai to Heathrow 7th
December 2008
I love the Virgin brand, I really do which is why I continue to use it despite a series of unfortunate incidents over the last few years.
This latest incident takes the biscuit. Ironically, by the end of the flight I would have gladly paid over a thousand rupees for a single biscuit following the culinary journey of hell I was subjected to at thehands of your corporation.
virgin1_1246696cLook at this Richard. Just look at it:
I imagine the same questions are racing through your brilliant mind as were racing through mine on that fateful day. What is this? Why have I been given it? What have I done to deserve this? And, which one is the starter, which one is the desert?
You don’t get to a position like yours Richard with anything less than a generous sprinkling of observational power so I KNOW you will have spotted the tomato next to the two yellow shafts of sponge on the left. Yes, it’s next to the sponge shaft without the green paste. That’s got to be the clue hasn’t it. No sane person would serve a desert with a tomato would they. Well answer me this Richard, what sort of animal would serve a desert with peas in:
virgin2_1246698c
I know it looks like a baaji but it’s in custard Richard, custard. It must be the pudding. Well you’ll be fascinated to hear that it wasn’t custard. It was a sour gel with a clear oil on top. It’s only redeeming feature was that it managed to be so alien to my palette that it took away the taste of the curry emanating from our miscellaneous central cuboid of beige matter. Perhaps the meal on the left might be the desert after all.
Anyway, this is all irrelevant at the moment. I was raised strictly but neatly by my parents and if they knew I had started desert before the main course, a sponge shaft would be the least of my worries. So lets peel back the tin-foil on the main dish and see what’s on offer.
I’ll try and explain how this felt. Imagine being a twelve year old boy Richard. Now imagine it’s Christmas morning and you’re sat their with your final present to open. It’s a big one, and you know what it is. It’s that Goodmans
stereo you picked out the catalogue and wrote to Santa about.
Only you open the present and it’s not in there. It’s your hamster Richard. It’s your hamster in the box and it’s not breathing. That’s how I felt when I peeled back the foil and saw this:virgin3_1246699c

Now I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking it’s more of that Baaji custard. I admit I thought the same too, but no. It’s mustard Richard. MUSTARD. More mustard than any man could consume in a month. On the left we have a piece of broccoli and some peppers in a brown glue-like oil and on the right the chef had prepared some
mashed potato. The potato masher had obviously broken and so it was decided the next best thing would be to pass the potatoes through the digestive tract of a bird.
Once it was regurgitated it was clearly then blended and mixed with a bit of mustard. Everybody likes a bit of mustard Richard.
By now I was actually starting to feel a little hypoglycaemic. I needed a sugar hit. Luckily there was a small cookie provided. It had caught my eye earlier due to it’s baffling presentation: virgin4_1246702c
It appears to be in an evidence bag from the scene of a crime. A CRIME AGAINST BLOODY COOKING. Either that or some sort of back-street underground cookie, purchased off a gun-toting maniac high on his own supply of  yeast. You certainly wouldn’t want to be caught carrying one of these through customs. Imagine biting into a piece of brass Richard. That would be softer on the teeth than the specimen above.
I was exhausted. All I wanted to do was relax but obviously I had to sit with that mess in front of me for half an hour. I swear the sponge shafts moved at one point.
Once cleared, I decided to relax with a bit of your world-famous onboard entertainment. I switched it on:
virgin5_1246705cI apologise for the quality of the photo, it’s just it was incredibly hard to capture Boris Johnson’s face through the flickering white lines running up and down the screen. Perhaps it would be better on another channel:
virgin6_1246708cIs that Ray Liotta? A question I found myself asking over and over again throughout the gruelling half-hour I attempted to watch the film like this. After that I switched off. I’d had enough. I was the hungriest I’d been in my adult life and I had a splitting headache from squinting at a crackling screen.
My only option was to simply stare at the seat in front and wait for either food, or sleep. Neither came for an incredibly long time. But when it did it surpassed my wildest expectations:
virgin7_1246709cYes! It’s another crime-scene cookie. Only this time you dunk it in the white stuff.
Richard…. What is that white stuff? It looked like it was going to be yoghurt. It finally dawned on me what it was after staring at it. It was a mixture between the Baaji custard and the Mustard sauce. It reminded me of my first
week at university. I had overheard that you could make a drink by mixing vodka and refreshers. I lied to my new friends and told them I’d done it loads of times. When I attempted to make the drink in a big bowl it formed a cheese Richard, a cheese. That cheese looked a lot like your baaji-mustard.
So that was that Richard. I didn’t eat a bloody thing. My only question is: How can you live like this? I can’t imagine what dinner round your house is like, it must be like something out of a nature documentary.
As I said at the start I love your brand, I really do. It’s just a shame such a simple thing could bring it crashing to it’s knees and begging for sustenance.
Yours Sincererly
XXXX

Paul Charles, Virgin’s Director of Corporate Communications, confirmed that Sir Richard Branson had
telephoned the author of the letter and had thanked him for his “constructive if tongue-in-cheek” email. Mr
Charles said that Virgin was sorry the passenger had not liked the in-flight meals which he said was
“award-winning food which is very popular on our Indian routes.”
© Copyright of Telegraph Media Group Limited 2009
Virgin: the world’s best passenger complaint letter? – Telegraph

Heathrow squashes a village……

over-heathrow

There is a lot of ho-ha about the fate of a village called Sipson that is situated slightly north of the United Kingdom’s largest Airport, Heathrow, It’s about to become a flat piece of tarmac, in other words a third runway for the London Gateway, 700 people are going to get the short shift to nowhere, and the pollutants of big bad aviation will make everyone within a 500 mile radius wear face masks and have cancer and bugger what else, daft decision, big brother trampling on good home owners of decent descent, lobbyists crying fowl…it’s outrageous, disgusting, bad, painful, how could they do this to us, we are decent god fearing people being bullied around…….those big uncaring bastards the government and big business.

I understand that losing your home and your community is a painful thing, people born, raised and die in their lifetime like to know what home is, roots, friends, neighbours, acquaintances that you meet everyday and not know their name but say hello too and know them because they live by you, and are part of your life, it will all be gone soon because you will have to move too Torquay or Bath.

For politicians this was the evil decision, you lose which way you go, yes or no, but they have to make a decision and they make it on facts and what they hope is right..not on bias or emotional and mainly not on minority groups using the decision to further their own agenda, and yes i mean you Greenpeace, I like Greenpeace but it is more about them than what is right, that has me bothered, sell your land now because it is a stupid thing to do, and move on and save Antarctica, it is a more willing cause.

But first I would like to deal with a another craw of propaganda that is the token of the media and what else nowadays, the green debate, fouling the world of despicable pollutants of the sheer killing of millions per year, Global Warming proportions…that is really making me bang my fist in sheer anger of stupidness..

Aviation is a monster of gigantic proportions and is killing all of us, dead….deadly toxic fumes and cancer is raining down on us from the heavens in black death proportions every time a plane takes off or lands, we demand better, and, and…….la de da da…..crap.

What a load of crap…crap…crap…crap…Greenpeace Crap

Got my point..good, that is now off my chest.

First out of 100% of total pollutants created the whole Aviation industry, that is everything from hangliders to an A380 Airbus they create 9% of the emitiants, that is only 9%!, when you light your fire to keep you warm at night you are creating..30%, drive your car..40% and so on, you are a far worse polluter just doing your everyday jobs than the whole Aviation Industry will ever be…..and they are at least getting better at looking after the planet than what anybody else has have ever done since you were born.

but still they keep banging on about they will cause us to gasp our last gasp and then they all go to the Airport get on a plane and go home…including Greenpeace, morons, contradiction of shear ineptitude of their own self importance, they are the problem not the moral voice.

In the 1960’s Aircraft were dirty, very smoky and noisy  but as there was only about two thousand of them flying over our heads so it didn’t make that much of a impact, fair enough, but since the revolution of the High Bypass engine things have got a lot better, in the US there is approximately 50,000 flights per day, and 7,000 takeoffs every hour, so you can’t expect with that sort of volume not to have an impact, but engine technology as gone forward in huge jumps of efficiency that are staggering by other transport standards, new generation aircraft like the Airbus A380 has 17% less fuel burn than the Boeing 747-400, the one it will replace, while carrying 20% more passengers, the New Boeing 787 will have 30% lower fuel burn than the Boeing 767 the aircraft that machine will replace while the NOx emissions are about 46% less per aircraft than the 767, that is nearly half, yes half the pollutants that the same aircraft delivers  today, which are still excellent if not exceptional compared to their 1970’s retired designs, but still aviation is pushing forward on the geared turbo fan that will re-engine fleets flying today will be 15% more cleaner and more efficient, and the use of recent trials of Bio-Fuels will help more in the emissions of cleaner air from these powerplants, IATA notes “that In 2008 alone airlines saved 15 million tonnes of CO2 with more streamlined procedures, which amounted to US$5 billion worth in savings”…and still Aviation looking even more forward to better still to programs to reduce emissions and the effects of their engines on the environment, again IATA notes “Using its four pillar strategy, IATA forecasts that the aviation industry will reduce its emission by 4.5% in 2009“, and they are doing that continuously, constantly, investing in new expensive technology to make your world better, while providing you with a service that is essential for the world to function in its modern climate.

My point is if the car you drive in the 70’s had seen the same evolution of efficiency that Aviation has produced now flying, your car would do about 250mpg and create only 8% of the pollutants it did in back then, do you drive that car, no, but you do fly on that aircraft and an industry that has worked to produce a product that is very efficient, and by the time the Heathrow’s third runway is operational, 80% of the aircraft flying in and out of that facility will be new or re-engined to those cleaner highly monitored statistics.

Do I work for an airline.. no, the government.. no, I do work in travel, so I see the benefits everyday, and like you is very grateful of an excellent system that has tried to do the right thing, and has done, not just talked about it, unlike car companies and power utilities that have taken our money and are now looking for handouts to fix their non-existent emissions and 70’s style inefficiency…i’m angry yes, because it is justified, but when it comes to paying these morons, it will be from taxes gathered at airports that is burdening an industry that has already done the right thing, not looked the other way. and angry at the media for constantly flouting the very industry that has tried to create a better transport system, that its very own problems are caused by its own success, and which the media use everyday for their job, so they should know better.

Which brings us to Heathrow, in our business its called Deathrow, why, because its position next on of the worlds largest cities, has created a demand by us, that has overwhelmed the infrastructure faster than you can build it, Unlike Dubai, Heathrow is situated in an old economy, around London there is no space to build a super gigantic airport that will just roll out into the desert, no matter where they build anything here, there will be people there, born there, died there, breed cockatoos there, England is a very small place with millions of people trying to survive on a space the size of an ironing board.

67 Million passengers a year will flow through these buildings, that is nearly all of the United Kingdom’s population one by one going through its doors, so what are you going to to, close it down, move it, when Heathrow was  first opened as a major gateway in 1953, the Terminal was called the Europa building, it then saw a trickle of passengers that accelerated to 14 million by 1968, it was fixed up, patched up and ad-hocked year after year, every year after that to cater for the the ever increasing hoards, so we complained about it, did nothing about it, just complained, but Deathrow is bulging at its seams, its a miracle it coped so well, but in this day and age its just not good enough, coming from Hong Kong or even Communist China, it feels like well..Deathrow, not a brilliant gateway or any sort of reflection on a modern country that prides itself on that “Britain is best”, in other words is a disgrace on our culture, we should be ashamed of it, and what do we do, we complain even more and make it as bloody hard as possible to fix it, its our fault, we should be ashamed of our backward thinking and head in the sand rhetoric.

It took 15 years to build Terminal 5, 15 years of what, to build something on empty airport land, it uprouted no one and why are there people there?, when Heathrow was started it was a few villages around an old RAF airbase and that was it, we didn’t ask you to build hundreds of houses under the flightpaths and right up to the airport fence, they came after, way after the fact and the airport was already there, if you move close to and live next to an airport and a major gateway it will be busy, noisy, expensive, its a major port, its important, it makes the country a lot of money and allows services like newspapers to be delivered daily to your door, it services you, your needs, your standards, your country, and the infrastructure required to do this is enormous, hotels, car hire, engineering, food, shops..15 years of waiting caused so much pain and loss of income, jobs and for what, nothing, and now its all going to start again at Sipson, most people living around Heathrow to the north are connected to Heathrow in one form or another that if you said to the workers in Sipson, we will close it down and be done with it, no doubt their first cry will be , “you can’t do that its my job”!, so what do you do, people are a pain sometimes, they want something that suits them one way, but don’t you dare change it because that is going to cost me my job or income, Heathrow can’t but help get bigger, and you can’t move it to Luton, Stanstead or Gatwick, they are just too far away to service London, whether you like it our not you are stuck with Heathrow, if you don’t like the smell then move, its a free country, no one is stopping you staying there, but don’t complain about it if it puts food on your table and pays your mortgage, but most of all accept that this is the first place the world will see of our country, so it should be the best damn airport in the world, we want you to come, be proud of our homeland, hold out our arms in friendship, but that will not happen with a load of old codgers that hate everything that won’t change anything that doesn’t suit them.

The world is changing, airports are the main ports today and are vital to the country, stifle them and you are costing the country money, mostly jobs and travel money, it flows on if people don’t come to Heathrow, they won’t get a taxi to the city, stay in a hotel, go see a show, have a meal, buy a souvenir, buy a sweater in Oxford street, that means for every traveller that goes to Dubai instead of London, you lose a cab fare, hotel bill, show ticket, over priced trinket, and wool off the sheep’s back, that is money, and that is jobs, lots of jobs, your job..would you rather that money go to an Arab, because he has a brilliant Airport, Massive amazing hotels, huge shopping malls, sunshine and camel hair sweatshirts, no of course not but that is what you are up-against, and the Arabs will win, because their airport is bloody brilliant and ours is a musty inefficient, backward, 50 year old terminal, like our countrymen and women.

Sipson not about the environment, its about change, and only change can fix the environment, how many flights from Heathrow did Emma Thompson make last year, or any airport to that fact as she is the cause of the damage and not the airport, the aviation industry is trying it’s best to do something, then why don’t you, at home, by forcing manufactures to build efficient cars, then lower your dependence on power, or stop household waste by not buying shit and expensive packaging and do the right thing yourself before sitting out all night on where a runway should be, trying to stop people or goods flying in or out is not going to work, its the way we survive, its jobs and money for families, flying is not going away, stopping the third runway will not stop planes coming to the United Kingdom, it will send them elsewhere with your money in their pockets, and the ongoing effect is everyone’s loss.

We should be applauding people that are willing to invest in our future, not want to put a shovel through them, they are our future, our jobs and the face of our country to the world, make Deathrow.. Heathrow again and be proud of it, it may even put the Great back into Great Britain again…but somehow, it just seems to against our character of a land of moaners and groaners….of why everyone else is doing better than us, well chaps its time to have look in your own backyard to see why.

More fuel please…I’m leaving from Brussels.

belgian-chocolate

Its enough to make any ramp operator parrot sick, and why most airlines can’t figure out why they run short of fuel coming home every time they send a plane to Brussels, now the culprit has been found, its Chocolate!…

In 2007, one shop in Brussels Airport…the so called “Chocolate Shop”..funny that, sold more than 850 tonnes of that heavy chocolatey stuff..mind boggling isn’t it, no wonder the planes there struggle to get off the ground….worse is…

…they have just finished an extension….to sell more!

Qantas…its time to be careful on domestic agents

flight-picture

There is no doubt that Qantas have given Australian Travel Agents a poor deal, mostly since the duo-poly of the 90’s system died, Qantas thinks they can do whatever they like, when they like it and stuff everybody else..up to now this approach has done wonders, for Qantas, for shareholders and for profits, but this is not a good tactic in the long run, Tourism is one of the most volatile businesses in the world and now Qantas are really going to have to work harder than ever to compete in the slow periods forecasted in 09/10, and it will need every ally it can muster to the cause, but at the moment there is a huge chasm between two sections of the Australian Travel Industry that should be working together for the best of the Industry and not dividing it, both sides rely on each other, but Qantas has to realise the precarious position it holds, If Travel Agents and Wholesalers continue to slip away, the benefiters are certainly  Emirates, Singapore Airlines, Virgin (VAustralia), Etihad et all who are going to embrace the extra business with open arms, business once lost will be harder to win back if ever, And Qantas’s biggest cash cows, the Kangaroo Route via Singapore is seriously going to be threatened by Dubai and other middle Eastern hubs and its Pacific Routes by V Australia’s cheaper fares and Delta’s reemergence in Sydney, I am sure that Australian Travel Agents will be more than happy to book clients on these new (hopefully profitable) deals, Also another problem is Qantas’s other cash cow, business travel that will be also flat lined as well over this period or even longer while relying on Jetstar to carry the domestic flag, and there is no doubt that the internet has made agency commissions a thing of the past, but the Airline has to understand that Travel Agents are still its lifeblood, it’s cheap advertising of its products, it’s silent salesmen and women, working together will strengthen our industry, make us both money, and bring new ideas to the table to expand our sales and products to the world either through the internet or direct sales,  Qantas can lose or will, this last cash cow and the faith of a large Industry workforce like it will the other sections of its business, but if they want to compete and stop the cascading drift of business overseas its time for a new approach to the Industry.

Hotels..what now, will 2009 be better, better than what…

london-hotels-small

What do you do?…always you run the house on demand, and occupancy is number one, but these are strange unusual times in between the travel business’s strange and unusual times, cycles come and go, travel demands always go up and down, but unless you have a Mumbai or Thailand situation you can always see or pretty well guess the right strategy for the coming year, but 2008 was like no year before it, and 2009 will be even worse, to a point when a disaster happens there is still focal point of the situation bottoming out, no matter how bad it will stop sometime, from that position you can slowly rebuild and put ideas into place, but 2009 will be very different as trends and surveys or loading times will be completely turned around on their heads, people are lost after the storm, confused, frightened, that the big black monster of the economic climate is going to devour them and their house, no jobs, no money = no travel…well not for the next ten years anyway, which is complete crap..people will still need to travel..life still has to go on.

but 2009 will be a hard hard period, money will not flow, rooms will be empty, but it will take only one or two years to get some balance, so use it to your advantage and not throw the chance away, restructure or renovate, fix your needling problems, even close a wing or two to fix them and clean up problems, yes money will be tight, but maintenance is always spread out over a period anyway, but now you can focus and do everything, and when demand does come back and you will be ready with open arms a new bed and those annoying amenities fixed for them.

Should I lower my Tariff?..yes to a point, the problem in this internet age of bidding online for cheap accommodation is the prices are being blurred, a 5Star is auctioning its last rooms off at $65 or £50 per night is good in one way but really bad in another, It gets to be a normal price fix on the property if it keeps constantly giving rooms away at cost, you have a market and the price is always king, and we have to change that model, if not the costs will always be marginal, people will expect that rate all the time in that market and its not your true PAR, Internet engines will always try to sell the lowest price, and fight each other to get the buyers dollar and that is going to cost you, yes it fills your rooms but it gives you no yield at all, and the more bodies you have at those prices the bigger your problem,s hotels are in business to make money, not be a lovey heart charity as they have the tax breaks and you don’t, so what to do..

get the best price in your market and stick to it, don’t let the Internet engines control you no matter how much they offer, try to put most of the business through your own sites were you can control the pricing and rewards, get the Rack rate and specials to work for you and not turn potential guests off, don’t worry savvy Internet customers will find you if you have what they want at the right price, so there is no need to throw money away of low cost nonprofitable specials, and that is the best way to see past the current climate, keep them coming in, but make a fair profit as well and if the business is very slow you will still make a few dollars on each room, its best to have 60% occupancy making you money than 100% making you nothing, but give rewards to customers if they are loyal..they will come back.

Number one problem with this planet is we have too much of everything, including hotels and airlines, entrepreneurs bless their world domination hearts think that if they keep building these things people will come and come back again, s0 bigger is better and onwards and upwards, 6000 rooms, 10,000 rooms, my wallet is bigger and fatter than yours, so it comes back down to one other thing, usually one upmanship…the biggest bloke on the block wins..

well no not really, because if you have 10 x 6000 room hotels in an area of other 6000 room hotels, then there is no way on god’s earth your going to fill all of them, Las Vegas or no Las Vegas or Macau,my point is that even Hotels built only 4 or 5 years ago are struggling to repay their finance, floors full of empty rooms losing you mountains of RevPAR, so what do you do, you build a bigger better one across the street, I’ve Trumped yours now, so beat that…The important word here is consolidation…no Trump or Wynn knows what the word means or its function, but they will soon, but better still they could even be removed from the market altogether so that managers can do what they are good at, Manage properties, not turn them into sideshow alley of extravagant ego boasting, At least if you are a cruise company and if your market is over supplied like the Caribbean you can send your mega palaces to markets in Asia or Australia, but these mega casinos are routed to the ground, so 2009 will be a disastrous year for these over wrought empty ego building palaces, they will survive, but none more should be built, at least for five years for demand needs to desperately catch up with supply, even then they should be built to real growth demand and not ego.

There is an even bigger oversupply of 5 star Hotel and Resorts as well, some of them will be culled but most are thankfully situated in major cities or major tourist areas that will give them constant if far reduced supply, they will now have to adjust to the new market of abundant cash in short supply, but most of the old school have been there before so they will adapt, in fact they will go back to business as usual, with just a renovation here and there to keep the lights burning, a few have will to down market, some will specialise more to certain markets, but that has been the flavor of the month in last few years anyway so things for them are still to go that way only with now even more focus on their niche.

Its in the low end market it could be the most interesting in 2009, here will it be feast or famine, people shifting down will have to go to smaller cheaper properties, but many chains are already on the very edge of the abyss, they have run their properties like a low cost airline, minimum on everything, mostly staff, and if the occupancy slips a even a slight notch then they are in real trouble, Folio Hotels in the UK have already gone, and far too many are burdened with very high debt, acquiring too many properties the on top of the too bigger bigger unrepayable loans, these quick pop up Hotel Chains are asset huge but very cash poor, it will be here that the market will be hurt the most, and at the time they could have reaped the benefits of their price range, many will close, many will be sold off, large layoffs of staff will happen, and just when we need them the most…consolidation is again a word not in their complex road maps of creating a huge brand, that they forget the basics of business management 101,  too much cash in markets is worse than not enough, when you don’t have enough at least you look at the numbers and the basics to see how you can make the business work, if the numbers don’t work then the buyer will walk away, or wait for a better deal, but in times of abundant, if unlimited funds, the heads of trendy businessmen lose all total perspective of rationality, not just in the Hotel Business but other businesses too, delusions of grandeur abound, upscale is in full swing, some don’t even check if the business is even making money or keep throw unlimited funds at a poor property, they can because its not their money to throw away…or to lose.

…that was the last 10 years, till 2008.

2009 is about firming your ground, knowing your market, and marketing it well, but don’t get me wrong and I love new and trendy, but it needs to happen, the chaf needed to be chaffed, 2008’s economic crisis is a good thing people not a bad one, the heat in the market will be taken away, the poorly managed and over extended will bite the dust, get through this and in a few years your occupancy levels will be steady, demand for your accommodation will be steady, cash flow will be steady, because the demand will be there in your market, the mantra should be to reduce debt and get a good strong cash flow, not the other way around, simple good business sense, and the biggest advantage of all is to invest in good staff, there will be plenty to chose from, so don’t go down again the Low Cost Airline route and get cheap trainable staff, they are in it for the money not for the career, you need good solid reliable staff, cheap staff are cheap and very hard to manage as you have to always manage them and follow up on their mistakes, most in this category are untrainable or not have the personality for hospitality, even McDonalds have untrainable staff, and poor staff  will always lose you custom quickly in face to face contact at the reception, or with poor maintenance, slow room service and sloppy management.

Good staff will manage themselves and make your management role easier,  good staff will keep your guests happy, if your guests are happy, they will come back, and if they come back you will make money….simple really!

Australia….a great big promised land of cross promotion

Australia…The movie is just about to be released (Nov 26) on to an expectant audience, Now I hear you rattling around saying, this is a travel blog, why don’t you write about this in newbluefilm, well the problem is I am not sure really what sort of deal this is, there has never been a shortage of funding for films to push a little about a product or product placement, Star Wars created an empire of not marauding killers roaming a galaxy far, far away but for interstellar profits from toys and other merchandising in creating a hype of a product that was in this case the film itself, in other words each promotes the other, and pays for the film to be made, its called cross promotion.

The poster wants to promote Australia the movie as the next Gone with the Wind, Aussie Style, but as a large sum has come from the Australian Tourist Board then your wanting to get something back for your tourist dollar, and as the tie-in movie ads are out, they don’t look that much different than the big screen epic in style and delivery….and its here I have a problem.

The general idea is to en-trance people to come here (Australia), see the sights, have a great experience, and mostly leave behind lots of your tourist dollars, but for years I have had a big problem with the general perception of Australian advertising mostly for eyes overseas.
The last big hugely successful advertising campaign for Australia was unfortunately with a bridge painter, Paul Hogan was a genuinely funny comedian that made the only commercial Australian worldwide hit, Crocodile Dundee in 1986, so “throw another shrimp on the barbi” was a promotion that tied in with Hogan’s persona and greatness was born, and the tourist dollars rolled in, so then every day since that marketing dream, Australian Tourism has replicated it over and over dismally, until the final act of the last campaign of “Where the bloody hell are you!”, that said more about the Australian Tourism body than about its product, so never short of a good idea, they then went back to basics and funded to the tune of $51 million another major motion picture, in other words… did the same bloody thing again…

I have no problem at all in a film promoting a country, James Bond films are just that, in fact most films are or placed delicately to show off their environments, but Australia is a bit of a doubter, yes it shows off our incredible landscape, top end, Kimberley ranges, wide open spaces and big, big Australia, great, yes brilliant, but……

First the film is set in 1941, and that is sixty seven years ago, not a great promotion for an upandcoming upstart of a country like Aussieland, second, most promotional material shown means that if you come here for a jolly good time, it consists of you, alone on a dusty red deserted outback road, with just a small dusty covered Kangaroo for company, and except for a few whitefellas, the only people you will meet will be aboriginal children and lost bushwalkers doing dreamtiming…or tracking..be stuck up a tree or alone in a large billabong (pool of water), miles and miles from anywhere, yes you will find yourself, because only you will be out there……alone!

…and dirty….and thirsty….and tired….and hot….and smelly…and hours and hours of dusty travelling boredom and who wants that!

Not me, I want comfort, soft bed, nice pool, cool drinks, mega shopping, beaches, great food, great wine, five star comfort, a ride on a rollercoaster, I’m on holiday for Christ’s sake, not working for a mining company, I want to get away from pain, and yet over and over again Tourism Australia want to plonk you outback in the never, never land where nobody goes except mining engineers go to get away from the wife.

And still they persist from Priscilla, Queen of the desert to almost anything made on film in Australia is shot in bloody nowhere, or scares you to dreamtime nightmares horrors like Wolf Creek or Rogue a killer croc, stranded eons away from anywhere, facing a lonely road death, any promotional film sent out by Tourism Australia or Qantas is shot in nowheresville, deadend Australia………are you surprised nobody is coming here…I’m not!

The few that do come, are really surprised that when you arrive at the airport within a shopping centre in Australia, there are biofuel taxis, not Hugh Jackman and a horse and carriage, and we do have other  mega shopping centres as well, good ones and that our restaurants are magnificent, and you can sit back and relax..cradle a drink while overlooking a great white beach or harbour view, you may argue that “well I can get that at home”, well no, it is still a different environment, Australia is different, the atmosphere is different, food is different, shopping is different, the whole experience is very different and that should be Tourism Australia’s message, same but very different, and most of all so are the people..

Australians are so laid back they are horizontal, they love their cruisy, long lunch, have another wine and look at that amazing view lifestyle, they love their sport (a little too much), outdoorsy, treking, beachgoing, boating, shopping, they work hard but they play even harder, and Australia is usually cheap to eat, stay and be merry, only problem is the long distance flight to get here, but once here, its hard to want to go home, and most who do come think of nothing of coming back again and again.

Its not all bad with a head in the sand attitude, Queensland Tourism have done a better job than most, Their “Beautiful One Day, Perfect the Next”, ad was a winner, and backed up with the right lifestyle visuals, “Very Gold Coast”, was a interpretation of the iPod generation Adverts, and that worked very well too, funny thing is Tourism Australia always leaves Queensland out of national campaigns, maybe they think Queensland Tourism doesn’t think they need any help or they loath them, so the market that should see them don’t…the important overseas market.

Every country has its cultural travel icon, “Come see me”, animals abound, China’s Panda, Canada’s Bears, Africa’s Elephants, lions, zebra and pink flamingo’s…….Australia its killer Crocs or Sharks that eat you whole, red back spiders “one bite and you’re dead”…….snakes…..lots of deadly snakes, even Indiana Jones hated snakes, am I getting my point across..

if you go to Australia you will die a lonely painful death…

Film’s in general have a shelf life of seven weeks, yes it is world wide exposure, but basically after two weeks your off the top spot and on the downward spiral, another blimp of life comes when the DVD is released, but then its soon in the discount bin, my second point is $51 million is a waste of money, it works out about a million dollars a day, yes invest in a film, but don’t throw the whole outhouse in on an advert with a cute aborigianal boy speading sawdust and most of the advert showing the dark streets of New York and not Australia…

Australia deserves better…..much better, $51 Million dollars better…..it is a great place to come and relax, shop, swim, see great vistas, in other words to have a great holiday, we need to sell that….more than a sixty seven year old film.

..have a good one…………(if you visit Australia you find out the meaning of the quote)

Australia Review: See newblueflim

A View That Makes Braving Piazza San Marco’s Pigeons Totally Worth It || HotelChatter

A View That Makes Braving Piazza San Marco’s Pigeons Totally Worth It || HotelChatter

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