Air's flawed message
25 March 2014
runway girl network
With some EK staff
recently joining Nok Air I have been thinking about just how much the Thai
based LCC uses pictures and press briefings of and with pretty girl crews to
help it sell its business in Thailand.
reading some comments from the Singapore Airshow when the airline's CEO
places an order with Boeing. Nok's CEO, Patee Sarasin, appeared to forget
that he was addressing an international audience rather than his home
audience which is far more used to companies using "pretties" as a large
part of their marketing strategy. The message is know your audience.
One day in
Thailand there will be no place for ageism or sexism; but I fear that is a
long way into the future.
Singapore airshow this was written by a reporter for the RunwayGirl network:
"Imagine you’re a
female journalist covering an important airline press event at an air show.
The CEO steps up to the podium to announce a new Boeing narrowbody order.
Flanked by the carrier’s attractive female flight attendants, he faces a
room of mostly men, quips about the fact that there is a lot of media in the
room, and says it’s good he brought women along who are as “good looking as
Then he proceeds to reveal the carrier’s intention to offer inflight
connectivity on its new aircraft so that passengers can share on social
media that the female flight attendants are “not old”.
When asked to take a picture with Boeing’s sales chief, John Wojick, he
says: “Bring on the women!”
This is what Flightglobal journalist Ghim-Lay Yeo and other scribes
witnessed this week during Thai budget carrier Nok Air’s media briefing to
announce a new order for 15 Boeing 737s.
Ghim-Lay bravely relayed Nok Air CEO Patee Sarasin’s messaging to her social
media network via a series of tweets.
“Nok Air CEO Sarasin says a lot of press in room, good that airline brought
along women (the flight attendants). Uhmm right. #sgairshow“
“Nok Air CEO Sarasin says airline will offer wi-fi, so pax can use Facebook
to show that airline’s female FAs are ‘not old’. #sgairshow“
“Knew all along that aviation is a male-dominated industry, but have never
seen women quite as objectified as during this Nok Air presser.”
“Nok Air CEO Sarasin says: ‘Bring on the women!’ when asked to pose for pix
with @BoeingAirplanes‘ Wojick #sgairshow”
Apparently Sarasin didn’t get enough love from Wojick because he took his
show over to Bombardier, where in addition to firming options on Q400
turboprops, he tweeted via his @Patee122 handle: “I am hugging a lot of
women lately hehe @Bombadier_Aero.” He included this instagram photo.
It’s not uncommon for Asian operators to be accompanied by young, female
flight attendants at press briefings. I’ll always remember when Air Asia X
CEO Asran Osman-Rani announced plans for new IFE with a bevy of female
attendants in tow. Of course parts of Asia require that their flight
attendants meet qualifications that westerns would balk at today (Singapore
Airlines is renowned for its skin checks of prospective applicants!) So
there are cultural differences to consider. And, Sarasin certainly doesn’t
have a lock on irreverent comments in the budget carrier world (hello
Ryanair’s Michael O’Leary).
But it seems that in making both sexist and ageist comments at a press
briefing, he may have gone too far for even the most open-minded of
Ghim-Lay, a Singaporean working in Washington DC, notes in a FaceBook
update: “When I began covering the aviation industry more than four years
ago, I knew I was stepping into a world dominated by men, from the CEOs at
the top to the journalists themselves writing about the sector.
“But I’ve never seen women quite as objectified as during today’s press
conference. I would like to think that my gender is so much more than the
token faceless flight attendants and public relations managers in the
Ghim-Lay wasn’t the only person appalled by Sarasin’s comments.
She later tweeted: “Thanks to those who expressed solidarity w/ us ladies in
aviation after the sexist remarks of an airline CEO at #sgairshow.”
I suspect that many will see Sarasin’s act as merely a tired marketing ploy
in a long litany of tired marketing ploys. From O’Leary’s racy charity
calendars to Air New Zealand’s latest safety video with Sports Illustrated
swimsuit models to Skymark’s decision to fit its A330 flight attendants with
super short mini skirts, this type of marketing could be condemned for its
lack of originality. And, if more women held executive-level positions in
aerospace – and if more women journalists were present at airline media
briefings – Sarasin would be forced to consider another way of insulting
people for attention.
Personally, I think we should adopt his quote as a rallying cry for
aerospace. “Bring on the women! Bring on the women!” It’s time."
As for the ex-EK
crew joining Nok Air, I think they will find it a very different experience
and working culture.
Families to Malaysian Government: You're 'Executioners'
25 March 2014
The families of
those lost aboard Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 have joined together to issue
a scathing statement accusing the Malaysian authorities of murder.
"If the 154 passengers did lose their lives, Malaysia Airlines, the
Malaysian government and military are the real executioners who killed
them," the statement reads. It also accuses the authorities of "deceit,"
"delay," and "shameless behavior."
The statement, which was announced by one of the passenger's relatives in
front of a phalanx of reporters and cameras, was issued by the joint Chinese
Family Committee in in Beijing.
At 10 p.m. on March 25, the Malaysian prime minister sent a statement to the
families of MH370 passengers without any direct evidence that MH370 crashed
in the south Indian Ocean and no people survived.
From March 8 when they announced that MH370 lost contact to today, 18 days
have passed during which the Malaysian government and military constantly
tried to delay, deceive the passengers' families and cheat the whole world.
This shameless behavior not only fooled and hurt the families of the 154
passengers but also misguided and delayed rescue actions, wasting a large
quantity of human resources and materials and lost valuable time for the
If the 154 passengers did lose their lives, Malaysia Airlines, the Malaysian
government and military are the real executioners who killed them. We the
families of those on board submit our strongest protest against them.
We will take every possible means to pursue the unforgivable crimes and
responsibility of all three.
The statement came mere hours after Malaysian Prime Minster Najib Razak said
in a press conference that Malaysia Airlines flight 370 "ended" in the
Indian Ocean, effectively putting an end to speculation that survivors could
still be found.
As if there were any doubt, Malaysia Airlines also sent a text message to
families after notifying them of the news: "Malaysia Airlines deeply regrets
that we have to assume beyond any reasonable doubt that MH370 has been lost
and that none of those on board survived."
22 March 2014 -
Based on the observed first part of Malaysia Airlines’ Flight MH370,
Malaysia’s acting transport minister Hishammuddin Hussein has said that the
focus remains on deliberate action as the cause of the Boeing 777-200ER’s
deviation from its planned flight path and subsequent disappearance.
The last confirmed sighting of the aircraft was on Malaysian military radar
to the west of the Malaysian peninsula about 90min after its 8 March
take-off from Kuala Lumpur, bound for Beijing.
Since then, a number of potential sightings of the aircraft have emerged and
been rapidly dismissed – for instance on 19 March an alleged eyewitness
report from the Maldive Islands of a low-flying passenger jet was
discredited by the Malaysian investigators. Then, on 20 March, a satellite
sighting of debris off western Australia was described by the Malaysian
authorities as “credible”, but as Flight International went to press there
had been no location or verification of the object by a fleet of ships and
aircraft dispatched to find the more than 20m (65ft) long object.
Assets allocated by a multi-national search force co-ordinated via Malaysia
with US National Transportation Safety Board advice include 18 ships and 29
aircraft, according to official sources in Malaysia. They face a problem of
where to concentrate efforts. By 20 March attention was being diverted away
from the “northern corridor” – one of two sweeping arcs defined on 15 March
by satellite communications data – which would mostly have involved overland
searches. The focus has shifted toward the oceanic south, but without
allocating unreasonable resources to the far south in case of another false
Australia has deployed four aircraft – three Lockheed Martin P-3 Orions and
a Boeing P-8 – to the area, some 1,350nm (2,500km) southwest of Perth. A
C-130 was also dispatched to deploy marker buoys to assist with ocean
current drift modelling. Rapid deployment of such buoys was one of the
recommendations which emerged after the loss of Air France flight AF447 over
the South Atlantic in 2009.
Poor visibility in the area will complicate search efforts, says the
Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA). John Young, general manager of
AMSA’s Rescue Coordination Centre – Australia, says that satellite pictures
analysed by the Australian Geospatial-Intelligence Organisation (AGO) have
identified two objects, one of which is 24m in size. “This is close enough
to the National Transportation Safety Board’s assessed area to be a possible
sighting, and we want to find them and want to work out what they are,” he
said on 20 March. "This is a lead. It is probably the best lead we have
right now, but we need to get there."
Although the location is within the southern corridor identified earlier, it
is at the limit of MH370's range, given the likely amount of fuel remaining
A number of theories about the causes of the Malaysia Airlines flight MH370
disappearance have circulated on the Internet – mostly launched by
professional airline pilots. However, none have been embraced by any
official agencies, with one constant throughout the search for the missing
jet being the Malaysian authorities' belief that events early in the flight
indicate “deliberate action by a person or persons on board” to divert the
Boeing 777-200ER from its Kuala Lumpur-Beijing flightpath.
The aircraft was taken deliberately off course and flown away from its
For: The aircraft made a turn off its course precisely at the point where it
had been handed over from Malaysia air traffic control to Vietnam control –
a move calculated to maximise the time taken before either ATC raised the
alarm. There was no emergency call. Also, shortly before the airspace
boundary, the aircraft’s ATC transponder was switched off to erase its
contact from civilian radar screens, so the turn to the west was not
witnessed. The aircraft’s technical aircraft communications addressing and
reporting system (ACARS) datalink had also been disabled, although there is
uncertainty as to when this took place.
Against: There is no proof that the equipment was deliberately switched off
rather than accidentally deprived of power, and the loss of contact on the
airspace boundary may have been coincidental.
There was a sudden depressurisation at cruising altitude. The crew were slow
to don their oxygen masks and fell unconscious, and the aircraft flew on
autopilot until it ran out of fuel.
For: This would explain the lack of an emergency call. The aircraft turned
as if aiming for an alternate landing site – Langkawi has been repeatedly
mentioned – but did not land, instead continuing across the peninsula.
Against: With no intervention from the flightcrew the aircraft would
normally follow the flightpath programmed into the flight management system,
but it did not do that. A decompression does not explain the loss of
transponder and ACARS. Also, the record of crews worldwide dealing
successfully with sudden decompression events is almost 100%.
Fire breaks out, knocking out communications and eventually leading to
unconsciousness of the crew and passengers.
For: An electrical fire might explain the loss of all communications, if it
were allowed to propagate for enough time without any response. It could
eventually asphyxiate crew and passengers.
Against: Signs of fire (smoke and smell) since the Swissair 111 disaster in
1998 has caused crews to act particularly fast, both to communicate the
emergency to ATC and to land as soon as possible. There was no
communication. Also, if an electrical fire were to propagate in the avionics
and communications bay area under the flightdeck it would disable the flight
control systems – so the autopilot would not be able to continue to fly the
aircraft for 5-7h after the crew had been disabled. Satellite systems
detected continued flight for that length of time.
Constitutional Court throws out Thailand's February election
21 March 2014
The Constitution Court has quashed the February 2 election results in
Thailand after it ruled today on a complaint filed by Kittipong
Kamolthammawong, a law lecturer at Thammasat University, who claimed the
election was unconstitutional mainly
because it was not organized on a single day nationwide, as stated in the
The ruling will further delay the formation of a new government after months
of street protests aimed at bringing down Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra.
The court said the vote did not take place on the same day across the
country and that violated a clause in the constitution.
It was unclear if
and when a new vote could be held.
The court voted
6-3 that; they said that there were not elections in the 28 constituencies
and there were not even candidates so it can be deemed that on February 2
there was not an election on the same day nationwide.
The 28 electoral districts where there was no voting are in eight southern
provinces, stronghold of the opposition Democrat Party, which boycotted the
poll and did not have contestants. Party members were unable to register
their candidacies in those districts due to blockades by antigovernment
Where voting did
take place, protesters led by the People's Committee for Absolute Democracy
With the King As Head of State (PCAD) blockaded numerous poll stations,
besieged election registration venues, obstructed the transportation of
ballots, and forced the officials of Election Commission (EC) to suspend
Now the relevant part of the Constitution is Section 108 which states:
The King has the prerogative to dissolve the House of Representatives for a
new election of members of the House.
The dissolution of the House of Representatives shall be made in the form of
a Royal Decree in which the day for a new general election must be fixed for
not less than forty-five days but not more than sixty days as from the day
the House of Representatives has been dissolved and such election day must
be the same throughout the Kingdom.
The dissolution of the House of Representatives may be made only once under
the same circumstance.
The clause does NOT explicitly state the the election must be the same day;
it does say that the election date must be fixed (or set) as the same date.
These are markedly different things.
For example, the government and the EC clearly could not set the election
date to be February 2 in some provinces and then a different date in other
provinces. That would clearly be unconstitutional. This is not what
election date was set nationwide for February 2. It was the role of the
Election Commission to organise the election. The fact that the poll could
not go ahead in some districts due to the protests should not be
unconstitutional. It is the prevention of balloting that is
The verdict could
have disastrous implications. Now if a party knows it is going to lose, it
can simply move to block elections. Except I am sure that the court will not
deem this to be a precedent. If voting in a single constituency is blocked
or the voting cannot take place, does this result in an election being
nullified? The ruling appears to invalidate the current electoral law which
allows for elections in individual constituencies to be delayed.
The Democrats have
already said they may boycott a fresh election. They will boycott any
election until they know that they can win.
What the court has
ensured is that the remaining 50 parties, as well as 20 million people who
turned out to vote on February 2 are now paying for abiding by the law while
the court ruling rewards those who protested and boycotted the vote.
Can there be a new
election; this may take some time as the Electoral Commission position is
that there needs to be stability and agreement first although.
In this vacuum it
is likely that there will be further court rulings against the Prime
Minister, Puea Thai and coalition MPs over the constitutional amendments
regarding the origin of Senators and over the rice-pledging scheme. Then we
will either see an unelected appointed PM and cabinet or an election run by
and for the Establishment with the Democrats as the only potential winners.
The Folly of
Thinking We Know
The Painful Hunt for Malaysian Airlines 370 By Pico Iyer
21 March 2014 - New York Times
We've most of us, surely, heard all the figures: Humanity now produces as
much data in two days as it did in all of history till the year 2003 — and
the amount of data is doubling every two years. In the time you take to read
this piece, the human race will generate as much data as currently exists in
the Library of Congress. For that matter — yes, your inbox and Facebook page
would reflect this — 10 percent of all the pictures ever taken as of the end
of 2011 were taken in 2011. Yet as we think about how an entire Boeing 777
has gone missing for almost two weeks now, we’re also painfully reminded of
how much we can’t — and may never — know, even in the Knowledge Economy.
Continue reading the main story
The Nobel Prize-winning economist and psychologist Daniel Kahneman has
noted, after decades of research, that it’s our nature to overestimate how
much we understand the world and to underestimate the role of chance. And
it’s our folly to assume we know very much at all. There’s “a highly
objectionable word,” he writes, “which should be removed from our vocabulary
in discussions of major events,” and that word is “knew.”
I think of this as I watch one expert after another offer informed guesses
about the fate of the missing plane, even as all we know about it so far is
how provisional — and contradictory — our speculations have been. I also
recall how the words that most convey authority and credibility whenever I
listen to any pundit speak are “I don’t know.” Whatever the field of our
expertise, most of us realize that the more data we acquire, the less, very
often, we know. The universe is not a fixed sum, in which the amount you
know subtracts from the amount you don’t.
As Gardiner G. Hubbard, the first president of the National Geographic
Society, said in 1888, when his magazine set out to chart everything in the
known universe, “The more we know, the greater we find is our ignorance.”
And it can often seem as if nature — or something beyond our reckoning at
least — intrudes every time we’re tempted to get above ourselves. Whenever
we begin to assume we can command or comprehend quite a bit, some Icarian
calamity pushes our face, tragically, in the limits of our knowledge.
It’s been humbling, as well as horrifying, to see the entire globe, in an
age of unprecedented data accumulation, up in the air, more or less, but
poignantly aware that, whatever we do learn, a grief beyond understanding is
likely to be a part of it.
We imagine how those with loved ones on the plane must be trying to fill the
absence, of knowledge as well as of their sons or wives, and how they may
fear, even if at times they long for, certainty. We imagine the people on
the aircraft, whose not-knowing might have been felt on the pulse,
accelerating, as the vessel suddenly changed course. We translate the story
into our own lives, and think about how the things we don’t know haunt and
possess us as the things we do seldom can.
Even if we do learn more about the fate of the airliner, it’s unlikely that
all of our questions will ever be answered. And the memory of how much we
didn’t know — and how long we didn’t know it — ought to sober us as we
prepare for the next sudden visitation of the inexplicable.
We’re all grateful that we know as much as we do these days, and enjoy lives
that are safer, longer, healthier and better connected than those of any
generation before ours. Yet each day that passes, Malaysia 370 keeps
hovering like a terrible blank in our minds, more visible the longer it’s
out of our view.
Pico Iyer is the author, most recently, of “The Man Within My Head” and a
distinguished presidential fellow at Chapman University.
MH370 - has debris now been found?
21 March 2014
It is possible
that debris being investigated by Australia, the USA and a Norwegian car
transporter in the South Indian Ocean could be from MH370; now 13 days on
from the day the plane was lost.
If this location
is valid it would eliminate some of the wilder theories about what
happened to the plane and suggests an emergency on the flight, an attempt by
the crew to turn back and complications that caused them to fall into
unconsciousness leaving the plane on a ghost flight until it ran out of
While some sort of botched hijacking that led to the pilots being killed
cannot be ruled out entirely, it seems very unlikely given the southerly,
open ocean location of the possible wreckage.
Far more plausible is the theory that the pilots had an event on board that
took out the communications and led to a slow or rapid decompression which
rendered the crew incapable of making an emergency landing. Pilots have only
a few minutes to bring a plane down to below 4000 metres before the
passengers and crew will become disoriented, then unconscious and eventually
Speculation on the cause of a disaster has focused on:
Corrosion around the satellite antenna which caused it to break, cutting off
communications, and causing a slow decompression that left the crew confused
by the time the cabin pressure alarm went off. The satellite antennas on
Boeing 777s had been the subject of an airworthiness directive issued by the
National Transport Safety Bureau in November 2013.
An explosion of the flight deck crew's emergency oxygen supply, in a bay
under the floor which also includes communications systems. In 2008 an
emergency oxygen tank exploded on a Qantas 747, causing a hole in the
fuselage, decompression, and an emergency landing.
A fire, which might explain why the plane initially climbed before
descending. The crew may have been attempting to extinguish the fire by
depriving it of oxygen, but then were overcome by smoke and fumes, leaving
the plane to continue on autopilot.
There are too many
problems with the onboard fire theory; most of all the lack of communication
from the flightdeck (SR111, which Chris Goodfellow quotes in his long
analysis that has gone viral online as a comparison, was in extended
communication with Moncton and then Halifax ATC. Similarly UPS6 at Dubai in
September 2010. Both awful events.
But a fire that instantly took out the airliner's communications systems but
left the plane undamaged enough to fly for 6 hours seems unlikely.
That said I have no better theory - though I have been on a 772 which
decompressed about 30 minutes after take off from HKG - back in 2001 on
Continental. Not an explosive decompression. Clearly the pilots were aware
of the problem - the masks deployed and we made a very rapid descent to
10,000 feet, dumped fuel and landed back in HKG.
An incident such as Helios 522 could be possible - it does explain the rapid
return towards Malaysia but really does not explain the transponder and
Several pilots familiar with Asian air routes have speculated the new route
programmed into the plane's computer was consistent with it heading for
Langkawi, which has a large airport and easy terrain. Though if that was the
case I am surprised they did not make for the closer airfield at Hat Yai.
The possibility of pilot suicide cannot be ruled out, but in the last two
cases where it was suspected, the planes were flown into the ground. The
notion of a pilot disabling the communications systems and waiting for the
plane to run out of fuel in eight hours' time seems far-fetched. It only
makes sense if the pilot killed himself and the passengers and crew by
depriving them of oxygen after setting a course on autopilot.
Finding the debris
in the South Indian ocean will go a long way to confirm that the crew were
seeking to save the airplane and its passengers rather than being subject to
some form of hijacking.
Crimea: Mr Putin's imperial act
19 March 2014
So it has happened. Crimea has been annexed. A strutting Russian president
sealed the fate of the once-autonomous Ukrainian republic with a speech to
parliament yesterday in which he sought to wrap himself and the Black Sea
peninsula together in the flag of his country. It was a bravura performance
from Mr Putin, largely free of the ad hoc ramblings he indulged in at his
press conference on 4 March, but nevertheless filled with purple rhetoric.
Without apparent irony he invoked his namesake St Vladimir in Russia's
cause. It was in Crimea, Mr Putin said, that Vladimir, the Grand Duke of
Kieff and All Russia, acquired the Orthodox Christian roots that would
spread throughout Russia, Belarus and Ukraine. It was in Crimea that the
noble Russian soldiers lay in graves dating back to the 1700s. It was Crimea
that had given birth to Russia's Black Sea navy, a symbol of Moscow's glory.
In his people's hearts and minds, he said, Crimea had always been a part of
Quite how, then, his dimwitted predecessor Nikita Khrushchev had managed to
hand it to Ukraine in 1954 was unclear, but that act had been a "breach of
any constitutional norm" and could thereby be ignored. And by the way, Mr
Putin intimated, Moscow had only failed to raise the issue of Crimea's
sovereignty during previous negotiations with Ukraine because it hadn't
wanted to offend its friendly neighbour. Now the west had cheated on a range
of issues – Nato's expansion into eastern Europe, the "coup" in Kiev, the
unnecessary prolonging of discussions over visa waivers for Europe – Russia
felt inclined to accept a willing Crimea back into the fold.
So the self-justifications went on. There have been few clearer-eyed critics
of Soviet-era propaganda than Milan Kundera, who once wrote that "The
struggle of man against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting."
Watching members of the Duma wildly applaud Mr Putin, the phrase felt newly
appropriate. In the modern struggle of memory, we should recall that when Mr
Putin was asked two weeks ago if he considered that Crimea might join
Russia, he replied "No, we do not." We should recall his assertion that the
troops without insignia on Crimea's streets could have bought their Russian
uniforms in local shops. And we should remember Kosovo.
Mr Putin made much of the parallel between Kosovo's secession from Serbia
and Russian actions in Crimea. In fact the differences between the two cases
are stark. In Kosovo in the 1990s, a majority ethnic Albanian population was
being persecuted by the government of Slobodan Milosevic. The region's
autonomy had been revoked, ethnic Albanians had been ousted from government
jobs, their language had been repressed, their newspapers shut, and they had
been excluded from schools and universities. By late 1998, Mr Milosevic's
ethnic cleansing was reaching a climax: Serbian army and police units were
terrorising and massacring groups of Albanians in an outright attempt to
drive them out. The Kosovans' plight was the subject of intense diplomacy,
which was rebuffed by Mr Milosevic's government.
In Crimea, by contrast, despite Mr Putin's characterisation of the emergency
government in Kiev as "anti-Semites, fascists and Russophobes" whose tools
are "terror, killings and pogroms", there have been no pogroms, little
terror, no persecutions of Russian-speaking citizens bar a bid, now dropped,
to rescind Russian's status as an official language. The historic atrocities
in Crimea were committed by Moscow, which starved and slaughtered tens of
thousands Crimean Tatars in the 1920s, before deporting them en masse in
1944. Almost half the deportees died from malnutrition and disease.
As Moscow takes a historic bite of Ukraine, Mr Putin would rather the world
misremember Kosovo, or discuss the legality of the US-led invasions of Iraq
or Afghanistan. The world has debated those wars before and should do so
again. Today, let us see Russia's move for what it is: an illegal,
Malaysia's series of errors
16 March 2014
The New York Times
has a strong article on how a series of errors in Malaysia allowed MH370 to
continue its diverted and presumably hijacked flight unchallenged and
unmonitored. These are the key points:
The radar blip
that was Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 did a wide U-turn over the Gulf of
Thailand. It then moved past at least three military radar arrays crossing
northern Malaysia, even flying high over Penang, one of the country’s
biggest cities before heading out over the Strait of Malacca.
Yet inside a Malaysian Air Force control room on the country’s west coast,
where American-made F-18s and F-5 fighters stood at a high level of
readiness for emergencies exactly like the one unfolding in the early
morning of March 8, a four-person air defense radar crew did nothing about
the unauthorized flight.
“The watch team
never noticed the blip,” said a person with detailed knowledge of the
investigation into Flight 370. “It was as though the airspace was his.”
“The fact that it flew straight over Malaysia, without the Malaysian
military identifying it, is just plain weird — not just weird, but also very
damning and tragic,” said David Learmount of Flightglobal.
The New York Times reports that senior Malaysian military officers became
aware within hours of the radar data once word spread that a civilian
airliner had vanished. The Malaysian government nonetheless organized and
oversaw an expensive and complex international search effort in the Gulf of
Thailand that lasted for a full week. Only on Saturday morning did Prime
Minister Najib Razak finally shut it down after admitting what had already
been widely reported in the news media.
With so much uncertainty about the flight, it is not yet possible to know
whether any actions by the Malaysian government or military could have
altered its fate. Responding to a storm of criticism, particularly from
China, whose citizens made up two-thirds of the passengers, Mr. Najib
continues to say that Malaysia had not concealed information, including
Aviation experts said that a trained pilot would be the most obvious person
to have carried out a complicated scheme involving the plane. Yet for a week
after the plane’s disappearance, Malaysian law enforcement authorities said
that their investigation did not include searching the home of the pilot,
Zaharie Ahmad Shah.
They have now
changed that story to saying today that they searched the pilots' homes last
The Malaysian air
force base at Butterworth sits on the mainland across from the island of
Penang at the northern reaches of the Strait of Malacca. The four-person
crew watching for intrusions into the country’s airspace either did not
notice or failed to report a blip on their defensive radar and air traffic
radar that was moving steadily across the country from east to west, heading
right toward them.
Neither that team nor the crews at two other radar installations at Kota
Bharu, closer to where the airliner last had contact with the ground,
designated the blip as an unknown intruder warranting attention, sources
told the NYT.
The aircraft proceeded to fly across the country and out to sea without
anyone on watch telling a superior and alerting the national defense command
near Kuala Lumpur, even though the radar contact’s flight path did not
correspond to any filed flight plan.
As a result, combat aircraft never scrambled to investigate. The plane,
identified at the time by Mr. Najib as Flight 370, passed directly over
Penang, a largely urban state with more than 1.6 million people, then turned
and headed out over the Strait of Malacca.
The existence of the radar contact was discovered only when military
officials began reviewing tapes later in the morning on March 8, after the
passenger jet failed to arrive in Beijing. It was already becoming clear
that morning, only hours after the unauthorized flyover, that something had
gone very wrong. Tapes from both the Butterworth and Kota Bharu bases
apparently show the radar contact arriving from the area of the last known
position of Flight 370.
Gen. Rodzali Daud, the commander of Malaysia’s Air Force, publicly
acknowledged the existence of the radar signals for the first time on
Wednesday, well into the fifth day after the plane’s disappearance.
The failure to
identify Flight 370’s errant course meant that a chance to send military
aircraft to identify and redirect the jet, a Boeing 777, was lost. And for
five days the crews on an armada of search vessels, including two American
warships, focused the bulk of their attention in the waters off Malaysia’s
east coast, far from the plane’s actual path.
The NYT added that "General Rodzali went to the Butterworth air force base
the day that the plane disappeared and was told of the radar blips, the
person familiar with the investigation said. The Malaysian government
nonetheless assigned most of its search and rescue resources, as well as
ships and aircraft offered by other nations, to a search of the Gulf of
Thailand where the aircraft’s satellite transponder was turned off, while
allocating minimal attention to the Strait of Malacca on the other, western
side of Peninsular Malaysia."
There will be some
serious repercussions in Malaysia when an investigation is eventually
launched into the loss of MH370.
MH370 - accusations and at last some honesty
15 March 2014
Prime Minister gave a press briefing at about 3pm KL time today; he took no
questions. The regular 5.30pm press briefing and question and answer session
was then cancelled.
In summary he
basically confirmed the Reuters and Wall Street Journal stories of the last
signal from MH370 was five hours later than previously thought. Implying the
airplane was in the air for nearly 7 hours.
• Diversion of MH370 was a deliberate act - the transponder and ACARS
communications devices were both disabled.
• The missing aircraft could be as far north as Turkmenistan and
Kazakhstan or as far south as the Indian Ocean.
The conclusions are based on raw satellite data and military radar. It is
clear that the plane was still flying long after it lost contact with air
traffic control at 1.22am on Saturday 8 March with 239 people on board. But
the PM said that the data could not be used to determine the aircraft's
exact location, which he said was on one of two possible flight corridors: a
northern corridor stretching from Kazakhstan, in central Asia, down to
northern Thailand; and a southern corridor stretching from Indonesia towards
the southern Indian Ocean.
Effectively a week
has been lost looking in all the wrong places.
What is concerning
is that it has taken officials a week to confirm that MH370 wasn't heading
to PEK. This was widely considered likely on PPRUNE last weekend. It is time
for people to tell what they know.
agency, speaking for the Chinese government has been blunt tonight: “Due to
the absence -- or at least lack -- of timely authoritative information,
massive efforts have been squandered, and numerous rumors have been spawned,
repeatedly racking the nerves of the awaiting families. Given today’s
technology, the delay smacks of either dereliction of duty or reluctance to
share information in a full and timely manner. That would be intolerable.”
MH370 - summary
of a very confused week
15 March 2014
SATURDAY MARCH 8
12.40am Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 leaves Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, for
Beijing, China, with 239 people on board.
1.20am Plane’s communications with civilian air controllers disabled before
aircraft reaches east coast of Malaysia.
8.11am Last confirmed signal between the plane and a satellite (confirmed by
Malaysian PM at press briefing on 15 March)
Vietnamese planes spot two large oil slicks near the plane’s last known
location, but proves a false alarm.
SUNDAY, MARCH 9
Malaysia says it is investigating potential terror link to the jet’s
It also reveals for the first time that the aircraft may have veered
dramatically off course, turning west back towards Kuala Lumpur for no
Meanwhile, Interpol confirms that at least two passports recorded as lost or
stolen in its database were used by passengers, adding that it is “examining
additional suspect passports”.
Investigators narrow focus on disastrous scenario that the plane
MONDAY, MARCH 10
China admonishes Malaysia, saying it should accelerate its investigation.
The United States review of American spy satellite imagery detects no
evidence of mid-air explosion.
Malaysia despatches ships to investigate possible sighting of a possible
life raft, but only flotsam is found.
Speculation mounts over whether a bomb or hijacking could have brought down
TUESDAY, MARCH 11
Authorities identify the two men with stolen passports as young Iranians who
are believed to be illegal immigrants, rather than terrorists. Interpol says
that the more information they obtain the less likely it appears that a
terrorist incident has occurred.
Search area widens to include areas significantly removed from the flight’s
scheduled route, including territory on the Malaysian peninsula and the
waters off its west coast.
A US company asks internet users to scour satellite images of more than
1,200 square miles of open seas for any signs of wreckage.
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 12
It emerges that US regulators warned months ago of a problem with “cracking
and corrosion” of the fuselage skin on Boeing 777s that could cause a
The search is expanded again, this time to an area stretching from China to
Malaysia’s air force chief reveals that an unidentified object was detected
on military radar north of the Malacca Strait early on Saturday March 8 but
is stilll being examined.
THURSDAY MARCH 13
Malaysia deny US reports that cite investigators saying that they suspect
the plane flew for four hours after its last known contact.
Authorities in Kuala Lumpur also dismiss Chinese satellite images of
possible debris in the South China Sea as yet another false alarm.
FRIDAY MARCH 14
Malaysia refuses to comment on fresh reports quoting US officials saying the
plane’s communication system continued to contact a satellite hours after it
disappeared, suggesting it may have actually travelled a massive distance.
White House also refers to “new information” that the jet may have continued
flying after losing contact.
SATURDAY MARCH 15
Prime Minister Najib Razak reveals at a press conference that the aircraft’s
communications systems were deliberately disabled and that its last signal
came more than six hours after takeoff. Police search home of plane’s pilot.
Wall Street Journal suggests extended MH370 flight
13 March 2014
contrary to any of the evidence from Malaysian officials the
Wall Street Journal is reporting today that U.S. investigators suspect
that Malaysia Airlines 3786.KU -2.04% Flight 370 stayed in the air for about
four hours past the time it reached its last confirmed location.
The implication is
that the plane could have flown on for hundreds of additional miles under
conditions that remain murky.
Aviation investigators and national security officials believe the plane
flew for a total of five hours based on data automatically downloaded and
sent to the ground from the Boeing Co. BA -0.99% 777's engines as part of a
routine maintenance and monitoring program.
That raises a host of new questions and possibilities about what happened
aboard the widebody jet carrying 239 people, which vanished from civilian
air-traffic control radar over the weekend, about one hour into a flight to
Beijing from Kuala Lumpur.
U.S. counterterrorism officials are pursuing the possibility that a pilot or
someone else on board the plane may have diverted it toward an undisclosed
location after intentionally turning off the jetliner's transponders to
avoid radar detection, according to one person tracking the probe.
But the huge uncertainty about where the plane was headed, and why it
continued flying so long without working transponders, has raised theories
among investigators that the aircraft may have been commandeered for a
reason that appears unclear to U.S. authorities. Some of those theories have
been laid out to national security officials and senior personnel from
various U.S. agencies, according to one person familiar with the matter.
At one briefing, according to this person, officials were told investigators
are actively pursuing the notion that the plane was diverted "with the
intention of using it later for another purpose."
As of Wednesday it remained unclear whether the plane reached an alternate
destination or if it ultimately crashed, potentially hundreds of miles from
where an international search effort has been focused.
In those scenarios, neither mechanical problems, pilot mistakes nor some
other type of catastrophic incident caused the 250-ton plane to mysteriously
vanish from radar.
The latest revelations come as local media reported that Malaysian police
visited the home of at least one of the two pilots.
The engines' onboard monitoring system is provided by their manufacturer,
Rolls-Royce, and it periodically sends bursts of data about engine health,
operations and aircraft movements to facilities on the ground.
Rolls-Royce couldn't immediately be reached for comment.
As part of its maintenance agreements, Malaysia Airlines transmits its
engine data live to Rolls-Royce for analysis. The system compiles data from
inside the 777's two Trent 800 engines and transmits snapshots of
performance, as well as the altitude and speed of the jet.
Those snippets are compiled and transmitted in 30-minute increments, said
one person familiar with the system. According to Rolls-Royce's website, the
data is processed automatically "so that subtle changes in condition from
one flight to another can be detected."
The engine data is being analyzed to help determine the flight path of the
plane after the transponders stopped working. The jet was originally headed
for China, and its last verified position was half way across the Gulf of
clarity is needed as soon as possible and if Rolls Royce has this data then
it needs to be analysed and shared and made public. The bereaved families
deserve that clarification.
confusion from Malaysian authorities
12 March 2014
With today's press
conference in Malaysia already delayed for 2.5 hours many questions are
being asked about the competence of the Malaysian authorities and whether
they are being completely open in their information. There are plenty of
rumours emerging. Some maybe significant. None confirmed.
The only thing we
know for certain about MH370 is that the Malaysian authorities are showing a
worrying lack of competence across the board and a poor understanding of the
importance of providing as much information as possible.
last night that the Malaysian military has radar data showing the missing
Boeing 777 jetliner changed course and made it to the Malacca Strait,
hundreds of kilometers (miles) from the last position recorded by civilian
authorities, according to a senior military official.
Local newspaper Berita Harian also quoted Malaysian air force chief Gen.
Rodzali Daud as saying radar at a military base had detected the airliner at
2:40 a.m. near Pulau Perak at the northern approach to the strait, a busy
waterway that separates the western coast of Malaysia and Indonesia's
"After that, the signal from the plane was lost," he was quoted as saying.
A high-ranking military official involved in the investigation confirmed the
report and also said the plane was believed to be flying low. The official
spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the
This morning the
Malaysian air force chief denied making the statements attributed to him.
Reuters does not make stories up.
The search for the plane was initially focused on waters between the eastern
coast of Malaysia and Vietnam, the position where aviation authorities last
tracked it. No trace of the plane, which was carrying 239 people, has been
found by than 40 planes and ships from at least 10 nations searching the
area. That search has taken five days so far.
It’s bad enough for a widebody jet to go missing with 239 people on board,
but then for the responsible country’s government and aviation agencies to
handle the associated information with total incompetence is unforgivable.
military has primary radar to provide surveillance of surface and airborne
activity off its coasts and borders. That is how it defends its nation.
There are so many
information sources that do not appear to have been used effectively in this
As a result the
families of the missing passengers and crew are being kept in the dark, and
the search areas now extended to both sides of the peninsula have become so
wide that it is clear that tracking information on the aircraft has not been
used effectively. Nothing has been said about the 777′s ACARS system
(airborne communications addressing and reporting system), a datalink that
provides technical information about the health of aircraft systems to
Malaysian Airlines’ base.
international fleet of search vessels are clearly doing their best. But they
can only work with the information that they are given. There is an
all-pervasive sense of a chaotic lack of coordination between the Malaysian
agencies which has hindered the establishment of an effective search
failure to provide timely information when simple facts have been
established shows a total lack of consideration for the families of those
who are missing
moves to the courts as anti-government protests fizzle
9 March 2014 The Economist
(With most of the world suddenly focused on events in the Ukraine people
have post interest and patience with the continuing unrest in Thailand - the
Economist provides a timely update).
At last it looks as though the street protests designed to oust Thailand’s
prime minister, Yingluck Shinawatra, are running out of steam. After more
than four months of relentless sit-ins and government shutdowns, the leader
of the insurrection, Suthep Thaugsuban, has dismantled most of his various
protest sites around the capital, retreating to a single encampment in
central Bangkok. His supporters are dwindling in number, and so is their
appetite for further confrontation. Yet Ms Yingluck is by no means home and
dry. The courts may yet succeed where Mr Suthep has not.
Lumpini Park is the new headquarters of Thailand's failing people’s
revolution. Self-appointed guards protect the tented city. As in Mr Suthep’s
previous makeshift sites there are tea stalls, showers, television-viewing
areas, a medical centre and a shortage of lavatories. Well-off Bangkok
residents distribute food from luxury cars to the protesters, many of them
bused in from southern Thailand. Although the protests no longer occupy the
same locations as before—a posh shopping district and the sites of public
monuments—the slogans are unchanged. “Evolution before elections” reads one
sign affixed to a tent; “This corrupt government must be overthrown”,
Rhetorically, at least, Mr Suthep and his People’s Democratic Reform
Committee remain as defiant as ever. Many protesters vow that they will pack
up and leave only when all traces of Ms Yingluck and her brother, Thaksin
Shinawatra, the former prime minister ousted in a coup in 2006, are removed
from the body politic. But their hopes now look forlorn of using protest
power to force on Thailand a “people’s council” to replace the elected
government. The government appears to have outsmarted the protesters. By
refusing to confront them directly, the government largely averted violence
and avoided giving the army a pretext to intervene on Mr Suthep’s behalf to
“save” the country, democracy or anything else.
Some have suggested that the two sides may now sit down together to
negotiate a way out of the impasse. But that ignores how little Ms Yingluck—along
with Mr Thaksin, who pulls the strings from exile in Dubai—has to gain from
talks. The prime minister’s position has been buttressed by victory in a
recent snap election. Her supporters in the Shinawatra family’s political
heartland in the north and north-east have been steadfast. With Mr Suthep’s
power on the wane, she may calculate that there is no need to give him the
renewed political significance that talks would confer.
Ms Yingluck now has more reason to worry about the courts than about Mr
Suthep. The judiciary has brought down Thai governments before. Given the
number of legal challenges being mounted by opponents of the prime minister
and her government, it would be surprising if one or other of them did not
Take, for instance, the February 2nd general election, which was boycotted
by the main opposition Democrat Party. One legal challenge attempted to have
the whole election declared invalid. The government survived that. But
protests prevented elections being held in 18 of 77 provinces—and attempts
to rerun those votes are going less well. Five provinces managed to hold
elections on March 2nd. The remainder are planned for next month, but these
are now the subjects of court procedures. Legal scholars and others
challenge the right of Ms Yingluck’s current “caretaker” government to carry
on ruling much longer without an official quorum convened in parliament.
More pressingly, Ms Yingluck has until March 14th to defend herself before
the National Anti-Corruption Commission on criminal charges over alleged
dereliction of duty arising from the government’s disastrous scheme to help
farmers by subsidising rice. She has sent lawyers to the commission to hear
charges, but has yet to offer her account of the facts. If the commission
does indict her, she may have to step down. The government has said that in
such an eventuality another minister could take over her job. Still, for Mr
Suthep and his supporters it would undoubtedly be a welcome fillip.
MH 370 - sadness and mystery
It has now been 48
hours since the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, but there
is still no clear answer what happened.
Families of the 227 passengers and 12 crew members are grieving for their
loss without any explanation as to what may have happened.
Flight 370 was the
overnight Boeing 777-200 flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. It had reached
its cruising altitude of 35,000 feet when about an hour after take off it
disappeared from radar. There was no emergency call from the flight deck and
no suggestion of any problems with the flight.
Vietnam, Singapore, Australia and several other countries have dispatched a
large number of SAR aircrafts naval ships and merchant fleets to the region
in the South China Sea between Malaysia and Vietnam but so far no wreckage
has been found.
People from 14 nationalities were among the 227 passengers, including at
least at least 152 Chinese, 38 Malaysians, seven Indonesians, six
Australians, five Indians, four French and three Americans.
Chinese state media said 24 Chinese artists and family members, who were in
Kuala Lumpur for an art exchange programme, were aboard. The Sichuan
provincial government said Zhang Jinquan, a well-known calligrapher, was on
I have avoided
tweeting on the story or commenting upon it until now.
wreckage will be found and given the remarkable thoroughness of the
investigative process an explanation will be found. The likelihood is that
there was a sudden and catastrophic disintegration of the airframe.
Meanwhile as a
shocking example of someone who should know better Rupert Murdoch tweeted
that: provoked controversy by tweeting that:
777crash confirms jihadists turning to make trouble for China. Chance for US
to make common cause, befriend China while Russia bullies.
Clueless - there
is no evidence to support his claim and he, more than most, should know
Now it is
Etihad on the rack
6 March 2014
another foggy morning. This time the fog was across the UAE with long delays
and diversions at Sharjah, Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
But Abu Dhabi had
a far bigger problem as the ILS system failed.
@EtihadHelp were a bit slow responding but they have tried to provide
information using twitter and to respond to passenger concerns.
It was after 11am
that the airline posted seven successive messages starting with "All
flights into #AbuDhabi this morning have been diverted to other airports in
the region due to a technical failure at the airport (1/7)" adding that "The
weather at #AbuDhabi is improving and the airport has started to accept
But the @EtihadAirways
account then disappeared offline for six hours until around 5.30pm in the
evening. Then came a slew of apologies as the airline replied to unhappy
passengers; After 7pm the airline noted that "Of the 37 inbound flights
diverted this morning to other airports in the GCC this morning, 35 have now
returned to Abu Dhabi"
The trouble is
while the airline went off line people were telling their messages:
brother is stuck on your Flight EY 867 for last 6 hours sitting on Runway at
Al Ain. No food in the plane and it's a mess.
what a shambles stuck at transit desk and staff have no idea what they are
are stuck in the plain more than 4 houers and now in Mascat airport without
any info or care!!
U r the worest flights :@
organisation at all people pushing from economy into business class
@EtihadAirways - i
am waiting at muscat airport (ey205) and i hav to catch EY131 for IAD. Ders
no one to help at muscat. Plz repky wht to do
where are the managers when they are needed someone needs to take control of
EY18 from Heathrow, what the hell is going on? 7 1/2 hours stuck in middle
of nowhere. Demanding a full refund
Near to a mutiny on board, no one knows what's happening. Will my transfer
to Bangkok wait? #neverflyingetihad
- Que está acontecendo? What is the happening? Fly EY 867 stopped in desert!
Passenger abbandoned? @TIME?
understand you have major problems at Abu Dhabi, but being stranded for 7
hours in Muscat with no updates is pitiful.
YOU PLEASE GET THIS MESS IN ABU DABI AIRPORT SOLVED? YOUR STAFF IS NOT ABLE
TO ATEND ALL THE CLIENTS CANCELED FLIGHTS!!!
well at least be transparent with the passengers and give an exact timing
and some compensation! We ve been here since 7am!
After 5h delay got sent to a line for 3h and info of 20h delay without
The trouble is
even when the airline did respond it could say little more than we are sorry
and we are working on the problem! the messages kept coming.
sadly there has been no evidence whatsoever of this effort for the past nine
big #disappointment is the total lack of communication from you guys about
what is going on since 05.30 this morning
waiting 6 hours in the airport for the delayed flight, then another two
hours in the airplane #NeverFlyWithEttihad
This is the worst service I have ever experienced......8hr delay and no idea
whats happening from the staff
far 12 hours delay (inc 8 sat on a plane) in Abu Dhabi with no word of sense
from any of your staff.
So what does all
this mean. Well using two accounts may not help. Most passengers vented
their frustration to the @EithadAirways account where there are 48,000
followers - @EtihadHelp has just 3,700 followers. If the airline wants to
maintain a twitter presence it probably needs to do so with just a single
Being able to
tweet the airline may help relieve passenger frustration but it seems to
very rarely provide any sort of resolution. What is a guy or a girl on a
laptop in Abu Dhabi going to be able to do to help folks stuck on the ground
in Muscat or waiting for flight information in Manchester.
The answer has to
be to have people on the ground better trained and better prepared to handle
crisis situations and better briefed about what action is being taken. They
also need to be empowered to be generous in helping stranded passengers.
This applies to their own ground staff as well as any handling agents acting
on their behalf.
The answer is also
that someone has to take charge. It is not just about the airline; it is
about co-ordination with the airport authority, with ATC and with ground
handling. Emirates, dnata and Dubai Airports failed miserably to manage
their own fog crisis two weekends ago. Management were conspicuous by their
absence; well it was the weekend. And there were simply not enough staff on
the ground to help passengers.
Maybe Emirates has
this right; the airline does not use its twitter account and does not
respond to messages sent to the account. Etihad today looks like an the poor
little Dutch boy with his finger in the dyke. He/she is trying valiantly but
is being overwhelmed by the flood and appears to have no other resources to
premium airlines both Etihad and Emirates have disappointed too many people
in the last two weeks. Passengers do understand bad weather; they understand
technical delays. But they want information as frequently and in as much
detail as possible.
5 March 2014
In a move that is
unprecedented across the Gulf region Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates
and Bahrain have recalled their ambassadors from the Gulf nation of Qatar
over its alleged breach of a regional security agreement among Gulf Arab
countries not to interfere in each others' internal affairs.
This seems a bit
strange given in particular Saudi involvement in Bahrain. And it suggests
more deep-rooted problems.
The unprecedented move by the three states was announced on Wednesday in a
joint statement on state media.
It's the clearest sign yet of the rift between Gulf Arab nations and Qatar,
which has been a staunch supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and
elsewhere. Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain have been calling for increased
military and diplomatic union within the six-member GCC, which also includes
Qatar, Omar and Kuwait.
However, Qatar and Oman have so far resisted increased integration in these
Qatar has also denounced last year's ouster of Egypt's Islamist President
Mohammed Morsi, who hails from the Brotherhood.
Qatar is also home to the influential al-Jazeera news network, which
broadcasts across the world and has been critical of Saudi Arabia and other
Abu Dhabi and Riyadh said the decision was made after Qatar failed to uphold
its end of an agreement on security and stability of the six-nation Gulf
markets have not reacted well; “it’s a surprise to everyone and we are
trying to understand where this is coming from these are usually sensitive
issues,” a Dubai-based trader spoke on anonymity.
circles this is a very strong message to Qatar which might suggest that
there is more happening behind the scenes than is being said.
comments on twitter this one from academic and Middle East commentator Dr.
Ulrichsen was on the mark: " Qatar's new leadership is paying the price for
'backing the wrong horse' in the Arab Spring when for a time it seemed Doha
could do anything."
Etihad versus flydubai
3 March 2014
Since both Etihad
abd flydubai announced full year 2013 results today lets have a look at how
the two airlines financial performance compares.
Neither Etihad or
flydubai release comprehensive financial results, unlike rivals Emirates and
Turkish Airlines, which means that a comprehensive analysis of overall
finances cannot be undertaken.
As usual the local
media has faithfully reported the results without any analysis. It is hard
to work out the impact of Etihad's equity investments. The airline reported
US$820 in partnership revenues; but what about it's share of equity
Etihad has equity
investments in Virgin Australia, Jet Airways in India and Aer Lingus in
Ireland as well as Air Berlin, Air Seychelles, Air Serbia and Darwin Airline
in Switzerland. As far as I can tell none of the partner airlines are
profitable. Etihad gets some cost synergies and other benefits from
inter-lining and feeding passengers into the Abu Dhabi hub but at the same
time it must be taking its share of the net losses of its partners.
The full year net
profit of both airlines is almost identical; but Etihad has six times
flydubai's revenues. So the Etihad net profit margin is painfully thin at
The comparison is
interesting. And to be honest flydubai looks like a better standalone
business while Etihad benefits from investors with deep pockets.
Airways 2013 profit rises 48%
3 March 2014
also announced full year profits today with net profit reaching $62 million
as sales grew 27 per cent to $6.1 billion. Partnership revenues also rose by
30 per cent to $820m, representing 21 per cent of total passenger revenues.
“Our codeshare partnerships have been an important part of our business
performance for the last seven years,” said James Hogan, president and chief
executive of Etihad Airways. “But it is our equity investments which are
really taking off now, allowing us to build integrated networks and
schedules, develop common products and services and most importantly,
identify business and cost synergies.”
Etihad’s growth strategy has relied heavily on expanding its route network
through “equity alliances,” in which it invests in carriers that help it to
expand its global reach in strategically important regions. In 2013, Etihad
grew its equity alliance to seven – comprising Air Seychelles, Air Berlin,
Virgin Australia, Air Serbia, Ireland’s Aer Lingus, India’s Jet Airways and
Etihad Regional — formerly known as Darwin Airline (based in Switzerland).
The latest addition to this growing family of equity alliances could be
Alitalia, the loss-making Italian flag carrier. Etihad said last month that
it was conducting due diligence on a possible investment.
The Arabian Gulf carrier ordered 199 aircraft and 294 engines at the Dubai
Airshow, worth some $67bn.
Etihad passenger numbers surged by 12 per cent in 2013 to reach nearly 11.5
million, as 1.8 million passengers were carried via codeshare deals and
other equity alliances.
The addition of seven new codeshare deals in 2013, brought the total number
of such partnerships to 47.
Etihad’s aggressive growth plans include adding more than 30 routes by 2020.
In 2013, Etihad launched routes to Sana’a in Yemen, Amsterdam, Belgrade in
Serbia, Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam, Sao Paulo and Washington DC.
This year it is planning to fly to Jaipur in India, Los Angeles, Zurich,
Yerevan in Armenia, Perth in Australia, Rome, Phuket in Thailand (this
replaces the Air Berlin AUH-HKT flight), Dallas in the US and Medina in
Cargo revenues increased 30 per cent in 2013 to $928 million.
Etihad expects to receive 18 new aircraft this year, including its first
Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner and Airbus A380, Both are scheduled for delivery in
the fourth quarter.
Etihad also announced the creation of the Etihad
Aviation Group, a new structure marking the transition from a single entity
airline to a wider global aviation group.
The new Etihad Aviation Group structure, headed by James Hogan as Group
President and Chief Executive Officer, distinguishes the functions relating
purely to Etihad Airways and those required to interface with and support
the growth and success of its subsidiaries, joint venture companies and
A bit like
A new position of Chief Operating Officer Etihad Airways has been created to
oversee the day-to-day running of the core airline. Recruitment for this
position is ongoing and the successful candidate will oversee the major
areas of Marketing, Sales, Operations, Technical, Cargo, Flight Operations,
Guest Services, Guest Experience, and Safety and Quality.
In addition to the core airline, the Etihad Aviation Group also includes a
division to coordinate and manage Etihad’s investment in its equity airline
partners, and a new role of Chief Operating Officer, Equity Partners will be
created within the new structure to ensure an ongoing interface between the
airline and its equity partners.
The position will be responsible for leading the identification and
realisation of synergy benefits across the equity alliance, as well as
having direct responsibility for Air Seychelles and Air Serbia in which
Etihad Airways has a management responsibility.
The group will also include the new Hala Group, led by Peter Baumgartner,
formerly Chief Commercial Officer Etihad Airways. The Hala Group has been
formed recognising the airline’s commercial opportunities which have grown
beyond air travel across a variety of travel and hospitality businesses.
The Hala Group will bring businesses together to drive commercial value for
Etihad Airways, for Abu Dhabi and for the airline’s equity alliance
partners. It combines travel management provided by Hala Travel Management,
destination management services of Hala Abu Dhabi, the internationally
expanding wholesale and tour operating business, Etihad Holidays, and other
major start-up initiatives such as a new global loyalty company.
It makes sense but it is not exactly innovative. Part of the problem is that
Etihad is 100% owned by the Abu Dhabi government and its acquisitions are
made by the government's investment fund on behalf of the airline.
Etihad and flydubai have announced almost identical profits on very
flydubai profits increase
3 March 2014
flydubai has reported its annual results for 2013. flydubai operates to a
calendar year end unlike Emirates with a 31 March year end.
The basic numbers
are revenue of AED 3.7 billion (USD 1.0 billion) and a full-year profit of
AED 222.8 million (USD 60.7 million) an increase of 47 per cent compared to
Passenger numbers increased 6.82 million; a 38 per cent increase compared to
Seven new Next-Generation Boeing 737-800 aircraft joining the fleet last
year. Together with the rolling retrofit programme a total of 14 aircraft
are configured with a business class cabin.
The airline, which operates an average of 1,100 flights a week, launched 17
new routes during 2013 bringing the network to 66 destinations. It doubled
its network in Russia to eight destinations; underlined the commitment to
its network in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia with 10 destinations, many of
which have not previously had direct flights to Dubai, as well as Salalah in
Oman. It ended the year with the first direct flights to Chisinau, the
capital of Moldova.
flydubai has strategically expanded its network within a five hour flying
radius of Dubai and has opened up 46 routes that were previously underserved
or did not have direct air links to Dubai.
Staff numbers grew to more than 2,250 employees including 499 pilots and 922
Fuel expense remains the single largest operating cost and is 39.5 per cent
of total cost. During the last quarter of 2013, flydubai started hedging and
29% of the total fuel requirements for 2014 have been hedged.
Ancillary revenue remained a significant component of total revenues and
accounted for 14.6 per cent of total revenues in 2013. This includes cargo
revenues and flydubai’s inflight entertainment, on board sales, seat
preferences, checked baggage allowance, car rental, hotel bookings, travel
insurance and visa facilitation services.
At the 2013 Dubai Airshow, flydubai committed to ordering 75 Boeing 737 MAX
8s and 11 Next-Generation Boeing 737-800s, valued at $8.8 billion at list
prices. In addition, the airline retains purchase rights for 25 more 737
MAXs. The first aircraft from this order, 11 Next-Generation Boeing
737-800s, will be delivered between 2016 and 2017. Deliveries of the first
Boeing 737 MAX will commence in the second half of 2017 and continue until
the end of 2023. The remaining aircraft from the order placed at the 2008
Farnborough Airshow will be delivered by the end of 2015.
flydubai noted that the operational climate in 2014 will remain challenging;
however, the outlook remains positive due to the efficiency and flexibility
of flydubai’s model and operations.
Shutting down the shutdown
3 March 2014
Fifty-three days after anti-government protesters vowed to “shut down” the
world’s most-visited city in a bid to “restart” Thailand, they have been
forced to quit their programme. Or perhaps rather to “minimise” its window:
from the city streets to a public park in Bangkok.
Suddenly, any relaunch of Thailand’s failed people’s revolution looks
unlikely. Suthep Thaugsuban, the leader of a series of anti-government
protests, now in its fourth month, which has been aimed at ridding Thailand
of the influence of the ruling Shinawatra clan, even apologised for the
inconvenience that has been caused. Rally sites at key intersections in
central Bangkok are to be dismantled, while some others are to be left in
place, for now. This development will not, however, end the battle over the
What it does show is that the risk of widespread social and economic failure
has begun to register with the main protagonists: the army; the government;
and finally Mr Suthep, the de facto leader of Thailand’s opposition. At
least 23 people, including children, have been killed and hundreds more
injured since the end of October. Earlier this week young men engaged in
shoot-outs in central Bangkok. And everywhere incomes have been hit hard.
One estimate puts the economic loss caused by the protests at $15 billion
and warns that it could quickly double—by which point it would have
destroyed income equal to the vast wealth of the royal palace.
The ugly truth at the centre of Thailand’s ideological conflict is that both
sides would prefer to see the other side drop dead. And neither is about to
commit suicide. In the past, the king could have told Mr Suthep to accept a
compromise. But the monarch is old and frail. In his stead, the army, as the
real power behind the throne, has taken action. Days before Mr Suthep’s
apparent retreat, the army chief had in effect warned him and his
sympathisers—in the military ranks, the civil service, the judiciary and the
royal palace—that coups d’état are no longer on the menu.
For the army knows it is not welcome. Above all, it fears the sort of
backlash that is already brewing among the more militant “red shirts”, the
supporters of the prime minister, Yingluck Shinawatra, and her brother
Thaksin Shinawatra, a former prime minister. The mood among the reds has
changed strikingly since February 19th, when a court ruled against them. Its
judgment, that the anti-government protests were “peaceful” and that the
police must not break them up, infuriated them; the ruling was a signal to
their more radical factions that they might as well take up arms too. One
red-shirt leader has vowed to recruit 600,000 young men for a new,
pro-government Democracy Protection Volunteers Group. Whether or not he is
regarded as a nutcase, he is not alone in drawing a hard line: there is to
be no coup, military or judicial—or else. On March 1st unidentified men
sprayed gunfire at the home of the mother of one of the protest leaders (who
had, a few days earlier, chased the former wife of Mr Thaksin from a posh
Mr Suthep’s apparent climbdown comes only days after the red shirts began
copying his tactics and laid siege to a government institution. On February
26th they built a wall of sand and crushed stones to block the gates of the
National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC), north of Bangkok. The NACC is
set to impeach Ms Yingluck over her government’s signature policy, a lavish
rice-subsidy scheme. If she were found guilty, Ms Yingluck and many senior
figures in her Pheu Thai party could be removed from office and banned from
politics for five years.
The case appears open-ended and its outcome uncertain. In that respect it is
very much like the government’s bid to complete a national election, without
which it cannot convene parliament and stay in power. For that matter, it is
also like those assurances by the opposition Democrat Party, when it says
that it favours elections over the anti-government protesters’ demand for an
appointed “people’s council”. It was the same Democrats who boycotted the
polls on February 2nd, and who stand in the way of the government’s attempts
to build a quorum for the next parliament.
The entrance to the NACC is now the site of a rally for the red shirts,
sealed off by their own armed guards. Street vendors sell paraphernalia with
images of Ms Yingluck and Mr Thaksin. At present it is the reds’ only
dedicated territory inside Greater Bangkok. They look poised to hold it, as
a red line of sorts. In practice they are mimicking the anti-government
protesters who built a cement wall earlier this month, brick-by-brick
sealing the gates to Ms Yingluck’s office, Government House, so that she
could not return “in this life or the next”.
The notion that Mr Suthep’s revolution is responding to a popular demand for
better governance now looks bizarre, if not incomprehensible. In one of the
thousands of tents staked in Lumpini Park, the new headquarters of the
revolution, large letters printed in English seek to explain: “Western
observers please understand that this is our democratic reform in progress.
You had yours, let us have ours!”.
Were Mr Suthep’s revolution to regain its strength and to triumph, against
the odds, it would be startling. But then the scale of the backlash against
his movement could be even more shocking. Mr Suthep claims to want to
protect the country and the monarchy. A less charitable view has it that he
has been trying to protect the traditional elite’s political and economic
control over Thailand’s resources—to defend the status quo that another
revolution, the Siamese coup d’état of 1932, once tried but failed to
It appears that it has dawned on the army that Mr Suthep’s bid to preserve
the role of the establishment might well backfire. Safer for everyone, then,
that his insurrection should be boxed into a public park.
full scale propaganda
2 March 2014
priceless headline "Tea, sandwiches, music, photos with self-defense forces
mark peaceful Sunday in Simferopol"
Worse is Russia
Today describing an occupying army as a self-defense force. But say anything
loudly enough and there will be someone who believes it.
Crimea and then?
2 March 2014
The Guardian - Masha Gessen
Can something be
evident and incredible at the same time? Certainly, if you are in denial.
Until Russian troops landed in the Crimea many Russians were in denial about
Vladimir Putin. They believed he was all bark and no bite.
Not that Putin had kept his intentions secret. He has always denied the idea
that the Soviet Union was a colonising power; furthermore, he called the
breakup of the USSR "the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of our time".
He has annexed chunks of Georgia, most recently by means of a military
invasion in 2008. But there are two differences between now and the war in
Georgia. Technically, it was not Putin but Dmitry Medvedev who was nominally
president when Russia invaded Georgia. More importantly, Russian liberals
were not rooting for their fellows in Georgia during that war; indeed, they
were scarcely aware of the political struggles within the country.
Ukraine is different: for three months, Russians had been watching the
stand-off, and the oppositionally minded were strongly identifying with the
anti-Yanukovych forces in Kiev.
Perhaps the last time the Russian intelligentsia watched the internal
struggle in another country this intently was in 1968 during the Prague
Spring, when they hoped the Czechs would succeed in building what they
called "socialism with a human face". They also believed it would hold out
the promise of something better for life in the Soviet Union. In August
1968, the Soviets invaded Czechoslovakia, quashing the Prague Spring. In
Moscow, seven people came out to protest against the invasion; they were
arrested and the modern dissident movement was born.
The parallels end there. It's unlikely that what's happening in Ukraine will
foment a new protest movement in Russia: the ongoing crackdown on civil
society makes the cost of protest too high. Still, the Crimean invasion is a
landmark in Russian domestic politics.
It signals a loss of innocence: no longer will Russians be able to think
that Putin merely feels nostalgic for the USSR. It also signals ever greater
polarisation of Russian society: in addition to all the other lines along
which Russians are divided and across which civilised dialogue is
impossible, there is now the chasm between supporters and opponents of the
planned annexation. It also means the political crackdown in Russia will
These clear and tragic consequences obscure the challenge the new Crimean
war poses to Russia's post-imperial consciousness. "I can be reasonable
about everything, but I cannot give up the Crimea," was a line from the late
Galina Starovoitova, who as Boris Yeltsin's adviser on nationalities policy,
oversaw Russia's first attempts at releasing its colonies.
She meant that, like just about every Russian, she felt the Black Sea resort
area was part of her birthright, whatever the maps may say. Most, if not
all, Russians harbour this Crimean exceptionalism, even if they belong to
the minority that otherwise rejects Soviet nostalgia.
If Russia functioned as a society with rule of law and some common
understanding of its complicated history, the inhibition against acting on
this exceptionalist impulse would come from the top. But with the government
sending troops into the Crimea, it is up to individual Russians to find the
arguments and, even more difficult, the motivation to resist the aggression.
Masha Gessen is the author of The Man Without A Face: The Unlikely Rise
of Vladimir Putin
A Crimea Primer
1 March 2014
from the Global Post
A vital piece of
land on the Black Sea that's been claimed by some of the world's great
empires, Crimea is no stranger to conflict.
The peninsula has been sacked by Huns, Greeks, Turks and Mongols. It was
part of the Mongol Empire under Genghis Khan and later the Ottoman Empire
before it was absorbed by the Russian Empire under Catherine the Great in
Perhaps its bloodiest chapter came between 1853 and 1856 during the Crimean
An estimated 750,000 people died as Russia fought the Ottoman Empire in a
conflict that also involved France, Britain and Sardinia.
The war gave us two cultural tropes: Florence Nightingale ushering sick
soldiers to safety and the Charge of the Light Brigade that ended in
disaster for British troops cut down in one of military history’s greatest
The poem “Charge of the Light Brigade” by Tennyson immortalized the episode
this way: “Theirs not to reason why; theirs but to do and die.”
Under Soviet rule, Crimea belonged to the Russian republic, one of 15 Soviet
republics, until Nikita Khrushchev transferred it to the Ukrainian republic
After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Crimea flirted with
independence, but that movement was quashed by lawmakers.
This week, tensions flared after months of protest finally ended with the
ouster of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych last weekend.
Russian loyalists stormed the Crimean parliament and another government
building on Thursday. Heavily armed, they raised the Russian flag in the
Crimean capital of Simferopol.
On Friday, another armed group took control of two Crimean airports.
Although Moscow denies direct involvement, Reuters reported Russian aircraft
flew into Ukrainian airspace and that Russian troops controlled at least one
of the airports.
“Of course they are Russian,” said Maxim Lovinetsky, a 23-year-old volunteer
militiaman who was blocking access to the airport. “They came last night.”
More from GlobalPost: In Ukraine the fight continues, and not just in Crimea
About 2 million people live in Crimea, which is split between Russians in
the south, Muslim Tatars in the center and Ukrainians in the north.
Ethnic Russians are the majority in Crimea, making up nearly 60 percent of
the population. Together, Ukrainians and Tatars form just under 40 percent.
In the face of crisis, Tatars and Ukrainians appear united against the
Russians, likely stemming from old wounds. Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin
scattered the entire Crimean Tatar population, some 200,000, in 1944 to
various parts of the USSR for allegedly conspiring with Nazi Germany.
Nearly half of them died during the exile.
On the world map, Crimea appears almost an island, but it’s actually a
peninsula connected by a thin tissue of land extending to Ukraine in the
Another arm reaches almost to Russia to the east, but is interrupted by the
Strait of Kerch and the Sea of Azov.
Crimea extends deep into the Black Sea and provides easy access to European
nations such as Romania and Bulgaria, as well as Turkey.
Some experts suggest Russian President Vladimir Putin wants Crimea back
under his control. However, others say Putin risks international isolation
and an expensive conflict if he intervenes in Crimea.
“Crimea in Ukraine and Transnistria in Moldova are just two of many possible
future Russian targets,” Monica Duffy Toft writes for Foreign Policy. “But
building an empire is an expensive undertaking. Russia’s appetite for
expansion might only weaken it further.”
Post at its yellow worst
The Bangkok Post
is a poor newspaper - but its failure to a) understand democracy and b)
understand that there is a Thailand beyond Bangkok does it huge discredit.
This is how democracy is supposed to work trumpets the paper in the last
sentence of yesterday's editorial.
The Bangkok Post
has singularly failed to condemn the PDRC, an illegal movement that has its
sole aim of forcing a democratically elected government from office. That is
the issue that the Post should be dealing with.
There is an
irregular army already established - by the PDRC in Bangkok. The police have
been instructed not to interfere.
If there is a coup
or if the PDRC takes over Bangkok and if the government then decides to set
up its operations and ministries in for instance Chiang Mai then it is still
the government - it is still the sole body elected by the people of
Thailand. It is not a government in exile and it is not an alternative
government or the PDRC that try to take control of government in Bangkok
would be the government in exile - the government that is not representative
of the people.
The Bangkok Post
assume that whatever happens in Bangkok is the government as though a
government cannot function outside of the capital.
Given that Bangkok
is being strangled by anti-democracy protestors it makes sense for
democratic minded people to be considering alternatives.
A coupe government
is not a legitimate substitute for an elected government and the Post fails
to accept this is its haste to support the coup plotters.
Tone down the
27 Feb 2014 Bangkok Post editorial:
Thailand is one and indivisible kingdom. This is clearly stated in the first
amendment of the constitution. . So anyone who attempts to carve out
territory from the kingdom is committing sedition which is liable to severe
In the far South, separatist groups such as the Barisan Revolusi Nasional (BRN)
and new Pattani United Liberation Organisation have, for decades, waged
unsuccessful and violent campaigns for a separate Malay-Muslim region from
the Thai state.
separate homeland or self-determination remains an aspiration, several
separatist groups, including the BRN, have agreed to peace talks brokered by
Malaysia Unfortunately, the process has been suspended since the
middle of last year.
Of late however,
there have been talks among the hardliners within the red-shirt movement,
the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD), and some members
in the government about separatism in retaliation against what they
deem as extreme bias or injustice against the government from
charter-mandated independent organisations such as the Constitution Court
and the National Anti-Corruption Commission.
Emotions ran high at the UDD’s rally held in Nakhon Ratchasima on Sunday
which was attended by the movement’s firebrands namely caretaker Deputy
Commerce Minister Nattawut Saikuar and Jatuporn Prompan. Caretaker Interior
Minister and Pheu Thai party leader Charupong Ruangsuwan was also present.
Loose talk about
the creation of an irregular army of red shirts to protect the government
and to fight the People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC), a
government-in-exile and a separate homeland found voice on the rally stage.
In his address to
the red-shirt crowd, Mr Charupong issued a threat, saying there are about 10
million guns in the hands of Thai people and these people cannot be looked
He also reportedly
called upon the red shirts to get prepared for a make-or-break showdown
which will result in bloodshed.
inconceivable how an interior minister could openly encourage people — in
this case the red-shirt followers — to prepare for a bloody confrontation
and, at the same time, condone talks about a government in exile, an
irregular army and a separate homeland for red-shirt followers.
conduct in this regard is unbecoming of a minister. It is indeed an irony
that the government of which he is a part has charged PDRC leaders for
sedition for leading protests to overthrow the government.
The protests have
turned the government into a lame duck, unable to find a permanent home to
do its work. Caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has to keep her
daily working schedules confidential for fear of harassment from protesters.
Yet these symptoms
of a failed government are no excuse for a member of the government to
engage in activities bordering on sedition, or incitement of hatred.
heads still prevail within the military top brass. Army chief Gen Prayuth
Chan-ocha in his capacity as the deputy director of the Internal Security
Operations Command has ordered all provincial governors to keep a close
watch on any crowd movements from both sides of the conflict which are prone
to political violence, to nip any potential violence in the bud.
Like the PDRC, the
UDD has the right to stage protests as it feels fit so long as it does not
resort to violence. It has the right to protect its beloved prime minister.
But at the same time, it has a duty to obey the law and follow rulings from
the courts of law. That is how a democracy is supposed to work.