AOB – 2015

31 December 2015

Flydubai are ending three routes in January:

Nizhny Novgorod, Russia on 16th
Bujumbura, Burundi on 19th
Kigali, Rwanda on 20th

28 December 2015

The death of royal dog Khun Toengdaeng was being reported by social media two days ago. But the Thai newspapers are only reporting it today – presumably after waiting to see what they dare or dare not say. In the land of the paranoid reporting any activity involving the Thai royals is fraught with difficulty,

22 December 2015

Dear Mr Grant. One word. Condom.

Hugh Grant has become a father for the fourth time.

The 55-year-old actor’s girlfriend Anna Eberstein reportedly gave birth to their second child on Wednesday Swedish newspaper Subdsvall Tinding has claimed.

The new arrival is a sibling for the couple’s three-year-old son John.

The ‘Four Weddings and a Funeral’ actor also has two other children with former flame Tinglan Hong, a daughter, Tabitha, four, and two-year-old son Felix, who was born just three months after Anna gave birth to John.

21 December 2015

Bye, bye to another series of Homeland – Sunday night’s episode was a bit of a mess. One highlight – Saul and Ivan’s conversation. The sarin drama ended too quickly; Allison’s demise was too dreary; Jonas broke up with Carrie by giving her a sweatshirt, Sol was whining, and the whole thing just had the feel of a desperate race to the close.

Got to feel sorry for Quinn – got nothing but abuse all series and appears to have been killed off.

20 December 2015

We had a nice couple of days away in Rome this week. Lots of walking and even got to see the Pope doing his weekly meet the people in the Vatican. He pulls in quite a crowd.

As we were passing through Vatican security the guard rather wonderfully told us to just “look out for the white boy!”

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Arun Bhatia, the owner of Delhi-based investment firm Telstra Tradeplace, has claimed AirAsia India (I5, Chennai) is effectively controlled by AirAsia (AK, Kuala Lumpur Int’l) in contravention of Indian investment laws.

Speaking to The Economic Times, Bhatia said the Malaysian budget carrier’s CEO Mittu Chandilya acted on the instruction of AirAsia Group’s founder and CEO Tony Fernandes, and was in fact solely a figurehead.

Maybe it was the airline’s name that was the giveaway!!

17 December 2015

So once again EK are removing benefits from its employees. It is a wonder that people stay. More adverse changes to the travel benefits.

Not everyone does – here is one leaver on PPRUNE – and in fairness to him or her this is a pretty accurate message about not just Emirates, but too many companies here.

“Flying pilot, I did leave, I grew tired of the continual lies, the constant denigration of flight crew and borderline sociopathic behaviour of fleet, flight ops and commercial management, all washed down with a dose of 20/20 hindsight and punitive mindset, which is used to justify incompetence and idiotic knee-jerk policy decisions taken by individuals whom in the real world wouldn’t be put in charge of a lemonade stand.

All that coupled with having to be constantly aware that any issue no matter how trivial or minor can escalate and cause life changing events with respect to your career, your family and potentially your health.”

Hard to disagree.

14 December 2015

Starting from 3 May 2016, Emirates will launch four weekly flights to Zhengzhou and Yinchuan.

Yinchuan and Zhengzhou will be the 4th and 5th Emirates destinations in Mainland China after Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou.

The UAE bilateral with China only offers these two new cities plus Urumqi and Kashgar, the latter two and Yinchuan being in Muslim dominated regions.

Sichuan Airlines currently fly from DXB to Yinchuan via Chengdu.

11 December 2015

A third runway at Heathrow is never going to happen: Prime Minister David Cameron’s government delayed a decision on whether to build a new runway at Heathrow Airport on Thursday, arguing that it needs more time to study the impact on air quality, noise and other environmental concerns.

Cameron had promised a firm decision by the end of this year on whether to choose Heathrow or Gatwick for airport expansion. Business leaders in Britain argue that the country needs more airport capacity in southeastern England to keep the country growing.

Heathrow had been selected by an independent panel over rival Gatwick, but in recent weeks, speculation has been building from Cameron’s office that a decision would be delayed, in part because of environmental issues raised in a Parliamentary report earlier this month.

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Sultan Sooud Al-Qassemi is one of the smarter commentators on Middle East affairs – on Facebook today he asked “Why are Arab governments who should be concerned with fighting ISIS, Al Qaeda, a plethora of extremist violent jihadi groups (and for the Gulf States countering regional Khamenei’s ambitions) expending their resources on harmless activists, writers, bloggers, journalists etc.?”

I suspect he already knows the answer – fear of anything that might destabilize their own inherited rule.

6 December 2015

Just a day in Singapore wiith Tai and she continues down to Melbourne while I head up to BKK for a few days.

Singapore was wet, humid and even more crowded. a wet Singapore leave little to do except eat and wander the malls – which all look increasingly similar.

It did strike me that I may never see Singapore again – or at least not for a very long time.

For a few years it was home – but it was not a happy home. And to be honest – if I do not see the city again – that is ok.

5 December 2015

Tai and I had visitors this week. Canadians. 19 years old. Models.

And I felt old.

The girls stayed in their bedroom whenever they were in the apartment – emerging for the bathroom or food. They live on their phones which I suspect is where they communicate best. It is a funny world when people may be more concerned about what their fans on Instagram think about them than being concerned about making a good impression on real people…or maybe they are at a stage of life when they do not care what people think….

If you stay as a guest in someone’s house you do make an effort to engage – no one expects much – a simple “how are you” conversation – a simple description of where they have been or what they want to see…the apartment was a hotel room for them. We were the staff…so we were best ignored.

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On the good news side the World Air Games are in Dubai this week which has provided some fun photography and a chance to watch all types of flying machines and people.

Lots of pictures – on my pictures pages and instagram account.

27 November 2015

One comment on Thailand – posted in New Mandala – sums up the state of the nation:

“When “Good People” receive cash/kickbacks/commissions/percentages/etc in Thailand, it is NOT “corruption”. Rather it is what is owed to them due to their high position, good intentions, honest efforts and beautiful Karma from their exemplary past lives. Their proper and well-deserved reward under the unwritten rules of the Thousand Year Old Thai Patronage System. Only when “bad” people, especially “bad” people connected with Thaksin, receive cash/kickbacks/commissions/percentages/etc, it is “corruption”.

Everybody in Thailand knows this. It is an essential part of “Thainess”.”

Hard to argue.

26 November 2015

Have not seen any official announcement from EK but this shows some good work with a crystal ball

Emirates has pushed back the launch of flights to Mali’s capital, Bamako, for “operational reasons.”

The four times weekly services via Senegal capital, Dakar, was scheduled to commence on October 25. It would have been Emirates’ 28th destination in Africa. The new route “has been deferred until further notice due to operational reasons,” Emirates said by email, adding that the existing Dubai-Dakar service continues to operate as normal.

Passengers booked on the Dakar service will be reimbursed or rebooked via Casablanca in Morocco.

I suspect Bamako will not now happen after the events of last week.

25 November 2015

It is Dubai Innovation week.

Not that anyone in the private sector was aware of it.

You cannot say this publicly – but really this is all about one government department talking to another government department.

The gap between what is said and what is done remains far too wide.

22 November 2015

Watched Thongchai Jaidee play the final round of the DP World Tour Championship today.

He started at 11 under – got it to 14 under after 11 holes – which would have been good enough for 4th place – and then dropped eight shots over the last 7 holes including a 9 on the 18th.

He did look tired.

21 November 2015

Last weekend it was Paris.

Last night there was an assault on a hotel in the capital of Mail – Bamako. Among the hostage taking some 20 or more people were killed.

Today the whole of Brussles has been shut down due to what the authorities are calling an imminent terror threat. The subway is shut down. People are being told to avoid public places from theaters to shops to sports events.

The news headlines were simple:

Shops close, football is cancelled and people are urged to stay home as army patrols streets in face of ‘serious and imminent threat’ of Paris-style attack

19 November 2015

Emirates A340-500 A6-ERE, which last operated in service on 6th November, operated the EK640/EK641 Dubai – Kabul rotation today.

15 November 2015

Here is a twitter classic:

Now is not the time for commentdickery or how French flags are crowding your FB feed. Show some compassion or just keep your mouth shut.

Interesting. I have plenty of compassion. I just don’t like to apply it either selectively or only when I am told that it is OK to do so….

Dubai insisted that its major buidings were lit up in the colours of the french flag – though worth noting that they did this more than 24hrs after other prominent world landmarks – was there concern that Duabi was missing out on the pr images or was this real compassion – or maybe a mixture of both.

As I wrote in a note to a friend:

“Tonight in Dubai buildings will turn red, white and blue. It feels wrong; more of a PR stunt. “We need to get our buildings in the picture with others around the world” – or is that too cynical? What level of slaughter decides whether buildings should be lit up? Why was Beirut less deserving of recognition than Paris? Why isn’t the Syrian flag flown daily in respect of some 200,000 killed there in the last four years?”

People were using a facebook tool to put a french flag on their facebook profiles; but it was the french flag or no flag at all. Where is the outcry for other atrocities?

Yes it is awful. But making one slaughter more awful than the one before is poor judgement. Where was the Russian falg when the metrojet liner was bombed out of the sky or the Malaysian flag when MH17 was shot down by a missile.

The list goes on. Compassion is fine. Justice would be better.

14 November 2015

One note from the Dubai Airshow.

There is still no word on when Concourse D will open at DXB.

First they said it would open in the second quarter of 2015, then it was delayed to the third, and now we aren’t hearing anything.

Concourse D is apparently the first project completely designed and planned by the current Dubai Airports team under Paul Griffiths.

If they cannot get Concourse D right then how will they handle DWC’s expansion and opening.

10 November 2015

O Canada…..What a cabinet:

PM Trudeau announced his new liberal cabinet last week:

Minister of Health is a doctor.
Minister of Transport is an astronaut.
Minister of National Defense is a Sikh Veteran.
Minister of Youth is under the age of 45.
Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food is a former farmer.
Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness was a Scout.
Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development was a financial analyst.
Minister of Finance is a successful businessman.
Minister of Justice was a crown prosecutor and is a First Nations leader.
Minister of Sport, and Persons with Disabilities is a visually impaired Paralympian.
Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, and Canadian Coastguard is Inuit.
Minister of Science is a medical geographer with a PhD.
New titles include
Minister of Immigration, Citizenship and Refugees was an Immigration critic.

And the cabinet is made up of 50% women.

Proud times. Lets hope each and everyone of them makes a difference.

9 November 2015

Emirates today announced its plans for a second gateway in Istanbul with the launch of a daily service to Sabiha Gokcen Airport, beginning 15th December, 2015. The new service complements Emirates’ existing 11 weekly flights to Ataturk Airport.

Located on the rapidly-developing Asian side of Istanbul, Sabiha Gokcen provides easy access to the city’s new financial centre as well as to popular outlet malls and thermal spas in the vicinity. Passengers heading to the European side can also take advantage of regular coaches that operate between Sabiha Gokcen and Taksim Square every half hour, taking approximately 45 minutes.

The new service will commence with a daily flight operated by an Airbus A330-200 aircraft in a 3-class layout – 12 in First, 42 in Business, and 183 in Economy.

Emirates will be the only airline operating a scheduled wide-body aircraft at Sabiha Gokcen Airport. The airport is primarily used for domestic and European charter flights.

Emirates flight EK119 will depart Dubai at 17:15 and arrive in Istanbul at 20:15 daily. The return flight EK120 will leave Istanbul at 22:05, arriving in Dubai at 04:20 the next day.

Istanbul is a turnaround for Emirates crews; this will be a very tough flight for the crew who will basically be on duty from 15.30pm to 05.00am.

8 November 2015

Atlanta-based Delta operates the only passenger service between its home hub and Dubai, but announced Oct. 28 that it will cease the route from Feb. 11, 2016.

Delta said its Dubai pullout decision was made “amid overcapacity on US routes to the Middle East operated by government-owned and heavily subsidized airlines.”

7 November 2015

Back in Dubai and now a qualified private pilot. Feeling pleased with myself. I worked hard.

Here are some thoughts from my examiner in an email: spot on really – my landings at SRQ were OK. The landing at TPA was a bit grim.

“Your check ride was as real as it gets. We accomplished everything in the PTS as well as a “real scenario” flight. Your knowledge is that of a commercial pilot. Your flying abilities in most areas well above the PTS. The landings were the only minor issue and they met the mins per the PTS. When you upgrade to the 172 you will find your landings will be much easier.”

The skycatcher is not an easy plane when the wind is blowing! Too light!

 

31 October 2015

Sorry for the lack of updates – my flying blog took over! Please go and read it!

Wings Over Florida

18 October 2015

Woken at 2am by Tai’s phone blasting out an alarm signal. Thought it was the hotel fire alarm.

Not so:

The Massachusetts Child AMBER Alert is an emergency alert system that helps recover abducted children. The Plan utilizes the Emergency Alert System (EAS) to interrupt regular programming and broadcast information that could help recover the child. Information is also broadcast on electronic signs along highways and in airports.

How this gets to pick up the mobile numbers of foreign tourists is a mystery.

15 October 2015

We flew from Dubai to Boston yesterday on EK 239 – leaving Dubai at 3.20am and arriving into Boston about 09.20am local. It is a long 14 hour flight but with a light load there was plenty of room to spread out.

The weather on Boston was good for exploring – and we walked around the freedom trail until mid afternoon before heading back to the hotel to check in. We were then asleep by 5pm! And slept through until 3am this morning.

8 October 2015

A couple of notes from Reuters in an article in 7Days on progress at Al Maktoum AIrport – in what is becoming known as Dubai South!

Firstly it appears that the new concourse D at DXB has been delayed. Dubai Airports officials have said construction of the concourse has just finished and the testing phase will now be launched.

Initially planned for summer 2015, Concourse D from Terminal 1 may be ready in the first quarter of 2016 and be able to handle operations of about a 100 airlines.

“May be ready” is none too encouraging.

Emirates airlines in the coming years will take deliveries of the orders it has placed in 2013 for 150 Boeing 777x and topped up its A380 jumbo jets order of 90 with another 50.

“Emirates obviously needs to maintain the integrity of its hub and it can’t move until it’s got sufficient capacity to move its entire hub,” Paul Griffiths, CEO of Dubai Airports, said. “That will have to be in phase 2 (of Al Maktoum International), which we’re projecting will be in the middle of the next decade.”

So do not expect to see EK at Al Maktoum until 2025 at the earliest.

Persuading other airlines to move there in the short term, as this web site has said many times before, will remain challenging.

6 October 2015

Fascinating – The Apollo Lunar Surface Journal is a record of the lunar surface operations conducted by the six pairs of astronauts who landed on the Moon from 1969 through 1972.

More here.

The 112 pages on Flickr of pictures from the exploration of the moon are equally good.

3 October 2015

Happy birthday baby brother.

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As Watford line up to play Bournemouth this afternoon it is worth noting that Watford have used a top-flight low of just two English players in the league this season (Troy Deeney and Ben Watson). Bournemouth have used 13 English players, the highest number in the division.

For me it makes it hard to keep that strong connection between the club and its fans. Watford was built as a family club closely tied to the community.

Many ex-players left the club and stayed nearby running business or pubs.

I can barely pronounce the names on the team-sheet now; a far cry from the twelve names at the 1984 FA Cup Final. Just one substitute in those days.

1 October 2015

Hats off to Thongchai Jaidee who last week won the Porsche European Open in Germany – in all honestly it was not the strongest field on the European Tour but it is still a good win – I suspect at this point Thongchai might have prefered “pretties” from his home country rather than parading with what appear to be German milkmaids!

23 September 2015

Just being reported today by avherad.com –

An Emirates Airbus A380-800, registration A6-EEA performing flight EK-806 from Jeddah (Saudi Arabia) to Dubai (United Arab Emirates) with 186 people on board, was descending towards Dubai, the crew observed no weather returns on their weather radar while descending through a scattered undercast layer of cloud, when the crew noticed a single cloud ahead. The pilot flying reduced the speed, the pilot monitoring requested to deviate around the cloud, however, about 3-4 seconds after passing the cloud the aircraft encountered up and down drafts resulting in 10 cabin crew receiving serious injuries. The aircraft continued for a landing without further incident on Dubai’s runway 30L.

The aircraft remained on the ground for 19 hours before resuming service.

On Sep 22nd 2015 the French BEA reported in their weekly bulletin that the occurrence was rated an accident and is being investigated by United Arab Emirates’ GCAA.

22 September 2015

In case you missed it – Piggate – is all the news in the UK; Billionaire tax exile and former Conservative Party Deputy Chairman Lord Michael Ashcroft has co-written, with journalist Isabel Oakeshott, an unauthorized biography of Cameron. It is not flattering and includes allegations of drug use, among other things. But the attention-grabbing assertion is that during an initiation ceremony for an Oxford student society, Cameron “put a private part of his anatomy” in the mouth of a dead pig — and that photographic proof of this deed exists.

Yawn.

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Intira Air is another Thai start up schedules to fly from 27 October 2015. But it looks remarkably like Business Air with no more that a change of the airline name.

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Emirates will fly double daily to Phuket from 1 December in time for the end of year holiday season.

Dubai: Emirates on Friday announced double daily flights between Dubai and Phuket, starting on December 1.
EK396 will operate four times per week and will depart Dubai at 2255 hours and arrive at Phuket at 0800 hours the following day. The return flight, EK397 will depart Phuket at 0930 hours and arrives in Dubai the same day at 1320 hours.

EK394 will operate three times per week and will depart Dubai at 2005 hours and arrive at Phuket at 0510 hours the following day. The return flight, EK395 will depart Phuket at 0710 hours and arrives in Dubai the same day at 1100 hours.

Emirates is building up its 11am to 1pm arrivals bank. Still the third main arrivals bank of the day but growing signiicantly.

16 September 2015

What a fucked up country Thailand is – one journalist can strike fear into the ruling Junta; The Nation reported that its senior journalist, Pravit Rojanaphruk, had been realeased after signing an agreement not to lead, participate, or assist any anti-coup movement. The NCPO filed a pending police complaint against him, which would be activated if he violates the NCPO’s order again, a source said. He was in detention since Sunday afternoon.

The Nation then fired Pravit – well they asked him to resign.

15 September 2015

Appalling:

12 September 2015

NNT reports that the Thai “PM has confirmed that legal action will be taken on anyone expressing opinions that could lead to unrest and instability in the country.

Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha referred to the detention of Mr. Karun Hosakul, saying that the latter will be primarily detained for 7 days on charges of stirring unrest in the country which is a normal term of punishment related to this kind of offence. Mr.Karun had expressed his opinion and criticisms which were likely causing misunderstandings as well as not having respect for the law.

The PM further stated that legal action will be taken only on those who have violated the law. The case is also applied to Mr. Pichai Naripthaphan who has recently been detained for making the same offence several times.”

Bizarre really – I guess staging a coup is not a cause of instability.

Sadly the Thai government sounds more and more like North Korea every day. You cannot silence public opinion – and not everyone will agree with you.

11 September 2015

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has set up the Command Center for Resolving Civil Aviation Issues (CRCA) to speed up efforts for upgrading Thailand’s aviation safety standard to meet requirements of the International Civil Aviation Organisation.

Prayut invoked Article 44 of the interim charter as the chief of the National Council for Peace and Order to set up the CRCA.

He assigned the Air Force commander-in-chief to head the CRCA.

The order to set up the CRCA was published in the Royal Gazette Friday.

Like that is going to make a difference!

5 September 2015

Ben Stokes – handball – out. Hard to tell what all the fuss is about.

24 August 2015

Paul Mason – the Economic Editor of Channel 4 News nails the market collapse that has taken place today in one tweet: “Markets slump as world realises main growth engine in hands of incompetent, secretive police state that thinks it can dictate equity prices.”

Hard to argue!

The day began with the Shanghai stock market suffering its biggest fall since 2007.

23 August 2015

Melbourne is the most liveable city in the world, according to analysis by the Economist’s Intelligence Unit.

For the fifth year in a row the Australian city topped the index, which awards cities a score based on a range of factors including healthcare, culture and environment.

The five most liveable cities (overall rating /100)

1 Melbourne, Australia (97.5)

2 Vienna, Austria (97.4)

3 Vancouver, Canada (97.3)

4 Toronto, Canada (97.2)

=5 Adelaide, Australia (96.6)

=5 Calgary, Canada (96.6)

The five least liveable cities (overall rating /100)

136 Tripoli, Libya

137 Lagos, Nigeria

138 Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea

139 Dhaka, Bangladesh

140 Damascus, Syria

Amazed to see Calgary in joint 5th – this was clearly a summer poll and not a winter poll!

21 August 2015

Emirates today announced that it will increase its Dubai – Phuket service from 7 to 11 x weekly with the addition of a new 4 x weekly Boeing 777-300ER rotation from 1st December 2015. Schedules are as follows:

EK396 Dubai 2255 – Phuket 0800+1 Tuesdays, Thurdays, Fridays, Saturdays
EK397 Phuket 0930 – Dubai 1320 Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays.

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My apologies for the lack of updates this month. I have been concentrating on my flight training and updating the daily progress report.

And yes – I did solo yesterday – 20 August!

28 July 2015

Emirates airline today announced its fourth daily A380 service between Dubai and Bangkok from December 1, 2015.

The new two-class A380 service will operate daily as flight EK376 from Dubai to Bangkok and EK377 from Bangkok to Dubai.

Emirates’ two-class A380 flies 615 passengers; accommodating 58 in Business Class and 557 seats in Economy Class.

EK376 will depart Dubai at 0330hrs and arrive at Suvarnabhumi International Airport at 1235hrs the same day.

The return flight EK377 will depart Bangkok at 1600hrs,and arrives in Dubai the same day at 1955hrs.

Just imagine the queues at immigration and the scrum around the baggage carousel.

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“Emirates, a global connector of people, places and economies” – this is what happens when pr companies rebrand an airline!

27 July 2015

Emirates will launch a second daily service to Lisbon next year.

From January 1, the Gulf airline will operate another B777-300ER between Dubai and the Portuguese capital.

Outbound service EK193 will depart Dubai at 1440 and arrive in Lisbon at 1920, while return leg EK194 will leave Lisbon at 2100 and land in Dubai at 0845 the next day.

That late return into Dubai is an odd time since it is too late to connect with EK flights to the Far East. Pacific nations and Africa.

25 July 2015

Recovering from taking the long way to Florida….Dubai to Seattle and onto Denver and then to Tampa.

23 July 2015

Put these cancellations down to the Emirates effect:

European carrier Austrian Airlines has stopped its Dubai route, effective September 13, 2015.

The airline will no longer offer a direct connection between the emirate and capital Vienna, citing overcapacity on the route and fierce price competition.

Meanwhile British Airways is ending Entebbe flights follows previous African route network cuts to Dar es Salaam and Lusaka.

16 July 2015

Is it Eid yet? Tough call in Mecca tonight:
You see, strictly speaking, the new Moon has to be seen after sunset in Mecca…
The new Moon was born at 04:24
The Sun sets in Mecca at 19:06
The Moon sets at 19:18
But it won’t be possible to see it.
Too low in the sky, insufficient illumination, and not enough contrast.
However…In all likelihood, they will call it.

So scientifically this evening is the end of Ramadan and the start of Eid – but the moon-sighting committee cannot see this though will no doubt be credited with remarkable vision.

15 July 2015

B777-21H (A6-EMF) left the Emirates fleet today. It was the last B772 in EK fleet. It made its final flight positioning Boston – Marana for part out and scrap as EK3149.

6 B777-200ER and 10 B777-200LR remaining

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So we are watching the news and the story of New Horizons sending back pictures from its Pluto fly-by.

And my nearest and dearest asks me if they are landing there.

Bless. She really did think that there were people onboard the spaceship.

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The Canadian dollar has plunged to its lowest point since 2009, and the country’s clouded political future became even murkier as the Bank of Canada dropped its key interest rate to a record low for the second time this year, confirming that the national economy is shrinking as the country heads into an election.

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Lots of fun today flying the Emirates A380 simulator for an hour. OK – it is not a full motion simulator and not all the tos are there – but it is realistic enough and is as responsive as the real thing!

And it was my birthday present – thank you hon!

11 July 2015

Shouldn’t the latest – and even harsher – austerity package also be put to the Greek people for their agreement? Precedent was set last week.

10 July 2015

No McIlroy in the British Open next week – football injury while playing with friends. Expensive.

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So last Sunday the Greek people rejected further austerity.

Now there Prime Minister is negotiating a deal that is even harsher than the deal that was rejected.Tsipras is trying to get backing from his MP’s for reform proposals that are tougher than those rejected in last week’s referendum.

6 July 2014

United Arab Emirates carrier (UAE), Emirates Airlines has announced that it will launch a service to Mashhad in Iran, its second service to the Western Asian country.

From September 1, 2015, Emirates will operate a service to Mashhad with five weekly rotations, using an Airbus A330-200 aircraft. Departing Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday from Dubai at 04:10am, Emirates will arrive at Mashhad International Airport at 07:00am, local time.

The return journey will depart Mashhad at 08:45am, arriving back into Dubai at 10:45am. Timings have been scheduled to allow for convenient onward connections via Dubai.

5 July 2015

Effing wifi an my London hotel is a disgrace….it is actually worse than having no wifi at all…cos of the level of frustration it creates – completely unusable.

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So Greece has said no to more years of austerity uder the deal proposed by the country’s creditors.

Trouble is the Greeks think they can continue negotiating.

But the creditors may not want to negotiate.

What next is a genuine mystery.

Only one question was really settled today: the Greek government has survived, and Brussels must deal with Athens as it is, rather than as it would like it to be. The bigger questions – can Greece remain in the euro, or even in the European Union – remain unanswered. As does the most pressing for most Greeks: when will the banks reopen, and how many euros can we withdraw?

Having said this, any nation that can arrange a referendum at a week’s notice, conduct it competently, and produce a result before midnight, possesses a degree of civic organisation that many would envy. In the manner of the vote, as much as the result, there has to be hope for Greece.

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Fireworks in Syntagma Square in Athens as the former PM and head of
opposition New Democracy party Antonis Samaras announces his resignation.

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The referendum campaign was just 5 days…every vote/election campaign should be this long. Ideal!

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There are plenty of important people who would be happy for Greece to exit the euro.Greece is not widely seen as a reliable partner.

Who is going to give Greece the bn10million that they need to simply get through til the end of the summer.

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Thoroughly enjoyable couple of days in Dorset. Though Wareham Golf Club can be avoided. Very disappointing.

1 July 2015

It is 18 years ago that Hong Kong was returned to China. I was there. It was a very different time.

And now; 18 years on, HKG has a new independent online media source.

“Hong Kong Free Press” is a new, English language news source seeking to unite critical voices and provide quality analysis and credible reporting on local and national affairs. Free and independent, HKFP arrives amid rising concerns over declining press freedom in Hong Kong and during an important time in the city’s constitutional development.

29 June 2015

Mick Twister @twitmericks

A CNN journalist spied
A pro-ISIS flag at gay pride,
But oh what a cock-up –
The flag was a mock-up,
With dildoes for script on the side!

28 June 2015

Back in Newton Ferrers for a few days.

Alex has graduated from school – a school that has helped shape him as a genuinely likeable, engaging, intelligent, generous young man.

All of his extended family can be very proud of him as he starts out on a whole new adventure.

And after visiting Divonne and Rolle three or four times a year for the last few years I am going to miss the place…

27 June 2015

There are times when President Obama is brilliant – his pastor as president – or president as pastor speech in Charleston last night was brilliant – a call for action and an expression of the need for real change.

No other President would have had the balls to sing/lead Amazing Grace in front of a congregation and a massive TV audience – talk about capturing/embracing the moment.

23 June 2015

The Bangkok Post reports this morning that The Transport Ministry has given the Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) until Thursday to improve safety certification for Thai-registered airlines — one of the aviation concerns raised by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).

Amazing Thailand – they had 90 days notice from the ICAO – did nothing – and now think they can fix the probem in two days.

Here is one comment from PPRUNE relating to the ICAO red-flag:

“It is common knowledge amongst expat pilots working in Thailand that a lot of weak oversight takes place and there is high degree of suspicion that both nepotism and possibly corruption is at work behind the scenes.How can this be tackled to improve safety? A very difficult issue to tackle.

The very young age and thus most likely lack of experience at work in the PIC seat of many low cost outfits coupled with dodgy practices like getting paid based upon ontime performance certainly encourages crews to attempt unsafe landings in thunderstorms and this is borne out by the regular runway over runs and other various excursions into the grassy/non paved areas. STUPID.UNSAFE.DANGEROUS.I WISH THIS WOULD STOP.”

Says it all.

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Meanwhile over at EK – ” 90 hours plus a month of the type of flying EK does is simply dangerous. It is not sustainable. Most pilots can see that and feel it. A few newer captains have said to me that they seem to be handling it but they have been flying those hours only for a year. Give it a few more and we will see!

They are pushing EVERY department to the breaking point and I fear that it will soon break and we are in a business that when it does break that people may well die.”

The worry is the disconnect that appears to exist between EK’s owners, its managers, and its front line crew.

As for the cabin crew – six years ago 80 flying hours would be a standard month. Now 110 hours is a standard month. The crew shortages also continue meaning that crew – especially in economy are inexperienced and ill-prepared for any event outside the normal routine.

22 June 2015

Ian Poulter took to social media to offer a lengthy criticism of Chambers Bay. The Englishman had promised to keep his counsel over the venue until the conclusion of his fourth round and kept to that vow.

Poulter admitted he “didn’t play well enough to be remotely close” but added: “It is disgraceful that the USGA hasn’t apologised about the greens they simply have said ‘we are thrilled the course condition this week.’

“It wasn’t a bad golf course, in fact it played well and was playable. What wasn’t playable were the green surfaces. If this was a regular PGA Tour event lots of players would have withdrawn and gone home on Wednesday but players won’t do that for a major. They were simply the worst most disgraceful surfaces I have ever seen on any tour in all the years I have played.

“The US Open deserves better than that.”

The fescue greens have been invaded by poa annua. As the day progresses, the poa grows and the fescue lays down, creating bumpy surfaces.

“It’s an unfortunate subplot that very well could become a major plot,” Chamblee said. “You come down to the last hole, you got a four-footer on one side, I got a four-footer on one side. Skill should determine the outcome. Say I’ve got 50 pieces of poa annua between me and the hole and you don’t. They’re not the same for everybody…Luck has become introduced in a far greater factor than it should.

20 June 2015

The Guardian on the US Open which is being played on a course like no other close to Tacoma in NW USA:

“There’s been a wee bit of grumbling regarding Chambers Bay. The bounce can be unkind. The rough is a jungle. Approaches are unorthodox. Some pin positions are awkward. The greens are a state.

Well, it’s the US Open, bub, suck it up. It’s supposed to be hell on earth. And Chambers Bay looks pretty damn fine from this vantage point. It’s a venue of rare beauty. The Puget Sound glistening. Rolling green hills. Sand grabbing handfuls of the fairways. Dramatic plunges into dappled, three-tone, camouflage greens. The railway clattering through, its constant rumble an evocation of an industrial past.

Completing the picture, the world’s best golfers wandering hither and yon. Some confused, others energised. All being tested to the very limits of their knowledge and ability. It’s fascinating to see the pros slowly working the place out, visualising shots they’d never usually play on the Tour’s weekly grind. It’s the unique craftsmanship of links golf, with an added twist of trademark USGA sadism. Dismiss it as crazy golf if you like, but to do so would be to miss the point. It’s just a different sort of test, that’s all, and what’s so wrong with that? It’s magnificent entertainment.”

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Qatar Airways CEO, Al Baker :

19 June 2015

“Donald Trump announced that he’s running for president. During his speech he told the crowd that if elected he would be ‘the greatest jobs president that God ever created.’ Then God said, ‘Hey, don’t drag me into this publicity stunt.'” –Jimmy Fallon

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Jon Stewart on the Charleston shootings:

I honestly have nothing, other than sadness once again that we have to peer into the abyss of the depraved violence that we do to each other and the nexus of a just gaping racial wound that will not heal yet we pretend doesn’t exist

What blows my mind is the disparity of response between when we think people that are foreign are going to kill us and us killing ourselves. If this had been what we thought was Islamic terrorism… we invaded two countries, and spent trillions of dollars and thousands of American lives and now fly unmanned death machines over five or six different countries, all to keep Americans safe.

We’ve got to do whatever we can – we’ll torture people – we’ve got to do whatever we can to keep Americans safe. Nine people shot in a church, what about that? That’s the part that I cannot for the life of me wrap my head around.

The full clip is here – and Stewart says what no politician or self-righteous media outlet dares to say.

17 June 2015

Just by way of follow up to an earlier story –

16 June 2015

Message from cabin crew manager to an inflight supervisor who had reprimanded a cabin crew member who got upset and complained to her manager – “You can do that to Asian crew but not to Arabic crew…..”

One rule for some and one rule for the rest…..not a surprise. Just an example of life in the sandpit…

15 June 2015

It would be hard to say this better or more clearly:

“Human Rights Watch opposes capital punishment in all countries and under all circumstances. Capital punishment is unique in its cruelty and finality, and it is inevitably and universally plagued with arbitrariness, prejudice, and error.”

14 June 2015

I have started my ground school for my PPL – slow going!

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A thought on 4 June from the outstanding Peking Duck blog:

“This is an incident that must not be forgotten, that it in many ways has helped define the CCP and its obsession with total control of its people — an obsession that has reached its pinnacle under Xi Jinping. I look at China now, with its crackdown on NGOs and repression of all dissent and the inexcusable prison sentences handed down to many who have dared speak out… In some ways, the spirit of the massacre lives on, especially in the minds of government leaders who dread the thought of anything like it happening again. They will never forget how the swelling masses of students challenged their authority; and neither will we.”

Indeed.

There is a new(ish) book on Tiananmen – Louisa Lim’s “The People’s Republic of Amnesia: Tiananmen Revisited

“Astonishingly Beijing has managed to obliterate the collective memory of Tiananmen Square, but a quarter-century later Louisa Lim deftly excavates long-buried memories of the 1989 massacre. With a journalist’s eye to history, she tracks down key witnesses, everyone from a military photographer at the square to a top official sentenced to seven years in solitary confinement to a mother whose teenaged son was shot to death that night. This book is essential reading for understanding the impact of mass amnesia on China’s quest to become the world’s next economic superpower.” – Jan Wong, author of Red China Blues and A Comrade Lost and Found

8 June 2015

The MERS crisis worsens in South Korea and Hong Kong’s Department of Health has told people to avoid Hong Kong if possible.

6 June 2015

Another EK A330-200 registration number A6-EAE has left the fleet.

New destination MUX, 4 weekly flights 777-300, two class from 1st August. MUX is Multan in Pakistan.

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Notes from Seoul:

June is a lovely time to visit – not too hot in the day and still shirtsleeve sit aside weather at night.

Tables on the street outside 7-11s.

Shopping malls that open until 5am.

Baseball – but with better food ad as much entertainment in the crowd as on the playing field. Let’s go Twins.

You can take food, drinks, your neighbour’s cat, anything you like into the baseball – no silly rules. You can even order food and drinks from your seat.

Too many steps in the subway system – not enough escalators.

Big subway trains – none of the UK claustrophobia.

Everyone (at least 80%) are using some sort of mobile device on the subway.

Super clean streets. People who clear up after themselves. After the baseball everyone puts their garbage in super-sized bins at the exits.

Very safe to walk around.

North v South.

North has the history, street markets, street food and the universities.

South of the river is corporate Seoul – new, prosperous and wealthy Seoul – and Gangnam!

Coffee shops/cafes everywhere – foreign and local brands. Good strong coffee. Local brands include Paris Baquette, Paris Croissant, Holly’s and Twosome Cafe.

31 May 2015

Finishing the month back in Samut Songkhram. And it is hot!

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Leicester City’s footie team have been here as well and three of their players have made the club look very foolish in front of their Thai sponsors.

Now 20 somethings having sex while they are in Thailand is not exactly a surprise. That they filmed it (3 players; 3 girls; same room and some more than colourful commentary) and sent the video to their chums was idiocy of the highest order.

One of their chums sells the tape to the Daily Mirror who gleefully publish tales of a depraved sex orgy – since when is an orgy depraved. The twitter social media police are out in force. One of the players involved was the manager’s son. Not a wise boy.

Their Thai sponsors and hosts cannot be happy.

28 May 2015

Well that was a non-event….and I don’t have as many left as I have already had….

Just goes to show that if you do not advertise your birthday on facebook no one will ever remember it!

27 May 2015

James Lynch from Amnesty International
tweeted today “Just got back from UAE; I
was refused entry. Was going to speak at a Dubai construction conference,
about business & migrant workers rights.”

He added: “I was given no reason for being denied entry to the UAE but the deportation document I saw referred to “reasons of security”.”

A bit of an own goal I suspect.

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Emirates has announced a daily service to Bologna in Italy from 3 November 2015 – with a 777-300…lots of crew getting out Italy maps!

Odd route to start in mid-winter.

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In other airline news beleaguered Malaysia Airlines is set to terminate the contracts of all 20,000 of its staff and then re-hire just two-thirds of them under new conditions, Malaysia’s The Star reported.

According to the newspaper, only new CEO Christoph Mueller who took over operations on May 1 will be spared the axe.

At least 6,000 of the employees are expected to be handed a three-month final notice on June 1. The number of staff fired could rise to 8,000 in the coming year.

Malaysia Airlines will effectively shut down and be taken over by a new company MAS BHD on September 1.

The airline would then focus more on regional short-haul operations.

26 May 2015

This is the reason that you fly around bad weather: Singapore Airlines Airbus A330-300 flight #‎SQ836 on May 23 lost power on both engines south-east of Hong Kong and started to descend. The flight lost about 13,000 feet before crew managed to restore power on both engines. Between 12.46 and 13.11 UTC no ADS-B data was picked up from flight #SQ836.

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From 24 May – Withdrawn Emirates A330-200 A6-EAD positioned Dubai – Newquay in all-white livery as EK3001 today for part out and scrap

I could have flown there to see my Mum!

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Finished the first series of Gotham (on Emirates). Enjoyable and well made.

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Sorry – a week away and neither the time or the opportunity to update this page.

Sydney was good. A bit cold at this time of year. And one quite unpleasant day on arrival in Sydney.

One excellent meal at The Sardine Room in Potts Point – how a restaurant should be run.

19 May 2015

PR disasters that will be hard to recover from:

Thomas Cook – In 2006 Christianne and Robert Shepherd, two young children, died of carbon monoxide poisoning in a hotel in Greece while on a Thomas Cook holiday.

Last week a court in Wakefield gave a conclusion of unlawful killing and deemed that the Thos Cook health and safety audit of the hotel was inadequate. The court did accept that Thos Cook had been misled by the hotel about its gas supply.

Thos Cook went to the high court to apply for compensation from the owner of the Louis Hotels bungalow. The compay applied for costs of media advisers to help limit any daage to its reputation, refunds and compensation paid to other guests and for loss of profits.
In 2013 and 2014 Thos Cook received gbp3.5 million in a settlement from the owners of the hotel.

Meanwhile Thos Cook had only paid 1/10 of that amount in compensation to the Shepherd family.

Thos Cook, under massive pressure has in the last couple of days donated gbp1.5million to the UNICEF charity. This the company says is the remaining balance after their legal costs. Though bizarrely they did this without any consultation with the Shepherd family.

Thomas Cook say that they received about one half of the total compensation with the other half going to the company’s insurers.

Thomas Cook mislaid its moral compass – if it had one at all. The company failed to apologise for the deaths and company executives refused to answer questions at the Wakefield inquest.

Many people will now mislay their Thos Cook bookings – there is already a Boycott Thomas Cook page well supported on facebook.

Sometimes doing what the heart and brain tells you is the right thing to do will do you a far greater service than doing as your lawyers tell you to do.

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Qatar World Cup – detaining BBC journalists because they dont report exactly what you want them to report is not going to win Qatar any friends in the media community.

That a UK pr consultancy was involved shows just how far people will go to put money before principle.

Qatar’s press release to justify their action was shameful, arrogant and it would appear largely false. There will be more such incidents before 2022.

I have in the past given cautious support to the Qatar 2022 world cup. I like the idea of a single city tournament – if must be better than criss crossing Russia’s eleven time zones in 2018. I also like the idea of a major sporting event in the middle east.

But if Qatar wants to act like North Korea in its attempts to manage the media than my cautious support is no longer on their side.

The media needs to do its job without threat, interference and the jailing of journalists. If you cannot guarantee this then should renounce the tournament now.

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On my way to BKK and SYD with Tai.

Our niece is also on the flight to BKK returning home after an eight day stay with us – now who will do the washing up in the morning – she has been a very good guest!

15 May 2015

On Yingluck getting possible imprisonment or other punishment from her government’s rice policy: Jake Needham: “When the people you rule are docile and compliant in the face of every provocation, there is no end to the outrages you can perpetrate….”

12 May 2015

So Kevin Peitersen is told he will not play for England this summer by the new head boy – Andrew Strauss – the director of English cricket: One comment online said everything:

“God this is ridiculous. So Pietersen is told that if he wants to be considered for selection he has to forego the IPL and score runs in county cricket.

He throws in his IPL contract and plays for Surrey (for nothing) and scores 355 not out! Then he is told that this isn’t good enough and that he can’t play because of ‘trust issues’. He’s offered a one-day advisory role as a sop which obviously he doesn’t take (how could you take a role for people who have ‘trust issues’ with you). A return in future isn’t ruled out though.

So basically the plan is to keep KP dangling on a string and if he goes off to play in the IPL or whatever he will be deemed to have disqualified himself from selection. Strauss is absolutely pathetic. He is a perfect Director for the ECB.”

Incidentally it would appear that Strauss was at least third choice behind Vaughan and Stewart who had no interest in the job when they realised that there are significant constraints on the role and responsibility.

11 May 2015

Why is Singapore rated 158th in the Press (lack of) Freedom Index – here is just one example:

“Notice: The Real Singapore has been ordered to disable access to all our online services by the Media Development Authority (MDA) of Singapore”

9 May 2015

Malaysia Airlines is said to be offloading its entire fleet of A380s to concentrate on a short-haul strategy instead, CNN reported.

According to the report, the airline, which suffered the loss of two planes in 2014, is putting up its six A380s, two B747-400Fs and four B777-200ERs for sale or lease.

The airline has recorded financial losses for the past three years.

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Hong Kong is a great city but it is harder to love than ever. It is so crowded. It always was. It is worse. The subway is overrun. The people are ruder. The service, such as it is, gets worse. People walk and play on their mobiles – meaning that walking in crowds is impossible. When it rains the mobile is in one hand and the umbrella in the other….designed to poke out the eyes of any one withut a umbrella who may be in range.

Still a great city!

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Person of Interest series 4 is over – and it was a dark finale….it could even be the end – though a season 5 is due. It may now be my favorite show on tv.

8 May 2015

Anyone have any idea what they are talking about?

“Recently, a critical 0-day vulnerability was discovered in the Genericons package, which comes with the popular Jetpack plugin and the TwentyFifteen theme of WordPress…The vulnerability represents a DOM-based XSS (cross-site scripting), and it allows attackers to modify the execution of scripts in the user/visitor browser.

5 May 2015

Hardly a week goes by without the mention or announcement of a new architectural design or development being slated for the city of Dubai, which continues to grow upwards at a frenetic pace, so why should this week be any different? New real estate plans for four new developments have received the green light from Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the UAE’s Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.

The projects will be overseen by Wasl Asset Management Group and will include at least two mixed-use developments. One – Creek Heights Residences, is set to be a development of two towers incorporating a five-star Hyatt Regency hotel and luxury furnished apartments. Another, Zabeel Park 1, will comprise hotels, residential and office buildings, cafes and restaurants, recreational facilities and shops.

Stand out features will be a building that is shaped like the number one. Symbolising Dubai’s plight to be the number one city in the world. A year-round snow fountain (set to be the world’s first) and a water fountain, which will be fitted with the latest lighting technologies, also feature.

4 May 2015

Coming to the end of the tv season:

One episode of Person of Interest to go.

Two episodes of Mad Men – and that will be the last of Mad Men for ever

And one episode of The Good Wife.

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Effective 1st January, 2016, Qatar Airways will commence daily flights to Los Angeles; using a Boeing777.

QR739 Doha to Los Angeles departs 7:45AM arriving 1:10PM
QR740 Los Angeles to Doha departs 3:10PM arriving 6:10PM (+1 day)

From 16th March, 2016, the airline will launch daily flights to Boston with an A350 XWB in a two-class configuration.

QR743 Doha to Boston departs 8:20AM arriving 2:30PM
QR744 Boston to Doha departs 10:55PM arriving 6:10PM (+1 day)

Qatar will then start flying to Atlanta, Georgia, with daily flights starting on 1st July 2016. The route will be operated by Boeing 777 aircraft.

The schedule for this flight has not yet been announced.

Finally in this assault on the USA Qatar Airways will add a second daily service to the city from 1st March 2016.

The second daily service to New York’s JFK will be operated by the Airbus A350 XWB.

QR701 Doha to New York departs 8:15AM arriving 3:15PM
QR702 New York to Doha departs 10:00PM arriving 5:35PM (+1 day)

3 May 2015

So Watford will be playing in the Premiership next season. After a remarkable season that started with four managers in quick succession Watford hit their best form from March and were within a minute of being promoted as Champions. Amazing season.

There will be a book – there should be a movie!

1 May 2015

Thoroughly enjoyed a visit from Mr. Dennis for a couple of days transiting through Dubai on his way, with Pat, to London.

Always fun to be a tourist for a couple of days.

My visits to BKK will never quite be the same…no one to pick up the phone and grumble to….and no one around for a quick evening out or a bad game of pool!

29 April 2015

The Emirates passenger fleet at the end of April 2015: Excluding freighter aircraft and the executive A319

A330 21
A343 4
A345 1
A380 60
B772 17
B773 116
ALL 219

New aircraft arriving in May: Airbus A380 – A6EOI

27 April 2015

In flight movie watch:

St Vincent – for the wonderful Bill Murray – bringing a whole new level of grumpy to grumpiness.

Unbroken – well-intentioned biopic – which will upset Japanese nationalists but in the end makes a few too many mistakes to be worthy…the perfectly cropped prison camp haircuts for a start.

Interstellar – the movie is like space. Big and void.

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Thailand’s delusional and dangerous Prime Minister in a press conference yesterday:

“The media has to write well. I will keep my eyes on what you write. You understand when I talk to you, but when you write, it turns out to be something different. I circle so many passages from newspapers when I am in the car. You are all geniuses. You suggest that I fix this issue and that issue. What kind of [professional] background do you have? I ask you. Those people who criticize me, have you ever done anything successful? Or you are only at good working for newspapers, since you were a baby, until you are old? You keep criticizing the government harshly. But this is a government that seized power. Don’t criticize me like I’m a normal government. You cannot. We do everything for you. We fix everything. But you still criticize me. What the hell is matter with you? Am I being too kind? I don’t know.”

26 April 2015

From a presumably UK pilot on PPRUNE:

“I was astonished at the volume of EK traffic in the Desdi hold the other night all with conflicting and similar call signs. Much kudos to all you EK professionals and ATC for keeping cool and amazingly error – free. If ever there was an example of systemic and corporate set up for potential serious error there it is.”

It is remarkable what happens in the skies around 11.00pm over Dubai and the UAE every night. And it is a tribute to the professionals involved that the chaos does appear to be organised.

25 April 2015

From facebook: “So Etisalat UAE blocks WhatsApp free calling. How does the UAE expect to be at the forefront of global technological advances when it does this?”

Exactly. The smart government initiative is really all about image. In reality there is massive protectionism in order to allow the government owned oligopolies to make money.

Interesting how the UAE demands open skies and complains about protectionism while practicing protectionism in other industries such as telecoms.

21 April 2015

While Britain debates high speed trains – Japan’s state-of-the-art maglev train set a world speed record on Tuesday in a test run near Mount Fuji, clocking more than 600km/h (373mph).

The seven-car maglev – short for “magnetic levitation” – train, hit a top speed of 603km/h and managed nearly 11 seconds over 600km/h, Central Japan Railway said.

The new record came less than a week after the company clocked 590km/h, by breaking its own 2003 record of 581km/h.

The maglev hovers 10cm (four inches) above the tracks and is propelled by electrically charged magnets.

JR Central wants to have a train in service in 2027 plying the 286km between Tokyo and the central city of Nagoya.

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Flydubai is adding Novosibirsk and Nizhniy Novgorod to its Russian network bringing the total number of destinations in the country to 10.

The three times weekly service to Novosibirsk and the twice weekly service to Nizhniy Novgorod will commence on 04 and 07 October 2015 respectively.

20 April 2015

Happy 18th birthday Alex 🙂

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Three British plane spotters who have been held in prison in the United Arab Emirates for eight weeks accused of espionage are being released without charge, a lawyer has said.

Conrad Clitheroe, 53, and his friends Gary Cooper, 45, and expatriate Neil Munro were detained in February after being spotted by an off-duty police officer taking notes near Fujairah airport, about 80 miles from Dubai.

The men were taken to a police station where they signed an Arabic document apologising and promising not to plane-spot in the country again, before they were moved to a higher-security prison.

Let’s hope this news is accurate and that these guys are quickly reunited with their families.

In reality they should never have been detained.

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Back from a very short trip to Nice, London and Geneva. All good visits in their own way.

13 April 2015

Emirates will launch a second daily service between Dubai and Boston from October 1.

Flight EK239 departs Dubai at 0250 and arrives in Boston at 0810. The return service, EK240 will then take off from Boston at 1105 and arrive back in Dubai at 0815 the following day.

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It is a year since my father in law died. RIP.

11 April 2015

Some very good golfers did not make the cut at the Masters. And Jordan Spieth – who you might ask – leads by a street at the half way stage.

It really is dull to watch. It already looks like a battle for second.

Worse there are too many golfers there who should not be – they take places away from other golfers who might win. The Masters allows past champions to play for as long as they want to. Some are sensible and do not compete – such as Faldo. Others like Crenshaw, Lyle, Mize and Woosnam are just taking up space.

Crenshaw is a bit of a legend – but the cloying commentary and pictures as he came of the 18th tee were more nauseous than sentimental.

10 April 2015

Ben Crenshaw first played the Masters at Augusta as an amateur in 1972.

I just don’t see today’s young golfers – the Speiths and McIlroys still playing competitive golf in 43 years time.

Tom Watson shot 71 yesterday (1 under) at the age of 65. Amazing given the length of the course now. He then shot 81 today.

9 April 2015

From 1 December 2015 the Emirates flight to Copenhagen will be served by a two class A380 with 615 seats.

557 in Economy and 58 in Business Class.

It looks like Gatwick will get a two class A380 from 1 January 2016 replacing the exisiting three-class service.

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Bizarre header on an email from tripadvisor this morning – “rascottdotcom, have you visited Bangkok yet?”

Err 🙂

8 April 2015

The stakes are getting higher for airlines seeking to recruit experienced pilots – and here is Turkish Airlines coming to Dubai to recruit in Emirates backyard!

“Turkish Airlines invites you to take part in its exclusive Roadshow in Dubai – on 20/21 April 2015.

Istanbul’s tranquility lies in its ability to embrace its beauties, and is one of the largest, liveliest and most exciting cities in the World.

Our mission is to become the preferred leading European air carrier thanks to its strict compliance with flight safety.

Turkish Airlines is currently seeking to employ Captains and First Officers who wish to become part of our continued growth and success.”

7 April 2015

Dear Neighbour,

There are many places in ET/Bay Avenue that are suitable for your child’s birthday party and that would welcome your business.

Your apartment is probably the least suitable place.

Of course you have not had the consideration to inform us in advance or to find out how we might be inconvenienced. After all that would have required a trace of thoughtfulness on your part.

I doubt you will care that one of us returned home at midday after working through the night and is currently trying to sleep.

Sleep is of course problematic when the whole apartment periodically shakes as your precious child and his friends scream and jump around to your highly questionable taste in kids party music. “Gangnam Style” is so 2012.

Yours sincerely,

Your less than impressed neighbour.

5 April 2015

Just 1 per cent of drivers in Dubai managed to keep a clean sheet last year by avoiding any traffic fines.

New statistics from Dubai Traffic Police revealed that out of 1.3 million motorists on the emirate’s roads, only 18,000 kept a clean licence – about one in 70.

Seems unlikely – though I have been fine-free for about five years now.

2 April 2015

One of the recurring UK election themes from the Tories is that is was Labour who ruined the economy.

Not true – try the bankers and other hangers on in the City of London (and Wall St, and Dubai etc) – with their dodgy risk taking with investors money and sub prime mortgage lending by useless bankers paid millions in bonuses for reckless gambling….

The Labour Party did not cause the financial crisis. They were as blind as everyone else. No one saw it coming and no one created a strong enough regulatory environment.

1 April 2015

I have Tinnitus – for about two weeks there has been a hissing in my left ear. I can manage it – but it is very frustrating.

I went to see the ENT – ear, nose, throat specialist.

There is no reason for it to be there.

There is no cure or treatment.

My hearing is good – my balance is good. Just the hiss in my inner ear.

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As Bruce Springsteen wrote – there is a freight train running through the middle of my head!

Oh oh oh – I’m on fire!

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German Wings – is there a video of the flight’s final seconds?

The answer is probably yes – and during long ten minute descent with the pilot banging in the door there is little doubt that some people tried to video events.

The only issue is whether any phone could survive the massive impact.

CNN states today that there are reports of a cell phone video that shows the nightmarish final seconds of Germanwings Flight 9525, but a police spokesman said the accounts were “completely wrong.”

French magazine Paris Match and German newspaper Bild reported that a video recovered from a phone at the wreckage site showed the inside of the plane moments before it crashed.

“One can hear cries of ‘My God’ in several languages,” Paris Match reported. “Metallic banging can also be heard more than three times, perhaps of the pilot trying to open the cockpit door with a heavy object. Towards the end, after a heavy shake, stronger than the others, the screaming intensifies. Then nothing.”

The two publications described the video, but did not post it on their websites. The publications reported that they watched the video, which was found by a source close to the investigation.

“It is a very disturbing scene,” said Julian Reichelt, editor-in-chief of Bild online.

An official with France’s accident investigation agency, the BEA, said the agency is not aware of any such video.

And that is why the BEA gets in a mess. They are either not on top of the investigation or they lie.

Lt. Col. Jean-Marc Menichini, a French Gendarmerie spokesman in charge of communications on rescue efforts around the Germanwings crash site, told CNN that the reports were “completely wrong” and “unwarranted.” Cell phones have been collected at the site, he said, but that they “hadn’t been exploited yet.”

Reichelt told “Erin Burnett: Outfront” that he had watched the video and stood by the report, saying Bild and Paris Match are “very confident” that the clip is real.

He noted that investigators only revealed they’d recovered cell phones from the crash site after Bild and Paris Match published their reports.

“That is something we did not know before. … Overall we can say many things of the investigation weren’t revealed by the investigation at the beginning,” he said.

31 March 2015

Thailand’s dear leader today speaking bluntly to reporters: Gen. Prayuth said he will not use Article 44 to violate the civil rights of anyone who is innocent.

“If you didn’t do anything wrong, why are worried?” Gen. Prayuth quipped when he was asked to comment on the law. “I insist that Article 44 will be used creatively in one aspect, and the other aspect is to deal with national security problems. If there’s any shooting and causing of chaos again, I will arrest them. I will arrest them immediately. We will use laws like this, otherwise we would have to wait for court warrants.”

He explained further that Article 44 will permit military officers to work on national security issues and assist various bureaucratic agencies.

“Don’t be afraid. I don’t know why are you so afraid, if you didn’t do anything wrong. Please help explain to the people,” the general added.

He really does not understand. He now has unlimited power with no checks or balances and not even a requirement to consult his handpicked team at the NLA.

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Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank – four words that I think you may be hearing a lot.

Russell Brand with unusual thoughtfulness spoke on the subject of mental illness – so widely discussed since the GermanWings crash:

Brand notes that 50 per cent of people will suffer from some diagnosable form of mental illness in their lifetimes, while only 60 per cent of those will receive any help.

Yet mental health is stigmatised.

The most common form of death in young people in the USA is suicide.

“So far from being something weird, peculiar, uncommon, it’s some normal thing that’s happening all the time. Why is it happening all the time? Why are we living in the times of a mental illness plague?”

The answer, he considers, is in the hands of those in power, like FOX News.

“The reason FOX News can’t be honest about what causes mental illness is that FOX News IS what causes mental illness,” Brand added.

“FOX News are the propaganda machine of capitalism – a system that separates us from one another and tells us the way to solve our individual problems is through purchasing, through buying things, through identifying primarily through our roles as consumers, not as active citizens or participants in society, members in communities that should care about others, but people who shouldn’t be condemning those who are weaker, vilifying people that act in any way that’s unusual.

We know in the core of our being that that isn’t right, so it creates a friction and a tension. We know that what [the FOX Anchor] is saying isn’t true. “The reality is [Lubitz] lived in a system that causes individuals to malfunction, because we have a lack of cohesion, a lack of connection and a lack of truth. If you want incidents like this and…less mad individuals whether it’s Adolf Hitler, Isis, or the fella crashing the plane, if you want less problems of this nature, I believe the solution is not to look at madness, darkness and evil as an outside issue, but as an internal issue.”

“The vast privatisation of stress has taken place over the last thirty years.”

brand quoted Solzhenitsyn: “The line between good and evil runs not between nations and races but through every human heart.”

“We can never have that conversation properly because FOX News and big corporations benefit from things being the way they are,” he concludes.

His conclusions: once we recognise and accept the problem then we have to change society as a whole.

Hard to disagree. But how, when and by who are far from clear.

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“EK is a LoCo long haul operation that pushes every boundary when it comes to squeezing its staff (Engineers, CC plus many others as well). I now know it is not sustainable for my health and unless you are a super human, I don’t think it is sustainable for any human being. But then again you can always leave, as I was told and am in the process of now doing. If only the management managed people instead of numbers, it could be such a great place to work.”

From pprune today – posted by a pilot who is leaving the airline.

This is not just Emirates. This is an industry wide issue.

30 March 2015

Terrorism is violence for ideological or political reasons, how complex is that?

Worth remembering when the work is used so loosely this week from GermanWings to Yemen.

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Dubai International airport: a love story

“In my decade of passing through Dubai, I never once exited its airport, a fact I wore as a badge of honour. And why would I, given all that I held against the state – its labour practices, its hypercapitalism, its sheer megalomania?”

Sums it up really!

29 March 2015

That should be the end of Hart of Dixie after a shortened 10 episode season 4 – and a fitting end it was. So many tv series have died in appalling endings recently that this felt good.

Think Southern Exposure – rather than Northern and you will understand the program!

The finale often felt like it was constructed out of cotton candy and rainbows, with happy endings around every corner, but it fell well within the cheerful, whimsical nature of the rest of the series. Bluebell has never felt like a real town, but rather an exaggerated, wacky dreamscape that might possibly be the result of a gas leak. But that’s all part of its charm. I’ve never seen a more hopeful and cheerful finale, which is what makes it the perfect ending for the type of show Hart of Dixie was for four amazing, heartwarming seasons.

The final musical number ends with the entire town singing and dancing in the middle of the town square, and it’s cheesy and over-the-top and tremendously silly, and yet it’s almost impossible to imagine the show finishing its run any other way.

Hart Of Dixie is a show that celebrates small town life, small town people, small town shenanigans, and small town love, and everything about this final number embraced the joy it always found in telling stories about those things.

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Quick note on why Watford may still struggle for a promotion spot this seaso:

Watford have failed to beat Ipswich Town, Bournemouth, Wolverhampton Wanderers and Norwich City over two matches. Watford have also lost at home to Derby County and drew at Middlesbrough.

The only top-eight team the Golden Boys have recorded victory against this season was Brentford, a feat they managed home and away.

So it is little surprise Watford have the 17th worst record in the division against the top-eight sides.

They have taken just nine points from a possible 36. Wigan Athletic, who are battling relegation, have managed a point more.

In contrast, Watford have won 17 of their 21 matches when taking on teams in the bottom half and have collected 52 of their 72 points from those matches.

28 March 2015

“Deep throating every Iowa farmer within yodelling distance” – campaigning for the US presidential election as described by Jon Stewart.

In the UK it is just kissing babies….

27 March 2015

Emirates announced that it will reduce services on the Dubai – Perth route from three to two daily with the withdrawal of the EK422/EK423 Dubai – Perth rotation with effect from 6th July 2015. The planes will instead be used for the second daily rotation to Seattle.

From the same date the EK424/EK425 Dubai – Perth rotation will be upguaged from Boeing 777-200LR to Boeing 777-300ER equipment. The third rotation, EK420/EK421 switches to A380 operation from May 1st.

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No more than 2 cabin crew in cockpit at any one time appears to be the new standard. The Emirates position is that if one cockpit crew leaves – one (preferably male) cabin crew has to enter and sit on the observation seat.

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Emirates will increase Athens to 10 weekly B77W from 1st May to 30th June.

Schedule as follow:

EK105 DXB1005 – 1405ATH 77W D
EK3105 DXB1645 – 2045ATH 77W 35
EK3105 DXB1710 – 2110ATH 77W 7

EK106 ATH1600 – 2135DXB 77W D
EK3106 ATH2230 – 0405+1DXB 77W 35
EK3106 ATH2320 – 0455+1DXB 77W 7

25 March 2015

I almost missed this from Arabian Business – Two airline pilots were caught racing along Dubai’s Jumeirah Beach Road at 200kph, Dubai Police revealed.

According to news website 7 Days, the pilots, who allegedly worked for a UAE airline, were among 336 drivers who had their vehicles impounded during GCC Traffic Week last week.

Police said they clocked the two motorists racing down the street at nearly three times the speed limit.

Gulf Traffic Week is a week-long road safety campaign held across the GCC each year to raise awareness about reckless driving and other road dangers.

OK – read between the lines – if they were foreigners their nationalities would be mentioned.

They are driving at 200lph in a heavily residential area.

They are entrusted to fly your families safely in an airliner.

Very scary. But not a surprise.

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Apologies for the lack of updates – we have been in Mauritius for a few days. One of those places that you would not think of going to unless it was with Emirates.

I like it. I doubt I would rush back but I would happily recommend a visit to other travelers.

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Sad news from Europe of the downed GermanWings A320. Flight 4U9525 was flying from Barcelona to Dusseldorf when it crashed in theFrench Alps. There are no survivors.

20 March 2015

Update on the planespotters arrested last month at Fujairah – the trio, who have been behind bars since their arrest on February 22, were told this week that their detention in custody would be extended for a further 28 days, until April 12.

They have not yet been charged with any offense.

When you get caught up in the legal system in the UAE it is very hard to get out – and you can be quickly forgotten when there is so little lobbying on your behalf and when any criticism has, of necessity, to be muted.

But it would be very good news if these guys are released quickly.

18 March 2015

To boost tourist numbers, Indonesia from next month will waive visa requirements for nationals from an extra 30 countries — but not Australia — the government has announced. Citizens from the ten member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations as well as Hong Kong, Macau, Ecuador, Chile and Peru were already exempted from the visa requirement. The countries that will join this list next month are: China, Japan, South Korea, United States, Canada, New Zealand, Mexico, Russia, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, Austria, Denmark, Norway, Finland, Sweden, Poland, Hungary, Chech Republic, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Oman, Kuwait and South Africa.

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Mr Putin is alive and well. And is a new father. Sweet.

My twitter comment proved very popular – even being picked up by the BBC.

16 March 2015

Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered the Navy’s Northern Fleet and paratrooper units to be on full alert as part of snap military exercises, state-owned RIA news agency cited the defence minister as saying on Monday.

The tests were due to include nearly 40,000 servicemen, 41 warships and 15 submarines, RIA reported.

Putin has not been seen for over a week leading to great deal of speculation in and outside Russia about his health.

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NokScoot (XW, Bangkok Don Mueang) will commence scheduled operations on May 5 with a 3x weekly service from Bangkok Don Mueang to Nanjing service on-board a B777-200(ER). Thereafter, a 3x weekly service to Seoul Incheon will launch on May 10 which will grow to a daily flight from June 1.

In the interim, the long haul budget carrier will operate charter flights from/to Tokyo Narita, Sapporo Chitose, and Osaka Kansai in Japan, and Seoul Incheon.

14 March 2015

Manuel Pellegrini is a decent, honest guy but he must know he will not be managing Manchester City at the start of next season.

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When Arsenal play well they are a treat to watch! Three very classy goals against West Ham today.

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Alex left yesterday. Just a few days in Dubai. It was good to see him. Just one more term at Le Rosey and then onto university. It is a big year for him.

11 March 2015

Alex is visiting – and sleeping!

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Kumar Sangakkara has become the first ever person to score four consecutive centuries in ODI cricket – the man is a genius.

10 March 2015

EK have also started a new cargo station Ouagadougou, with once weekly 777F linked to Dakar and Frankfurt.

9 March 2015

So England go crashing out of the Word Cup – the cricket version.

And it was ugly.

I am no great Piers Morgan fan but he does care about English cricket – and he nails a large part of te problem in this message on twitter: “Downton counted beans in a bank, Moores is a serial loser & Whitaker played ONE Test match. How did these clowns get to run England cricket?”

7 March 2015

Last day in BKK and my taxi driver told me that Thaksin will be back in a year. That Prayuth was bad and that the army were bad.

He said that there are 70 million red shirts in Thailand. Maybe a little delusional.

I asked – so what are you doing about it.

Nothing we can do, he replied.

I disagreed – and said that if one million people take to the streets the army cannot arrest them all.

He will keep on driving his taxi and complaining to anyone who listens.

And that s why the army can get away with its preposterous rule.

6 March 2015

Delta, American and United continune to step up their anti-competitive posturing in the USA – starting with a new web site http://www.openandfairskies.com/

On the site they state that “the three carriers’ routes to the U.S. have not meaningfully increased passenger traffic; they only serve to displace U.S. airline market share and shift good U.S. aviation jobs overseas. In fact, every lost international roundtrip route by U.S. carriers because of this subsidized competition equals a net loss of more than 800 U.S. jobs.”

Nonsense – I am not an apologist for the ME3, but the above argument is absurd! The 3 US carriers have no meaningful routes in competition with the ME3.

At best it can be construed that they’re out to protect their European/Asian codeshare partners in the OneWorld, Star and Skyteam alliances, and their routes into those connections.

Chapter 11 did a fair amount of damage to European airlines post 9/11 – and the Ch.11 issue has been conveniently ignored.

The USA is now down to three major carriers after a massive period of consolidation. If you sign the petition you are asking for less competition and higher prices. You are keeping the shareholders of the US airlines happy but not their consumers.

1 March 2015

So here we are back in Bangkok for another try at IVF treatment – this time with frozen embryos saved from last May.

Yesterday was transfer date so we now wait and see. Unfortunately there was some concern at the quality of the frozen blastocysts.

In My last year we were very optimistic and the disappointment was real and painful when we were not successful.

This time around the surprise will be if we are successful. It is a different feeling. We can only wait and see.

28 February 2015

Exposed to tactically refined elite‑level modern football the Premier League’s second- and third-placed teams came stumbling out of the trees like a group of 19th-century goat-herders catching a first glimpse across the plains of the steam-driven iron horse.

Bless Barney Ronay at the Guardian for putting English football into perspective!

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Why Thailand is screwed – reason number 887:

IsraNews has reported that over 50 NLA members have appointed wives, children and relatives as assistants & advisors @15-24K/mo salary.

Now of course we should all try not to confuse that with any sense that nepotism is rampant among elected corrupt politicians, since the ruling mindset is clear that Good People (TM) cannot possibly be corrupt.

Honestly it is astonishing that an assembly supposedly set on abolishing corruption sees nothing wrong in hiring family members. Bizarre.

But it is a mindset; it is only corruption when bad people do it. When good people do it, its smart problem solving

As the Nation newspaper noted without any sense of irony –

“National Legislative Assembly President Pornpetch Wichitcholchai said the regulations did not prohibit NLA members from appointing their spouses and children as their helpers, and thus making them eligible for salaries from the state.

When asked whether the practice was appropriate, Pornpetch said the NLA simply wanted to have helpers whom they could trust and the practice has been done earlier.”

27 February 2015

50 shades of grey – what a dull movie. Saved only be some lovely aerial pictures of Seattle.

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Emirates has announced on the GDS system that they will be suspending all their 4 weekly DXB-DKR services effective 29MAR15. It was operated using their A343s.

The Africa expansion is not going quite to plan!

26 February 2015

Happy Birthday hon…

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On twitter today: “It’s almost beyond comprehension why 65million Thai citizens would sit so passively and submissively by while just about all of their political rights are totally removed….”

Indeed.

25 February 2015

Welcome to Thailand in 2015:

“I misunderstood, I didn’t know that the government has a forum for expressing opinions at the Government House…The officers have adjusted my attitude and understanding about that. From now on, I will cooperate with the government in developing the country as a citizen.”

Orwell could not have phrased this better.

22 February 2015

Fly Dubai is adding new destinations in Iran – it will start flying to Shiraz, Isfahan and Ahwaz from March 8, 11 and 14, respectively, while flights to Hamadan and Tabriz will commence from March 16.

The carrier started operations to Tehran and Mashhad in 2014.

Ghaith Al Ghaith, the chief executive of flydubai, said that adding the new Iranian destinations was a result of the strong demand from travellers between the two countries.

“The addition of flights to the five points increases our frequency to the Republic [of Iran] to 23 flights weekly, allowing more people to travel conveniently between the UAE and Iran.”

Got to say one thing for FlyDubai – they really do have some interesting destinations – great experience for the cockpit crews – and of course a critical feeder of passengers into the Emirates hub.

20 February 2015

My blog is feeling ignored.

I have been in Thailand – in the northwest – Mae Sariang, Mae Hong Son and Pai.

A part of the country where Bangkok feels like a very long way away.

Mae Hong Son is the provincial capital and it has just over 7,000 people. The Myanmar border is about 40kms away. The hill-tribes are still well represented.

The Japanese occupied this part of Thailand in WW2. Now there is a growing Chinese influence. There have been Chinese residents for decades – primarily Yunnanese.

The new visitors are Chinese tourists – OK it was Chinese new year – but they were all over Pai. And some of them drive there. Left hand drive, Chinese built cars are appearing on the road from Chiang Mai to Pai.

Tai and I took her family to Pai in 2007. It has changed. Busier. More developed. Traffic lights. 7-11s.

But noticeably fewer Thai visitors.

And that is a shame – as it feels less like Thailand – and more like a holiday home for back-packers. Like Khao San Road – without the air conditioned bars.

And sadly Thai tourists do not visit Pai now – eight years ago it was the place to be seen. But it has changed. Maybe there is also less domestic tourism due to the increased activity of the low cost airlines.

But Pai is not the calm, laid-back retreat of old.

But the Chinese will be coming to visit for years to come and that means good business for some.

And it was cold – nighttime it fell to around 12 or 13C.

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Just a note that after 12 years the US sitcom Two and a Half men has ended. No loss. Occasionally mildly amusing.

12 February 2015

Bangkok’s Moral Promotion Center also revealed its “Just a Meal for Valentine” campaign that encourages teens to stick to dinner dates on Valentine’s Day and avoid putting themselves in situations that would tempt them to engage in premarital sex.

In addition to the ministry’s orders, nightclubs and entertainment venues are encouraged to report any inappropriate behavior.

10 February 2015

Interesting exercise buying tickets for Bangkok to Chiang Mai last night on Thailand’s three low cost airlines.

Mr. Dennis and I are planning to fly to CNX on Monday 16th in the morning and return on Friday around lunchtime.

All the airlines have flights at similar times – but each is a very different booking experience.

NokAir quotes prices before airport taxes. It also automatically adds in travel insurance and an extra 5kg of baggage (to give a total of 20kg). You can remove these two items. But you should not have to remove something that you do not want.

Air Asia quotes prices inclusive of airport taxes. But without baggage. The airline then adds a fee for 20kg of baggage and for travel insurance. Both can be removed.

Air Asia also charges a fee for choosing your seat. Nok Air only charges if you want a premium seat.

Worst of all Air Asia is the only airline that adds a fee for using either a debit card or a credit card.

The Thai Lion AIr site was the easiest to use. The fare includes 15kg of baggage and all airport taxes. There are no extras. Simple.

What were the comparable fares – quoted for two passengers with baggage on similar timed flights:

To CNX:
Nok Air Bt. 3,598
Air Asia Bt. 3,246
Thai Lion Air Bt. 2,750

To DMK:
Nok Air Bt. 3,948
Air Asia Bt. 3,246
Thai Lion Air Bt. 3,580

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In its first full year of passenger
operations DWC welcomed 845,046 passengers in 2014.

Trouble is at least 50% of those passengers were during the three months of the runway closures at DXB.

The small terminal at DWC is still woefully underused.

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A quick note on the latest and biggest step backwards in benefits for EK crew – being able to properly plan trips from and to Dubai is very important for crew and families who are almost all expat families who want to be home to see family and friends.

The latest changes are very bad news for anyone wanting to get home or to make short trips out of Dubai.

Crew used expected load numbers to plan their trip and to better ensure that they would be able to get back to Dubai to be legally able to fly their duty rosters.

Good information allowed stff to plan their travel – it was one positive motivation when there were so many other issues that are demotivating – increased working hours, poor rostering, and reporting to be certified as sick.

The issue has been written about at length by EK insiders on PPRUNE.

2 February 2015

The genius of Northern Exposure: Series 3 Episode 18 – Democracy in America:

“My friends, today when I look out over Cicely, I see not a town, but a nation’s history written in miniature. Inscribed in the cracked pavement, reverberating from every passing flatbed.

Today, every runny nose I see says “America” to me. We were outcasts, scum, the wretched debris of a hostile, aging world. But we came here, we paved roads, we built industries, powerful institutions… Of course, along the way, we exterminated untold indigenous cultures and enslaved generations of Africans.

We basically stained our star-spangled banner with a host of sins that can never be washed clean. But today, we’re here to celebrate the glorious aspects of our past. A tribute to a nation of free people, the country that Whitman exalted.”

The genius of the United States is not best or most in its executives and legislators, nor in its ambassadors or authors or colleges or churches or parlors, nor even in its newspapers or inventors, but always most in the common people.” I’ve never been so proud to be a Cicelian. I must go out now and fill my lungs with the deep clean air of democracy.”

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Here we go again – another Thai airline start up story – Skylar Airways is a privately-backed Thai carrier aiming to start operations during the second quarter of this year. Using a pair of A320-200s.

Skylar plans to operate international charter flights from China and India to Thailand before expanding into the scheduled services sector later next year.

Once operational, Skylar chief executive Darika Sarunyagate said other jets will be added with the EMB-190 and the A319-100 currently under consideration.

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Rory McIlroy won the Omega Dubai Desert Classic at a canter.

He could be about to embark on a great 2015.

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The Emirates golf course was beautifully presented this week but the course is really becoming a bit too short for the very best in the game. For Rory it was almost a par 66 with the par four 2nd and 17th reachable from the tee and all of the par fives in range in two shots.

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Drive of the day came from Thongchai Jaidee at the 13th – a massive drive on the par 5, a friendly kick along the fairway and just 155 yards to the flag.

28 January 2015

New A380 routes from Emirates – replacing 77s that currently fly those routes.

As of 1st July, EK055 will be operated by an A380, leaving Dubai at 0830hrs and landing in Dusseldorf at 1325hrs the same day, while EK056 will depart Dusseldorf at 1525hrs and arrive at Dubai International Airport at 2355hrs the same day.

As of 1st August, EK142 will be operated by an A380, leaving Madrid at 1530hrs and landing in Dubai at 0045hrs the following day. The return flight EK141 departs Dubai at 0740hrs and arrives in Madrid at 1340hrs the same day.

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““I don’t have much in common with you any more, if I ever did. Truth be told, I don’t really like you, and what’s more, I don’t need you. In fact, I find you really annoying.”

Simon Tisdall in the Guardian on the west’s growing distance from Saudi Arabia.

The catch here is that by disengaging with the KSA the west loses much of its front line defence against extremists and terrorism. By disengaging with Saudi the risk is that the kingdom fails to modernise. The USA may no longer need Saudi oil but it does need the support of Saudi moderates and ideally reformers.

27 January 2015

There are some strong comments on the Yingluck impeachment in the online magazine – The Conversation. A few highlights:

“This was one more act in a political tragedy in which elected politicians have been repeatedly defeated by the military and judiciary.”

“The impeachment was a show trial. An unelected assembly, packed with generals and Yingluck’s political opponents, threw out an elected politician who had already been sacked by the Constitutional Court before the May 2014 coup. That putsch – itself illegal – ejected the elected government, scrapped the 2007 constitution and set its own rules to retroactively impeach Yingluck from a position she no longer held.”

“The rice subsidy scheme was part of her Pheu Thai Party’s election platform when it won a landslide election victory in 2011. Thai governments have long intervened in the rice trade. The scheme Pheu Thai promoted was a variant of a policy begun more than 30 years ago.”

“The junta hopes that the final act in this political drama will be an election where the result will at least be a royalist and pro-military government and more likely a military-dominated one.”

“Whatever the outcome, it won’t be a democratic regime.”

25 January 2015

Another failing Thai airline – I have written about his problem before – The Thai regulator simply allows too many under-funded and poorly managed airlines to start-up. Business Air is the latest to be grounded.

24 January 2015

I missed this news earlier in the week but Ken Furphy died last Saturday aged 83. He became the first manager to guide the Hornets into the second tier of English football in the 1968/69 season and also led them to the FA Cup semi-finals the following campaign.

He managed the first Watford teams that I ever saw back in 1968.

Furphy managed Watford for six years – once having his team talk before an FA Cup tie with Manchester United, broadcast on BBC sport programme Grandstand.

He also coached for six years in the USA – including managing Pele at New York Cosmos in the glamour years!

From the USA he then managed the Bermuda national team. He returned to England and 15 years ago became technical director of Exeter City.

A real football man.

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Winston Churchill died 50 years ago on 24 January 1965. One of my first solid memories is of sitting watching his state funeral and of the body being taken by steam train to be buried in his family home.

For my parents and for their generation the second world war was still a fresh memory and Churchill’s defiance of Hitler was for many the rallying call that kept England strong.

23 January 2015

Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah died overnight – the pro Saudi US and European newspapers are calling him a reformer who nudged Saudi Arabia forward.

But as one commentator not unreasonably noted: ISIS beheadings: horrid atrocities. King Abdullah beheadings: A reformer who nudged Saudi Arabia forward.

Western leaders are very tolerant when black gold and terrorist funding are shared agendas.

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Princess Sirindorn arrived in Chiang Mai in the morning reducing the city’s traffic to gridlock. One hour from the hotel to the airport – a journey that would normally tae 15 minutes.

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Have been in Chiang Mai for a couple of days – it is cool here in the mornings – just 15C this morning.

The Chiang Mai pollution is unpleasant. Even at this time of year the air is think with fuel emissions. Unpleasant.

But it can be a very agreeable city to visit. Good food. Nice weather. Plenty to see.

15 January 2015

Thailand’s dear leader yesterday at the start of the tourism authority’s nauseous Thainess campaign – “Thailand is now full of smiles. Anyone who causes unrest in the country is not considered as Thai. I would like Thai people to learn the national history to develop love and care for the nation and refrain from ruining it. Everyone is the owner of the land and must not let anybody harm it,” Gen Prayut said.”

Like regular coups do not cause unrest?

14 January 2015

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that a “Thailand shuts down Australian gold mine over health fears” –

“Thai authorities have ordered the suspension for 30 days of an Australian gold mine in northern Thailand amid concerns over the health of thousands of villagers living nearby.

Random urine and blood tests showed above-standard arsenic and manganese levels in villagers near Kingsgate Consolidated’s Chatree gold mine 280 kilometres north of Bangkok, according to Porntip Rojanasunan, director-general of the Justice Ministry’s Central Institute of Forensic Science.”

Porntip has been hugely discredited by her support of the laughable GT200 bomb detection advices.

As always in Thailand there is a sub-text to this story that is not and will not be reported. Meanwhile 1,100 jobs are at stake.

9 January 2015

“As demonstrated by the Paris attack, the fear now is not whether al-Qaeda and the Islamic State can establish sleeper cells in Western cities, but how many and in which cities, and whether the West becomes a new battleground for the growing jihadist feud.”

From the website Al-Monitor. Hard to argues with this and an alarming thought.

And in reality – if someone has a gun and wants to creat mayhem he or she can do so in any major city in the world. It is impossible to stop this while still maintaining a reasonable degree of freedom.

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“Anyone who looks on the world as though it is a game of chess deserves to lose” – Person of Interest

3 January 2015

Here are the known new flights/changes for EK for 2015 as they are right now:

1st January:
DAR from 12 weekly to double daily

1st February:
KUL (EK346/347) from daily B77W to daily A380
BRU from daily B77L to daily B77W
SEZ (EK707/708) from daily A345 to daily B77L

8th March:
NEW 3rd daily JFK with A380

1st May:
PER (EK420/421) from daily B77W to daily A380

2nd May:
NEW 2nd daily BCN with B77L

1st July:
DME (EK 131/132) from daily B773 to daily B77W

1st August:
NEW 3rd daily BHX with B77W

2 January 2015

Emirates issues: A year end report noted that there were 349 Ab Initio courses in 2014 to train 4,052 new cabin crew”.

As someone sensibly noted on PPRUNE: “Hardly something to brag about. Perhaps if some effort went into retaining people, rather than pissing them off – the training load / cost might be well and truly reduced. Hell, we might even have some experience (instead of a kindergarten) in the cabins…”

Just as a sidenote the rather angry webpage “https://donotflyemirates.wordpress.com” has been blocked in the UAe….not with the usual you are looking at inappropriate content banner but simply – This page can’t be displayed…

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Jose Mourinho has become a sorry bore…a parody of himself. Just for once he might find it revealing to give some credit where it is due.

And Chelsea were Kaned last night – beaten by a much better team on the night.

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Well one of my new year resolutions was not to get angry – it lasted two days until a Dubai taxi stopped too block access to or apartment building. Grrr.

Tai is in HKG for 24 hours. Lucky girl.

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I feel the need for a new year rant.

I was all set up to take pictures of the Burj Khalifa fireworks. Tripod set up at the right height with two of the legs supported from the balcony railing. Camera. Remote release. ISO 100; f8.0; 8 second exposures.

We had a few friends over and we are gathered on the balcony. A couple who I do not know (but who knew one of our friends) came to join. They had already had a few drinks. A bit giggly. A bit silly.

They get into the corner of the balcony. They lean against the balcony railing to start taking pictures; selfies and to bounce eachother around. Right next to my tripod. They held up a card that got into a few of my pictures. They bumped into the railing. With eight second exposures all that did was leave too many of my pictures unfocused. There was one excellent picture; a few decent ones; and too many spoiled pictures.

Disappointing.