The Economist on “The breakdown of Arab states”

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Dubai’s defense roundabout – in 2002 and 2011. The UAE has benefited hugely from an early realization that it’s economy was unsustainable if solely dependent upon oil.

The Economist marked the 100th anniversary of the Sykes-Picot mapping of the Middle East with this provocative editorial. It is a worthy read.

Europe and America made mistakes, but the misery of the Arab world is caused mainly by its own failures. (The Economist – 14 May 2016)

When Sir Mark Sykes and François Georges-Picot secretly drew their lines on the map of the Levant to carve up the Ottoman empire in May 1916, at the height of the first world war, they could scarcely have imagined the mess they would set in train: a century of imperial betrayal and Arab resentment; instability and coups; wars, displacement, occupation and failed peacemaking in Palestine; and almost everywhere oppression, radicalism and terrorism.

In the euphoria of the uprisings in 2011, when one awful Arab autocrat after another was toppled, it seemed as if the Arabs were at last turning towards democracy. Instead their condition is more benighted than ever. Under Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi, Egypt is even more wretched than under the ousted dictator, Hosni Mubarak. The state has broken down in Iraq, Syria, Libya and Yemen. Civil wars rage and sectarianism is rampant, fed by the contest between Iran and Saudi Arabia. The jihadist “caliphate” of Islamic State (IS), the grotesque outgrowth of Sunni rage, is metastasising to other parts of the Arab world.

Bleak as all this may seem, it could become worse still. If the Lebanese civil war of 1975-90 is any gauge, the Syrian one has many years to run. Other places may turn ugly. Algeria faces a leadership crisis; the insurgency in Sinai could spread to Egypt proper; chaos threatens to overwhelm Jordan; Israel could be drawn into the fights on its borders; low oil prices are destabilising Gulf states; and the proxy conflict between Saudi Arabia and Iran might lead to direct fighting.

All this is not so much a clash of civilisations as a war within Arab civilisation. Outsiders cannot fix it—though their actions could help make things a bit better, or a lot worse. First and foremost, a settlement must come from Arabs themselves.

Arab states are suffering a crisis of legitimacy. In a way, they have never got over the fall of the Ottoman empire. The prominent ideologies—Arabism, Islamism and now jihadism—have all sought some greater statehood beyond the frontiers left by the colonisers. Now that states are collapsing, Arabs are reverting to ethnic and religious identities. To some the bloodletting resembles the wars of the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s. Others find parallels with the religious strife of Europe’s Thirty Years War in the 17th century. Whatever the comparison, the crisis of the Arab world is deep and complex. Facile solutions are dangerous. Four ideas, in particular, need to be repudiated.

First, many blame the mayhem on Western powers—from Sykes-Picot to the creation of Israel, the Franco-British takeover of the Suez Canal in 1956 and repeated American interventions. Foreigners have often made things worse; America’s invasion of Iraq in 2003 released its sectarian demons. But the idea that America should turn away from the region—which Barack Obama seems to embrace—can be as destabilising as intervention, as the catastrophe in Syria shows.

Lots of countries have blossomed despite traumatic histories: South Korea and Poland—not to mention Israel. As our special report sets out, the Arab world has suffered from many failures of its own making. Many leaders were despots who masked their autocracy with the rhetoric of Arab unity and the liberation of Palestine (and realised neither). Oil money and other rents allowed rulers to buy loyalty, pay for oppressive security agencies and preserve failing state-led economic models long abandoned by the rest of the world.

A second wrong-headed notion is that redrawing the borders of Arab countries will create more stable states that match the ethnic and religious contours of the population. Not so: there are no neat lines in a region where ethnic groups and sects can change from one village or one street to the next. A new Sykes-Picot risks creating as many injustices as it resolves, and may provoke more bloodshed as all try to grab land and expel rivals. Perhaps the Kurds in Iraq and Syria will go their own way: denied statehood by the colonisers and oppressed by later regimes, they have proved doughty fighters against IS. For the most part, though, decentralisation and federalism offer better answers, and might convince the Kurds to remain within the Arab system. Reducing the powers of the central government should not be seen as further dividing a land that has been unjustly divided. It should instead be seen as the means to reunite states that have already been splintered; the alternative to a looser structure is permanent break-up.

A third ill-advised idea is that Arab autocracy is the way to hold back extremism and chaos. In Egypt Mr Sisi’s rule is proving as oppressive as it is arbitrary and economically incompetent. Popular discontent is growing. In Syria Bashar al-Assad and his allies would like to portray his regime as the only force that can control disorder. The contrary is true: Mr Assad’s violence is the primary cause of the turmoil. Arab authoritarianism is no basis for stability. That much, at least, should have become clear from the uprisings of 2011.

The fourth bad argument is that the disarray is the fault of Islam. Naming the problem as Islam, as Donald Trump and some American conservatives seek to do, is akin to naming Christianity as the cause of Europe’s wars and murderous anti-Semitism: partly true, but of little practical help. Which Islam would that be? The head-chopping sort espoused by IS, the revolutionary-state variety that is decaying in Iran or the political version advocated by the besuited leaders of Ennahda in Tunisia, who now call themselves “Muslim democrats”? To demonise Islam is to strengthen the Manichean vision of IS. The world should instead recognise the variety of thought within Islam, support moderate trends and challenge extremists. Without Islam, no solution is likely to endure.

All this means that resolving the crisis of the Arab world will be slow and hard. Efforts to contain and bring wars to an end are important. This will require the defeat of IS, a political settlement to enfranchise Sunnis in Iraq and Syria, and an accommodation between Iran and Saudi Arabia. It is just as vital to promote reform in countries that have survived the uprisings. Their rulers must change or risk being cast aside. The old tools of power are weaker: oil will remain cheap for a long time and secret policemen cannot stop dissent in a networked world.

Kings and presidents thus have to regain the trust of their people. They will need “input” legitimacy: giving space to critics, whether liberals or Islamists, and ultimately establishing democracy. And they need more of the “output” variety, too: strengthening the rule of law and building productive economies able to thrive in a globalised world. That means getting away from the rentier system and keeping cronies at bay.

America and Europe cannot impose such a transformation. But the West has influence. It can cajole and encourage Arab rulers to enact reforms. And it can help contain the worst forces, such as IS. It should start by supporting the new democracy of Tunisia and political reforms in Morocco—the European Union should, for example, open its markets to north African products. It is important, too, that Saudi Arabia opens its society and succeeds in its reforms to wean itself off oil. The big prize is Egypt. Right now, Mr Sisi is leading the country to disaster, which would be felt across the Arab world and beyond; by contrast, successful liberalisation would lift the whole region.

Without reform, the next backlash is only a matter of time. But there is also a great opportunity. The Arabs could flourish again: they have great rivers, oil, beaches, archaeology, youthful populations, a position astride trade routes and near European markets, and rich intellectual and scientific traditions. If only their leaders and militiamen would see it.

flydubai to move to DWC by end 2017…inshallah!

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Flydubai will move its entire operation to Dubai’s second airport, Al Maktoum International at Dubai World Central (DWC), by the end of 2017, freeing up space for Emirates to grow at Dubai International.

Dubai Airports confirmed the move in its recent quarterly DWC traffic report. Traffic will continue to grow in part because of the “planned move of flydubai’s entire operation to DWC by end of 2017,” chief executive Paul Griffiths said in the release.

This is the first official confirmation of when flydubai would move to DWC.

It has long been understood that flydubai would be the first major airline to move to DWC. This website has consistently argued that it has to happen sooner rather than later.

flydubai has consistently resisted this move for many very good reasons. It currently operates just a handful of daily flights from DWC.

As the major operator at DXB’s low cost terminal two flydubai is not taking terminal space from Emirates. But most valuable of all flydubai has many arrival and departure slots throughout the day including in the peak morning and late night rush hours. These slots are far more efficiently used by a 400 seat Emirates 777 than by a flydubai 737.

This summer, flydubai’s operations account of 19 per cent of all landings and take-offs at Dubai International, only second to Emirates who account for 40 per cent.

The downside is in access to flydubai’s flights and connectivity between flydubai and Emirates.

As reported elsewhere DWC is remote from most of Dubai. There is no rail access and limited bus service. It is some 70kms from the centrally located DXB to DWC.

For many passengers seeking low fares it will be cheaper and quicker to fly from Sharjah on AirArabia then to pilgrimage out to DWC.

flydubai’s routes include many regional points not served by Emirates. Passengers enjoy baggage handling and visa-free connections between Terminals 2 and 3.

It is unclear what percentage of flyDubai’s customers connect with Emirates but it must be significant and a fast visa free transit will need to be established between DWC and DXB to maintain that model and service passenger demand.

It will be mid 2020s at the earliest before Emirates moves its operations to DWC; so the flydubai – Emirates connectivity will need to be in place for almost a decade.

By comparison, Dubai International can handle today up to 90 million passengers a year and will have an eventual capacity of 118 million by 2023.

Capacity at DWC is to increase to around 25 million passengers a year by the mid 2017 to allow for the flydubai move, up from 5 million today.

An alliance for customers or the start of consolidation?

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This week saw the birth of an alliance of low-cost airlines in Asia.

The Value Alliance consists of eight budget carriers from the Asia Pacific. The alliance’s major partners are Cebu Pacific, Singapore Airlines affiliates Tigerair and Scoot, and ANA subsidiary Vanilla Air.

South Korea’s Jeju Air, Virgin Australia Holding’s Tigerair Australia, Thailand’s Nok Air and NokScoot are also part of the alliance.

The alliance is dominated by LCCs controlled by Star Alliance partners.

Significantly, major budget airlines not included in the deal are VietJet, AirAsia, IndiGo, Jetstar brand airlines, and Indonesia’s rapidly-growing Lion Air.

It does appear that the main point of the Value Alliance is to help the smaller carriers compete with these bigger players in the market. It may also signal a move to consolidation between the smaller LCCs, perhaps on the lines of the NokScoot partnership in Bangkok.

It is not a coincidence that the alliance has started withing a month of Southeast Asia´s open skies agreement finally came into effect.

Ratification of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) open skies agreements by Indonesia and Laos in April lifted restrictions on capacity and competition, allowing airlines to launch unlimited flights from their home to any point in the region subject to airport slot availability.

The agreement allows airlines to launch any number of international flights as the market can support. AirAsia, for example, wants more international flights from the Philippines and Indonesia.

The biggest feature of the new alliance is that passengers will be able to use a single booking site for flights on all carriers across their different platforms.

They will be able to make all payments for tickets and fees in a single transaction instead of booking each trip or each leg of a trip on different web sites.

The new allies will not be as close as the members of the three main full-service-airline alliances. There will be no code sharing and no sharing of frequent flier benefits by members of the Value Alliance. At least not yet. Some form of Value Alliance membership card is perfectly possible.

Allowing passengers the chance to book in one place will make all eight airlines more competitive with the region’s larger budget players and it will make the ticketing process more convenient for fliers. However, there is no intent for interlining of baggage or to better synchronize flight schedules.

And there is no intention of undertaking activities – such as interlining baggage – that add to the cost base.

Again, not yet.

While members of Value Alliance stretch from Japan to Southeast Asia to Australia, their combined fleet size of 176 aircraft compares with 199 at AirAsia/AirAsiaX, 123 at Jetstar Group, and 108 each at Lion Air and Interglobe Aviation Ltd.’s IndiGo — the region’s biggest budget airlines.

It is an interesting move. Budget travel has and will continue to grow rapidly in South East Asia. But some consolidation is likely.

The Value Alliance web site is here. It is not yet available for flight bookings.

 

 

The not-so-good Wife

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My seven year love affair with this tv program has ended. Oddly no one else I know watches it. Their loss.

The Good Wife was classy television. Its last episode aired last night. It was a modern rarity – a network made show that had depth and personality.

22 episode series are hard to do – tv dramas are now 8 to 13 episodes and made by the likes of HBO or Netflix.

In the UK the last Luther series was just two episodes.

The ending was not what romantics were looking for; a slap; an irreparable breach of trust and friendship. Alicia did not walk off into the sunset with her new man.

Alicia finishes seven years with nothing; other than an education and an uncertain future. But it is a future that she is better equipped to manage.

She has no job; she has no friends; she has no husband; her family have all left home.

But in reality she does, at a cost, get what she wants. The chance to start her life afresh. She is not dependent upon anyone.

The great thing about this show is how strongly written it was; with very strong female characters. It had at its heart a feminist beat with a message that was about the importance of charting your own life.

Anyway the following letter is from Robert and Michelle King, Creators and Executive Producers of The Good Wife, on the series finale:

Dearest Good Wife Friends,

“Thank you” is easy. “Goodbye” is harder.

Thank you for an extraordinary seven seasons of support, encouragement, and commitment to The Good Wife. To say that we could not have done this without you is an understatement.

This is the second time we’ve written you about the creative decisions involved with The Good Wife:—the first was with the end of Will Gardner; now it’s with the end of the series. Both goodbyes involved difficult decisions, and if you found some value in the earlier explanation, you might find some in this one.

We wanted this series—a series that stretched over 156 episodes—to have some shape, some structural meaning. So after we realized we wouldn’t be cancelled after 13 episodes, we started to devise a vanishing point we could write toward. That structure, in our minds, was simple. The show would start with a slap and end with a slap. Each slap would involve Alicia. This would be the bookend. She would slap someone who victimized her at the beginning of the series; and she would be slapped by someone she “victimized” at the end.

In this way, the victim would become the victimizer. This is the education of Alicia Florrick.

Alicia’s character, to us, was about change. Each season she made choices she could never have made the season before. So over the course of seven years, she became tougher, more powerful, more cunning. Of course, we loved Alicia for this. Each decision made sense in the moment, and we forgave her or congratulated her each time. Even her decision in this last episode—the one that resulted in Diane being hurt—came out of her parental need to keep Grace from following in her path. She didn’t want Grace to put her future on hold in order to stand by Peter.

But together all these decisions, legitimate as they were, added up to a character who was becoming more desensitized to her impact. She was becoming more and more like her husband, and, ultimately, Diane was the collateral damage.

That we found interesting. Over seven years could you completely remake your character? Could a victim become a victimizer?

(By the way, parenthetically, that’s the cool thing about TV. It allows you to develop a concept that more resembles life. A character keeps changing over the course of seven years, but instead of reading about it in a novel over a weekend, you experience it over the actual seven years—with actors who age along with their characters—except for Grace who seemed to be 15-years-old for a few years. Sorry.)

One theme we kept returning to over and over in the series was: politics isn’t out there. It’s not something that happens in D.C. or on the news. It happens in our offices, our homes, our marriages. That’s why we ended the series the way we did. Alicia is no longer a victim of politics. She is someone who takes charge, someone who controls the agenda.

On one level this is empowering. It allowed Alicia to control her fate. But it also changed her. Ironically, at the exact moment she found the power to leave Peter, she realized she had become Peter.

And that’s tragic. Yes, Alicia’s story contains tragedy. We still love her. And we hope you do too. The ending is supposed to be unsettling. But we don’t think characters need to avoid tragedy to be embraced. We were tempted to have Alicia chase after a man in the end—stop him from getting on a train or an airplane at the last minute, hold him, kiss him. We like those endings. But there was something false about it here. It isn’t who Alicia is. In the end, the story of Alicia isn’t about who she’ll be with; it’s about who she’ll be.

There is hope in the ending too—we believe. Alicia composes herself and marches toward the future. The two slaps to our mind are chapter endings and headings. If the slap that started the series woke Alicia up—helped her overcome her naivety about her husband and the world’s corruption—then this second slap wakes her up to her own culpability. The question is what will she do with that?

Anyway, we should leave it there. We loved writing this series. We loved the comedy, the drama, the tragedy. We loved the lion telephone with Glenn Childs’ voice. Elsbeth Tascioni facing off with Bob Balaban. Moo Cow. Eli’s raised eyebrow. The Sexual harassment video Alicia and Will were forced to watch. Will clearing Alicia’s desk. Cary’s trip on mushrooms. Diane’s weakness for guns. The YouTube videos the NSA guys sent back and forth.

It’s hard to not write for these characters anymore. They seem very real to us—as if we’ll turn a corner at the market and find Patti Nyholm there shopping for diapers; or turn another corner and find Judge Abernathy Feeling the Bern.

We’ve had fun. Thank you for having fun with us. We’ve also felt sad. Drama embraces both. So thank you for feeling sad with us too. And mostly, thank you for allowing these characters into your home every week for seven years.

It’s been an honor to write for them, as well as for you.

With all our gratitude and affection,

Robert & Michelle King

 

Aviation – the next 100 years

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Dubai’s Al Maktoum International Airport – this will look very different in twenty years.

Sir Tim Clark was asked by Aviation Week  magazine to comment on what commercial aviation developments he expects will occur in the next 100 years.

His disappointing response was little more than a plea for greater open skies, allowing EK and other heavyweights to take an ever more global role.

You can read his article in italics below.

To look forward we should look back. It is just 100 years since the first passenger flights; and eighty years ago an  Imperial Airways Hannibal Class Handley Page HP42 passenger flight was landing in Sharjah. To project forward 80 or 100 years we have to regard the A380 as Hannibal.

I accept that advances in technology do not happen at a linear rate. Short segments of phenomenal progress are scattered among decades of boredom.

We can no longer fly supersonic on Concorde. But inevitably in the next 100 years we will be flying supersonic with the ease that we now fly on a 777.

Globalization started in the 20h century. It really started when we found that we could fly. The fact that the two great wars of the century were called world wars is an indication of the changes that were taking place.

Aviation and globalization go hand in hand. But airports are land-grabbing, ever-expanding, expensive-to-run eyesores. The future will be vertical or stol aircraft. Large transports for a growing population and smaller faster supersonic airliners as the new business class.

More personal travel will be by effectively an airborne family car. Probably driverless. Just tell the car where you want to go and the car will be “driven” by satellites.

We will also be in space – as a place to live and work. Though after five decades of exploration, space remains almost completely closed. More humans have won the Nobel Prize (900) than have flown in space (553).

Space will become crowded. Satellites are still a rarity but maybe in the next one hundred years families, cities, universities or companies will build or operate one.

We will start to locate our species on more than just Earth; this may be our most important engineering challenge but will be part of managing our population growth, our global consumption and our need to explore.

In addition protecting our planet and our species from history’s only real significant threat (asteroid/comet impact) should not be overlooked.

Aerospace engineers and researchers will have a critical role in developing technologies needed to achieve both those goals.

These goals will not to met by governments but my curiosity and creativity; by pioneers and entrepreneurs.

30 years ago Emirates airline was a couple of airplanes flying from a desert city that few people had heard of. Today it is the world’s biggest international airline. But it should not be complacent. In thirty years time the world might look very different.

Oddly in his article STC talks about “he early days, (when) civil aviation was considered a public service to bridge continents. Most airlines were state-owned and others, like Pan Am, were supported as instruments of state power.”

The trouble is that is exactly what Emirates is – state-owned and supported as an instrument of state power. The other GCC airlines are similar; indeed some have far more economic support from their governments than Emirates.

The GCC nations enjoy the advantages of geography – in the middle of the Europe, Asian, African triangle. They also enjoy the benefits of labour laws that offer very limited protection to employees and very limited social welfare obligations. It keeps operating costs significantly lower than legacy airlines elsewhere in the world.

The GCC nations also benefit from state funded infrastructures that allow their airlines to fly at any hour of the day from sparkling, modern airfields. It is likely that Dubai will have a new 200 million pax, five runway airport, before poor old London gets a new runway.

But that is about balancing the needs of a country’s citizens against the needs of international airlines and passengers. The UK’s economy is balanced. In Dubai the widely quoted figure is that some 45% of the GDP is connected to the aviation industry.

Just what if we suddenly all stop flying. We connect to eachother through virtual reality. We vacation on holodecks. Is it possible that a more diversified economy is needed?

There seems to be this presumption (and many people in Dubai will argue it) that their airline should be able to fly anywhere that it wishes. It cannot because their has to be reciprocity of benefits from airline traffic rights.

The Canadians would not grant the UAE any additional landing rights. How does the UAE react; by telling the Canadians to leave the UAE and the air force/logistics base that had been established here to support humanitarian efforts in Afghanistan.

If that is not the state acting on behalf of its airline then what is?

STC continues “we need the courage and confidence to compete in the marketplace and resist the temptation to run to governments for protection and state aid.”

The trouble is as outlined above it is not an even playing field. And the GCC carriers are always going to be government supported/protected if only through creating a pro-aviation environment and minimising overheads.

So the bigger picture for the industry is about far more than “liberalization and deregulation”

This is Sir Tim Clark’s article in Aviation week:

The world’s first commercial flight took off in Florida on Jan. 1, 1914, just two years before the first issue of Aviation Week was published. That bi-wing flying boat carried one paying passenger 21 mi. from St. Petersburg across the bay to Tampa, taking 23 min. to complete the journey.

Commercial aviation has advanced a great deal since then, particularly with the advent of the jet age in the late 1950s and early ’60s. And it has changed the way people around the world transact and interact.

Today, our industry transports more than 3 billion passengers and 50 million tons of cargo annually, supporting over 57 million jobs and $2.2 trillion in economic activity. We are essential to the functioning of global economies where goods and travelers can reach cities on the other side of the planet in less than a day.

Although commercial aviation has not traditionally been perceived as an “innovative” industry, progress is evident in almost every aspect of our sector of aerospace.

In the 1930s, when an international flight could cost over a year’s wages in real terms, who would have thought it possible to fly for under $100? Who could have imagined a choice of over 80 airlines at a single point of departure, which is now a reality at airports like JFK, Heathrow and Dubai? Who could have foreseen the growth of global air hubs in Asia and the Persian Gulf, or that Europe’s largest airline would be a low-cost carrier with its headquarters in Ireland?

Technology, the world’s changing socio-economics and market liberalization have been great catalysts for progress—making possible new airline business models and innovation that benefits consumers, businesses, economies and our industry.

New aircraft and engine technologies have dramatically improved flight safety, flying range, payload, efficiency, as well as crew and passenger comfort, while substantially reducing noise and emissions. Technology has also improved air navigation and radar systems, passenger and cargo-processing systems and affected to differing degrees the complex ecosystem that makes up commercial air transport.

Economic progress and the middle-class population boom across Asia have created a tremendous swell in air travel demand, spurring the start of new airlines and shifting the balance of air traffic flows eastward.

In the early days, civil aviation was considered a public service to bridge continents. Most airlines were state-owned and others, like Pan Am, were supported as instruments of state power. Fares, flight schedules, seating and sometimes even the food served onboard were government-dictated and regulated.

The need to liberalize aviation was soon recognized in the U.S. and Europe, with both continents at the vanguard of opening markets. The U.S. launched its Airline Deregulation Act in 1978 and pioneered the industry’s first open skies air services agreement in 1992 with the Netherlands; this sparked similar efforts across Europe through the 1980s and ’90s, and more recently in Australia, the U.K., Scandinavia, and parts of Central and Latin America.

Fast-forward 20-plus years, and unfortunately aviation is still one of the most regulated industries.

It is ironic that aviation, an industry that physically and literally connects the world, is itself one of the least “global” industries. There is still a strong government hand in matters such as airline ownership, operating licenses, market entry and access, airport slot allocation and even fare structures. The many legacy systems and interests still in place today prevent normalization of the industry to the detriment of global connectivity and economic prosperity.

From the EU to the International Air Transport Association and International Civil Aviation Organization, everybody calls for more liberalization but progress on this front is lagging. Instead, the recent spate of protectionist rhetoric on both sides of the Atlantic whipped up by a few legacy carriers and their proxies threaten to move our industry backward.

Aside from liberalization, we should also take a long hard look at the entire airline ecosystem and ask ourselves, why—with the exception of recent years, when oil prices are at historic lows—do airlines struggle to deliver decent profits compared to other industries with similarly high barriers to entry?

Are we ready for tomorrow?

As an industry, we still have quite a bit of work to do to ensure we are fighting-fit for the future.

Innovation, speed to market, the willingness to listen to and ability to deliver on consumer preferences are all critical for success in the coming decades. We need to strip out unnecessary complexity and legacy systems that have become entrenched over the years. We need to build our business around our customers rather than archaic systems, and we need to accelerate innovation—whether that is with new business models, new products or new ways of interacting with our customers and partners.

Also, we need the courage and confidence to compete in the marketplace and resist the temptation to run to governments for protection and state aid.

The best environment to foster innovation is one free of government-imposed restrictions, allowing airlines to compete and contest the marketplace. That freedom should also extend to the absence of state aid to airlines that distort competition—whether through government subsidies, loan guarantees, procurement preferences or bankruptcy codes that wipe clean the balance sheets of some countries’ carriers. Policies that support aviation are a plus; programs that prop up individual carriers are not.

Emirates has always championed competition and liberalization. We’ve seen first-hand the benefits of Dubai’s open skies policy for consumers, the economy and the airline industry.

Despite the many success stories, liberalization and deregulation in our sector continues to be difficult, with multiple agendas among stakeholders. In my view, this is the biggest single obstacle to innovation and a healthy industry for the future.

It would be a shame if we were locked into the present and unable to reap the potential of increased liberalization or ecosystem efficiencies. But even if we remained at status quo, the digital age and economic advancement in developing markets will continue to open up new possibilities for trade and businesses and new vistas for consumers, travelers and a globally mobile workforce.

The source and cadence of our traffic flows may change, but overall demand for aviation services will continue to grow as our world becomes ever more interconnected, and it is up to us as individual airlines to identify and serve this demand.

I believe that air travel has a big and even brighter future. The progress that we have made to date is heartening, but we still have a ways to go.

Tim Clark, 67, is president of Emirates Airline.

A luscious, post-coital rumble….football!

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That moment!

The Guardian’s Barnay Ronay is in glorious form in this wonderful commentary on Leicester’s Premiership winning party at the KingPower stadium yesterday.

Twitter was alive; the city of Leicester was on the global map; Bocelli sand with Ranieri at his side – it was heartwarming, genuine and surprisingly emotional.

Here are a few comments from twitter:

Simon Clancy @SiClancy
As if Leicester hadn’t done enough to restore your faith in things this season. That was magical.

beIN SPORTS @beINSPORTS
After deafening chants of “Championes, Championes Olé, Olé, Olé,” The Foxes fans are stunned by Bocelli! #BPL #LCFC

Chris McHardy @ChrisMcHardy19
Amazing scenes at the King Power. Bocelli is one of the Foxes. Brilliant. #LCFC

Leicester City @LCFC
Wow. Thank you to Andrea Bocelli for one of the most unforgettable moments we’ll ever see at King Power Stadium. Incredible. #havingaparty

Sam Wallace @SamWallaceTel
Bocelli singing alongside Ranieri, unexpectedly emotional & mesmerising

i newspaper @theipaper
Wow. Andrea Bocelli sings Nessun Dorma on the pitch before Leicester’s match. Incredible.

I cannot do the day justice; but this is Barnay Ronay’s commentary and it is a great read.

Leicester City’s title-winning season summed up with bonkers party

“Well, that went off pretty well. As delirious, once-in-a-lifetime sporting underdog parties go, this one really does have to be up there. On the day the world came to Leicester the club and the town produced something thrilling. This wasn’t just a coronation, but a brilliantly staged day of Total Leicester Celebration entirely worthy of the story that preceded it.

Part of Leicester’s success has been the way these outsider champions have grown into their expanding role with such elan. And here too every note was perfect. Leicester played like champions. The air crackled with a very distinct kind of humid delirium. Andrea Bocelli appeared for 10 minutes and brought a house that was already down into a state of complete emotional disrepair. Frankly, it was all gloriously bonkers.

Before kick-off the atmosphere outside the King Power Stadium had been fevered and strangely unbound. Title-victory parties usually come with a bolt-on atmosphere, a set of rituals pulled out from under the bed with the baubles and tinsel, songs that are sung when those songs are always sung.

Not so here. There is no precedent for any of this, no received way of behaving. Instead there was a more generalised delirium, from the fully functioning fairground sprung up by the roundabout, to the heavily tattooed, deliriously gurning man being carried aloft through the crowd ringing his dilly-dong bell. People watched and rambled. The drums thudded. A middle-aged couple dressed in full-sized pizza slice outfits loitered near the main entrance. Groups of incredibly happy day-tripping Italians (there were hundreds in the city) gathered in clutches and sang songs.

An hour before kick-off the clouds massed, thunder battered the skies and the King Power was drenched with rain. Nobody really noticed. Finally Ranieri emerged leading Bocelli by the arm to the garlanded centrepiece on the pitch as a huge roar came barrelling around the clattery corrugated stands. “We are champions because of you,” Ranieri announced. “Thank you so much . I love you.”

And so Bocelli sang with magisterial showmanship, building his way to the climax of Nessun Dorma by swishing off his hoodie to reveal a Leicester shirt and sparking a kind of football-opera-karaoke as the whole stadium seemed to join the final straight, Italia 90 style. In the stands the man from the Italian newspaper wiped away his tears. Leicester’s owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha stood beaming, arms spread, imperial.

It was thrilling, mind-bending stuff, right up to the moment Bocelli finally left his stage so that Leicester’s 37th league match – the grandest, most improbable dead rubber of them all – could take place.

Albeit, this wasn’t really a football match, more a kind of all-singing closing medley for a crowd already in a state of encore-pleading rapture. Shinji Okazaki ferreted and fought; Riyad Mahrez ambled winningly, at one point jinking around Romelu Lukaku with such ease it was a surprise to see the game hadn’t actually stopped. N’Golo Kanté continued to play with the benefit of a three-second radio delay, intercepting, sniping , tactfully steering the day Leicester’s way.

Plus of course Jamie Vardy scored. It was a lovely flicked finish on the run, fizzing the ball into the corner of the net from Andy King’s cross. The King Power would have erupted at this point, but it was already pre-erupted, a fuzz of booming swirling shrieking noise from all sides. King’s second goal was a perfect moment for this man for all divisions, almost too schmaltzy for its own good. More prosaically, King just looked like an excellent player here, a constant creative menace against a horribly bedraggled Everton, flustered minor guests at someone else’s party of a lifetime.

Vardy spanked in his second from the spot to make it 3-0 on 64 minutes. Minutes later he punted another penalty high over the bar when a Vardy hat-trick would have perhaps stretched credibility even here.

And so the final whistle finally arrived, greeted by a luscious, post-coital rumble. The stage unfurled, complete with massed enclosure for Wags, friends, staff, VIPs. Wes Morgan, embodiment of Leicester’s social mobility, got to lift that four-stone trophy, leading the scenes of rapture beneath the fireworks and smoke. Leicester’s players danced and gambolled, then set off on a lap of honour, led by the slightly bizarre sight of the club owner taking the trophy off for a walk of his own, waggling that great shiny cup at the crowd.

Occasions like these often demand some kind of broader view, a sense of what might happen next. Is there any reason this can’t happen again? Leicester will be £40m richer just by playing in the Champions League . The structures, they say, are solidly in place, the management coherent. It is a question for another week, another season. Whatever Leicester make of their triumph, this is a day that deserves to stand on its own, never losing its lustre, a fitting end to an improbably thrilling season.”

We may never see anything like that again! Remember nine months ago the odds on Leicester winning the Premiership were 5,000-1.

Watford’s semi-final report card

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To say Watford were poor is being kind. Crystal Palace had pace, height, strength and desire.

Watford were occasionally easy on the eye. Unusually we had the greater share of possession. But we were devoid of ideas and pace in the last third of the pitch.

Other than Troy Deeney we were were barely present.

The lethargy that has settled into the second half of our season was all too obvious on Sunday.

How much of this is down to the club’s management; how much is down to the owners? The Pozzo track record is impressive yet it is based upon impatience and a massive turnover of players.

It was the Pozzo scouting system that enabled them to take a young Alexis Sanchez to Udinese, benefit from his talent and sell him on for a healthy profit.

Watford made 17 summer signings last year. That the team came together as quickly as they did was a huge achievement. There were more signings in January.

But many of those moves were probably not instigated by the manager. The manager is playing with a deck of cards that is dealt to him.

Players such as Steven Berghuis, Obbi Oulare, Victor Ibarbo and Nordin Amrabat have either barely featured or proved ineffectual.

Yet the transfer policy and the revolving door for both players and managers means that much of the Watford identity has been lost. It is just as well captain Troy Deeney remains a symbol of the club, because there are few others.

Of the cup semi final team how many will survive for next season: the ages are shown because they are relevant to the future.

Pantilimon, 29: must want regular first team football. Could move on.
Nyom, 27: looks like Bambi with a football; unconvincing defender and limited going forward. Expendable.
Britos, 30: too often caught out by pacey forwards. Expendable.
Cathcart, 27: my favourite Watford defender – hope he stays.
Ake, 21: young defender on loan from Chelsea. Looked overwhelmed by Wembley. No surprise that both headed CPFC goals were on his side. Has promise. Would be a good longer term investment.
Jurado, 29: Zero penetration. Lightweight. Dislike. Can go.
Watson, 30: Holding midfielder and master of the square or backward pass. Works hard. Has a role. But needs pace and creativity around him.
Abdi, 27: Has not played enough this season. Anonymous in semi-final. Probably no future at Watford.
Capoue, 27: unfortunate injury in semi-final. Looked influential. At least forward looking. Keep.
Deeney, 27: Mr. 110%. But will he stay? Maybe has only one or two seasons left at the top. He should look for a big money deal. Deserves the big time. Would be a great loss to the fans.
Ighalo, 26: Saw big $$$ signs at the start of the year and has not been the same player since. He is ready to leave. Let him go.
Suarez, 29: Came on as substitute for Capoue in the semi-final. No pace. Might benefit from playing regularly. Keep for a year.
Guedioura, 30: Came on as substitute in the semi-final. Will always be remembered for his wonder strike at the Emirates. But can leave and no one will really notice.
Gomes, 35: Player of the season. Maybe has one more year of top flight football. Has been exceptional and enjoys near cult status. Keep.

The point of the above is that the players that Watford has recruited over the last year are generally older players towards the end of their top-flight careers. They are expendable and many of them will not be at Watford next year.

The Pozzos have revived Watford. But at the expense of its strong connection to the neighbourhood. It is like watching a team of mercenaries playing or fighting under a common flag.

Whoever manages Watford next season will probably be building a new team.

Good luck to CPFC: there is a pleasing narrative to Palace, featuring a lifelong supporter, in Jason Puncheon, and managed by the scorer of their 1990 FA Cup semi-final winner, in Alan Pardew, heading to the final.

The clearing out of the stands at Wembley immediately after the final whistle suggests that I am not alone among Watford fans in thinking that our connection with the club has lost a lot of its value.

Survive and thrive – Watford thoughts

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Wembley – 24 April 2016 – FA Cup semi-final

Quique Sanchez Flores is a nomad.

The calls for him to stay at Watford for at least another season ignore the fact that Flores requested that a one year break clause was inserted in his Wtaford contract. Either party can activate this clause.

Flores played for Valencia between 1984 and 1994. In that time the club’s manager changed nine times, including two stints from Guus Hiddink and one, lasting a creditable two years and two months, from Flores’ very own godfather, the late, great Alfredo Di Stefano.

Yes, Flores is related to footballing royalty. That may be why he carries himself with such quiet dignity.

But he is still a nomad. His appointment at Watford last summer was his eighth in 11 years, including two at Getafe and two in the United Arab Emirates before he pitched up in Hertfordshire.

This season Watford were favourites for instant relegation back to the Championship.

Instead Watford’s Premier League status is secure for another season, and teh club reached the FA Cup semi final.

The tam has surpassed all expectations.

Yet Flores may still lose his job this summer when the team’s performance is reviewed.

Watford survived this year. They need to thrive next year. The issue is what division they will be in for 2017-2018 if league results follow the same downward trend they have pursued in the second half of this season.

Watford’s owner Gino Pozzo is ruthless. The Pozzos own Granada and Udinese. They look for affordable footballing mercenaries.

Under Flores this season, Watford took 29 points (1.52 per game) from their first 19 games. In the subsequent 15 games since the midpoint of the season they have amassed 12 points (0.8 per game). While it has been enough to survive, it is not enough to send the club’s owners off on their summer holidays confident about next season.

Less than 12 months ago, Watford’s hierarchy were given short shrift for dispensing with Slavisa Jokanovic , the man who oversaw their promotion, when the two parties could not agree on his new contract.

Watford FC. now epitomises football as a business. It was the right move. There will be no sentimentality at the club preventing them from changing managers again.

The money in the Premiership now rules every decision. The club does not belong to the fans. It does not belong to football journalists. It belongs to the boardroom.

Watford is never going to be one of the big clubs. To thrive the owners have to be as ruthless as the players, and managers, who see Vicarage Road as stepping stone to somewhere better.

Consider the warning in the fall of Newcastle United and the rise of Leicester City over the last two seasons. In 2014-2015, Newcastle gathered 26 points from their first 19 games last season at a rate of 1.36 per match. In the second half of that season they accumulated half that, 13, at the rate of 0.68 per match and avoided relegation by three points.

They have carried that form into this season and are currently 19th and one point from safety.

Conversely, last season Leicester City took 13 points (0.68 per game) from the first half of last season and then 28 (1.47 per game) in the second half. There is a lesson there that is not lost on Watford: if you finish the season a certain way, there is a good chance you will start the next season the same, unless radical change is made.

Watford was never the be all and end all for Flores. His time at the club will have been a mutually beneficial relationship, and both will be the better for not hanging around too long to see it fail.

Wemberley!

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I am off to Heathrow on Saturday and onto Wemberley on Sunday (ok Wembley).

Watford play Crystal Palace in the FA Cup semi final. It really is too close to call. The last time we played Palace at Wembley was the Championship play off final in 2013. This was always going to be a hard game to get ready for after the drama of the second leg play off game at home to Leicester.

Some of this drama would be very welcome – and another heroic Troy Deeney moment – why not.

You know – I doubt there has ever been a better last two minutes of a football match than this. The Deeney goal was 7 minutes into injury time after Almunia had double saved a penalty that should never have been.

Watford have been in the FA Cup semi final just three times since 1970 – and I will have seen all three matches.

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Villa Park v Tottenham 1-4 in 1987. Horrible day.

I flew in from Toronto for the Tottenham game landing that morning.

It was a painful day. Gary Plumley was dragged out of his wine bar to keep goal after injuries to Sherwood and Coton. I could have taken my gloves as I was still playing. It would have made no difference. We were 0-3 down by half-time. Game over.

A different result would be good this year. But in reality this is a bonus game. The objective this year was Premiership survival. A trip to Wembley is an extra. A treat for the fans. Including me.

Enjoy the game!