Voting no to the junta’s constitution

Pavin Chachavalpongpun’s analysis of the 7 August 2016 constitutional referendum is sound.

The military government has pulled out every trick to encourage a yes vote. At the same time it has done all it can to silence any no vote campaigning, especially in the north; the heartlands of Puea Thai.

The junta desperately wants a yes vote. They will argue that a yes vote legitimises their 2014 coup and everything that has happened since.

The junta has also been deliberately vague about what happens in the event of a no vote on the 7th.

Whatever the vote; the military will still be in charge. And that is the trouble with the referendum. A yes vote legitimises military rule under a constitution for many years to come. A no vote leaves the military in charge; and they can play the game of drafting another constitution; and taking as long as they wish to do it.

Here is Pavin’s oped in the Japan Times.

Japan Times – Opinion

Thais are being encouraged to cast their vote in an Aug. 7 referendum that could approve a new constitution and therefore legitimize the military government. The referendum is the first step, which requires public participation after more than two years of military rule. In 2014, the army staged a coup overthrowing the elected government of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, and vowed to make Thailand more democratic and corruption-free.

The military then laid out the so-called road map to democracy and appointed cronies to draft the constitution. The outcome is similar to the one witnessed in Myanmar, with the Tatmadaw, or the Myanmar Armed Forces, taking charge of political reforms with an attempt to preserve a degree of political power for itself. Today, the Tatmadaw holds up to 25 percent of the parliamentary seats. In the Thai case, representatives of the army will sit in the Senate, which will serve as an instrument of the old power, to counterbalance future civilian governments.

The referendum is crucial for the survival of the military regime under the premiership of Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha. If approved, the constitution will add a layer of legitimacy on the coup makers. More importantly, it will give a green light to future steps taken by the junta to complete the road map. This explains why the government is compelled to ensure a positive outcome of the referendum.

Achieving the kind of outcome the military wants won’t be easy. The current draft of the constitution has been criticized as undemocratic and designed to protect the political interests of the military and its allies. For example, it empowers key institutions, including the Constitutional Court and the National Anti-Corruption Commission, to challenge elected governments. In 2008, the Constitutional Court was responsible for removing two elected governments backed by former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who was perceived as a threat to the traditional elites.

The constitution will also allow independent candidates to run in the next elections. More autonomous parliamentary members would help break the domination of the Lower House by powerful political parties like that of Thaksin. Therefore, it is likely that future governments would be politically vulnerable, wobbly coalitions, leaving them susceptible to manipulation by the traditional elites. On top of this, as indicated in the new constitution, prime ministers would not need to be elected politicians. This would pave the way for old generals to reach the premiership through a non-elective channel.

If the constitution is rejected, it will raise serious questions about the legitimacy of the military government. Pro-democracy activists and academics have called for the resignation of Prayuth should the constitution be disapproved and the junta should open up of the constitutional drafting process for public involvement. So far, Prayuth has shown determination to stay in power no matter what.

The referendum comes at a critical period in Thai politics. Already, one of the Constitutional Drafting Committee members, Norachit Singhaseni, replied to a foreign journalist who asked about the passing of King Bhumibol Adulyadej that “Thais would spend at least a year in mourning.” Although he said nothing about the referendum being postponed, in reality his death would virtually put all activities in Thailand on hold.

Bhumibol has been sick and in and out of the hospital since 2009. The approaching end of the Bhumibol era was primarily responsible for the coup of 2014. Military elites were anxious about Thailand’s future without the charismatic king, and for them the coup was a response to this anxiety.

The military elites have since striven to maintain their political interests by working closely with other allies in the monarchy network. Because Bhumibol has for many decades remained at the top of the political structure in Thailand, his departure will leave a gigantic vacuum that could bring instability to those in the network. The hope for the heir apparent to gain the same reverence and respect from the public is dim. It is widely assumed that the crown prince will be a less able monarch than his father.

A series of photos released last week by the German tabloid Bild showing Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn at the Munich Airport, clad in a tank top half-shirt barely covering massive yakuza-style tattoo stickers, shocked the Thai public, particularly the royalists. The anxiety they felt prior to the 2014 coup could be reinforced by the recent episode in Germany; they might fear that the new reign could end in disaster. Therefore, with the unpredictability of the next reign, the military has sought to transfer the royal prerogatives, strengthened by Bhumibol, to the judiciary. The military is assigning the judicial institution a role of the ultimate arbitrator in politics.

The transfer of power in this way is largely known as the making of the “deep state.” It transforms the judiciary into a supreme institution that can intervene in politics when deemed necessary, as the king has occasionally done in the past. Defending this constitution means, in part, empowering the legal hands to redefine Thai politics for the benefit of the elites. For the military, the referendum is a matter of great importance.

The future of Thailand is not bright. The military will need to revise the constitution for a third time if it is not approved in the referendum. But the process will prolong the existence of the junta despite intensifying pressure both domestically and internationally. Worse, if it is accepted, Thai democratization will be delayed. The military’s footprints are seen clearly in the constitution. And with an unproven new king on the throne, the military will not want to withdraw itself too quickly from politics.

Pavin Chachavalpongpun is an associate professor at Kyoto University’s Center for Southeast Asian Studies.

Dubai looking spectacular on film

Over the last 5 years, Dubai Film has collaborated with companies like Shotover Camera Systems and Aerial Filmworks to develop the very best technology in the world for Aerial Filmmaking.

Dubai Film has compiled this film from some of Joseph Hutson’s aerial operation over the last 5 years in Dubai with the Shotover P1, Shotover K1, Shotover F1, Cineflex Ultra, Inspire 1, and even some handheld.

To see some of the full-length projects for which Dubai Film was responsible for shooting aerials, see the following:

Burj Khalifa Pinnacle BASE Jump – 4K…

Emirates: #HelloJetman…

Dream Jump – Dubai 4K…

The Breitling Wingwalkers Soar above Dubai…

Camera Operator: Joseph Hutson
Helicopter Pilots: Andy Nettleton, Andrew Masterson
Excitor Pilot: Nasser Al Neyadi
1st AC: Joel E. Schaeffer
Rigging: Michael Dix. Andy Gribble, Joel E. Schaeffer
Drone Pilot: Ahmad Al Amlah
Producers: Irene Proimos, Marta Espinosa Gironella Gayton
Editor: Joseph Hutson
Executive Producer: Omar Obaid Eisa
Music: “Believe” by Hi-Finesse

Not bad…not bad at all!

Over-reacting to Flydubai safety reports

The Guardian’s front page today screams (as much as the Guardian ever screams) “Pilots warn of safety fears at budget airline.”

The Guardian has seen 413 air safety reports written by Flydubai flightdeck crew following in a two-month period. These appear to be written earlier this year in the time around the fatal crash of FZ981 at Rostov-on-Don.

A number of the ASRs make reference to the Rostov crash. This inevitably was traumatic for many crew members and no doubt added to stress and fatigue factors at that time.

Of the 413 reports some 40 describe concerns about fatigue. Less than 10%.

Fatigue at FZ is probably less of an issue than at other Middle East carriers. Crews are basically home every day. Yes they are working night or day shifts. These shifts can be long and require some difficult flying. But crews are not away from home; jet-lagged after crossing multiple time-zones; sleepless and then having to fly home 24 hours later.

The other air safety reports also refer to incidents where, it is claimed:

One pilot’s “dangerous” flying technique was criticised by an angry colleague who expressed serious concerns following a particularly harsh “bounced” landing.
A pilot conceded his plane had become uncontrollable and increased speed sharply during a period of severe turbulence.
A senior member of crew was reprimanded after falling asleep in business class during a flight – and nodding off again after he was woken.
A pilot complained his aircraft was unstable because 2,800kg of truffles had been placed in the wrong cargo compartment.

Other reports refer to drunk passengers; bird strikes; laser use; sick passengers or crew or concerns with atc or ground procedures at destination airfields.

There is a huge danger of over-reacting to these reports which the Guardian released last night.

Here is some of the less considered responses on twitter.

Probably best not to use budget airline FlyDubai judging by Grauniad’s front page. 🇬🇧✈️#FlyDubai#airlines#travel

Want to fly #FlyDubai think twice as airline pilots complain of dangerous fatigue in leaked documents #airlinesafety

Worrying news on front of tomorrow’s @guardian re: #FlyDubai pilot exhaustion. Tired/overworked flight crew are a serious risk to air travel

‘Over-tired’ FlyDubai pilots flag concerns about working ‘too many hours’

Pilots at this budget airline say they’re being forced to fly dangerously long hours

I have read through many of the ASRs. The flight crew come out of them pretty well. Sensible; practical and not afraid to say when things are wrong.

What did strike me is the range and complexity of issues the crews have to deal with; particularly across such a diverse network including airfields with (how to be polite) less than first class facilities and unreliable atc.

Remember the Flydubai network includes places and airfields that many people have neither heard of or could find on a map.

The villain in many of the fatigue reports does appear to be the airline’s Network Control Centre and the pressure they put on flight deck crews to complete flights. I suspect the NCC will be criticised in the final Rostov report for encouraging the crew to hold at Rostov rather than divert.

The Guardian report is here:

Airline pilots complain of dangerous fatigue in leaked documents

Flydubai’s response is here:

Flydubai’s response to the leaked air safety reports

The Guardian has published as selection of the ASRs here:

Flydubai flight records – the leaked documents

It is also worth noting that every airline has a mechanism for reporting safety concerns. There is little that is unusual about the Flydubai ASRs.

The good news is that pilots are completing ASRs and clearly assume that they will be read and maybe even acted upon.

The NCC pressures are probably similar to those at any other LCC where it is important to try to get the fleet back to its home base at the end of each day to avoid network disruption.

As an insight into airline operations it is interesting. Any suggestion that flyDubai does not take safety seriously would be erroneous and a misleading conclusion from these reports.



May 2014 after the coup

The big story uniting Germany and Thailand this week has been “Tattoogate.”

This involves Thailand’s Crown Prince being photographed at Munich Airport showing extensive torso and arm tattoos underneath the smallest of crop tops. The pictures were released by the Bild newspaper last Thursday.

The Crown Prince had with him an entourage of staff, his new wife, a poodle and the crew of his flight.

The report also noted that the Prince has acquired a substantial Bavarian home.

Alerted to the pictures ny ex Reuters colleague, Andrew MacGregor Marshall, posted the pictures and a link to the Bild story on his facebook page.

Andrew works in Australia, no longer with Reuters. Andrew was working in Hong Kong last week.

His Thai wife, Noppawan Bunluesilp (“Ploy”), is also a journalist – ex Reuters and NBC. She was visiting her family in Bangkok, together with their three year old son. Andrew has been unable to return to Thailand since 2011.

At dawn on Friday morning twenty Thai police raided K. Ploy’s family home. Ploy, her three year old son and her father were taken to the Crime Investigation Bureau head office in Bangkok and detained for eight hours. The police examined her computer and mobile phone.

The police made it clear that the raid was the result of Andrew posting the Crown Prince pictures on his personal facebook account.

Pol Lt Gen Thitirat Nongharnpitak, commander of the Central Investigation Bureau in Bangkok, said the photos of the Crown Prince were altered and were ‘deemed inappropriate.’

Thitirat said that Andrew Marshall, together with two Thais, produced pictures and disseminated misinformation via social media and the investigation found that about 30 people were involved, the commissioner said.

No evidence has been produced to support this claim.

According to Agence France-Presse, the commander of Thailand’s Central Investigation Bureau, Thitirat Nongharnpitak, told reporters the pictures were doctored, saying “the culprit is Andrew MacGregor Marshall who has violated lèse-majesté laws for several years.”

A spokeswoman for the Axel Springer SE (the owners of Bild newspaper) clarified: “BILD has verified the authenticity of the photos. The reader-reporter is not Andrew McGregor Marshall. ”

Of course no Thai based newspaper or journalist will dare to say that the pictures are real. Nor will the Thai police withdraw their assertion that the pictures are fake.

They are real.

But what does it matter? How are these pictures inappropriate or insulting to the Crown Prince. They are pictures of him dressed as he wished to dress. And it is not the first time he has been photographed at Munich Airport.

He has to have known that even at a private part of the airfield there would be enough staff or public with mobile phones or cameras ready to take a picture or what was clearly a celebrity arrival.

K. Ploy and her family were released without charge after about eight hours. They are now in Scotland. It is likely that their detention was meant to encourage Andrew Marshall to back off from his reporting on Thailand. That is unlikely to happen.

At some time soon Thailand will be a major global news story as the country manages a traumatic succession. The army wants to control that succession. The media want nothing more than to report events from the country openly and honestly.

New Mandala has three articles on #tattoogate

Royal ink – by Paul Handley

Magic families by Christine Gray

A crown prince and German affairs by Pavin Chachavalpongpun


EIU expects constitutional “no” vote in Thai referendum

Concerns raised over referendum aftermath

Economist Intelligence Unit – 25 July 2016


On July 20th the Platform of Concerned Citizens (PCC), a civil society group consisting of 16 organisations and 117 individuals, released a five-point statement which included calls for open debate on the draft constitution and the disclosure of a contingency plan should the proposed charter not pass a referendum.


The PCC’s statement comes amid mounting unease among political actors over the preparedness of the country for the referendum and its aftermath should it fail to be approved by the public. So far the military government has not publicly set out a process to continue the planned transition back to democracy following a possible “no” vote, other than to state that a new constitution draft would be written, a point re–emphasised by the prime minister, Prayuth Chan-ocha, at a press conference on July 21st. However, the junta has previously stated that it could revert to one of Thailand’s previous constitutions should the charter not pass a referendum.

The Economist intelligence Unit believes that the junta will outline a shorter time frame for a new constitution to be drafted than the previous 20-month schedule and use a previous charter as a basis. We expect the inclusion of a public-consultation mechanism in the process, in an effort to reduce popular opposition to the prolonged transition; the PCC’s recent statement called for more stakeholders to be included in the drafting process. However, this may take a form other than a referendum, such as a representative advisory committee.

The junta will not be averse to extending the transition process, as this would allow it more time to attempt to convince the Thai public that it offers more effective economic and political governance than recent elected administrations. However, there is no indication that it has gained political legitimacy in the eyes of the public and will therefore probably have to negotiate larger and more frequent protests, as more citizens become convinced that the junta will not give up control voluntarily. Additionally, the possibility of King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s death occurring while the junta is in power represents a downside risk to the transition back to democracy: the military government may use this as justification for extending its rule under the pretext of ensuring political stability.

Impact on the forecast

We still expect a “no” vote in the August 7th referendum. The constitution-drafting process will be reinitiated and the military will remain in complete control of government until at least early 2018.

NewLeaf – but for how long?

Canada has never really been more than a two airline country. In the past Air Canada basically gobbled up any domestic competition – Canadian, Wardair. Many tried.

Charter airlines came and went with predictable regularity.

Westjet changed that. With (initially) a west Canada focus unlike Montreal based Air Canada. Westjet has become big enough to have permanence.

Porter grew out of Toronto’s downtown airport but is hugely limited by its island based airport with restricted flying hours and turboprops only.

Along comes NewLeaf, the latest air carrier to take to Canada’s skies. The inaugural flight takes off today from Hamilton International Airport to Moncton.

Except that NewLeaf is not an airline. It is a ticket reseller that tries to look like an airline. Kelowna-based Flair Airlines is providing the aircraft and crew.

NewLeaf finally gained approval to fly its 18 routes in March, and resumed ticket sales last month. The airline, considered to be an ultra-low-cost carrier, is hoping to win over Canadians with domestic ticket prices much lower than those of the country’s top carriers.

But with those cheap fares comes a full slate of ancillary fees.

So what does NewLeaf look like.

NewLeaf launches with 12 destinations, all of which are smaller airports: Halifax; Moncton; Hamilton; Winnipeg; Regina; Saskatoon; Edmonton: Kelowna, B.C.; Kamloops; Fort St. John, B.C.; Abbotsford, B.C.; and Victoria.

In what may be an airline first (dont encourage others?) NewLeaf will charge for a large carry-on bag, a fee none of the major Canadian airlines have dared introduce. A small personal item is allowed; basically the size of a laptop case.

Interestingly, the airline charges less for a checked bag. (Carry-on luggage slows down the boarding process, the website explains.)

There may be some logic to that.

Like most airlines nowadays you will pay for advance seat selection; printing your boarding pass at the airport will cost you $10, as opposed to doing so for free at home.

Alcoholic beverages, soft drinks and snacks will all be available for purchase during flights.

NewLeaf is flying Boeing 737-400s owned and operated by Kelowna-based Flair Airlines.

NewLeaf avoids any capital or hardware costs but reports of unpaid consultant fees and incomplete arrangements for landing fees have raised concerns on NewLeaf’s viability.

How Russia trashed the Olympic movement

rio-olympics (1)
It is a farce. You train for years. You work. You sacrifice. You compete.

You reach your goal of an Olympic final. Only to be competing against a Russian whose performance has been enhanced by a state-sponsored program of drug abuse.

And what does the IOC do. A slap on the wrist will survive.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) was aware Russia ran a state-sponsored doping programme in which the head of that nation’s WADA-accredited lab was a central figure as long ago as the first week of July 2013.

The head of the corrupted lab, Grigory Rodchenkov (right), had been arrested in 2011 for alleged involvement in a doping ring, along with his sister.

Rodchenkov was privately freed to go back to work at the Moscow lab head to oversee the systematic doping corruption of major events including the 2014 Winter Olympics at Sochi in Russia.

The Sochi Olympics was corrupted on an industrial scale.

Now, after two investigations by the world anti-doping agency (WADA) have shown Russian state-sponsored doping to be a fact the IOC has said Russia was good to compete at Rio.

Two weeks ago the second WADA report was released. The review, led by the highly respected Canadian lawyer Richard McLaren, found that the country’s government, security services and sporting authorities colluded to hide widespread doping across “a vast majority” of winter and summer sports.

The IOC labelled the findings “a shocking and unprecedented attack on the integrity of sports and on the Olympics.”

Here is McLaren’s summary report in PDF format:


McLaren admitted that his report, which had taken 57 days to produce, was only a “thin slice” of what might be out there – there are likely other nations with doping programs but the Russian program and its relevance to the Sochi Games were the most high profile abuse of sport.

The central finding of McLaren’s investigation was that Russian athletes “from the vast majority of summer and winter Olympic sports” had benefited from what he called “the Disappearing Positive Methodology” which had become state policy after the country’s poor medal count during the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver.

The report found that all organs of the state were involved, including the Russian sports ministry, the Russian security service the FSB, and the Centre of Sports Preparation of National Teams of Russia (CSP).

The Russians were effectively robbing athletes from all over the world who of their Olympic dreams and even of such basic things as access to funding for training and development.

Last month Russia’s track and field stars were banned from the Rio Olympic Games by the IAAF, the governing body of athletics.

Despite a mountain of hard evidence about a long-standing, wide-ranging endemic doping problem across Russian sport, the IOC decided not to put a blanket ban on Russia at Rio 2016.

The IOC has said that rather than ban Russia from the Rio games, the governing bodies of each individual sport should decide on Russia’s participation.

The McLaren report revealed that hundreds of Russian sportsmen and women were provided with banned performance-enhancing drugs over many years.

This was often done by coaches, with the support of governing bodies, and in the knowledge of senior figures meant to prevent doping – including officials at the Russian sports ministry, the Russian anti-doping agency, and the WADA lab controlled by Rodchenkov.

Not only were the sportspeople allowed to dope, and encouraged to dope, but they were also protected if they tested positive; their samples were corruptly recorded as clean. And, in some cases, athletes who were clean had their clean samples tainted to become positive so that favoured dirty athletes were given preferential access to certain major sports events instead of them.







Russia continues to regard the doping evidence as western politically-driven propaganda, ignoring the fact that every key source was a Russian sick of institutional cheating.

Russia’s state-run doping programme included supplying banned performance-enhancing substances to at least 15 medal winners and substituting tainted urine samples with clean ones during the Games so that they passed doping tests.

In evidence to WADA Dr Grigory Rodchenkov, the director of the Moscow anti-doping laboratory from 2005-15, claimed he helped dozens of Russian athletes with a cocktail of banned substances including metenolone, trenbolone and oxandrolone which he mixed with alcohol. To improve the absorption of the steroids and shorten the detection window, he dissolved the drugs in Chivas whisky for male athletes and Martini vermouth for women.

Among those Rodchenkov claims to have helped cheat were the bobsleigher Alexander Zubkov, who won two golds in Sochi; the cross-country skier Alexander Legkov, who won gold and silver; and Alexander Tretiakov, who won gold in the skeleton competition. Rodchenkov also claimed the women’s ice hockey team, who were knocked out in the quarter-finals, were doping throughout the Games.

Rodchenkov said Russian anti-doping experts and members of the FSB, the Russian intelligence service, secretly replaced urine samples containing banned substances of medal winners with clean urine. To do this they set up a shadow laboratory in Sochi, having found a way to break into supposedly tamper-proof bottles.

In a development that could have come out of the pages of a John le Carré novel, the Russians set up a secret shadow laboratory – room 124 – at the official drug-testing site. During the night, when no one else was around, tainted samples from Russian athletes would be passed through a small hole in the floor to this shadow laboratory, where they were replaced with clean urine from athletes collected months earlier. The elaborate procedure allowed Russian athletes to continue taking banned substances during the Games, given them an advantage over their rivals.

Just bizarre.

Predictably, the Russians topped the medal table in Sochi with 33 medals, including 13 golds, a stark improvement on the previous Winter Olympics in Vancouver where they finished only 11th with 15 medals. None of their athletes were caught doping in Sochi. However Rodchenkov said that as many as 100 dirty urine samples were expunged during the Games.

Russia’s sports minister, Vitaly Mutko, calls the allegation “a continuation of the information attack on Russian sport”. He told the agency Tass: “The system of organisation of the Olympic Games was completely transparent. Everything was under the control of international experts, from the collection of samples to their analysis.”

The IOC leverages billions in broadcasting and sponsorship revenue from the five rings. Thomas Bach, the IOC president is close to Putin.

Complacency and compromise are the IOC solution. Principles and values. No thank you.

The Russian doping program was undertaken in a spirit of absolute cynicism in total contravention of the supposed ideals of the Olympics.


For scale and cynicism the Russian system, for now, stands alone. That is why it would have been right to make an example of it, even if that resulted in a very high price for some athletes just a fortnight before the Games.

Having unambiguously nailed the IOC’s colours to the mast of anti-doping, this last Olmpic value has been thrown to the wind. The IOC has shown itself to be morally bankrupt. It should be ashamed. And so should anyone involved in Russian sport.

Stop blaming others. Russia cheated. Russians stole medals. Russia needs to clean up its sport and its athletes. Then she can compete under the real Olympic values.


Changes coming at Emirates?

There are changes coming at Emirates and (although the local media will not tell you this) they all suggest a slow down in the airline’s growth.

Timely – this just in from Gulf Business on 25th July. Dubai’s Emirates denies alleged recruitment freeze

First up – there are some flight reductions which is not something EK has done in the past few years.

1 October FCO from 3 to 2 daily
1 August LED from 7 to 5xw
1 August SAW canceled
1 September LIS from 7 to 5xw

Also LAX will operate seasonally with a B77W instead of A380, BKK will be reduced back to 6x daily from 7, and GIG-EZE down gauged to B77L from B77W.

There are a number of other seasonal reductions; including to Jakarta and Oslo.

Second – the impending arrival of Christope Mueller (former CEO of Malayisan) who is joining EK as Chief Transformation Officer.

Mueller has previously worked as CEO at both Aer Lingus and most recently at Malaysian. At both airlines he has a blank sheet to turn around the airline. Although it appears that some of the changes at Malaysian led to conflict with the government owners.

Here is Mueller talking about change management:

Christoph Mueller talks about multi-cultural dimensions of change and corporate culture

He does not need my advice – but start with the key numbers; do not believe anything that is put in front of you. Verify every piece of key data. Have a team of people that you trust to give you the analysis that you need.

Maybe the first place to tackle will be the $2.7billion in sports marketing and promotional costs. No more Jennifer Aniston?

Third – the rumour mill says that EK has just put all new ground employments on hold. Effectively a hiring freeze. A common managemnet technique in the 1990s and 2000s.

Rumours also of a slow down in cabin crew recruitment and/or unpaid leave.

Fourth – rumours of over – capacity (see reductions above) has led to suggestions that some of the A380 orders may be converted to smaller A350s.

That said with the space and landing slot restrictions at DXB EK basically needs a smaller number of very large planes rather than a larger number of smaller planes.

But the phasing out in 2016 of the remaining A330s and A340s means that EK has no smaller plane for new thin routes or for regional routes.

Fifth – as a global pilot shortage starts to bite, Emirates seems to be doing little to keep experienced pilots while reducing the entry requirements for new pilots. That has to put even more pressure on the training functions. Pilots complain of excessive flying hours and lack of rest due to east/west and night time rosters.

Sixth – Constraints at DXB do hold back EK’s ability to both grow and to be flexible with its fleet. DWC was originally planned to be fully operational now. It will not be until around 2025. The only way forward is to move flydubai to DWC in full to free up arrival and departure slots at DXB.

All that said; Emirates is profitable. Fuel costs are still working in the airline’s favour and the airline’s broad network means that geopolitical issues in one location can be offset by new opportunities elsewhere.

But the very fact that the company is hiring a CEO level Chief Transformation Officer means there is a real sense that change is needed.

Mueller starts officially in September. I suspect the briefings are already underway.





Turkey’s failed coup

Staging a coup is a bit like a goalkeeper trying to catch a cross in soccer.

If you are going to do it make sure that you do it properly – else the repercussions will be severe.

Turkey’s failed coup of 16 July appears to have been poorly led, poorly-executed and poorly-supported.

That said it may have been surprisingly close to success.

The insurrection started on Friday night as troops seized two bridges in Istanbul.

For the coup to have succeeded it required backing across the armed forces. A large number of soldiers may have been involved, and in several Turkish cities.

Tanks took to the streets and the bridge across the Bosphorus in Istanbul was taken over.

President Erdogan was not heard from for hours. He finally addressed the nation from an undisclosed location, speaking to a tv network on his cellphone’s FaceTime app — a dramatic scene that seemed to suggest a man on the verge of losing power.

But in the early hours of Saturday, he landed in Istanbul, and was heard. Erdogan’s supporters took to the streets. They climbed onto tanks to stop the military action.

“This attempted coup collapsed before it even started,” said Fadi Hakura of UK-based Chatham House, who said it was amateurish and failed to attract broad military support.

Mr. Erdogan has placed blame for the intrigue on the followers of Fethullah Gulen, a Muslim cleric living in exile in Pennsylvania, who was the president’s ally until a bitter falling out three years ago.

Mr. Gulen’s followers are known to have a strong presence in Turkey’s police and judiciary, but less so in the military.

Mr. Gulen condemned the coup, denied any link to it and expressed support for the democratic process, saying that “through military intervention, democracy cannot be achieved.”

The Turkish Prime Minister has stated that the death toll in the clashes is 232, including civilians, pro-government forces and troops involved in the coup attempt, with 1,541 people wounded.

Turkey has a long history of military involvement in politics — there have been three coups since 1960.

The country itself has become deeply polarized in recent years between supporters of Mr. Erdogan’s Islamist government and those loyal to Turkey’s secular traditions.

It may be that the coup reflects those divisions and a concern that Mr. Erdogan was simply becoming too powerful. Now given the coup’s failure his power has multiplied. For now.

Even those bitterly opposed to Mr. Erdogan appear to have no desire for a return to military rule.

In the few days following the coup attempt more than 50,000 people were rounded up, sacked or suspended from their jobs by Turkey’s government.

There has been a purge of those deemed disloyal to President Erdogan – this has included teachers, university deans and the media.

Mr Erdogan has used force to re-impose stability amid the turmoil.

He is unlikely to convince either the country or Turkey’s allies abroad that he is not embarking on a witch-hunt against his many critics.

In the last week Turkish media announced that:

15,200 teachers and other education staff had been sacked
1,577 university deans were ordered to resign
8,777 interior ministry workers were dismissed
1,500 staff in the finance ministry had been fired
257 people working in the prime minister’s office were sacked

Turkey’s media regulation body on Tuesday also revoked the licences of 24 radio and TV channels accused of links to Mr Gulen.

The removal of thousands of officials has alarmed international observers, with the UN urging Turkey to uphold the rule of law and defend human rights.

The President of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz, has accused Turkey of carrying out “revenge” against its opponents and critics.

He also said a debate around restoring the death penalty was “deeply worrying”. The EU has warned such a move would end talks over Turkey joining the bloc.

Turkey also issued a blanket travel ban on all academics in the country. A senior Turkish official described the travel ban on academics as just a “temporary measure.” Many academics have been critical of Erdogan in the past.

Now Turkey’s parliament has approved a bill declaring a state of emergency and has informed the Council of Europe of a partial withdrawal from the European convention on human rights.

Turkey will be required to provide regular updates to the secretary general of the Council of Europe on the measures taken under the state of emergency, according to the terms of the treaty.

The three-month state of emergency will allow the government to rule by decree, passing bills that have the force of law unless they are overturned by parliament; unlikely given that the majority of MPs belong to the ruling Justice and Development party.

The real divisions within Turkey are not so easily resolved by a security sweep that will only only sweep political differences under the carpet.


More reading here:


Turkey coup aftermath: between neo-fascism and Bonapartism Open Democracy

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EIU on Brexit impact

Britain’s Brexit will be slow and painful – assuming that it ever happens:

Alex White of the Economic Intelligence Unit posted the EIU’s thoughts on the impact of Brexit in 24 points on twitter.

The great thing about twitter is that it does encourage brevity!

1. Brexit has plunged the UK into political, economic and market turmoil. We expect this turmoil to be sustained

2. Financial market volatility will persist, while uncertainty over the future of the UK’s relationship with EU will feed into real economy

3. We significantly revised our economic fcast. After growth of 1.5% this year, we expect contraction of 1% in 2017

4. We expect to see decline in investment of 8% and decline in private consumption of 3% in 2017 with the pound levelling out at $1.24

5. The vote has transformed our fiscal forecasts. Falling tax rev & higher social transfers as unemployment rises

6. We now expect the UK’s public debt burden to reach 100% of GDP by 2018

7. This hit brings UK’s post-crisis recovery to a halt. 2018 real GDP will be almost 4% below pre-referendum forecast (2020 = 6% below)

8. While this is going on, politics will remain deeply fractious. The Govt, the main parties, parliament & the Union all face big threats

9. We expect two months of chaos in the near-term. New PM Johnson (or May) will be in post in Sept, and start to figure out way ahead

10. The UK will likely invoke Art 50 before year end, implying that negotiations will conclude in late 2018

11. UK will agree an EEA minus deal with significant constraints on services access in return for limitations on migration

12. Much of the financial services sector may be left in the cold

13. New PM will eat heroic quantities of humble pie to get the deal; UK will be permanently out of the room on big decisions

14: This new deal will be confirmed through either a second referendum or a general election at the end of the process

15. Leavers will tell voters they wont get what they want on migration. Will lead to major backlash = structural rise for radical right

16. This is a particular threat for Labour. We expect UKIP etc to mount a serious challenge in Labour heartlands (even with Corbyn gone)

17. UK establishment will take time to fully reassert itself. Lack of planning / credibility will lead to ongoing doubts about capacity

18. Much of the UK’s ‘political stability premium’ based on predictability / reliability etc could be lost for long time

19. As UK leaves, recovery will be underway but economy & politics will look structurally different

20. We are not predicting second Scot ref at this stage, but constitutional settlement needs to change (inc London / FPTP?)

21. Impacts across Europe will be substantial. We have taken 0.2% off growth and see larger political risks – particularly in Italy/France

22. The region is capable of managing Brexit, and other crises in isolation. It may not be capable of managing several crises at once

23. We expect things to hold together, but see major downside risks – include possibility EU wont deal, or that crises spin out of control

24. Follow @TheEIU_Europe, @DHaralambous and @aenguscollins for more