AOB – 2014

30 December 2014

Back in Dubai – for some reason EK has launched its January movies early – including “Hector and the Search for Happiness.” What starts as an interesting idea just sinks into a morass of cloying nonsense.

Roger Ebert is a far better film critic than me – here is his conclusions:

“Good intentions are all over “Hector and the Search for Happiness.” Clear care has been put into the project. There is nothing wrong with trying to put on film a parable about what it means to be human; stories about unhappy trapped characters who discover a way to cherish the life that they have. Films like “Wizard of Oz,” “It’s a Wonderful Life” and “Stranger Than Fiction,” to name just a few, treat this same topic with sensitivity, creativity, and emotional honesty. “Hector” is an animated Power Point presentation in comparison.”

16 December 2014

The Economist on the CIA torture report – a commentary that makes a whole lot of sense:

“This week’s Senate report makes a return to torture less likely. The CIA’s black jails and the terrible things that went on in them were unworthy of the United States. However, amid the foreign gloating and the unedifying partisan rows at home, remember that unlike the rest, America tends to face up to its demons. That is an example other countries should follow.”

Update on the dear leader’s use of Hitler symbolism for his core values:

Authorities have already instructed public schools and state agencies to hang a banner listing Gen. Prayuth’s teachings on their premises.

State agencies have also produced a poem, song, and 12-part film based on the Twelve Values.

The film, titled “Thai Niyom,” stirred controversy shortly after it was released on 6 December because of a scene in which two children are seen painting and praising a picture of Adolf Hitler.

A Cabinet minister from the Office of Prime Minister, which was responsible for the film’s production, was forced to apologise to the Israeli ambassador in Bangkok after the diplomat said he was “deeply saddened” to see the “trivialization and misuse” of Nazi symbols in an official Thai government film.

Oh dear.

Dating in 2014:



Was up

Nm u


Who do u like


Do u like me


Let’s date




The Stock Exchange of Thailand took its biggest one day fall since 2008 yesterday – but no one can say why…other than an ‘unexplained rumour’ – a symptom of a non-transparent society.

So this is my flying schedule over nine days ending on Sunday night –


Four flights on Emirates; one on Thai Airways and one on QANTAS.

Poor old Thai – there 747 is so dated now; with seats that have no support in the cushion.

The worst was the cabin crew who poured a cup of hot coffee over my leg and then said “sorry – would you like the toilet.”

I didn’t need the f***ing toilet – I needed some wet towels from the galley – now!

Hopeless and really – sorry is the best you can do.

How about a dry-cleaning voucher; a glass of champagne; an upgrade voucher?

QANTAS cabin crew – friendly without being patronising and very, very efficient.

Strange and in many ways very enjoyable to be back in Sydney. 30 years and six months since I first went there for work.

I had a job offer to stay there. Life would have been very different.

15 December 2014

Just for the record anyone who posts abusive/racist comments on my social media feeds is never going to be someone that I regard as a friend. And if you do that – even in the heat of an ill-considered moment – you have been or will be deleted.

This is not taking the moral high ground – this is simply because such behavior is so utterly unnecessary – and to do nothing is to accept the unacceptable.

There have been hate messages after today’s hostage taking in Sydney and people need to remember that it is not Islam, or any other faith, that is the issue; it is the lunatics and extremists within it that are not true Muslims and who believe in hate. This is true of all extremists.

Back from two weeks of traveling – to Geneva for Alex’s end of term parent-teacher meetings and school concert and then a flying visit to Sydney and Bangkok – as Tai was rostered on EK’s 418/419 trip.

Note to Perth Airport – A$5.50 for a small bottle of water. You must be having a laugh.

Note to Emirates – love the inflight live tv. Hate that your economy crew seem to be increasingly clueless even with a light – 40% load.

The comparison between EK’s confused, inexperienced, poorly-directed economy crew and the highly professional, relaxed, experienced crew on Qantas Domestic from SYD to PER is like night and day.

And why – with just a 40% load does it take 30 minutes after the meal has been served to offer a drink to go with the meal. The drinks card did one return trip up and down the aisle offering nothing – before sometime later it slowly set off again.

And as the drinks cart set off so did the coffee and tea trolley as well – until someone must have realised that they should be offering drinks first.

That no – one in Emirates can work out how to serve drinks with a meal in economy class is sad. Every other airline in the world appears to make this work without a problem.

Emirates Airline has announced plans to offer a double daily service to Barcelona, less than three years after its initial launch to the city.

From May 2, 2015, the Dubai-based airline will operate a Boeing 777-200LR in a three class configuration, complementing the airline’s daily A380 service.

6 December 2014

How to stay safe in England:

“I was fed up with being burgled every other day in my neighborhood. So, I tore out my alarm system & de-registered from our local Neighborhood Watch.

I’ve planted a Pakistani flag in each corner of my front garden and a large Black Flag of ISIL in its centre.

Now, the Yorkshire police, the National Security Bureau, Scotland Yard, MI-5, MI-6, the CIA and every other intelligence service in Europe are all watching my house 24x7x365. My children are followed to school every day and my wife when she goes shopping. I’m followed to and from work every day. So no one bothers me at all.
I’ve never felt safer.

All thanks to Pakistan.”

5 December 2014

The Thai definition of disaster is a bit different from the rest of the world – in Chiang Mai the temperature in Om Koy, Mae Chaem, Kalayaniwattana, Wiang Hang and Fang districts has fallen below 15 degree Celsius for three consecutive days prompting the Chiang Mai’s Public Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Centre to declare them disaster-affected area eligible to public disaster fund to help the affected residents. From ThaiPBS.

1 December 2014

Withdrawn Emirates A340-500 A6-ERA positioned Dubai – Lourdes for storage this afternoon as EK3073. The aircraft is now in all white livery.

Back in Dubai after a strange few days in Thailand. It really is a seriously screwed up country. And that saddens me as it could be so much more than it is.

Emirates switched the EK225/EK226 Dubai – San Francisco rotation from Boeing 777-300ER to A380 operation today with A6-EET operating the inaugural A380 service.

30 November 2014

NokScoot has taken delivery of its first aircraft, a B777-200(ER), sourced from equity partner Scoot. HS-XBA (msn 28521) arrived in Bangkok Don Mueang on Sunday, November 23, following a ferry flight from Singapore Changi where it had undergone a repaint into the start-up’s distinctive livery – a hybrid between that of Scoot and Thai parent, Nok Air.

The longhaul LCC secured its Air Operator’s Certificate (AOC) from the Thai Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) on October 30 and plans to launch commercial operations, likely to Tokyo Narita, before year-end.

The airline expects to add a second 777 in 2014 and add routes to Osaka, Seoul and Nanjing.

Incidentally, it is a really silly name for an airline.

Update on the Crown Prince’s fourth and latest wife: her real name is “Suthida” and her official surname is “Vajilalongkorn” – Suthida Vajilalongkorn. She is a former Thai Airways cabin crew. Her nickname is Nui. She also holds a pilot license and is qualified to fly the 737.

There is more but this is a sensitive subject.

27 November 2014

They are at it again – “Emirates, a global connector of places, people and their passions…” – once again – it is just an airline folks….

Tweet of the day from the BBC’s Jonathon Head on the new and massive intrigue at the Palace – “Am
trying to decide whether this is Henry VIII, King Lear, or the last days
of Caligula.”

The answer is probably no – yes – no.

26 November 2014

Have been ignoring the blog -sorry – not intentional. Just distracted.

Mr. Stenson won the DP World Golf Championship. Two great birdie on 17 and 18 sealed the win – as everyone else just seemed to lose the plot over the final few holes. They say a tournament really only starts with the last 9 holes on the final day. This was so very true in Dubai.

Desperately sad to hear today of the death of Australian cricketer and opening batsman – Phillip Hughes. He was struck by a short ball in a Sheffield Shield match (inter-state) two days ago. Unconcscious. Despite surgery he never regained consciousness. He would have been 26 on Sunday. The thought that someone can die playing a sport that they, and I, love is very sad indeed.

23 November 2014

Today’s entertainment at the DPWTC saw the two Royal Trophy captains paired together. All the fun was saved for the back nine. Miguel Ángel Jiménez played the last 6 holes in 3 under while putting with one of his wedges after the not-as-mild-as-you-think Spaniard launched his putter over the green into a tree on the 11th. He then tramped over to the trees and booted the errant putter a further 10 or 15 yards.

Meanwhile Thongchai Jaidee had five birdies on the back nine including the 17th and 18th for a strong 67.
There is a low score waiting out there for someone today with some much friendlier pin positions and forward tees on 15 and 18.

20 November 2014

It is a very good week for sports fans in the UAE

Pakistan v New Zealand cricket; the DP World Tour Championship and the F1 grand prix in Abu Dhabi – all in the same week.

19 November 2014

With the new Hunger Games movie being released globally one country that has already seem the film’s premier cancelled is Thailand where the films’ three finger salute has become a symbol of protest against military rule.

Yesterday, the director of the Hunger Games movies told The Sydney Morning Herald that he was troubled by the Thai junta’s actions against peaceful protesters adopting the gesture.

“When people are getting arrested for doing something from your movie, it’s troubling,” Francis Lawrence said. “It is sort of thrilling that something that happens in the movie can become a symbol for people, for freedom or protest. But when kids started getting arrested for it … it takes the thrill out of it and it becomes much more dangerous and it makes the feeling much more complex.”

15 November 2014

Emirates says it will resume flights from Dubai to the Iraqi Kurdish regional capital of Irbil after halting them following advances by the Islamic State group.

The Dubai-based carrier said Thursday it will resume twice-weekly flights Sunday, increasing them to four weekly flights in December.

It stopped Irbil flights in August for what it called “operational reasons,” though it continued flying to Baghdad and the southern city of Basra.

Dubai is a major regional commercial hub and home to the Middle East’s busiest airport.

Majid Al Mualla, Emirates divisional senior vice president for commercial operations, said he hoped the move “will help support business and international investment across numerous sectors” in Irbil and benefit passengers connecting from the Gulf states, Europe and the United States.

Isn’t that just a bit too close to ISIS territory?

9 November 2014

Corporate bullshit department:

“Emirates, a global connector and facilitator of vital trade links…” says the press release – in case anyone is confused it is just a airline.

6 November 2014

Happy Loy Krathong Day.

Emirates Airline has announced the launch of a fourth daily service from Dubai International Airport to John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York commencing from 8th March 2015.

The new service, EK 207, will depart Dubai at 14:50 hours and arrive in JFK at 20:35 hours. The return flight, EK 208 will depart JFK at 16:30 hours and arrive in Dubai at 13:15 the following day.

The flight will be operated by an A380.

The return flight is oddly timed as it arrives back in Dubai when it basically connects with nothing.

Rather than spending 20 hours on the ground EK 201 will then return as EK 208 and the A380 from EK 207 will return as EK 202.

Just a rumour for now – but it may be that this new flight will replace the existing DXB-MXP-JFK flight which is subject to review by the Italian courts.

5 November 2014

EK fleet plans:

looking at the 16 month period between 01 September 2014 and 31 December 2015, EK will have increased the operational A380 fleet from 46 (50 less 4 on wing fix) to 73 and the 777-300ER fleet from 97 to 115. That’s an increase of 45 frames, all of which have a greater seat count and have less maintenance requirements than the A330/340 and 777 classics they may replace.

EK currently have 4 A340-300s, 20 A330-200s, 8 A340-500s, 2 777-200s, 6 777-200ERs, and 12 777-300s officially in operation, with 1 A330-200 and 1 777-200 already sitting outside the DXB maintenance hangars with white tails.

(On 5 November Emirates Boeing 777-21H A6-EMD positioned Boston – Tupelo as EK3147 early this morning for part out and scrap.)

EK will keep at least 9 A330s, 6 777-200ERs, and 12 777-300s beyond 2015. The retirements will thus be about 25 frames between now and the end of 2015, which means a net increase of about 20 frames to the fleet in 16 months.

So there is scope for a number of new destinations in 2015.

4 November 2014

Try and make sense of this – Global Village opens on 6 November and here is the Khaleej Times report on the pricing:

“Entry tickets are priced at AED 15 per person and free admission for children under 3, individuals with special needs and people over 65 entering. Every ticket holder will receive a Scratch and Win voucher with guaranteed prizes.

New Family & Economy Packs have been introduced. Available at select EPPCO and ENOC petrol stations around the UAE, Family Packs will be priced at AED 199 for 10 tickets and at AED 99 for 4 tickets.”

Why, why, why? Or are they just really bad at maths?

One line on another web site summarises the Thai junta’s objectives of re-creating a Thailand that has probably never existed, a fairy tale kingdom where Thaksin never existed, where the monarchy is loved by all and where the corrupt in the military are never questioned about their unusual wealth.

3 November 2014

Heading back to Dubai after 2 and 1/2 days in Hong Kong. Two and a half days in large part spend trying to understand the biggest protests in Hong Kong since the 1960s.

29 October 2014

Fleet changes at Emirates: B777 A6-ENV was delivered today and A345 A6-ERG is flying to LFBT for storage (it is the 2nd A345 to leave the fleet. ERG was the A345 in the Melbourne take-off incident.

LFBT is the Tarbes – Lourdes Pyrenees Airport.

27 October 2014

Ultimate Airport – Dubai – Season 2 – every episode here.

24 October 2014

There are far too many people in Thailand and Hong Kong trying to explain why so called western style democracy either des not work or is not suitable.

This nonsense argument is even picked up by western friends who have benefited from growing up in open societies but who seem to think that it is ok for elites to rule at the expense of democracy and freedom of speech,

Democracy works when the core values of the “four estates” are all in effective place.

Separation of powers between the traditional three estates is essential. The executive, legislature and judiciary should all have checks and balances upon each other.

The judiciary should be able to prosecute the executive if they abuse power, the legislature should be solely responsible for defining legislation (preferably with a strong house of review), and the judiciary for interpreting that legislation in accordance with social norms and the principles of justice.

The “fourth estate”, the media, should have unfettered access to report on the activities of the government and judiciary, to highlight abuses and negligence.

It is the separation of powers that allows a strong society built upon the rule of law, and prevents abuse of power.

Voting plays its own part – primarily serving as a way to dismiss administrations who are out-of-touch or performing poorly.

It is the separation of powers that ensures Western Democracy works. Whenever it is encroached upon, corruption and mismanagement arise as a result.

20 October 2014

Palermo is an interesting city. Very different from anywhere else we have seen in Sicily. It is a big city for a start – some 1 million people.

But it is also a melting pot – it is where Italy meets Africa with a sizeable number of people from South Asia as well. Colourful and lively. But old and unkempt. Too much garbage. Too much graffiti. A town that is rotting with age rather than growing gracefully with age.

18 October 2014

The A19 from Catania to Palermo is a fun drive!

China Southern have relinked DXB with Urumqi after almost ten years hiatus, four times weekly with 738, they had previously operated for a year or so once weekly with 757.

15 October 2014

Just so you know – Jumeirah Beach Park to close until end of 2016.

The SZ Road diversions will start from 25 October.

What is with all the garbage at the side of the road in Sicily – the S284 was especially horrible – like a giant dump?

Taormina is as pretty place as you can travel to.

The better half asked why volcanoes are named after women – it cannot be something to do with them being unpredictable and likely to erupt at any time….can it?

Easyjet have successfully taken any last residual pleasure out of flying.

12 October 2104

Horrible flight from Dubai to Milan yesterday afternoon.

Firstly the airplane was freezing. 2 blankets were not enough. Plenty of passengers complaining – and being told by the crew that they could not change the temperature. I do get irritated when the crew lies because they are either too lazy or too badly trained to do anything.

Very average meal.

Old style IFE.

And a crew that wanted to secure the cabin an hour before landing – including collecting all blankets, headsets and seats upright. There was an hour to fly.

10 October 2014

Am up to date with The Good Wife, Person of Interest and Homeland.

The Good Wife looks set for a strong season. Person of Interest is great fun. Homeland – might have at least gotten past the Brodey romance but the baby is a real problem and was one of the dafter plot ideas.

9 October 2014

One of the most striking aspects of being in America last week was the depth and vitriol embedded in too many average Americans towards the Muslim faith.

Tell them you live in the United Arab Emirates and a look of uncertainty appears.

Listen to them sitting around the breakfast table and it is as though you are participating in a Fox News talkshow. The conversation is a mixture of fear, revulsion and misunderstanding.

This is Nicholas Kristof writing in the NYT on the “Diversity of Islam.” and he concludes that:

“The great divide is not between faiths, but one between intolerant zealots of any tradition and the large numbers of decent, peaceful believers likewise found in each tradition.”

He is correct but he is the educated, rational, balanced, worldly view of the US media. For others IS/ISIL and Islam appear to be a common enemy.

Watford now have their fourth manager in 37 days. It is probably not worth naming him as he is unlikely to last for long.

It is just a bit embarrassing.

6 October 2014

Notes from the West coast:

I don’t like Seattle much – another big American city that increasingly does not work and where too many people have been left behind. Downtown at night time feels more intimidating than it should.

Portland is a fun city for right brained creatives.

Someone actually said to me “I love your accent” – this was at a cafe in Roslyn, Washington.

Small town America still fascinates me – and the small towns are so much more interesting than the endless urban sprawl of the big cities.

The NW coast Pacific has some fabulous unspoiled beaches – surprisingly not over run by hotel and condo developments and where small towns such as Seaside and Long Beach still have a community feel.

I do not much like the new 787. Over hyped. An accountants’ airplane not a passengers’ airplane.

3 October 2014

flydubai in Winter 2014 will add new services to Bratislava, Prague and Sofia. Planned launch dates and schedules as follow.

eff 05DEC14 Dubai – Prague 4 weekly
FZ781 DXB0840 – 1220PRG 73H x136
FZ782 PRG1305 – 2155DXB 73H 2
FZ782 PRG1305 – 2200DXB 73H 457

eff 06DEC14 Dubai – Bratislava 2 weekly
FZ785 DXB0940 – 1250BTS 73H 26
FZ786 BTS1335 – 2205DXB 73H 26

eff 14DEC14 Dubai – Sofia 2 weekly
FZ757 DXB1050 – 1435SOF 73H 37
FZ758 SOF1520 – 2200DXB 73H 37

28 September 2014

Europe win the Ryder Cup – for the 8th time in the last 10 contests.

The Americans really do struggle with team golf….

27 September 2014

Emirates A380 A6-EOA was delivered Finkenwerder – Dubai this evening as EK7380. This brings the Emirates A380 fleet up to 53 aircraft.

The registration is interesting – we went from EDA and EEA to EOA…

Oh dear – the Thai Junta wants to become member of UN Human Rights Council 2015-17…tells UN Thailand moving towards democracy…

That is in between the arrests and detentions of all dissenters and sandwich eaters…

23.5% of Thais are considered to live in poverty, while 0.1 per cent of Thais own nearly half of the country’s total assets. From a report in the Nation this week.

And the point of the coup was all abut preserving this status quo.

24 September 2014

24 hours in Bangkok and have not yet heard the dear leader’s happiness song!

Chow Yun-Fat is one of the great Hong Kong actors – and an all round nice guy as well – but From Vegas to Macau is a bit of a stinker of a movie – also known as The Man from Macau.

But it is not all bad – Jing Tian makes a very arresting Chinese police officer…

And there are a few more pictures of her here.

One the subject of movies I watched the movie “Calvary” yesterday. Brendan Gleeson is wonderful. Not sure it counts as black comedy – too much suffering. Go and see.

22 September 2014

Simple reality on the Scottish independence referendum – post voting polls show that if voters up to age 54 only it’s YES. If only voters over 54 it’s NO. 16-54: YES 54%, NO 46% and 55+: YES 34%, NO 66%.

More here : How Scotland voted, and why

20 September 2014

The airline industry and its cost saving efforts in a single sentence : “the fact that an industry can neglect people facing redundancy with huge experience and give plum jobs to 200 hour kids is an utter disgrace.”

Back from five days in Norway – great weather (yes, we were lucky), friendly people, great scenery, horrible prices – but I guess that is what keeps it from being over run by visitors.

And in yet more bizarre news from Dubai – The Gulf News happily reports that “Dubai has successful landed a new Guinness World Record after merging over 2,327 tennis balls to create the world’s largest tennis ball mosaic.”

Why and who cares?

8 September 2014

Legoland Dubai and Dubai’s new airport announced on the same day – I hope the contractors do not get confused!

“David Cameron can’t help the No campaign – he’s less popular in Scotland than Windows 8” – Charlie Brooker.

“We cannot look at what’s happening in Iraq without looking at the wider Middle East context, which is also an unfolding tragedy, and I think it could well be the defining conflict for our era.”

I am sure this is correct – the quote is from Andrew MacGregor Marshall in this interview.

6 September 2014

Dubai-based flydubai has announced the addition of three new east African routes, bringing the total number of destinations in the carrier’s network to 80.

With the launch of flights in September to Bujumbura in Burundi, Entebbe in Uganda and Kigali in Rwanda, flydubai will fly to nine destinations in Africa.

5 September 2014

Old Jokes Home:

Q: What do you get if you cross a financial adviser with a Richard Curtis movie?

A: Love Actuary.

3 September 2014

Watford have appointed the former Brighton manager Óscar García as their new head coach.

The Hornets moved quickly to appoint the 41-year-old, who spent a season with the Seagulls before departing in May, following the resignation of Beppe Sannino on Sunday.

A club statement read: “Watford Football Club is delighted to confirm the appointment of Oscar Garcia as head coach, the Hornets having won the race against several high-profile English clubs to secure his services.

“Oscar’s recent Championship experience, taking Brighton & Hove Albion into last season’s Championship promotion play-offs, was a key factor in his appointment.”

2 September 2014

Emirates press release calls the company “a global enabler of trade and business.” If anyone is confused it is just an airline.

1 September 2014

So Radamel Falcao will earn gbp346,000 a week at Manchester United where the club has agreed to pay Monaco gbp24million for a season-long loan of their player.

The Premiership is just so disconnected from real life – it has become an exclusive sport – for players, officials and spectators – a corporate game where tv money calls the shots and corporate entertaining is so much more important than the fans that may have followed the club for years or for generations. It really is a shame. And while the Premiership is occasionally interesting it is increasingly hard to feel in any way connected to it.

Falcao, Rooney and Van Persie = £866,000 per week in wages.

Messi, Ronaldo and Bale = £850,000 per week in wages.

I know which group I would prefer to watch.

Man Utd are over-paying – and that inflates prices for everyone else.

Meanwhile Watford’s Italian manager has resigned after less than a season – yet Watford are in second place in the Championship.

It sounds as though he was battling intrigue and plpayer revolt….prima donnas that were not being selected by the manager. How can you be a prima donna in the Championhip?

31 August 2014

Sorry – at home. Uninspired.

24 August 2014

My simplistic view of the ice water challenge – donate money to a charity you care about on your own volition, then don’t tell your friends about it. Simple.

22 August 2014

The Good Wife returns Sunday, Sept. 21 at 9/9c on CBS – just so you know!

20 August 2014

Emirates news – Rome will get a 2nd daily A380 on the afternoon flight effective from 29 August.

In addition to the A380 change EK is also to introduce a 3rd daily flight to Rome with a 777-300 effective from 26 October.

The Rome roster from that date will be:

ek099 dxb0355 – 0735fco 773 d
ek097 dxb0910 – 1240fco 388 d
ek095 dxb1505 – 1845fco 388 d

ek098 fco1440 – 2320dxb 388 d
ek100 fco1100 – 1935dxb 773 d
ek096 fco2045 – 0530+1dxb 388 d

16 August 2014

The Observer has an editorial today that basically excuses Obama for six bitterly disappointing years.

Here is a simple alternative view of his presidency:

# US-sponsored proxy wars with Russia – still going
# Gitmo Gulag – still doing great business, and a new gulag built at Bagram too
# War in Iraq – still raging
# War in Afghanistan – still raging
# School shootings – nothing done
# Cold War with Russia – colder even than the Bush era, snubs Russia at every opportunity
# Improved rights for black Americans? – ask Michael Brown?
# Gun laws – still medieval
# Invasion of Iran – not got around to it yet

Have been in Devon for a few days – thought not quite sure why I bothered to come.

Flew to Newcastle on Emirates – it was the only UK flight with seats available – overnight in Newcastle and then Easyjet to Bristol and a drive from there.

Even just 45 minutes on QueasyJet is 45 minutes too long.

Plymouth city centre is more depressing every time I go there – shops closed down and boarded up…a concrete mess.

Knock it all down and turn it into an urban park with a leisure center at its core. That really is the only solution – because the High Street is dead – replaced by the gloomy Drake Mall and out of town supermarkets.

TMS: Tufnell – “You cant get a hundred on cornflakes”……

Cricket quote genius!

The Premier League starts today – and of course it is time for the annual predictions:

So to win the Premiership: Chelsea

And in second, third and fourth:

Manchester City
Manchester Utd

And relegated:

Aston Villa
West Bromwich Albion

QPR and Leicester should be battle hardened enough to survive.

10 August 2014

Person of Interest returns on 23 September 2014 – just so you know!

8 August 2014

State of the middle east: key dynamic still Arab govts against Hamas and Arab public opinion more supportive of it. Too many analysts focus on govts only.

Emirates updates: Emirates flights to Erbil, Iraq will be suspended effective 10th August 2014 for operational reasons.

Emirates will continue to operate its daily, non-stop flights between Dubai and Basra and four times weekly service to Baghdad.

Given current events in Northern Iraq and the FAA’s Notam saying US airliners should not overfly Northern Iraq it is surprising that EK has not canceled the Erbil flight immediately.

Previous EK flights to Erbil were tankered with enough fuel to return to Dubai if they were not given clearance to land.

Emirates has also suspended its services to Conakry until further notice, due to the outbreak of the Ebola virus in Guinea. Flights continue to Dakar in Senegal and to Lagos and Abuja in Nigeria.

Flights to Damascus, Tripoli and Kiev are also suspended as each have effectively become war zones.

6 August 2014

The joys of getting documents attested for the UAE

Be prepared!

5 August 2014

I missed seeing this announced but the UAE and Canada appear to have normalised relations at last : “Canadian passport holders will be granted entry free of charge to the UAE with their visit arrival stamp, again, issued upon arrival in the UAE. No application in advance of travel is necessary. Please know that the Canadian passport will be stamped for 30 days upon arrival.” From the UAE embassy in Ottawa.

3 August 2014

flydubai will launch flights to Mashhad andTehran in Iran on 10,11 August 2014 respectively

2 August 2014

The Khaleej Times at its Dubai tub-thumping best which may explain the typo in the first line:

“”Month-long DSS celebrations promise unique attractions

Staff Reporter / 2 August 2014

The 17th edition of the Dubai Summer Surprises (DSS) will begin toady aimed at further enhancing the emirate’s position as a year-round family tourism destination….”

Toady indeed….

1 August 2014

So the Thai junta has granted “itself almost unlimited powers of arrest and repression” (Financial Times quote). No one at #thailandbff appears to care. This is the hashtag that has been used by al the free-loading travel journalists, hacks and agents that have been enjoying the Army’s hospitality in a desperate attempt to reverse a 37% fall in international arrivals (June 2014 compared to June 2013) at Bangkok’s international airport.

27 July 2014

The Bangkok Post on Thailand under martial law: “For moral points, I’m ready to give up any idea — to denounce my inner life, to let my prejudices run deep and my intelligence run low in order to live in a happy stupor forever.”

Why is it so hard to move to a new pc – far too complicated and takes way too long.

20 July 2014

Rory McIlroy wins the British Open at Hoylake – another Northern Irish winnner – the fourth in eight years I think; 2 x Harrington, Clarke and now McIlroy. No English winner since Nick Faldo a couple of decades ago!

Rory won in style but he has had some good fortune this week with the draw and the conditions very much favoring him.

UAE public sector workers have been given a nine-day holiday for Eid Al Fitr, which marks the end of Ramadan, it was confirmed on Sunday.

“Eid Al Fitr holiday for federal ministries and departments will start Sunday 27 July & end Thursday 31 July, to resume work on August 3,” it was announced on the official Dubai Media twitter account

19 July 2014

Blaming Malaysian Airline or its pilots for the MH17 disaster is both unhelpful and incorrect. This was the status of Ukraine flightpaths on 16 July.

They were fully entitled and sanctioned to be where they were.


18 July 2014

My entertainment from Stockholm to Dubai was the Discovery Channel drama “Klondike” – which was originally released over 3 nights in North America last year.

It is good. Engaging. Not great. But the cold feels real and some of the landscaping shots are fabulous.

But you cannot really tell a story of the 1897 Yukon gold rush without portraying the inordinate amount of suffering that went on.

“Klondike” starts out strong in aiming for an accurate 19th-century period report but gradually lapses in detail. As bad as life gets, the characters still look a little cleaner and healthier than the old photographs depict; winter is harsh but not harsh enough; the starvation is too painless.

The grim desperation of life there is lost in the melodrama.

But it has a strong cast and in keeping with Discovery channel it has a solid spirit and a moral underpinning.

Running for about 5 and 1/2 hours in total it is best watched in one go and is solid airplane entertainment.

17 July 2014

Back in Dubai…and it feels like I have been away a long time…which other than about 36 hours here between Thailand and Geneva is true….

Things to do and sort out now that I am back!

The Open Golf Championship is under way and here is the Guardian’s play-by-play on on of Thailand’s brightest and biggest young golfers:

“Kiradech Aphibarnrat. The big man lives his life. He’s exactly the sort of player the average punter loves to see do well. The sort who looks like he’s just jumped the rope to join in. Well, not so much jumped the rope as awkwardly put one leg over it, got in a tangle, then decided to hold it up and squeeze underneath instead. Who needs athleticism? Not me, we’ve got athletics for that. Anyway, our hero, a go-for-broke gambling type, is already up today: birdie at 3 and he’s -1. Might be worth keeping an eye on the big Thai. Last year, on his Open debut at Muirfield, he shot a first-round one-over 72. Then followed it up with an 85. He’s not the sort that’ll die wondering.”

14 July 2014

Emirates will start a Daily 330to Budapest from 27th October as EK 111/112.

The flight spends 3 and 1/2 hours on the ground at Budapest due to the relatively short flight time and the need to fit the flight into the EK morning departure bank and late night arrivals.

In the latest over-the-top, USA-led security scare: “Emirates is advising travelers to the USA, Canada and the UK that they are required to switch on their electronic devices at Dubai International airport or risk being denied boarding. All electronic devices are required to have sufficient power before reaching the airport. This advisory is part of enhanced security measures required by the authorities of these countries and is applicable to passengers of all airlines.”

13 July 2014

Live Aid was 29 years ago today. I was in Chicago. Working for Reuters. Helping out at a newly acquired subsidiary. Staying out at the Marriott near ORD. That is a whole different story.

But Live Aid was really the first great global concert – where musicians realised that they could offer so much more to the world….

7 July 2014

Emirates (EK, Dubai Int’l) will suspend its Dubai Int’l to Kiev Borispol service with effect from August 1. In a statement, the airline said the move was as a result of the decline in demand for flights to the troubled former Soviet republic.

Last week, the Emirati carrier joined Etihad Airways (EY, Abu Dhabi Int’l), Qatar Airways (QR, Doha Hamad Int’l) and Saudia (SV, Jeddah) in suspending flights to Peshawar in Pakistan after a PIA – Pakistan International Airlines (PK, Karachi Int’l) A310-300, AP-BGN (cn 676), was shot at while on finals to runway 35. The incident left one of the two passengers and two crew hit during the incident dead.

6 July 2014

UAE oversupply of property means a correction ahead – says Peter Cooper, editor of Arabian Money in the National today. A correction of 20% to 30% is not unreasonable he suggests.

I fear he is probably right.

5 July 2014

Cork Airport is a very pleasant modern facility. Simple, modern, single terminal. Short walk through security to the gate. Excellent.

Flew Aer Lingus regional from there to Bristol in an ATR72.

2 July 2014

Leaving Galway today. Thoroughly like this town.


27 June 2014

Emirates A380 A6-EEW was delivered Finkenwerder – Dubai this afternoon as EK7380. This brings the Emirates A380 fleet up to 49 aircraft.

Emirates from 26OCT14 expands operations to South Africa, with the launch of 4th daily Dubai – Johannesburg service. All 4 daily flights are served by 3-class Boeing 777-300ER aircraft.

EK761 DXB0440 – 1050JNB 77W D
EK763 DXB1015 – 1625JNB 77W D
EK765 DXB1440 – 2050JNB 77W D
EK767 DXB2320 – 0535+1JNB 77W D

EK768 JNB0930 – 1940DXB 77W D
EK762 JNB1350 – 0005+1DXB 77W D
EK764 JNB1905 – 0505+1DXB 77W D
EK766 JNB2220 – 0820+1DXB 77W D

24 June 2014

How desperately sad to see the US secretary of state put America’s and Israel’s strategic interest in a strong, stable pro-western Egypt above human rights issues.

Well done Michelle Wie; her first major. A whole new approach to the game; a huge determination and a natural talent. Excellent.

Based on Official figures received from Madar Research and Development and Orient Planet, this is the latest population data from some Middle East countries, plus 2017 forecasts and GCC local versus expatriate percentages:

UAE population: UAE: Total population 9,036,488. 13 percent locals and 87 percent expatriates. 2017 population forecast 11,533,103.

Qatar: Total population 1,836,676. 14 percent locals and 86 percent expatriates. 2017 population forecast 2,642,812.

More at Arabian Business.

20 June 2014

Michelle Wie shoots her second 68 in a row and leads the US Open. Two rounds completed.

More bad news for Thailand: The Guardian:

The US has downgraded Thailand and Qatar in its annual human trafficking report after revelations of appalling maltreatment of workers that amount to modern-day slavery in both countries.

Thailand was relegated to the lowest rank in the state department’s Trafficking in Persons (TiP) report – meaning it is now considered no better than North Korea, Iran or Saudi Arabia in the way it treats workers and protects them from abuse.

19 June 2014

Emirates will start flying their A380 daily to San Francisco and Houston starting 1 Dec and 3 Dec 2014 respectively.

That frees up probably 4 777s to fly to “where”?

18 June 2014

Iraq is unraveling – and the violence is staggering. But apart from a handful of scholars, the Sunni muslim world esp Jordan, Qatar, UAE, Saudi, Turkey, Egypt have all been silent.

But I suspect ISIS objectives go beyond Iraq and their will be consequences from not denouncing ISIS. These countries too will be targeted. Not just Shia.

16 June 2014

Another Thai no-hoper – how on earth do these airlines get approved – the DCA makes it too easy… SiamJet Airlines is a new Thai start-up looking to use an ex-R Airlines B737-400, msn 25313, on flights between Bangkok Don Mueang, Chiang Rai, Phuket, and Chengdu in China. Once operational, the carrier intends to open up more flights to mainland China, Macau, and Singapore.

15 June 2014

Emirates has received Boeing 777-31HER A6-ENR. This brings the Emirates B777-300ER fleet up to 96 aircraft

14 June 2014

Entertaining discussion on BBC World’s Dateline – is there such a thing as British values – of course not – there are British characteristic and there are certain human values such as freedom and equality.

Politicians who are in trouble talk about unique cultures and values.

Maybe the British value is that you do not try to define it – there is no written constitution for instance…

Tolerance is a British characteristic – that is all that is needed – extremism is extremism and if it is inciting violence then it is criminal.

Freedom of speech is not just about talking – it is also about listening – even to views that you do not necessarily like.

Thailand could take note….

13 June 2014

The coup in Thailand has taken another sporting casualty with the announcement that the Thai leg of the Asian Tour, the Chiangmai Golf Classic, has been postponed.

The $750,000 event in the northern city of Chiangmai was scheduled to take place from July 3 to 6, with the Asian Tour now aiming to reschedule it to an as yet unspecified date later in the year. That is not likely as given little will have changed by then.

Thongchai Jaidee 3 over 73 in the first round of the US Open at Pinehurst no 2. Tied 68th place he needs a strong second day to make the cut.

The Thai Army has over 3,000 generals – active and retired – which might go some way to explaining the army budget.

The Royal & Ancient will confirm on Monday that the 2019 Open Championship will be held at Royal Portrush; great news for Northern Ireland – and for a great golf course – which I have played – and it is a wonderful links course.

The Open was last played outside England or Scotland, also at Portrush, in 1951.

12 June 2014

TV Reporter: “How far are England away from a good team?” Roy Hodgson: “About 4 hotels”

11 June 2014

A quote on facebook – not from me but this nails the problem in a few sentences….

“What is driving me mad are the arguments that the coup was needed to restore order because of an ineffectual government who could not stop the violence. This as the two main institutions for controlling law and order stood by and did nothing allowing a fascist egomaniac and his whistling fanatics to run wild in the streets and government buildings of Bangkok. How can the indictment be against the PT government when it is now being said that a government cannot operate properly if even a single person flashes a hand signal or presses like on Facebook.

9 June 2014

This is good – “@emirates are an absolute joke. Brand new planes, nice staff but clearly administratively run by the equivalent of Baldrick” from @simon_whale

8 June 2014

Sorry – quiet – have been updating an as yet unpublished page on the 18 days of the Thai coup.

That and regular trips to the clinic with Tai – fingers crossed.

D-Day 70th anniversary was on 6 June. A day when so many people made the ultimate sacrifice against tyranny and oppression.

Take note Thailand – people will fight for freedom.

Du is charging customers an additional Dh440 to watch the World Cup – crazy. On top of your existing monthly subscription. For 64 games – many of which you wont be able to watch live simply because of the time differnce!

31 May 2014

The following is attributable to U.S. Department of State Deputy Spokesperson Marie Harf:

“We are increasingly concerned about actions the military has taken, just a few days after it staged a coup. It has dissolved the Senate, detained a number of people, called in some academics and journalists, and continued to restrict the press. We again call on the military to release those detained for political reasons, end restrictions on the media, and move to restore civilian rule and democracy through elections.”

30 May 2014

So Thai military will appoint a government, then reforms, then election. Exactly what the anti government demonstrators – the PDRC wanted.

Which explains why Suthep and his team were partying in military clothes in the upmarket 4 Garcons restaurant in Thonglor last night.

Yes Suthep is still a very free man.

29 May 2014

It was my birthday on Tuesday 27th May.

One day I have to do something fun, somewhere fun, on my birthday.

26 May 2014

Emirates is now up to 48 A380s. A6-EEV was delivered Finkenwerder – Berlin Schoenefeld as EK7380. The aircraft is appearing at the ILA14 Air Show at Berlin Schoenefeld before continuing to Dubai. T

Series 7 – episode 7 of Mad Men – titled Waterloo – and set against the background on man landing on the moon in 1969 – brilliant television. Said the Huffington Post: “Mad Men’s” particular kind of humanism — one that loves individuals and outliers and emotional connections more than insiders, blowhards and data mavens — was all over “Waterloo.” And the moon landing was a brilliant vehicle for that kind of collective resonance and personal accomplishment.

We now have to wait until 2015 for the final seven episodes – which seems foolish from the broadcaster AMC. Mad men was just getting into its stride in the last two episodes after a very lacklustre start to the season.

Rory McIlroy won the European PGA Championship at Wentworth yesterday after breaking up with fiancee Caroline Wozniacki at the start of the week.

So much for every man needing a good woman!

25 May 2014

Meant to comment on a surreal experience yesterday. Orawan and I were walking on the bridge from Siam over to MBK yesterday.

A guy sees Tai – looks at us both and says – Emirates Airline, I have seen your pictures – then looks at me as says rascottdotcom – scott consulting.

I said you have me at a great disadvantage as I have no idea who you are…he did not give a name – he just said I read your web site. I said what do you do and what brings you to Bangok (he was not Thai) – he mumbled – “not much of anything.” We had a brief word about the coup and he then walked away.

It is very possible that he is also from Dubai (although not Arabic). It was a little disconcerting that he would not give any clue as to who he was.

I suppose I should be amazed that anyone reads my web site and looks at the pictures. But I did feel rather like we had encountered my first stalker. If you are reading this it would be great to know who you are – and I hope you enjoyed your time in Bangkok.

22 May 2014

Oh dear.

Almost everything was wrong with today.

18 May 2014

EK will start Mexico freighter service….Emirates SkyCargo has become the latest global airfreight operator to introduce a new service to Mexico City in response to the country’s booming export industry. The carrier has introduced a weekly service from Dubai to Mexico City, calling at Frankfurt and returning via Houston and Copenhagen. It will operate with B777 freighters, which are capable of carrying up to 103 tonnes of cargo.

17 May 2014

FA Cup watching provokes the following though – the Premier League imports players and managers, ever thought of importing referees too? The last remaining role filled by English in the FA is the game’s weakest link.

16 May 2014

FIFA president Sepp Blatter on Thursday said it was a mistake to choose Qatar in the Middle East to host the 2022 World Cup because of the country’s searing summertime climate.

When asked if it was a mistake choosing as host Qatar because of the country’s high temperatures in summer months, Blatter said in an interview with Swiss RTS station: “Yes, of course.”

“You know, everyone makes mistakes in life,” he added.

He only needs to make one decision every four years – bit late now to say we got the most important of all decisions wrong.

15 May 2014

Air Canada has five 458-seat density 777-300ERs acquired in the last year. These planes operate the services from Montreal to Paris, Vancouver to Hong Kong and and London Heathrow and Toronto to Vancouver.

Emirates highest density 777s are the two class 386Y and 42C – for a total of 428 seats.

How Air Canada gets an extra 30 seats on its planes is a mystery; less Biz class seats and less y class legroom.

458 pax on a 773. Great for the accountants; no fun at all for the passengers.


In Phuket and quickly remembering all the reasons that I have never liked it here.

Endless touts – taxis; tailors; restaurants; ugly buildings; cheerless people; daft priced taxis; Russian tourists who make even the Brits look well-dressed; chronically poor airport.

Dear Thailand. Just remember that after you get your appointed government and discover that it is also founded on corruption, nepotism and incompetence, you cannot then complain when you realise that you cannot get rid of them because they are appointed.

Because you will live in a country where you can’t criticize those that are appointed or the appointees.

12 May 2014

There are a few too many typos on the Dubai Media Office English twitter feed recently – not the image that they want to portray – this one is priceless:

“Pic: @HHShkMohd approves Khor Dubai Project, a new development project on #Dubai Greek Waterfront”

Great review here of the new Fuji XT-1 – I was looking at this in Tokyo – it is not a pretty camera – but the reviews are outstanding.

The DSLR still has a place – for serious sports and landscapes – but for a holiday and people snapper Fuji is now building some serious cameras.

In case anyone cares here is England’s world cup squad –
Goalkeepers Joe Hart (Man City), Ben Foster (West Brom), Fraser Forster (Celtic). Defenders Glen Johnson (Liverpool), Phil Jagielka (Everton), Gary Cahill (Chelsea), Chris Smalling (Man Utd), Phil Jones (Man Utd), Leighton Baines (Everton), Luke Shaw (Southampton). Midfielders Steven Gerrard (Liverpool), Frank Lampard (Chelsea), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), James Milner (Man City), Jack Wilshere (Arsenal), Ross Barkley (Everton), Adam Lallana (Southampton), Raheem Sterling (Liverpool), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Arsenal). Forwards Wayne Rooney (Man Utd), Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool), Danny Welbeck (Man Utd), Rickie Lambert (Southampton).

And a team for the opening match against Italy –

Hart; Baines, Jagielka, Cahill, Johnson; Lallana, Gerrard, Milner, Barkley; Rooney, Sturridge.

It is Italy – an aged, experienced team – so play against them with some pace (Sturridge) some width (Lallana) and some experience holding in midfield (Milner).

Damn – who said I do not care ! It is almost be accident a young squad and that maybe its greatest strength. No fear, lots of pride and everything to play for.

World Cup predictions:

Emirates Airline on Monday announced that it will introduce a fifth daily flight between Dubai and Singapore starting on August 1.

Flight EK352 will depart Dubai daily at 2115hrs (local time) and arrive in Singapore at 0900hrs the next day (local time). The return flight, EK 353 will depart Singapore daily at 1035hrs (local time) and arrive in Dubai at 1345hrs (local time).

I have been meaning to share this gem for a few days but I got distracted.

Last week in Bangkok I had to take my golf clubs from Sukhumvit soi 19 to our hotel in Soi Saladaeng.

There were not many taxis around.

One stops – he wants Baht150 for a drive that may cost about Baht 50 or 60. He will not use his meter.

I need to get there – so say Baht 100. He says OK.

I get in the taxi. Sitting in front with golf clubs in the back. It is the same day that the court has removed Yingluck from the Prime Minister’s office.

He starts on politics. Does not like Thaksin – too much corruption. Corruption not good he says.

Hang on says me. You will not use your meter and ask for an excessive fare.

That’s just small corruption he explains.

Therefore in his mind not a problem.

“Dubai Media Office@DXBMediaOffice
.@DXBMediaOffice launches Brand Dubai’s first project #DuabaiSpeakstoYou”

Nothing like launching Brand Dubai’s first project with a typo 🙂

11 May 2014

So Manchester City win the Premiership – Mercenary City – here is a statistic for you : 102 Premier League goals were scored by Manchester City this season, but only 1 of those was scored by an Englishman.

A season in the Premiership:

• Arsenal – 128 Days At Top
• Chelsea – 64
• Liverpool – 59
• Man City – 15


1: Man City
2: Liverpool
3: Chelsea
4: Arsenal

News from our brash neighbours in Doha – Qatar Airways will begin operations to and from Miami on 10 June and Dallas/Fort Worth on 1 July 2014. Qatar Airways will operate four weekly non-stop flights to Miami and direct daily flights to Dallas/Fort Worth from its hub in Doha.

The 48 hour layover in Miami will be a crew pleaser.

Qatar has also confirmed that it will start operations from Doha’s Hamad international airport on 27 May.

8 May 2014

Bad luck A380 crew: Dubai-based Emirates airline will fly Airbus A380, the world’s largest passenger plane, to Delhi and Mumbai from July.

And bad luck – EK airplane cleaners!

6 May 2014

It was Coronation Day in Thailand yesterday:

The royal family were out in force for ceremonies in Hua Hin but the Bangkok Post reported that the King “did not deliver his traditional address on this occasion and did not get up on his wheelchair.” Adding that “her Majesty the Queen, 81, was not present during the ceremony.”

1 May 2014

Back to Bangkok in EK372 – and Tai has two months of unpaid leave.

But not really a vacation!

30 April 2014

Emirates newest Boeing 777-31HER A6-ENP entered service yesterday morning operating EK783 Dubai – Lagos. The aircraft is configured 8F/42J/310Y.

What happened to Mad Men. It has become very missable; dull and predictable; moving slowly and with characters that are regressing not progressing.

Peggy Olsen’s character is a shadow of her former self.

And why on earth would Don Draper accept such a humble role in his old firm?

29 April 2014

The Dubai airport capacity problem in a simple summary:

Helios Consultancy:

“Whilst airport capacity can be constrained for many reasons, the most significant constraint at Dubai is the runway − and resolving runway capacity at Dubai is particularly challenging. As well as ever increasing demand, there are a number of other obstacles to overcome, some of which are unique to Dubai.

The airport is located in complex airspace close to several Flight Information Region (FIR) boundaries and in close proximity to several other major airports. It also suffers from testing environmental conditions which, when combined with the two closely spaced runways and a unique traffic mix – including the largest A380 operation in the world – pose a significant challenge in achieving optimal runway utilisation during peak traffic periods.”

Here is an interesting tale: Kottak may have behaved like an idiot but if he was in transit he never actually entered Dubai as he would not have been required to clear immigration.

From the Gulf News:

“Scorpions drummer James Kottak has been jailed in Dubai for one month for getting drunk, cursing Muslims, making an indecent gesture to a group of passengers and removing his pants at the airport. The American musician also insulted policemen.

Kottak was arrested at Dubai airport on April 3. He was in transit. Kottak was flying from Russia and was on the way to Bahrain to perform at the Formula I concert when he was arrested.

Kottak, 51, has been fined Dh2,000 for drinking and will be deported. He admitted to drinking, but denied gesturing indecently in public and cursing Muslims.”

Emirates new tagline on its press releases: “Emirates, a global connector of people, places and economies.”

I don’t know – maybe an opportunistic connector of places…but at least it does say what the airline’s focus is – getting people from A to B via a stop in Dubai.

Emirates will fly daily from 5 September 2014 to Brussels, the Belgian capital: Emirates’ new daily flight to Brussels will depart Dubai as EK183 at 0750hrs and arrives at Brussels International Airport, at 1315hrs the same day. The return flight, EK184 will depart at 1445hrs* and arrives at Dubai International Airport at 2325hrs the same day.

Brussels will be the eighth new destination from Emirates this calendar year following the earlier launches of Kiev, Taipei and Boston as well as Abuja and Kano launching on 1st August, Chicago launching on 5th August and Oslo launching on the 2nd September 2014.

Elisabetta Polenghi, sister of Italian slain photojournalist Fabio Polenghi who was shot to death during the 19 May 2010 dispersal of red shirt protestors in Bangkok, died of cancer Monday. She had been tireless in her efforts to find justice for the shooting of her brother – battling Thai bureaucracy and an army in denial.

Well done the FCCT for this tribute issued by email to members:

“The Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand is saddened to hear of the death of Elisabetta Polenghi, the younger sister of the Italian photographer Fabio Polenghi, who was shot dead during the military operation against Red Shirt protesters in Bangkok on 19 May 2010. Elisabetta was an indefatigable campaigner for a full investigation into the circumstances of her brother’s death. She visited Thailand on a number of occasions to press the Thai authorities to hold those responsible for the more than 90 deaths during the 2010 turmoil accountable for their actions. Our thoughts are with the Polenghi family at this difficult time.”

In an article titled “Courting disaster: Can Thailand’s Monarchy survive Democracy?” uploaded on April 22 in the Indo Pacific Review, independent scholar David Streckfuss, author of a book on Thailand’s lèse-majesté law, wrote: “No matter how this latest conflict is resolved, the crisis of the monarchy remains.”He warned: “The more the royalists draw on the monarchy to legitimise naked attempts to thwart democracy, to claim exclusive loyalty to the throne, and to use the lèse-majesté law against perceived enemies, the farther the star of the monarchy will fall.”

One of the most sensible article on the ongoing Thai crisis that I have read – so sensible that many Thais will dislike it and once again will parrot their daft arguments that foreigners should stay out of Thai affairs.

Streckfuss has lectured at Khon Kaen University for years; foreign investment has driven the Thai economy; foreign tourists keep drive employment across the nation. Thailand has chosen to be a part of the global economy; it has to accept and welcome foreign interest in the nation’s stability, well-being and prosperity.

27 April 2014

Former Malaysian PM Dr Mahathir Mohamad said in an era where passenger planes can be tracked on mobile phone, and spy satellites operated by some countries can photograph and identify a person on the ground, Boeing must explain how all these means of tracking the plane “can be disabled, can fail”.

“Either Boeing technology is poor, or it is not fail-safe,” he said.

“I would not like to fly in a Boeing aircraft unless Boeing can explain how all its system can fail or be disabled.”

Very not helpful. He blames Boeing. Getting senile.

So Chelsea went and won at Liverpool – with maybe only 3 certain first team players as they save their team for Wednesday’s European Champions League semi final.

Here is the Guardian on the game:

“That was some performance from Chelsea. It wasn’t pretty and at no point was it too easy on the eye but the shape and discipline that he instilled in his team was incredibly effective and has resulted in Liverpool’s title celebrations being put on ice for now. Liverpool found it tough to break them down and for once this season, really looked shorn of ideas and imagination and resulted to pot-shots from distance. It will be interesting to see just how they react against Palace in their next game.”

26 April 2014

It is now the 50th day of the search for MH370.

25 April 2014

The documentary on Thailand’s PDRC ferrari driving leaders is well made – but in reality it is just some dumb rich kids saying dumb rich kids things. The documentary does not get into the key questions of who is on the streets and why?

The Vice documentary is here.

VICE News’ second documentary on the Thai political crisis centers around two young, rich men from well-connected families and their involvement in the anti-government protests.

This is where the strength of this piece lies: lacking any self-awareness these guys ride around in vintage sport cars while later decrying nepotism over cigars and spirits. They explain their involvement in the protests with amazing political naivety.

23 April 2014

Back in Dubai after a long silence here and a tough ten days or so.

My mother-in-law and her family were incredibly strong. organised and thoughtful during week of funeral rituals.

I felt guilty about leaving them to head to Rome but had already booked to spend Easter and Alex’s birthday there. And the change of scenery did feel needed and welcome.

16 April 2014

My mother in law explained last night why she supports the yellow shirts in Thailand – because the red shirts do not love the king.

Its a load of nonsense – but does show how the yellow shirts and the Suthep mob have hijacked the Thai flag and nationalist sentiment as a rallying cry to their cause.

We are back in Thailand for my father-in-law’s funeral after he died in a road accident. The accident was Saturday night; he never regained consciousness and was dead later Sunday morning.

12 April 2014

It is not all going entirely well for Emirates newest route launches:

Milan to JFK, court ban; Conakry, epidemic; Kiev, threat of war and Clark (Manila) probably a good idea in the first place.

11 April 2014

The masters cut rule: following the second round, golfers with the low 50 scores, plus ties, plus any golfer within 10 strokes of the lead, advance to play the final two rounds.

9 April 2014

To celebrate 10 years in Austria, Emirates will fly a one-off Airbus A380 to Vienna on May 26.

8 April 2014

“Panic ensues among players’ wives and girlfriends as Adam Scott announces his Masters champion’s dinner is going to be a barbie.”

Naughty – but good – from twitter.

Can’t wait – there is a new Paddington Bear film starring Hugh Bonneville, Nicole Kidman, Sally Hawkins, Jim Broadbent, Julie Walters and Colin Firth, due in November, produced by David Heyman.

7 April 2014

Cebu Pacific Air (5J, Manila) will temporarily transfer its daily Manila to Dubai service from Dubai Int’l to Sharjah for the duration of runway upgrade works. As such, Airline Route reports that the service will be scaled down to 5x weekly from May 1 to July 20. Cebu Pacific uses A330-300s on the route.

A quick backgrounder on the Thai Contsitution and why the 2007 constitution took the country backwards.

The 1997 Constitution provided for a fully-elected Senate. Then came the 2006 Coup. The Establishment could not control a fully elected Senate so after the 2006 coup, the 2007 Constitution reverted to form and we got a mixed system of 77 Elected Senators and 73 Appointed Senators.

The Appointed Senators are appointed by 7 “good people”, namely President of the Constitutional Court, the Chairperson of the Election Commission, the President of the Ombudsmen, the Chairperson of the National Anti-Corruption Commission, the Chairperson of the State Audit Commission, and a judge of the Supreme Court (per Section 113 of the Constitution).

Having 73 Appointed Senators was done so the Establishment could maintain some control. The estimate is that 60 out of the 73 Appointed Senators belong in the anti-government camp.

The Establishment does not want this balance changed and thus the Court decision last year finding returning to a fully-elected Senate unconstitutional even if a fully-elected Senate is the wish of the majority of the people.

6 April 2014

Bad traffic news ahead: Traffic diversions on Sheikh Zayed Road, towards Abu Dhabi, will begin on October 25.

Work on the diversions, a result of phase one of the Dubai Water Canal project, will commence in July. No date was given for when the diversions will end.

Gross: Passenger aboard Emirates flight to Hyderabad found heavily bleeding in restroom.

In Thailand Suthep Thaugsuban gets more outrageous: yesterday he told supporters to get ready for a “final battle” and added: “When the day comes, we will seize the ruling power immediately.” Another final battle – there have been many since November.

Local media quoted him saying: “Our words will be law. We will seize the assets of the Shinawatra family members. They will need to report to us. We will appoint the prime minister of the people and submit the name to His Majesty, to be countersigned by me. After that, we’ll set up the People’s Council, which will lead reform before the country can proceed with a fresh election.”

Stories like this are both sad and unnecessary. “A maid who suffered a miscarriage has been arrested at the hospital where she was treated after being accused of having sex outside marriage.”

This is one area where the UAE needs to learn that compassion can earn you a great deal of credit. This woman has suffered enough already. Putting her in chains and sending her to prison maybe enforcing the laws of the land but it is a cruel and unnecessary act.

An Australian Navy vessel is investigating a separate ping detected 90 minutes ago in a different location from that reported by the Chinese vessel.

5 April 2014

“Chinese patrol ship Haixun 01 searching for flight MH370 discovered a pulse signal with a frequency of 37.5kHz per second in south Indian Ocean waters,” the official news agency Xinhua reported today, as the search entered its fifth week.

But CNN has noted that the Chinese findings were announced independently of Australian-led search coordinators, and the location appears to be outside the formal search zone.

So much for a co-ordinated search.

3 April 2014

Emirates will start flying daily service with the Airbus A380 from Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates on Oct. 1, the airline announced Thursday.

Emirates Airline has a new customer support twitter account: “We’re here to answer your customer service questions. Please tweet them to @EmiratesSupport between 8am-8pm GST daily.

It really should be 24/7 support. Especially during the peak hours at the airport – 11pm to 4am and 6am to 9am.

2 April 2014

The last two episodes of The Good Wife have been terrific television. Firstly kill off a key character and then deal with the immediate grief.

No jumping forward months. The Good Wife went from the killing of Will Gardner and straight into how the people around him started to grief and to ask questions and in the absence of facts to arrive at their own answers. It was powerful.

Remember this is a network tv show – they have to turn out 22 42minute episodes each season and keep viewers’ attention though advertising breaks. It is a very different model from the cable networks producing shows such as Mad Men, Breaking Bad and House of Cards.

An interesting comment on the Emirates twitter feed – I wonder how they will respond to this:

“@emirates please separate your alcholic passengers from the non alcholic to ensure the dignity and respect of the Muslims isn’t hurt”

They probably wont respond. But it is easy to see why this might be an issue for some.

The counter argument is to be tolerant.

Though I for one would be happy to see all airlines ban alcohol on board – it would have to be all airlines at the same time….or it will never happen.

But it would likely make flying safer and more tolerable.

Finnair on 2nd May 2014 plans to operate 1-time Helsinki – Dubai Al Maktoum service, on board an Airbus A321 Sharklet aircraft. This flight replaces previously planned operation at Dubai International (DXB).

AY961 HEL0915 – 1620DWC 32B
AY962 DWC1720 – 2255HEL 32B

That’s a long haul in an A321.

1 April 2014

It was a tough day for EK’s A380s yesterday.

Flight 381 from Hong Kong arrived over 3 hours late after being diverted on the outbound leg to Guangzhou – due to storm in Hong Kong.

Meanwhile the A380 was supposed to debut at Gatwick – and rather than one A380 LGW got two. Emirates had to switch equipment after the inaugural A380 service was operated by A6-EDZ. The aircraft went technical issue at LGW causing the return EK10 to be delayed overnight.

Emirates A380 A6-EDT positioned Dubai – London Gatwick in the early hours of yesterday morning in order to operate yesterday’s delayed EK10 London Gatwick – Dubai as EK10D.

Meanwhile A6-EDZ positioned London Gatwick – Dubai in the evening as EK7002.

An expensive inaugural!

The delay on EK381 meant that Alex missed his flight onto Geneva so got to stay with me for the night and left on EK89 this morning.

We had a good day…lunch at social house and a crawl around Kinokinuya….always enjoyable.

30 March 2014

I do wish EK would actually tell people what is happening when a plane is delayed – in the age of immediate social media saying “Flight delayed due to operational reasons” is just not good enough.

Oops: Emirates switched equipment on the EK9/EK10 Dubai – London Gatwick service from B777-300ER to A380 operation today. The inaugural A380 service was operated by A6-EDZ. This is the first regular scheduled A380 service to London Gatwick.

It landed on time at LGW – the return is currently delayed from 21.15 to 09.00 in the morning.

How England should line up for the opening game of the 2014 World Cup:

Hart, Johnson, Cahill, Baines, Shaw, Lallana, Gerrard, Henderson, Sterling, Sturridge, Rooney

Actually if they are all in form it is not a bad side.

Three weeks after the loss of MH370 there is, in essence, no evidence of anything other than that the aircraft did not go to China as planned.

28 March 2014

Emirates SkyCargo will launch service to Atlanta, with weekly freighter flights starting April 6, Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport officials announced Thursday.

EK took delivery of two new A380s today with A6-EET and A6-EEU joining the fleet – taking the todal number of A380s up to 47.

Still no trace of MH370 – The Australian-led search for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 has shifted 1,100km to the north-east after investigators calculated the plane was going faster and using more fuel when it disappeared than previously thought.

That is over an hour of flying time. Can the earlier calculations really have been that wrong?

After all they could have re-programmed the flight details and weather data into a simulator and worked out the likely flying range?

27 March 2014

Back in Dubai – flying Thai Airways last night. 6 hours and 50 minutes into Dubai. Unusually long. And now back in Dubai on a tourist visa.

26 March 2014

“The lesson for governments – not just Malaysia’s – is that clear and coherent information is what relatives need most when they face a bewildering loss and complicated investigation. Swift reassurance that a country’s most senior leaders are doing their utmost helps too. Sending caregivers, supplying flights and offering belated statements of sympathy are simply not enough.”

Tania Brannigan in The Guardian

25 March 2014

The Malaysians have now said that they are certain that MH370 went down in the South Indian Ocean.

They have no debris. But their conclusion is based upon a detailed study by Immarsat of satellite ping data transmitted from the airliner.

As said on twitter: “Congrats to Malaysia on finding a plane without having any idea where it is. #MH370”

Maybe a bit premature from MH. We are all fairly certain that the airliner has crashed and that there are no survivors. But the families want closure; and like it or not they need to see debris and even bodies recovered. As it is this is still a missing plane. And people cling to hope.

22 March 2014

The Ferrari F1 team have evicted the relatives of MH370 passengers from their KL airport hotel.

The Malaysian F1 race goes ahead as scheduled.


Good marital advice from today’s Guardian – Tai take note:

Cooking tips

If your wife or husband is cooking, don’t mess with them unless you have specific, ideally written, permission. Don’t pick up the skillet and doubtfully rearrange the onions. Don’t taste the sauce and wrinkle your nose. Keep out of the kitchen. You can peel a few vegetables and clean up afterwards. Otherwise, butt out. And always remember to say thank you.

Abhisit is such an unpleasant mealy-mouthed individual – his latest – agreeing with the head of the Election Commission’s comment that the government must be responsible for the 3.8 billion baht wasted in holding the Feb 2 poll.

Err – Who boycotted the poll? Who supported the protestors? And who was reponsible for running the election?

Worth remembering that the Constitutional Court was appointed by the September 19, 2006 coupmakers. Some of the judges also drafted the 2007 charter they now defend and which replaced the 1997 People’s constitution.

What the court has ensured is that the remaining 50 parties, as well as 20 million people who turned out to vote on February 2 are now paying for abiding by the law while the court ruling rewards those who protested and boycotted the vote.

21 March 2014

Gary Lineker on twitter today: “Wonderful landmark for Arsene Wenger to reach 1,000 games as Arsenal manager. He has given the game in this country grace, dignity and joy!”

I suspect Arsenal fans would have preferred a few trophies…

Emirates announces new routes with such a noise – canceling a route is rare; and done with just a whimper.

But the airline appears to be canceling Dubai – Clark service from 3 May 2014. This is currently served by Boeing 777-300ER aircraft. Last flight departs Clark on 03MAY14. Operational schedule in April 2014 as follow.

EK338 DXB0400 – 1620CRK 77W D
EK339 CRK1800 – 2305DXB 77W D

That said it always seemed a rather unlikely and low yeild destination for EK.

The British satellite company, Inmarsat, says it had indications the missing Malaysia airlines flight may have crashed into the Indian Ocean as early as 9 March, two days after the aircraft disappeared.

“Inmarsat shared their data with a partner company the following day, on March 11, and with Malaysian investigators on March 12,” ABC News reports.

It was a week before the search moved from its initial focus on the South China Sea and Malacca Straits to the Indian Ocean, which would have given any debris from the plane lots of time to drift from its potential crash site.

19 March 2014

It must be really hard to ask difficult questions of an airline when you have just accepted and enjoyed an all expenses paid return trip to Boston.

Which is why any journalist with any sense of integrity should never accept freebies.

17 March 2014

The Malaysian authorities have spread more confusion about the final communication with the missing plane by issuing new details about the timings when contact was lost. They said the plane’s reporting system was switched off at some point between 1.07am and 1.37am on Saturday 8 March. Malaysian Airlines estimates that the plane had enough fuel to have flown on for about 30 minutes after contact was lost.

Oh good: Abu Dhabi and the central bank of the United Arab Emirates have agreed to refinance $20bn of debt that was extended to the Dubai government as emergency aid during its financial crisis and comes due this year, the state news agency said on Sunday.

The news of Tai’s sister is not good.

The surgery was successful. But there does appear to be damage to brain cells and the possibility of paralysis.

Very difficult times for the family.

15 March 2014

Our Chiang Mai weekend came to a sudden and unexpected end as Tai had to rush back to Bangkok this morning as her sister had emergency surgery.

Everyone is praying for a speedy and complete recovery.

Abu Dhabi Airports has announced that one of its runways is likely to remain closed until the end of this year to enable an upgrade works programme to be completed.

In a statement, the airport operator said the South runway will be off limits to aircraft as it is upgraded to allow it to accommodate larger superjumbo planes.

The South runway is the older runway closest to the existing terminals.

The North runway is far enough away from the South runway to allow Abu Dhabi to operate both runways simultaneously.

The timing means that the UAE is closing one runway in each of Dubai and Abu Dhabi at the same time. This could cause problems in the event of poor weather or the temporary closure of one of the remaining runways.

14 March 2014

Still no sign of MH370 and now the search and rescue efforts are being mocked by the Onion:

“Why didn’t the pilot send a distress signal? Why aren’t we finding a debris path? What are we to make of the contradictory radar information? Where did the universe begin and can it be said to have a limit or an edge? What is mankind’s role in it? Is there a God? If so, what is God’s nature?”

13 March 2014

Emirates will start flying daily to Oslo, Norway from 2nd Sept using a B777-300ER.

Planned operational schedule as follows.

EK159 DXB0700 – 1210OSL 77W D
EK160 OSL1355 – 2250DXB 77W D

The Railway Man – official movie trailer:

This will not be an easy film to watch. But maybe in the end it is a film about forgiveness and finding peace.

12 March 2014

In the regional news department and part of the continuing escalation of the pact between the UAE, Saudi, Bahrain and Egypt the UAE and Egypt yesterday concluded joint military exercises.

The Gulf News breathlessly stated that the exercises also seek to highlight historical and strategic relations between the two countries besides strengthening cooperation and sharing knowledge and expertise in the military domain.

On twitter @habibahamid noted that “Can someone not advise the UAE MOFA that optics of joint training with a murderous junta might NOT be a great look.”

Nails it. But it is all about regional power plays and a paranoid disquiet about the influence of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Wizz Air Ukraine will end Kiev Zhuliany-Dubai World Central service from 16th March –

That did not last long – just a few months – presumably failed due to the political situation in the Ukraine.

Constitutional Court rules Bt2 trillion loan bill for infrastructure development projects is unconstitutional

The IPL is coming to town: From Wednesday 16th April to Wednesday 30th April, at least 16 matches will be held in the United Arab Emirates. This is due to the Indian election which runs at that time and means the police simply do not have the resources to support the election and the IP cricket.

9 March 2014

Alex is staying with us in Dubai for a few days – very good to see him – but it does mean there are less notes here than usual.

Very happy for our friends Brendan and Nina who gave birth to their first child yesterday, a baby girl, Indy.

Everyone is well – albeit a little tired.

With the UAE, Saudi Arabia and the UAE withdrawing their ambassadors from Qatar it is worth noting that on nearly every imaginable indicator, the new Egyptian regime is more repressive than Mubarak. On press freedoms, it continues to get worse.

Qatar, of course, was a supporter of the elected Morsi regime, removed in an army coup in 2012.

The arrest and trial of Al Jazeera staff is a new low in press harassment.

Loyalty however has its rewards: “Dubai’s Arabtec wins $40 Billion contract with Egyptian army to build one million low income housing units” Reuters reported this evening.

5 March 2014

It is not words and rhetoric that ay stop Putin’s ambitions for Russia – it may just be simple economics: On Monday Moscow’s stock lost a staggering 11% of its value while the rouble fell to a record low, prompting the Russian central bank to spend at least $7bn supporting it.

4 March 2014

It has been a remarkable summer for Australian cricket – their batting can still look a bit frail but Warner may now be the best opening bat in the world, Steve Smith is proving to be a very good number 6 and someone usually comes up with runs. But it is the bowling attack that is relentless….and Johnson and Harris may be the best new ball attack since the West Indies were in their 1990s prime.

England were decimated – Trott, Pietersen and Swann are unlikely to play test cricket again. And now the South African captain has announce his retirement.

Graeme Smith is just 33, but only if you measure in terms of years. In real terms he is much older, having worn the unprecedented burden of captaining South Africa for 11 years and 109 Tests.

Not just any country; South Africa. He was captain at 22, an age at which most people’s greatest responsibility is putting the washing in the laundry bin so that their mother can do it. When he took the job, his father said to him: “Are you actually mad?”

He built the world’s best team on the rock of his own massive mental strength. He built a team that would do anything for him; a team of incredible unity. England take note!

But this Aussie team have now seen him off as well.

Obama is smart enough to understand irony – but this is a remarkable thing to say:

“What cannot be done is for Russia with impunity to put its soldiers on the ground and violate basic principles that are recognised around the world.”

Err – Iraq, Haiti…etc.

Meanwhile US Secretary of State John Kerry has also forgotten about the Iraq War.

How else could he appear on “Face the Nation” and, with a straight face, slam Russia for “invading another country on completely trumped-up pretext”?

3 March 2014

Thai silliness – a ridiculous reaction in a society that is far too quick to use litigation to try to save face: the Election Commission will file a legal complaint against 688 individuals who allegedly spread the accusation the EC used deliberate stalling tactics.

They had better start with The Economist and the Financial Times – both of whom noted that the EC had sought to delay the election.

Athens will be double daily on Emirates from 1 August

EK105 DXB-ATH 1005-1405 B77W
EK106 ATH-DXB 1610-2145 B77W

EK3109 DXB-ATH 1640-2040 A332
EK3110 ATH-DXB 2325-0500 A332

The 3XXX number is given to temporary flights – the extra ATH flight will be operating only from 01Aug until 29Oct. Summer seasonal addition only.

2 March 2014

Realistically the Ukraine government has already lost Crimea.

The question is how much more of Eastern Ukraine will they lose.

Russia Today – “RT’s priceless headline “Tea, sandwiches, music, photos with self-defense forces mark peaceful Sunday in Simferopol”

Reads just like Bangkok’s The Nation newspaper.

The big news from BKK over the weekend was that anti-democracy protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban announced that his Bangkok Shutdown “will be shut down this weekend.”

He really had no option. The numbers at the rally sites had become too small to sustain the sites. Suthep has withdrawn his remaining supporters to Lumpini Park, where it began four months ago.

Of course the PDRC is claiming that the shutdown campaign has succeeded leaving a government in disarray. Desperate.

Is this part of finding a way out as the conflict his elite backers realise that the protests are causing huge economic damage to Thailand?

Worse despite the protestors efforts and entreaties the military continue to sit on the sidelines.

Is it over? Probably not. In the end the protesters themselves could never oust Yingluck from office. Only the courts or a military coup can do that. Over to the courts and I suspect that is not far away.

We had felt that the judicial coup required the street protests to accelerate the many cases against the government. Perhaps that is no longer the case as a deal seems in the works. The cynics amongst us might suggest that the conviction of Abhisit Vejjajiva for “dereliction of duty” may be an indication of a deal being done.

If there is a deal, it will likely be one in the interests of elites on both sides of the political divide. At the present time, though, we’d be betting on a judicial attack on the government.

EK Cargo add Quito, Curacao 18th February Mexico City and Los Angeles 2nd April Houston 6th April, Paramaribo 20th October according to their schedule, 777F being used.

1 March 2014

It is inconceivable that Putin’s ambitions begin and end in the Crimea. He was always going to be the empire builder. It was just a matter of when.

If the EU wants to expand into the Ukraine it will have to do so without the Crimea.

And I suspect Putin will annex Crimea very quickly.

The Russian veto in the UN renders the UK near on worthless in this crisis. No more than an overpaid debating society.

And the G8 conference in Sochi in June may end up as a G2 – with just Russia and China in attendance.

28 February 2014

For all the chaos caused by the protestors in Thailand the biggest threat to life remains the idiots that drive on the country’s roads – A 18-wheeled truck in Prachin Buri crashed into a bus taking students to field trip causing 15 killed, 30+ injured.

Sadly people will just shrug their shoulders and move on because road safety is simply ignored.

27 February 2014

In the Thai fantsay thinking department:- PDRC leader Krasaj C. accused both #BBC #NYT jounos in #Thailand of being on Thaksin’s payroll.

Perhaps BBC, NYT journos just favour truth seeking, justice, democracy and other things offensive to too many in Thailand?

26 February 2014

Happy birthday hon.

25 February 2014

In fantasy land the Thai Criminal Court yesterday rejected the Department of Special Investigation’s (DSI) request for warrants for the arrest of 13 People’s Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) leaders. The court cited the… the Civil Court’s ruling that the emergency decree cannot be used against PDRC protesters it said were rallying peacefully without weapons.

Forget examining the evidence or watching video of a grenade thrown at policemen. It really is too pathetic for words.

Etihad daily to Phuket: the new route will launch on 26 October 2014 using two-class Airbus A330-200 aircraft, with 22 Pearl Business seats and 240 Coral Economy

EK rumours: So Dubai-Amsterdam-Miami-Mexico return. The source sounds very sure. I am sceptical. Dubai to Miami-Mexico makes much more sense.

For a nation known for it’s efficiency and economic prosperity the delays in opening Berlin’s Brandenburg airport are perplexing.

From chat on PPRUNE it is apparent that after last weekend’s fog the “key players for traffic into and out of DXB have agreed to a nightly conference call at 11pm to discuss relevant matters and strategies to minimise disruption as much as possible. The involved parties are DXB airports, Major airlines, ATC, MET and the CAAs.

Points of note are stands available, available diversion airports and capacities, ATC capacity, Airline key priority aircraft, Arrival rates and MET forecasts and observations.”

I cant be the only person surprised that this does not already happen as a matter of course.

DXB is not a stranger to fog. This was neither the first or last difficult day at the increasingly overcrowded airport. The trouble is that as Emirates and flyDubai have grown; as new terminals have been added, the airport itself cannot get larger Still the same two parallel runways that are too close together.

The airport can manage on a normal day – any hint of a problem and chaos and confusion takeover – and it appears that no-one took charge of the problem and that there was no thought through contingency planning other than making sure the planes had enough fuel to stay longer in the sky.

Neither Emirates or Dubai Airports finest hour.

24 February 2014

Only in Thailand: The Criminal Court Monday rejected the request of the Department for Special Investigation for arrest warrants against Phra Buddha Issara and 12 other protest leaders.

The court reasoned that the situation was not urgent enough to warrant the arrest of the monk and 13 other leading members of the People’s Democratic Reform Committee.

The DSI sought the arrest warrants on allegations that the 14 had violated the emergency decree.

Emirates is launching a daily service to Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, Terminal 5 from 5th August 2014.

The service will be operated by a Boeing 777-200LR.

It will operate as flight EK 235 from Dubai International Airport at 09:45 hours arriving into Chicago at 15:25. The return flight, EK 236 will depart Chicago O’Hare Airport at 20:35 hours, arriving into Dubai at 19:10 the following day.

The destination will be the ninth for Emirates in the US. The airline previously said that it will fly to Boston, Massachusetts starting from March 10.

23 February 2014

“Thailand is on the slide to a civil war that no one seems able to stop” – Jonathan Head for BBC World news tonight….also noting that the anti-government protestors have “powerful backers”

A second grenade attack this evening in Bangkok at Big C opposite central world has caused deaths and injuries. it is so sad to see Thailand unravel, but not so surprising. When a society does not value debate to resolve differences, the extremists are left to set the agenda.

Meanwhile without any evidence at all Protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban on Sunday night condemned the perpetrators of the deadly attacks at anti-government rally sites in Trat and Ratchaprasong intersection and accused “lackeys of the Thaksin…(Bangkok Post).

Thailand sinks nearer to civil war: an 8 year-old girl died from gunshot wounds and 5 people are still critically injured, after a grenade & gun attack on the PDRC rally in Trat last night.

Emirates Boeing 777-31HER A6-ENN was delivered Paine Field – Dubai as EK777 yesterday. This brings the Emirates B777-300ER fleet up to 92 aircraft.

22 February 2014

There is a very strange thread on twitter tonight from the Dubai media office with the hashtag #DubaiAchievments

Why? It looks so insecure to need to periodically say this is what we have done.

It also gives rise to the possibility of people saying that’s fine – what about Dubai’s mistakes?

Sometimes it is best to be proud without bragging:

@DXBMediaOffice invites you to interact with #Dubai_Achievements by posting photos and videos

and this was the wrong day to send out this tweet:

#Dubai_Achievements: (Emirates Airline) a major international aviation player & a model for quality control

My response: @DXBMediaOffice Maybe you should have sent this tweet on a different day – some very unhappy people at DXB today if you follow @emirates

It is not especially clever for the Media Office to boast things that really do not exist yet:

#Dubai_Achievements: (Dubai World Central) a multi-phase mega aviation structure & home of Al Maktoum Airport

Alan Joyce is widely disliked by his employees but grudgingly admired by his shareholders – here is why from PPRUNE:

“He has very little exposure to the European market place. He wants as little exposure to Europe as possible.
He has shifted massive amounts of work on to the Jetstar network.
He smashed the unions in 2 days when he shut the airline down.
He has convinced the government to guarantee a public companies debt.
His only domestic competition continues to lose money.
And he is about to get the government support to do what he ultimately wants as it will be a requirement from the government (to guarantee the debt) that the Qantas model as it is today is finished.

This post is not about debating the direction the QF group is going. Or the way he has gone about doing it. It is very simply stating FACTS.”

Chow Yun Fat is one of the genuinely good guys – and this is fun: “While many of his colleagues choose to spend their paychecks on cars and name-brand outfits, Chow Yun Fat is happy to hop onto a crowded bus with the public while dressed in clothes purchased years ago.

Surprisingly, the superstar is rarely recognized. “Ninety percent of the people on the subway would be staring down at their phones. Who would even notice me? It’s like stepping into an abandoned land!””

A group of us from Reuters were in the same restaurant as CYF and a guest one evening. Out intrepid future CNN host saw him and walked across to say hello. He was utterly charming; posing for pictures and chatting.

21 February 2014

Do take note: BlackRock Frontiers Investment Trust Plc (BRFI), a $297 million fund run by the world’s biggest asset manager, said it “substantially” reduced United Arab Emirates holdings last month on concern stocks rallied too much.

“While the U.A.E. economy in general is performing well and Dubai is booming, we are increasingly concerned about the level of speculation in the market,” investment managers Sam Vecht and Emily Fletcher in London said in a regulatory filing. BlackRock had $4.2 trillion under management at the end of 2013.

20 February 2014

Seems inevitable we will soon end up with new caretaker govt which is not headed by Yingluck. Most of focus on who is PM but not the how, but the howis very important. By law, PM must be an MP. Also, no Lower House to vote for new PM. Legally, see no way around this.

Remember that Parliament was dissolved by Yingluck for a new election on 2 February that the Democrats refused to participate it.

Avoid military & judicial coup tht wd provoke RS uprising. Grind the govt down through EC, NACC etc.

19 February 2014

Thomas Fuller in the New York Times: “After a series of confrontations in recent weeks and the wide circulation of photographs of heavily armed men among the protesters, the protest movement increasingly resembles an armed insurrection against the government of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra.”

“The further a society drifts from truth the more it will hate those who speak it.” ― George Orwell

18 February 2014

Cricket news: India have now played 14 straight Tests overseas without winning one. New Zealand, on the other hand, have drawn with England and beaten India and West Indies in their last three home series.

17 February 2014

How bad are the winter olympic judges – well here is the Toronto Star on the ice dance judges:

“The villainy of ice dancing knows no bounds. Strip away the sequins, wipe off the pancake makeup, delete the frozen-in-place smiles, and what’s left is a tawdry whore of a sport where the judges are the johns. If the fix is not in against Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, then I’m the Princess of Wales.”

The Dubai population reached 2.2 million by the end of 2013; during the daytime the population is higher by 1 million.

16 February 2014

Service charges for residential and corporate units in the Burj Khalifa increased by 27 per cent and 37 per cent, respectively in 2013.

Owners of residential apartments pay Dh70.02 per square feet compared to Dh55.01 per square feet (psf) in 2012. In 2011 and 2010, the charges were Dh55 and Dh52.77 psf, respectively.

Charges for Armani Residences were set at Dh85.35 psf compared to Dh83.12 psf in 2012, while corporate suites charges are set at 104 psf compared to Dh76.03 psf in 2012.

No wonder there are defaulting owners and unpaid service fees.

15 February 2014

12 wickets for Johnson in the first test in South Africa and suddenly England really do not look so bad. Wonderful, hostile fast bowling.

From the Bangkok Post today:

“From heckling to death threats, from trolling to live bullets. From malignant distribution of the enemy’s home address and licence plate number, to good old calls for his head, both real and metaphorical. Burn the witch at the stake: the “punishment” for thoughtcrime in the land of crooked smiles is severe.”

This is how the ulta royalists respond to reasoned discussion of the role and future of the Thai monarchy.

14 February 2014

Happy Valentines Day

Emirates acquires its 45th A380 today. MSN141 A6-EEQ will leave Hamburg later today.

13 February 2014

Naughty people at Qatar Air, They probably need to do some work on their understanding or local cultural issues and recruitment legislation – from Arabian Business:

“Qatar Airways stirred up controversy in Norway last week after posting an advert asking women to wear short skirts to a cabin-crew recruitment day, the website reported.

The website reports that the airline came under fire from Norway’s anti-discrimination ombudsman, particularly as the same advert asked men to dress in business attire.

The advertisement was later changed by the airline.”

Sadly it does show where the airline’s recruitment priorities lie.

11 February 2014

This tells you plenty about the French: 2nd February 2014: Due to the high demand of Y/C red wine on LYS flights, Catering will load additional bottles.

10 February 2014

Emirates Airline plans to ground 19 or 20 planes from May because of runway construction work at Dubai International Airport, the airline’s president Tim Clark said on Monday.

That number of planes represents roughly 10 percent of the airline’s fleet of about 200 planes. The work is expected to be finished by July 20, Clark told reporters.

“It’ll have an impact on the revenue. We will have to learn how to manage this,” he said without elaborating.

Initially Emirates was talking about a 50% reduction in flight schedules; there have clearly been negotiations about allowing Emirates greater access during the single runway operations.

Assume that EK will ground the A330s, A340s, A345s and the smaller 772s. The airline will try and keep the A380 schedule intact as far as possible through this period.

Air Arabia has been been designated the official carrier of Ras Al Khaimah following the recent signing of a strategic partnership agreement with the Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) there. The move will now allow the Sharjah-based LCC to operate flights out of Ras al Khaimah, replacing RAK Airways, which suspended all flights last month in the wake of mounting financial constraints.

I have no idea what this means in reality as it is a fairly simple drive from RAK down to Sharjah – and why would Air Arabia want to operate a second hub so close to its home base. An Air Arabia bus from RAK city centre would be more than enough.

Transaero Airlines will switch its Moscow Vnukovo and Moscow Domodedovo to Dubai services from Dubai Int’l to Dubai World Central effective May 1. Other airlines will no doubt follow.

England was wet and miserable. So bad that it was not worth trying to leave the house in Devon for two days. And then a fairly miserable 4 hours plus drive up to Heathrow.

But had a nice time with Tai in Vienna during her 24 hour layover there. It was cold but dry. And it is a nice, safe, conservative, historic and solid city to walk around. Easy journey in and out of Vienna Airport.

I probably got the last seat on Austrian out of London to Vienna and from Vienna to Dubai.

The second flight was on a refurbished 767 – with winglets – and a new cabin. Shame about the food. But the flight was on time. The passengers are well behaved and the IFE had a few decent movies.

And Austrian must be the only airline to offer “The Sound of Music” as part of its movie offerings!

Had a great dinner in Vienna – but the only way to enjoy a big schnitzel is with sweet chilli sauce. The sesame asian ribs were more interesting.

5 February 2014

Emirates is launching Abuja and Kano from 1st August 2014.

The flights operate as follows:

EK785 DXB1030 – 1450ABV1640 – 1750KAN2025 – 0615+1DXB Daily except Tues, Thurs, Sat.
EK786 DXB1030 – 1430KAN1625 – 1735ABV2005 – 0615+1DXB Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday.

An Airbus A340-500 will operate the service initially.From 01JAN15, service will switch to Boeing 777-300ER aircraft.

Emirates has no passenger rights between Abuja and Kano and vv.

Abuja is Nigeria’s national capital.

Before you even think about flying Qatar Airways have a read of the following:

The truth about the luxury of Qatar Airways

Madness from the old boys’ network that runs English cricket. After a shambolic tour of Austrlai the ECB has now decided to end the international career of Kevin Pieterson – clearly by some distance England’s best and most talented batsman.

England have a T20 World Cup in 4 weeks. A fifty over World Cup in 12 months. And the Ashes in 18 months.

England need KP. The fans pay to watch KP. We dont pay to watch Joe Root or Gary Ballance.

The defining problem with the KP issue is that everyone who really knows why this extraordinary decision has been taken cannot or will not tell us why. That should be unacceptable.

So just how dreadful is he? And why could England not manage him?

The ECB is in a shambles.

4 February 2014

A weekend in London and Sussex – hotel next to Paddington station – very convenient.

Perfect Saturday morning. Sunny weather. Walk across Hyde Park. Subway to Borough Market – spanish breafast and a walk around the market. Lots of great looking food there.

Across Tower Bridge. Subway up to Liverpool Street and Spitalfields market. Eventually back towards Covent Garden.

Tai was asleep by 6.30pm – must have tired her out.

Sunday was unusual. A reunion of a few of us who had parents working in Nigeria in the 1970s. Hosted by the splendid Guy and Jane Dudeney about 20 of us descended on their lovely home in Sussex.

It was a little strange to see people that I have not seen for 40 years. Tai was not even born then!

And really all down to Facebook as we would never have found eachother without it.

30 January 2014

Rare common sense in the Nation:

“The protesters have proposed Thailand seriously needs critical reforms before an election – but have never determined clearly what they want to reform. The most problematic issue for Thai democracy in their demands was the call for an unelected “People’s Council” to enforce the reform.

The boycott of an election or even opposing the election is nothing new in the political struggle in this country and in the world. People rising up in other countries have also boycotted or opposed elections – but only when they saw it would not be free and fair, or the ruling government had made changes in the rules to get the upper hand.

In Thailand it was to the contrary. The opposition Democrat Party, which is closely associated with the protest, made some changes in the election law in its favour when it was in power during 2008-2011. There was no serious complaint about previous elections in 2011 that brought this current government into power. Hence, there was also no point in calling for reforms in election procedures before polling. And it makes no sense to disrupt an election that the protesters’ favourite party has boycotted.”

You almost could not make this up: The Democrat Party in Thailand will petition the Constitution Court to nullify the Feb 2nd election because the poll will not be held on the same day across the country and 28 districts have no candidates.

Of course they forget to mention that there are no candidates where the Democrat backing protestors blocked the registration process.

So the Democrats are demand the election be cancelled after they sabotaged it themselves!

And finally the Democrats are considering lawsuits against the international media for claiming their party obstructed the election process. It is as if the past few months never happened. Bizarre.

Egyptian prosecutors say they will charge 20 al-Jazeera journalists, including two Britons, an Australian and a Dutch citizen, with fabricating news and tarnishing Egypt’s reputation abroad. The 16 local defendants are also accused of belonging to former president Mohamed Morsi’s now-banned Muslim Brotherhood.

The journalists include the Australian former BBC correspondent Peter Greste, and the al-Jazeera’s Canadian-Egyptian bureau chief Mohamed Fahmy, who has worked for CNN and the New York Times. The identities of the other defendants, including the two Britons, are not stated, and some of them are understood to have been accused in absentia.

In a statement, prosecutors said the defendants aimed “to weaken the state’s status, harming the national interest of the country, disturbing public security, instilling fear among the people, causing damage to the public interest, and possession of communication, filming, broadcast, video transmission without permit from the concerned authorities”.

29 January 2014

This is what you get when you try to debate politics with one of the supporters of Suthep’s protests in Bangkok – “Well there s no need to debate such topic…if u disagree with it., leave it.”

Typical. I don’t agree with you so I dismiss you.

Without discourse Thailand is dooomed to a cycle of increasing viciousness.

28 January 2014

“Suthep: So I demand all PDRC units from all over the country to do every possible way to prevent this election” -but still no evidence! I ask PDRC in every provinces to be prepared, to not let election on Feb 2 be able to proceed through no matter what. Suthep repeated allegations that YL brought armed men from Cambodia to attack PDRC protesters.

Yingluk: Elections will go ahead. Suthep: Blockade of govt offices will continue. Chalerm: protest sites will be cleared.

Thailand degenerating into farce: Criminal Court rejects DSI request for arrest warrants for 16 PDRC leaders, citing lack of evidence.

Turn on the f***ing television!!

Jake Needham: “It becomes increasingly difficult to avoid the obvious parallels between the mobs in the streets of Bangkok and the fascist brownshirts who stalked Italy in the 1930′s bullying and threatening people until they had forced out the government and seized power for themselves.”

Mad Men returns with all-new episodes Sunday, April 13 – just so you know! Final series as well.

27 January 2014

Emirates looks set to deploy part of its Airbus A380 fleet into India following the removal of a ban restricting the aircraft from flying into the country.

The decision to allow airlines to fly the double decker superjumbo to India was announced in a statement on Monday by Ajit Singh, India’s Union Minister for Civil Aviation.

So the impending judicial coup continue in Thailand with the Nation reporting that : “The National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) will Tuesday seek to fast-track impeachment proceedings against caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra on charges of dereliction of duty over the rice-pledging scheme.

NACC member Vicha Mahakun said the commission could expedite the case to less than two months.

He said Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva had earlier filed a lawsuit on the same charge seeking Yingluck’s impeachment and that the NACC had decided to take it up and work on it in parallel.”


26 January 2014

Skytrax is always fun to review occasionally: here is a typical recent EK economy comment: “would it hurt the crew to treat the passengers like customers? Smile, respond to passenger calls and don’t stand around the galleys gossiping. Won’t be flying myself and family again and wouldn’t recommend Emirates.”

Another recent one says: We flew Sydney – Dublin return and it was underwhelming, to say the least. The service on board was very poor, meals were rushed and it took over an hour and two requests to get a glass of water, on more than one occasion. The cabin crew were at best not very friendly with some being extremely rude.”

Tai said her flight to Perth was horrible. It was a two class plane so she was working in Y. Not a polite crew is the nicest way of putting it.

Their are no crew bunks on this flight. Just some blocked seats at the rear of the cabin. On the return trip there was only time for a one hour rest but no chance to sleep as the crew in the galley were so loud. Now she knows how the passengers often feel.

I have commented to a sfs and purser before about this – especially when the crew are loudly discussing company issues that should not be given a public hearing!

EK seems to be struggling with its recruitment; its training or its feedback. The service is not what it was.

Forty-five out of 50 advance voting stations in Bangkok werer closed today because of protests.

The Election Commission did nothing to protect the polling stations so that people who wanted to could vote and they appear to have done nothing to protect individual voters.

Inevitable there were unpleasant clashes with at least one dead and eleven injured.

Protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban this evening appealed to military leaders to come out to protect demonstrators after another one killed. He is suggesting that the shooter is Khmer and that the army are needed to protect him and other protest leaders.

It is not the government’s role to protect the polling stations. The Election Commission is in charge of the process and security.

Sadly it appears that the EC were determined to get as much polling as they could cancelled as they have their own agenda that the election should be postponed.

Predictably the whistle mob, which claims to represent the Thai people, were actively preventing people from voting which has to be as “anti-democratic” as you can get.

So we see PDRC gameplan. Block all possible polling places. EC cancels the vote immediately. And the government can do nothing since if the police do act, the government gets swiped as for violently suppressing (not) peaceful protests.


25 January 2014

Li Na won the Aussie Open womens tennis today – when she gives up tennis she has a career in stand up comedy.

The Wuhan native entertained the crowd in Melbourne with her post-match speech, which some in the Western world were dubbing “the best Australian Open victory speech ever,” spawning a #funniestspeechever hashtag on Twitter.

Ms. Li called out and thanked her agent “for making me rich,” and her husband, whom she thanked for fixing her drinks and fixing her racquets.

“Thanks a lot, you’re a nice guy,” she told him, to cheers and laughter from the crowd. “Also you’re so lucky to find me.”

A poet at Emirates – as posted on the Staff Travel site;

“From the 9th deck of this great ship, the leadership decides to covertly reduce the rations of the sailors onboard.

The sailors take wind of this, and become angry. “We labor so hard, by day and night, to make this ship move swiftly through rough seas! The ship’s rations are plenty. The forepeak is filled with supplies! Why then do you reduce our keep? We need these rations to maintain our strength in order to move this great vessel through these perilous seas!” say the sailors in a desperate plea to their masters.

The leaders look down below decks at their sweaty minions, and in disgust scream, “Keep rowing! Keep rowing!” ”

23 January 2014

ATC over Europe might be fun next week with industrial action planned for France (all week) and Italy Germany Slovakia Hungary Austria & Cyprus (part of 29th/30th)

The German action has been cancelled.

The Thai caretaker government has banned gatherings of five or more people deemed to be trying to incite unrest as part of its measures to “quickly put to an end” to the emergency situation.

The announcement, signed by caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and released on Thursday, also urged the media not to publish any information that could cause misunderstanding and affecting national security…

Full details have not yet been released.

Fair to assume that both the ban on gatherings and teh slef-censoring media will be completely ignored making the so called state of emergency completely useless.

This was a big mistake by the government – the protestors were running out of both steam and credibility. The SoE just gave them a reason to continue to exist. Dumb.

This year’s Thailand Open golf championship has been postponed after the Thai government declared a 60-day state of emergency.

Originally scheduled from March 13-16 at Thana City Golf & Sports Club on the outskirts of Bangkok, the $1 million tournament would be moved to “a more suitable date” later in the year, organizers said in a statement.

This tells you all you need to know about Suthep and his protestors – tonight Suthep (was) “on stage praising Tony Cartalucci as best Thailand expert. Accusing foreign media as biased & influenced by Thaksin’s lobbyists.”

Tony Cartalucci is not a real person – no one has ever met or seen him. He has not journalist accreditation. His name appears to be used to a group of conspiracists with zero understanding of what is really happening in Thailand and who appear to think that a coup and miliary rule solves every problem.

As for the western media – it is simply ludicrous to suggest that the combination of the BBC, CNN, The Economist, the Washington Post etc can all be wrong.

Suthep also said tonight that: “there must be NO ELECTION!” We will take action to prevent the upcoming election from happening in every province.”

The Dems boycotting the election is one thing. Stopping people from exercising their democratic right is another.

Though I still doubt that the election will proceed. The Constitutional court will find some grounds to postpone or cancel it.

Just a reminder – Engagement in social media must at least mean the ability for a consumer or future consumer to reach out to and get response from a company.

Here is an interesting note on PPRUNE – “Seems the cabin crew stampede to resign has begun… EK are apparently desperate enough to send recruitment emails to former cabin crew now in their home countries, some of whom did not leave on good terms.

Now why would they do that? Galley FM suggests they can’t keep up without compromising the quality of service more than they already have and thus looking for experienced ones to rejoin….”

There are two aspects to EK’s service. i) the crew in economy are often so new that they have little clue what they are doing. Also the crew that they have been recruiting have a very different idea of what service really means compared to crews recruited say five or more years ago. Service, at least in economy, is inconsistently average. ii) i do fear for what could happen in the event of a serious emergency on an EK flight. One of the great aspects of the miracle on the Hudson five years ago is how calmly the crew managed the evacuation. But it was a very, very experienced crew. Take a two class 773 with 386 passengers in economy and a young and inexperienced cabin crew.

Not a thought to dwell upon.

Jestar Asia has also started to recruit crews with prior experience. Makes a lot of sense.

22 January 2014

Happy birthday to my Mum – 81 today.

Emirates will serve its Moscow route with a double daily A380 service from 1st August 2014

Question for Emirates – do you really want this guy flying your passengers?

On Twitter:

Capt Abdullah – @Abdullahbalti
Bio: Pilot in EMIRATES AIRLINE true patriotic paki..wishing pak bright future and real leaders.Loves Pak Army watsoever

@TarekFatah @MaajidNawaz soon u will be beheaded by any mujahid of all Mighty Allah insha Allah

I don’t care what provoked it – it is not right. And if you read further it is a pretty emotional/angry timeline.

Update on 23rd. Capt Abdullah’s account is not longer on twitter. I assume someone at EK suggested that proposing beheadings might not be compatible with his career as an Emirates pilot.

One typical comment from pprune on the staff travel fiasco:

“It’s the dichotomy of, on the one hand publicly – “we are doing you a favor” while surreptitiously doing the opposite privately – that is most offensive.

My initial reaction was: the Company’s complete underestimation of the intelligence of the staff to quickly checking myself and realizing…

…we are powerless…it’s a dictatorship.

It’s one thing for them not to care about anything else but the bottom line…but it’s an entirely different proposition for them not to ‘respect’ our intelligence and treat us with contempt.

Another sad day.”

21 January 2014

Dear England.

A pub in a motorway service station. Are you insane? There is only one solution for drink driving and that is zero tolerance. If you have been drinking then you should not be drinking. The airlines enforce a 12 hour gap from bottle to throttle. That has to apply to driving any vehicle.

The UAE executed a Sri Lankan national by firing squad today. Ravinda Krishna Pillai was convicted of premeditated murder after he fatally ran over the Emirati in an SUV during an argument between the two.

Executions are rare in the UAE and a leading official told Arabian Business authorities had made every effort to persuade the victim’s family to accept Pillai’s offer of blood money but they insisted on the death penalty being enforced.

There are online reports – use google – that suggest there is far more to this story than has been revealed.

My views on the death penalty are well known and consistent. No one has the right to take another life. And that includes the state.

Thought for the day: “Kings are not born: they are made by universal hallucination.” GEORGE BERNARD SHAW, Maxims for Revolutionists.

A state of emergency has been declared in Bangkok and the surrounding provinces. It doesn’t really mean much – not yet. But it does give the authorities new powers, for instance to invoke a curfew should they wish to.

But why now – just seems like red rag to the yellow bulls – or as zenjournalist said: “If there’s one thing guaranteed to revitalize the whistle mob it’s putting Chalerm on TV to announce a state of emergency.”


What does it mean for the 2 February election? Well today the Election Commission asked the Constitutional Court about delaying the election; the government then declares the SOE; next the court will cite the SOE as the primary reason for postponing the election.

Which leaves the country knowhere. With a caretaker government held to ransom by a few noisy people with whistles and a yellow shirted judiciary.

20 January 2014

So Vanessa Mae is going to ski for Thailand in the winter Olympics – speaking to the Reuters news agency she said: “I wanted to compete for Thailand because there is a part of me which I have never celebrated – being Thai.”

So to celebrate being Thai she is going skiing. Bizarre. She does have a home in Zermatt Switzerland and she is a proficient (if not top class) skier. But this is hardly an example of her Thainess. More a flag of convenience.

Thai AirAsia X (Bangkok Don Mueang) took delivery of its first A330-300 HS-XTA on January 15 at Bangkok Don Mueang. The aircraft transferred from parent carrier AirAsia X will likely be used for the certification process ahead of the launch of proposed long-haul operations from Bangkok Don Mueang to destinations in North Asia, Australia and Europe. Interesting times ahead in Bangkok with the Scoot/Nok joint venture starting up.

17 January 2014

Person of Interest is back with a vengeance – and it was fun – maybe because it involved airliners!

Here is one review:

“Finally the cloud lifted! We’ve had a run of dark, depressing episodes on Person of Interest, and this week we finally got a respite. While trying to flee his former life, Reese lands in the middle of drama in the not-so-friendly skies. A computer nerd, under escort by US Marshals, is the target of a bevy of assassins – all of whom decide to take a shot at him midflight.

When we start out, Reese is trying desperately to catch a flight out of town. He learns quickly that when the machine doesn’t want you to do something, you run out of options, fast. His tickets get canceled, the flights are overbooked, etc. Reese thinks Finch is responsible and doesn’t realize that the machine is acting on its own. The machine manages to corral Reese onto a flight with a “Relevant” – a person who is valuable for national security.

What happens on the flight is simply…! Since the death of Carter, Team Machine has taken one blow after another. It was great to get a break from that. Reese is in rare form and demonstrates his incredible ability to knock people out for long periods of time. He takes out an obnoxious co-passenger, a US Marshal, a Colombian assassin, and an Israeli duo. On the last one, he gets some help from a flirty flight attendant. One thing that I liked about the flight attendant was that she was not in her 20s, and she was pretty in a non-supermodel way. As with Zoey, I appreciate that the show pairs Reese with age-appropriate women and not fresh out of college eye candy.

While Reese is taking care of business, the liquor is flowing. Reese downs some Scotch early on, forces the computer nerd to “thin his blood” with some whiskey, and even has the flight attendant fill a kid’s sippy cup with booze to make him go night-night. The last one was particularly funny, and before anyone gets upset, it was only “one finger.”

Reese eventually reaches out to Finch to find out why the computer guy is so important. This part of the story was a bit of a stretch. The guy had invented a website that allowed people to use bitcoins to pay for drugs. That part has ties in reality, but what seemed tenuous was that the government wanted to silence him because it’d been taking a portion of his profits. I would’ve liked something a little meatier for his alleged threat to national security.

The best moment came at the end when Reese remembered why he works with Finch. He has a unique ability to help people and wallowing in his own misery is no kind of life. When he meets up with Finch, Reese realizes for the first time that he is not the only one mourning Carter’s death. Finch has a hard time hiding his excitement when Reese says he’s willing to return to the job. It’ll be nice to have the team together again and it was definitely good to have a lighter episode.”

The show will go without Carter. Different but just as good.

Thailand edged closer to bloodshed today when a something like a firecracker or small bomb/grenade was thrown by an unidentified person at Suthep’s march causing some eight some injuries after lunch.

16 January 2014

Dubai Group has signed a $10 billion debt restructuring deal, two sources with knowledge of the matter told Reuters on Thursday, bringing an end to the last major hangover from the emirate’s 2009 financial crisis.

Dubai state-linked entities borrowed heavily from banks to fund a spree of acquisitions during the boom years of 2006-08.

But as credit markets dried up following the global financial crisis and a local real estate bubble burst, they found themselves unable to manage their obligations and were forced to renegotiate tens of billions of dollars of debt.

Dubai Group, the investment vehicle owned by the emirate’s ruler, signed the restructuring deal on Wednesday, the sources said, speaking on condition of anonymity as the information is not public.”

Another increase in service fees coming then…..Dubai Group will extract cash from wherever it can.

EK will start a second daily Dublin flight on 1st September:

EK 163 DXB DUB 1600 2050
EK 164 DUB DXB 2220 0855*

15 January 2014

Thailand’s so-called Democratic Party was in power from 2009 when the courts gave them control of Parliament until they lost the 2011 election – so they had two years to introduce the reforms that they now argue are necessary before they are willing to fight another election.

What did they do?


Pathetic really.

14 January 2014

There are rumors going around that EK will get additional access to Vancouver, and maybe a Calgary/Edmonton connection in Canada. Also from the sound of it Toronto should go daily, if not double daily.
Just rumours.

Visit two of the following; Iran, Uruquay, Nepal, Iceland.

Definitely go back to Japan.

Read at least half of the books that I have bought and not yet read!

Ok – that is a good list to start with. Gentle reader, I will let you know how I get on.

2 January 2014

So here we are at the start of another year.

And after a rather strange year end that was hard on Tai.

The drama started on her flight back from Bangkok when an elderly passenger fell ill and required CPR from the crew.

Sadly he died about ten minutes after the plane reached the gate. There were messages of support from crew managers. But Tai was not directly involved in looking after the passenger so was less affected than some of the other crew might have been.

Then in the early evening of 31st we found out that our expected guests would not be joining us for the evening. Which was fine except that it left us with more food than we need.

The Burj fireworks were spectacular. But short. Under four minutes. The crowds were lighter this year as many people went to see the waterfront fireworks. It is hard to get a good vantage point to see these properly. And it seemed to be more about creating a show that would have Dubai in the Guinness Book of world records than about it being a show for the people of Dubai.

One day Dubai will have to get past this need to be the biggest, tallest, most etc. Size is not everything. Quality matters as well and that builds a lasting legacy.

Remember the airshow. Washed out on the final day because the exhibition building was not waterproof. Poorly constructed it did not do its job.

13 January 2014

The real danger of the Bangkok shutdown is that the situation quickly gets getting out of hand.

Until now, we have witnessed a (dirty) game of elite chess. The Shinawatras trying to use an amnesty bill to bring Thaksin back to Thailand. The anti-democracy whistleblowers trying to remove the government and cancel elections that they can never win.

The strategy appears to be to provoke a military coup by causing bloodshed on the streets.

So far the government, police and military have behaved with the greatest restraint. Indeed the government even conceded to a new election.

But this weeks shutdown Bangkok is a dangerous raising of the stakes. Remember that until now, including the storming of the ministries, the authorities have maintained full control over events.

But there are plenty of red shirt sympathisers in Bangkok who need to make a living; taxi drivers, street vendors, van drivers etc. How long can they be restrained from protesting against the protesters.

The ensuing bloodshed may be enough pretext for military intervention.

And that is what Suthep needs. He needs bloodshed. While Yingluk and the Puea Thai cabinet simply hope to do nothing and weather the storm.

But if this does become violent then both sides may lose control. And if the red shirts in the north mobilise (and their patience has been remarkable) then…..the resulting battle is too awful to think about.

It is bad enough that this showdown continues to see Thais fighting Thais and friends fighting friends. The if you are not with us you are against is rhetoric is alarming.

The saddest part about the Thai protests is how this Bangkok/southern based mob invoked the Thai flag as their symbol as though they somehow are the only true representatives of the nation. They are not. They represent but a small minority.

Tina Fey at the Golden Globes said “Gravity” was about ‘how Clooney would rather float away in Space rather than spend one more minute with a woman his own age.’


Is there any point in releasing a movie when the censor has removed over 1/4 of the film: The version of The Wolf of Wall Street being screened in Dubai is about 45 minutes shorter than its original running time of 180 minutes. The changes were made by the distributor on the advice of the National Media Council, the government authority that vets the content of films before approving their release.

Other films with content that does not conform to the UAE’s cultural values were not released at all. The 2011 movie The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was not shown after the producers declined to make the cuts recommended by the National Media Council.

Cate Blanchett got the best actress globe for Blue Jasmine; I really disliked that film.

12 January 2014

The first half of the final season of Mad Men begins on Sunday, April 13 – just so you know!

The Economist : “Thailand could also do with a new constitution. The current one no longer works. The political system has broken and no one can see the way to devise a new one. The main opposition group, the Democrat Party, should contemplate a name change: to the “anti-Democrats”, perhaps, or the catchier “Born to Rule!”. It is boycotting next month’s election not because it would be unfair (though it might be), but because it would lose. It has not won a general election for more than two decades. Its supporters in the south are outnumbered by those in the north and north-east of the country, who keep on voting in proxies for Thaksin Shinawatra, an exiled former prime minister. The forces that the Born to Rules represent, including much of Thailand’s traditional elite, find this impossible to accept. They are openly campaigning for what amounts to dictatorship, though they do not call it that. Democracy has not worked for the Democrats.”

The full article is here.

8 January 2014

So FIFA does not want a summer world cup in Qatar in 2022. So why were they allowed o bid for a summer world cup – and why were FIFA delegates dopey enough to grant Qatar a summer world cup.

Here is a likely prediction: the 2022 World Cup final in Qatar will be on Sunday December 18 … which is already Qatar National Day.

Met one of my near neighbours in the elevator today – he is 7ft 2in (219 cms) – I have never met anyone that tall. Very nice guy – but it must be tough remembering to duck all the time – even to get out of the elevator and escape my questions !

6 January 2014

Thailand’s problems in one sentence: “Nothing like a career politician backed by billionaires soliciting money from the middle class to destroy the poor.”

As Suthep leads his followers around Bangkok soliciting handouts.

5 January 2014

England have been thrashed in Australia – five tests to nil. In the last test in Sydney England won the toss – for the first game in the series – put Australia in to bat and then managing to lose in three days.

There may never have been a more one-sided test series. Perhaps Pakistan v England in the UAE.

Merciless, vicious cricket from the Australians and the poms had no response.

Hard to know where England go from here. This England team is simply not as good as they think they are. They can win in England; they struggle overseas – remember the 3-0 thrashing by Pakistan in the UAE at the start of 2013.

So where to from here. They look completely shell-shocked. The Flower-Cook relationship is simply to cosy. If this was a business they would both be fired. If this was a company the share-price would be near rock-bottom. So change at the top is necessary.

The tour appears to have ended the careers of Swann (retired), Trott, Panesar and Prior.

I imagine Pieterson will also retire. They wont give him the captaincy so why continue?

Carberry really does not look a long term England opener. Rankin is not a test bowler. Root and Compton appear to have been sidelined.

But the trouble with England is that changes are incremental and the fundamental attitude does not change – unimaginative, attritional cricket.

Something needs to change. And the change should start at the top.

3 January 2014

Resolutions are hard – especially as I am l not very good at making them or living up to them!

So what about 2014.

Make better use of my time – find a real purpose beyond caring for family. Even a job – something that I want to wake up for and enjoy.

Finally learn to play the guitar rather than sitting and looking at it.

Learn wordpress.

Be active.

31 December 2013

A6-EMM is apparently haunted. Just so you know.

It really is not the protests that are dangerous in Thailand – it is the road where the statistics are 266 killed and 2,502 injured in 2,355 road accidents during the first 5 days of the holiday.

Happy New Year – and a peaceful, kind 2014 to you all. Thank you for still reading me!

And thank you to Tai for always being there.