25 February 2007

US-European Commission air transport negotiations continue

The second round of "open skies" negotiations for 2007 is due to start in Brussels tomorrow, 26 February 2007. No official announcement followed the first round held in Washington DC earlier this month.

On 20 February 2007 the Guardian reported that the Irish, who do not yet have an "open skies" agreement with the US, are getting impatient.

The Irish Times carried a Reuters story on the day the first round this year began on 6 February 2007.

New Zealand's air services arrangements with Ireland include the Shannon restrictions on trans-Atlantic services that limit non-stop flights to Dublin but also include an exchange of cabotage rights.

Sustainable Aviation Policies for America and the World

A 34-page synopsis of the 19 October 2007 Leadership Summit held in Chicago on the above subject, organised by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs and the International Aviation Law Institute at DePaul University, is now available on the web.

I was invited to speak but working on the Air New Zealand/Qantas Tasman Networks Agreement (TNA) application kept me back in New Zealand.

The Institute also publishes the very promising Aviation Law Prof Blog.

Melbourne missing out on international air services?

On 24 February 2007 the web site of the Melbourne Age newspaper carried an in-depth story by Simon Mann on, inter alia, Australian air services policy as it impacts on Melbourne and Victoria, and also contrasting the success Sydney Airport (SYD), the hub of Qantas operations, has in attracting other international airlines compared with Melbourne Airport (MEL).

LAX versus SFO

On 23 February 2007 the Los Angeles Times carried a story about how Los Angeles Airport (LAX) is losing popularity amongst international airlines to San Francisco (SFO). Certainly in my experience SFO does a much better job in upgradings its facilities and promoting itself, and has secured an Air New Zealand service that is proving to be very popular. It may also yet be the home of Virgin America. Last year Air New Zealand downgraded its LAX-LHR service from B747s to B777s and intends withdrawing from operating PPT-LAX.

I also recall that while SFO now has a BART station, the Los Angeles politicians seem to have stopped their mass urban transit system, Metro Rail, short of LAX to appease the local parking lot and taxi industries!

Air New Zealand aircraft to return to Vancouver

On Friday morning, 23 February 2007, Air New Zealand confirmed the speculation that it would be recommencing operations to Vancouver (YVR). This time there will be a three times per week non stop from Auckland (AKL) using B777-200 aircraft. The commitment at this stage is only for the coming Southern Hemisphere summer season when Canadians escape their winter and New Zealanders like to try out the skiing in our off season.

The current bilateral arrangements between New Zealand and Canada permit the operation of up to four services per week by the airlines of each side.

Last Monday the Dominion Post carried a story speculating that YVR would be the new long-haul destination for Air New Zealand in 2007. The speculation has already begun in the forums on Airliners.net as to what will be the new long-haul destination for 2008.

Having visited Vancouver and Western Canada a couple of times on holiday I would throughly recommend it. It will also make a great stopover for travellers between New Zealand and the UK, with only one stop and avoiding the hassles of the US.

Fran O'Sullivan on Air New Zealand

The New Zealand Herald today carries a story on Air New Zealand by top journalist Fran O'Sullivan. The story speculates about the possibility of a limited sell down of shares by the government and discusses the changes brought about by CE Rob Fyfe.

I have a great deal of respect for Fran's abilities as a journalist and still recall from my Treasury days the speed with which, in the annual Budget lock up for journalists, she would find the stories that the then governments were not so keen to have highlighted. This latest story, however, has one howling factual error. It refers to "Air Nadi" instead of Air Pacific.

Note that the government's share of Air New Zealand has recently fallen from around 82% to 76.75% following the conversion of convertable notes held by Qantas.

Needless to say, I and my Ministry of Transport colleagues are banned from holding shares in Air New Zealand.

18 February 2007

Progress Report on APEC Liberalisation of Air Services Study

The Sydney-based Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation (CAPA) has been carrying out for the APEC Transportation Working Group a "Study of Air Services Liberalisation in the APEC Region, 1995-2005". A Progress Report on this work was presented at Vancouver in September 2006 and is available as an MS Word file.

The 5th APEC Transportation Ministerial Meeting will be held in late March 2007 in Australia.

A flight across Canada and back in an old C172

While hunting for information comparing the energy efficiency of the different transport modes, I came across the homepages of a Canadian, James Strickland. He has a wonderful collection of photographs and a detailed description of flying his 1962 GPS-equipped Cessna 172 aircraft from Victoria, BC, to Ottawa in 20 hours flying time and back in 23 hours during the summer of 2003. The weather conditions on the return legs turned it into quite an adventure.

My longest cross-country flying effort was Wellington to Whangarei and back which took me just over three hours each way piloting a Piper Arrow (ZK-EIF).

And yes, James does have an interesting page of energy efficiency comparisons for passenger transport modes. Unfortunately it is information on modal comparisons for energy efficiency in freight transport that I am currently trying to track down.

Liquids, gels and aerosols

Following recommendations from ICAO in December last year, on 15 February 2007 the Minister of Transport Safety announced that New Zealand is joining a growing list of countries limiting the carriage in the cabin by air passengers of liquids, gels and aerosols. The new restrictions will begin on 31 March 2007. Details are available in a new Flysmart section of our Ministry's web site.

As a consequence the excellent New Zealand Aviation Security Service will again be boosting its staff numbers. I spent around two years part time working on policy and related consultations on how to fund the Service and also passenger border processing activities in an exercise led by my former Treasury colleagues. Air travellers are fortunate in New Zealand that all hold-stow baggage screening for international flights is now efficiently and effectively done out of sight after you have handed your bags in at check-in. In addition, screening points in New Zealand are generally adequately staffed to avoid delays. This was not the case the last time I transited through LAX - a real hassle.

Finally an alternative libertarian view on the aviation security announcement from a former Ministry colleague who writes the Liberty Scott weblog. A cost/benefit analysis would indeed be interesting.

11 February 2007

Maritime Transport page added to my web site

Having discover last week that I and some of my colleagues are going to be helping out on shipping policy over the coming few months (in the past my involvement has mainly been related to the maritime aspects of the Doha Round of trade talks), I have just spent a good portion of today developing a new Maritime Transport page for my home pages.

What struck me in completing the new page is the amount of consolidation that has been going on in the international liner shipping industry in the recent past, something that some of the web pages of New Zealand port companies have yet to catch up with.

The additional maritime-related links now take the total number of links off my home pages to well over the thousand mark.

Now I have a good excuse to see if I can make time to take some more shipping and sea port photographs to add to the new page.

10 February 2007

Rail Photos taken in Geneva

I first visited Switzerland on holiday in 1986 and for part of my time there travelled around by train and boat using a Swiss Pass. I also travelled on the Glacier Express and the very expensive Jungfraubahnen. It was a wonderful experience and a great way to see the Swiss Alps. More recently my visits to Switzerland have been to attend World Trade Organization (WTO) meetings in Geneva.

Here are a few photos I took on different more recent visits to the main railway station in Geneva, Switzerland. The lighting conditions were sometimes less than ideal.

A modern electric Swiss Rail train with double-decked passenger carriages.

An older Swiss Rail electric engine pulling single-decked passenger carriages.

The RER operates local services as part of the Geneva public transport system.

A TGV that operates between Paris and Geneva is visible on the left of the photograph above.

Air Tahiti to serve Papeete-Rarotonga air route

Tahitipresse in a 5 February 2007 story reports that, after Air New Zealand ceases operating between Rarotonga (RAR), in the Cook Islands, and Papeete (PPT), in French Polynesia, Air Tahiti will commence a twice-weekly ATR72 service on the route. Air Rarotonga will be code sharing on this service which starts on 3 April 2007.

On 26 October 2006 Air New Zealand announced that it would also be ceasing operations between Papeete and Los Angeles and will instead code share on Air Tahiti Nui services on this sector. At the same time Air New Zealand will be recommencing a non-stop Rarotonga-Los Angeles operation.

Malaysia seeking to liberalise air services arrangements with Singapore, Vietnam and Brunei

Bernama, the Malaysian national news agency, has a 9 February 2007 article reporting that Malaysia is to renegotiate its air services arrangements with Vietnam. This news comes out of bilateral discussions held during the ASEAN transport ministers meeting this week. Currently services between Malaysia and Ho Chi Minh City are capacity restricted with Malaysia using its full allocation of 14 flights per week.

The article also reports on a ministerial commitment to renegotiate the 34-year old Malaysia-Singapore air services arrangements. Currently the number of Singaporean and Malaysian airlines that can fly between Singapore and KL is restricted, thereby excluding the new low-cost carriers. A separate article reports that these negotiations will start in March.

Malaysia is also planning to negotiate with Brunei.

New Zealand has "open skies" arrangements in place with Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei, the latter two through the MALIAT.

UK Motorway network graphic

Here is another map inspired by that famous example of graphic design work, the London Underground map developed by Harry Beck in 1933, this time of the current UK motorway network.

The web site also has a schematic map of UK post code areas.

08 February 2007

WTO Secretariat Study of Air Services Agreements

A major study of air services agreements (treaties) in the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) database called DAGMAR has recently been completed and made public by the World Trade Organization (WTO) Secretariat as part of the background for the review held every five years of "developments in the air transport sector". These reviews are required by the Annex on Air Transport Services (page 307) of the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS). The reference number for the study is S/C/W/270 and it can be found in multiple parts for download by searching the WTO web site. The site has a page on Air transport services that provides easy access to the relevant documents.

As well of being of relevance to negotiators, this study should be of considerable interests to academics and students working in the international air transport field.

06 February 2007

Aircraft Photos taken in Germany

Photography has been a hobby of mine for many years. I now take my digital camera with me when travelling. Photos out the windows of aircraft from altitude are usually disappointing but when on the ground at a busy international airport the results can be quite interesting.

Here are couple of photographs I took last year out of aircraft windows while taxiing for take off.

The JAL B747-400F above was about to take off from Frankfurt as we took off for Geneva.

The Lufthansa A319 above was being pushed back at dusk around the same time as we were departing Munich for Asia.

I have a few of my photos stored and displayed on Flickr, including sets of photographs taken around Bruges, Belgium, and Rome, Italy. I have just added three photographs taken last year in Moscow.

03 February 2007

Air Pacific looking to drop operations to Vancouver

A 2 February 2007 joint application to the US Department of Transportation (DoT) shows that Fiji-based Air Pacific is seeking to drop operations beyond Honolulu (HNL) to Vancouver (YVR) and instead codeshare on Vancouver-based B757 operator Harmony Airways. Harmony would codeshare on Air Pacific between Honolulu and Nadi.

On 11 January 2007 Air Pacific and Air New Zealand received US DoT approval of their application to codeshare on each other's Nadi (NAN) - Los Angeles (LAX) operations.

Class-action lawsuit in Australia alleges cargo-rate fixing

An article in The Australian and an article in The Age report on a class-action lawsuit alleging illegal cargo-rate fixing that is being pursued by Melbourne law firm Maurice Blackburn Cashman. On 1 February 2007 the law firm has issued a media release about the lawsuit. Air New Zealand is one of the seven international airlines affected.

New and updated links on my home pages

When I add a new link or update an old link on my home pages (they currently have around 930 links to other web sites), next to the link I annotate NEW or UPDATED as appropriate. After a couple of months, give or take a few weeks, I remove the annotations. I have just done a count of the numbers of annotations that I am about to remove:

Updated 29
New 135

It really has been a cold, wet summer!

Australia-UAE air services arrangements

A 1 February 2007 report in The Australian about Abu Dhabi-based airline Etihad Airways selecting Sydney (SYD) as the destination for its first services to Australia also outlines the capacity restrictions contained in the Australia-United Arab Emirates air services arrangements. It seems that non-Dubai-based airlines from the UAE are in effect restricted to seven services per week to Australia. Dubai-based airlines (read Emirates Airline) are currently entitled to operate 49 services per week.

Legality of UK Air Passenger Duty increase questioned

No wonder I could not find the legal basis for the 1 February 2007 increase when I search the web earlier this week for the relevant UK legislation or a bill before the UK Parliament. The law change has yet to be made.

The Federation of Tour Operators (FTO) is reported in the Telegraph to be set to take legal action and the Conservatives are also questioning its legality. The BBC reported on the UK Government's response.

Formal Airline Partners Australia bid for Qantas

The formal Bidder's Statement (2.0Mb .pdf) was released yesterday by Airline Partners Australia.