28 April 2007

Extension of South East Asian fifth freedom exchange announced

On 24 April 2007 the Office of the President of the Philippines announced that the number of points available for fifth freedom air transport operations in the Brunei Darussalam/Indonesia/Malaysia/the Philippines-East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) has been extended.

25 April 2007

China-New Zealand air services agreement amendments brought into effect

On 23 April 2007 the New Zealand Minister of Transport, Hon. Annette King, announced from Beijing that amendments to the 1993 air services treaty between China and New Zealand had been brought into effect.

These amendments were negotiated in 2004. The main features were announced by the then Minister of Transport, Hon. Pete Hodgson, on 18 May 2004.

Brazilian interest in a regional approach to international air services arrangements?

On 17 April 2007 the head of the ANAC, Milton Zuanazzi, was reported (in Portuguese) to have been expressing an interest in the possibility of moving from a bilateral to a regional approach within South America for the economic regulation of international air services (O Globo article in Portuguese).

Civil aviation policy changes recommended in Israel

A 20 April 2007 article in Haaretz reports on recommendations from the Israeli Ministry of Transport to liberalise aspects of Israel's international air transport policy. This includes seeking to negotiate an "open skies" agreement with the European Union.

18 April 2007

Australia concludes new Air Services Agreements with Spain and Croatia

In a 12 April 2007 media statement the Australian Transport Minister, Mark Vaile, announced that Australia has concluded new Air Services Agreements with Spain and Croatia.

New Zealand signed an Air Services Agreement with Spain in 2002. I led the New Zealand delegation at the negotiations.

16 April 2007

Illustrated History of National Airways Corporation

I have just finished enjoying reading and looking at the excellent set of pictures in "NAC - The Illustrated History of New Zealand National Airways Corporation 1947-1978" by Richard Waugh with Peter Layne & Graeme McConnell.

The authors, who are members of New Zealand Airline Research, have had the good sense not to try to repeat material in Dr Peter Aimer's book "Wings of the Nation - A History of the National Airways Corporation, 1947-78" about New Zealand's State-owned domestic carrier that was merged with Air New Zealand in 1978. Rather the two books are very much complimentary.

I remember flying in NAC Vickers Viscount aircraft between Dunedin and Christchurch as a child. I still think that the type is particularly beautiful but it was very noisy.

Rev Richard Waugh, in particular, has been involved in writing a number of books printed by Craigs about early airlines in New Zealand, reenactment flights and commemorating many of the airline tragedies that marked that history.

15 April 2007

IATA releases Oxera report comparing restrictions facing airlines with other industries

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has just released an 86-page November 2006 report prepared by Oxera Consulting entitled What are the economic impacts of relaxing on product and capital markets restrictions? - lessons from other industries together with an accompanying IATA Economics Briefing on Airline Liberalisation. The other industries looked at are banking, telecommunications, media and energy.

US aspirations for an "open skies" agreement with China

On 13 April 2007 Reuters, Associated Press and Xinhua carried reports on the visit by Secretary for Transportation, Mary Peters, to Beijing during which she outlined a possible timetable for liberalising US-China air services arrangements. This would see a framework deal concluded by May.

13 April 2007

Arab Maghreb Union studying Moroccan "open skies" proposal

Middle East Online carries a 30 March 2007 report that the five countries of the Arab Maghreb Union (AMU) - Algeria, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco and Tunisia - have set up a committee to study a proposal from Morocco for an "open skies" agreement.

Morocco recently concluded a similar agreement with the European Union.

11 April 2007

No result from Japan-United States air services negotiations

Aviation Week in a 9 April 2007 story reports that three days of air services negotiations in Washington DC between Japan and the United States did not reach agreement.

Japan has long been concerned that US airlines hold a disproportionate share of slots at Narita International Airport (NRT) near Tokyo.

10 April 2007

IATA releases latest airline industry forecasts

IATA Economics has recently released the 29 page presentation of its April 2007 set of forecasts for the global airline industry. Of particular interest is the shock risk graph on Slide 10. There is also a 4 page briefing version.

Other freely available global and regional forecasts are published annually by the two major airliner manufacturers, Airbus with its Global Market Forecast and Boeing with its Current Market Outlook. Inevitably they place emphasis on their aircraft sales expectations and of late the forecasts have also been used to further the debate about whether the future lies in operations to and from major hubs with aircraft like the A380 (and B747-8) or point-to-point flying with aircraft like the B787 (and A350).

Here in New Zealand, where almost all visitors arrive by air, official tourism forecasts are produced annually for the Ministry of Tourism by Covec. For better or worse I am a contributor to this annual exercise.

A fishy public transport story from England

The Daily Mail on 9 April 2007 has a report, complete with photos, about a white cat that regularly and unaccompanied uses public transport (the No 331 bus) to visit the local fish and chip shop!

We humans all too often fail to give our feline and canine companions sufficient credit for their intelligence.

09 April 2007

Setback for CERN as Fermilab maths mistake causes explosion

In an 8 April 2007 article the Sunday Times reports on a small explosion on 27 March at CERN in Geneva that has possibly set back by months the multi-billion euro Large Hadron Collider (LHC) project to build an experiment to search for evidence of the Higgs Boson. The cause of the explosion was reportedly a miscalculation by staff at CERN's US rival, Fermilab. Official statements have been made by CERN and Fermilab.

I have been out to the visitor centre, Microcosm, at CERN. It is well worth a look. Ever since studying physics at high school I have retained a fascination for the subject reading popular accounts but thought that my maths skills were not up to taking the subject any further. Maybe they were!

In addition, understanding basic physics is very important for anyone involved in flying.

Spectacular photos of unusual clouds

A 7 April 2007 post on the Thrilling Wonder blog has some spectacular photos of cloud formations, including lenticular clouds and the rare mammatus.

07 April 2007

Government support for South African Airways

A 4 April 2007 article in Business Day, quoting Public Enterprises Minister Alec Erwin, reports that there are limits to the South African Government's support for its loss-making airline, South African Airways.

On 29 March 2007 Star Alliance member South African Airways announced that it is entering into a code-share arrangement with non-Star Malaysia Airlines.

06 April 2007

Canada-Japan air services arrangements expanded

On 5 February 2007 Canadian Ministers Lawrence Cannon and David Emerson announced that air services negotiations between Canada and Japan concluded on 25 January 2007 had expanded the air services arrangements between the two countries.

UK report on baggage mishandling by airlines

On 4 April 2007 the UK Air Transport Users Council published a 9-page report on every air passenger's nightmare, the mishandling of baggage. The report gives statistics for some of the major airlines serving the UK. Notable airlines that did not submit data included Virgin Atlantic and bmi.

I have personally had a few bags go missing but the airlines concerned have always managed to get them back to me at my hotel within a day.

Japan to open international airline access to regional airports?

In a 31 March 2007 article the Financial Times reports that the Japanese Government is looking at freeing up international airline access to its regional airports in what is being called the Asia Gateway Plan. The article quotes Takumi Nemoto, a special adviser to the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, and also reports on the possibility of an air services agreement between Japan and ASEAN.

Australia and the United Kingdom already follow similar policy approaches with respect to access by foreign international airlines to their regional airports. On 17 October 2005 the United Kingdom went as far as inviting fifth freedom services through its regional airports.

Australian air rights aspirations in Europe

Following the recent exchanges of new air rights by Australia with Qatar and separately the United Arab Emirates, Australian Minister of Transport Mark Vaile is quoted in an interview with the Australian reported on 30 March 2007 about Australia's aspirations to expand its air services arrangements with Europe, including increased access to Paris.

Problems with Enforcement of EU Air Passenger Rights

On 4 April 2007 the European Commission (EC) released a 12-page communication (report) on the results and application of the EU air passenger rights regulation, noting in particular problems with low-cost carriers, and announced that it is giving member states another six months to make this legislation work.

A BBC report on this announcement notes the lack of a definition of "delay" in the EU regulation. No definition of "delay" is included in the 1929 Warsaw Convention on international air carrier liability (Article 19 refers) either and when this and subsequent amendments were consolidated in the 1999 Montreal Convention (again Article 19 refers) again no definition of "delay" was included. The same situation exists in Part 9B of the New Zealand Civil Aviation Act 1990 with respect to domestic delay. Back in 2004 the China Daily carried an interesting article on this subject noting the whether or not delay has occurred is generally considered on a case-by-case basis.

A number of countries collect and publish airline delay statistics. In the United States (where the Department of Transportation Bureau of Transportation Statistics issues a monthly Air Travel Consumer Report) "on time" is defined as within 15 minutes of scheduled time. The Australian Bureau of Transport and Regional Economics uses the same 15 minute definition of "on time" in its reporting. UK punctuality statistics are published by the UK Civil Aviation Authority and this information is also available in a more user-friendly form on the Flightontime.info web site.

On 10 January 2007, following airline industry complaints, the European Ombudsman had criticised certain public information produced by the EC on air passenger rights as being inaccurate and misleading.

01 April 2007

The global air transport network

Having read Mark Buchanan's book "Nexus - Small Worlds and the Groundbreaking Science of Networks", I found the academic paper The worldwide air transportation network: Anomalous centrality, community structure, and cities' global roles by R. Guimerà, S. Mossa, A. Turtschi & L. A. N. Amaral, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in 2005 to be interesting. This research used data from OAG - 500,000 flights between 27,000 pairs of cities scheduled during the first week of November 2000. A non-technical description of the results is also available together with a couple of ranked lists of all the cities in the database.

Note, in particular, the significance - "centrality" - of airports in Anchorage in Alaska and Port Moresby in Papua New Guinea. Both areas of the world are very much dependent on air transport.

For someone who often takes journeys that involve flying four sectors (the research shows that a traveller can get from any city to any other with an average of 4.4 sectors) it was fascinating to read of the most disconnected places in the world - Mount Pleasant (MPN) in the Falkland Islands and Wasu (WSU) in Papua New Guinea - flying between them required a 15-sector journey!

London Heathrow airport slots and the A380

One consequence of the EU-US "open skies" agreement will be that, with the end of the UK-US Bermuda II agreement, more UK and US airlines will be able to serve routes between London Heathrow (LHR) airport and the United States (other EU airlines will also gain access). A major constraint on this will be the lack of takeoff and landing slots at LHR.

Airport Coordination Ltd, who control slots at LHR, has issued a three-page brief dated 26 March 2007 on the situation. Logically LHR slots may be about to get a whole lot more expensive.

A further dimension to the issue of slot constraints is that the A380 aircraft some major carriers will be seeking to operate into LHR may require greater wake turbulence separation from other aircraft during landing and takeoff thereby reducing hourly runway capacity. In June 2006 ICAO was issuing guidance on this subject. British Airways (BA) Chief Executive Willie Walsh touched on some of the implications of this in a lecture to the Royal Aeronautical Society on 13 November 2006 (Flight International carried a report on this in a short article).

Australia and New Zealand implement mutual recognition of airline safety certification

On 30 March 2007 the Australian and New Zealand Ministers of Transport, Mark Vaile and Annette King, jointly announced that mutual recognition of airline safety certification between Australia and New Zealand had been implemented. This move has been a decade in the making and required legislation changes in Australia and New Zealand. It is particularly significant because under the Single Aviation Market qualifying airlines can operate both eight and ninth freedom cabotage services.

Further details are available on the New Zealand Ministry of Transport web site. An Arrangement (3.34Mb .pdf) between the two governments was signed on 13 February 2007 and an Operational Arrangement between CASA and the New Zealand CAA was signed on 16 March 2007.

A previous statement by Annette King welcoming the passage of the Australian legislation was made on 12 September 2006.

APEC Transport Ministers meet in Adelaide

Unlike their European counterparts, APEC transport ministers do not meet very often. Their 28-30 March 2007 meeting last week in Adelaide, Australia, was only the fifth time that they have got together.

At the end of the meeting a Joint Ministerial Statement was issued.

One of the issues discussed was how to take practical steps to reduce aviation emissions. This featured in a media statement issued by meeting chairman, Mark Vaile, and can in part be seen as a response to European Commission proposal released late last year as to how to address this issue.

One interesting speech delivered at the conference on 30 March 2007 was that by Singapore's Transport Minister, Raymond Lim, covering progress being made within APEC on air services liberalisation.