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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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).
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.
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.
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.