30 November 2008

Is the proposed UK ADP increase protectionism?

Okay, so how would we work out to what extent the proposed increase in the Air Passenger Duty (APD) is a “tax grab” and/or protectionism as some have alleged or could have environmental legitimacy (see previous post)?

Could we:
- take the distance and emissions of CO2 for a passenger travelling one-way London-Auckland in economy class from the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) carbon emissions calculator at: http://www2.icao.int/public/cfmapps/carbonoffset/carbon_calculator.cfm which gives an answer of 18,335 Km generating about 1,341.73 Kg of CO2
- take the price of carbon emissions on 26 November 2008 from Point Carbon at: http://www.pointcarbon.com/ which gave a value of €15.70 per tonne
- do a conversion from Euros to Pounds giving £13.36 per tonne and multiple that by 1.342 tonnes
- and come up with £17.93 compared with the current Air Passenger Duty (APD) of £40, the proposed APD of £55 from 1 November 2009 and the proposed APD of £85 from 2010 (see: http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/pbr2008/pbrn20.pdf ) or do I misunderstand the basis of how HM Treasury arrived at the rates for this “green” tax?

New Zealand's recent treaty negotiations

Just about hidden away on the web site of the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade is the International Treaties List, a publication produced every six months that gives some details of all the treaties that the New Zealand Government is negotiating, concluding, ratifying or amending. This includes air services agreements.

The 61-page July 2008 edition on pages 59-60 refers to New Zealand's air services relationships with Canada, the European Union, the Philippines, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Turkey and the United Kingdom. It gives the dates of recent negotiations and also lists me as the official contact for these.

The Box

The BBC is following a shipping container around the world for a year and has a page for The Box complete with related stories and GPS tracking of its location.

The container started out in the UK with a shipment of Scotch whisky bound for China and is now headed for the USA full of consumer goods (HT to Transport Blog).

Rise in piracy

This year has seen increasing news reports of piracy, particularly off the coast of Somalia.

An excellent source of data for this growing problem is the International Chamber of Commerce's International Maritime Bureau which operates a Piracy Reporting Centre based in Malaysia. The Centre maintains a live piracy map of all such incidents around the world.

New Zealand Aviation Overview published

The New Zealand Ministry of Tourism this month published a 22-page New Zealand Aviation Overview bringing together data from a variety of sources.

EU Ministers grant EC mandate to negotiate new ASA with Lebanon

At their 9 October 2008 Transport, Telecommunications and Energy (TTE) Council meeting held in Luxembourg under the French Presidency, European Transport Ministers decided to grant the European Commission a mandate to open negotiations with Lebanon on a comprehensive Euro-Mediterranean air transport agreement.

UK plans sharp increases in Air Passenger Duty

In its Pre-Budget Update on 24 November 2008 the UK Government announced that it planned to increase its Air Passenger Duty (APD) and restructure it to move from two to four bands based on distance.

In his speech the UK Chancellor said:

"As the Government has demanded, aviation will now be included in the emissions trading scheme from 2012.

This is a major step towards achieving our environmental objective of reducing the impact of aviation on climate change.

It has enabled me to look again at our proposals for reforming air passenger duty.

Mr Speaker, last year, there was cross-party support for a reform of air passenger duty to a tax per plane.

As much as I am in favour of a bipartisan approach, it seems in this case not to have reached the right conclusion.

This proposal could harm the aviation industry at a time when it is facing huge problems.

So instead I have decided to reform APD into a four-band system ensuring those that travel further and have a larger environmental impact meet that cost.

I believe this will be effective in reducing emissions from aviation."

Details are contained in Chapter 7 of the 2008 Pre-Budget Report and a release from HM Revenue & Customs. The latter details the impact on travel to individual countries.

HM Treasury also released a 37-page response on the consultation it had done on moving from a per passenger to a per plane charge.

UK media coverage included that from:
Airline reaction came in media statements from:
ABTA - The Travel Association also commented.

The announcement came the day before New Zealand's New Prime Minister, John Key, met with UK Prime Minister, Gordon Brown.

NZ media coverage included that from:
Tourism is New Zealand's largest export earner and the UK is New Zealand's second largest visitor market.

Australian reaction was reported in The Age.

Belgium drops idea of taxing air passengers

On 7 November 2008 the Association of European Airlines (AEA) commented on the decision of the Belgian Government dropped its plan to impose a ticket tax on air passengers. The AEA noted similar moves in Denmark last year and in Malta this month.

Fiji Budget increases departure tax

The Fiji Times reported on 25 November 2008 that the 21 November 2008 Fiji Budget included an increase in departure tax to F$75 from 2009. The current level is $F40 per person and the increase is to come into effect on 1 January.

Irish Budget introduces Air Travel Tax

The Irish 2009 Budget announced on 14 October 2008 that an Air Travel Tax would be introduced from 30 March 2009. The general rate applying will be €10 per passenger with a lower rate of €2 for shorter air journeys (those under 300 kms). The tax will be payable by the appropriate airport authority to the Revenue Commissioners in respect of passengers departing from Irish airports. In effect the airport authority will collect the tax from the airlines.

Even before the official announcement, on 13 October 2008 Ryanair was reacting to accurate speculation about the tax and followed up with a further statement on 17 October.

Air New Zealand-owned A320 crashes into Mediterranean

Friday, 28 November 2008, was one of those days I dread. I usually check the web first thing in the morning and was horrified to see the early reports that an Air New Zealand-owned Airbus A320, in the process of being returned from XL Airways Germany, had crashed into the sea off France near Perpignan. I soon learnt that someone from our Civil Aviation Authority was suspected to be on board.

Air New Zealand has issued a series of media releases on the crash as have various official bodies (not all are available on the web yet).

Air New Zealand:

Incident 0829 28/11
Update 1438 28/11
Update 1724 28/11
Update 2146 28/11
Update 0600 29/11
Update 0900 29/11
Update 1328 29/11
Update 2030 29/11
Update 0807 30/11
Update NEW 1028 2/12
Update NEW 1328 2/12
Update NEW 1512 7/12
Update NEW 1528 13/1
Update NEW 1229 15/1
Update NEW 19/1
Update NEW 20/1
Update NEW 1449 20/1
Update NEW 22/1
Update NEW 23/1

Bureau d'Enquetes et d'Analyses (BEA):

Accident on approach to Perpignan 2008 27/11
Accident on approach to Perpignan 2008 NEW 3/12

Civil Aviation Authority of New Zealand:

CAA staff shocked by accident involving missing colleague NEW 28/11

New Zealand Prime Minister:

Statement on Air New Zealand plane crash 28/11

New Zealand Minister of Transport:

Government concerned for Air NZ & CAA staff on crashed Airbus

There is no point in speculating as to exactly what happened. That usually takes time to establish but I hope that the accident investigators are able to find some answers that we can learn from and that the investigation does not become entangled in judicial proceedings.

At the time of the crash, the aircraft was still on the German registry as D-AXLA, having not yet been handed back to Air New Zealand, but it had already been repainted in Air New Zealand colours. Seeing a photograph of the tail fin with the koru floating in the sea was particularly hard. The accident happened on the 29th anniversary of the Erebus tragedy, a day I still remember well. I was studying at Otago University in Dunedin then.

Rest in peace guys.

23 November 2008

New Zealand has a new Minister of Transport

Recently elected New Zealand Prime Minister John Key has appointed new list Member of Parliament Steven Joyce to be New Zealand Minister of Transport. Joyce took office on 19 November 2008 and replaces Annette King (now Deputy Leader of the Opposition), Harry Duynhoven and Judith Tizard. The latter two lost their seats in Parliament in the 2008 election.

The NZ Herald carried a profile of Joyce on 5 September 2008. He is a zoology and economics major with a business background, most recently as CEO of Jasons Travel Media and General Manager of the National Party.

In a new innovation there is now also a Minister of Infrastructure, Deputy Prime Minister Bill English.

Attempt underway to set around the world via the poles speed record

Tag Trans Polar 08 is currently attempting to beat an FAI 54 hours, 7 minutes and 12 seconds speed record set in 1977 by a Pan American B747SP for a circumnavigation of the globe via the North and South Poles.

The Bombardier Global Express aircraft touched down in Christchurch, New Zealand early this morning local time for only 31 minutes.

The planned routing is Farnborough-Whitehorse-Majuro-Christchurch-Punta Arenas-Sal-Farnborough. (HT to MRC Aviation which provides very good coverage of non-scheduled international operations through New Zealand.)

21 November 2008

ACCC draft decision rejects Air Canada/Air New Zealand commercial alliance

On 20 November 2008 the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) announced that it had reached a draft determination to reject an application from Air Canada and Air New Zealand to enter into a cooperation agreement for services between Australasia and North America that would involve revenue pooling. Qantas and Singapore Airlines made submissions on the application.

On 21 November 2008 The Australian carried a report by Steve Creedy on the draft determination and BusinessDay reported NEW a response from Air New Zealand.

Air New Zealand makes an interesting point about past ACCC approvals of the arrangements between Qantas and South African Airways on the Australia-South Africa route. It is also notable that by not fully liberalising its air services arrangements with countries such as Singapore and Canada, the Australian Government has blocked entry by potential competitors into the Australia-mainland USA market. It would seem that this has been deliberately done to protect the launch of V Australia into this market. However, a submission from the Australian Department of Infrastructure notes that Australia intends to enter into air services negotiations with Canada "in the near future."

06 November 2008

Air services arrangements between Saudi Arabia and the UK criticised

On 4 November 2008 the Telegraph reported on criticism from Sir Michael Bishop, who is selling his controlling share in bmi to Lufthansa, of new air services arrangements negotiated between the United Kingdom and Saudi Arabia in July.

Kuwait and Singapore reach "open skies" agreement

On 4 November 2008 the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) announced that Singapore and Kuwait had concluded an "open skies" agreement. This takes the number of countries Singapore has "open skies" arrangements with to more than 30.

More direct transport links between Taiwan and the Mainland

On 4 November 2008 China Daily reported on the further opening of transport links between Taiwan and the Chinese Mainland following the signing of agreements between the mainland's Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits and the Straits Exchange Foundation (see previous post).

The permitted number of charter flights will be tripled to 108 per week and will be able to operate every day of the week (an agreement signed earlier this year permitted operations on only four days per week). New direct air routes will be introduced saving fuel and emissions as current flights are required to transit Hong Kong air space. Sixty direct cargo flights per month will also be possible.

Direct shipping links will be opened.

On 5 November 2008 Taiwan News carried a story on the negative impact the move is likely to have on Hong Kong.

05 November 2008

Cartograms of the US Presidential Election Results

For some excellent cartograms of the United States 2008 presidential election have a look at the work of Physics Professor Mark Newman and colleagues.

They have also done cartograms of the 2004 election.

The cartograms cover both state and county level results. The area of a state or county is based on its population or number of electoral votes rather than land area.

04 November 2008

Who to vote for?

A new weblog, Pundit, has a useful Election 2008 Party Quiz to help New Zealand voters decide which party best matches their views on the issues that are important to them.

It also links to the original US Presidential Quiz from Glassbooth.

My personal results? In New Zealand three parties are very close with a fourth not far behind and I still haven't finally decided which way my two votes will be cast on Saturday. As for US, I am glad I am not voting there because my quiz input on the issues results in an exact tie between McCain and Obama!

Anyway whether you are in the United States or New Zealand this week the most important thing is that if you are eligible you exercise your democratic right to vote. At times we may wish that we had a better system of selecting our governments, but a democratic system can only survive if we all support it.

And have fun watching the results roll in on the night.