31 May 2009

Positive results from Air New Zealand biofuels test flight

On 28 May 2009 Air New Zealand announced that its experiment with using jatropha-based biofuel in a B747 had been a success with the prospect of significant fuel savings (see previous post).

I was amused to read the 29 May 2009 coverage in the Daily Mail which headlined its report "Flying on fruit juice: Jumbo Jet powered by 'plum' biofuel takes to the skies." As I have previously noted, an alternative name for jatropha is black vomit nut (see previous post)!

Dubai approaches Fiji for air services arrangements

On 27 May 2009 Radio New Zealand International reported that Dubai has approached the Fiji Government with a view to putting in place the necessary arrangements to allow Emirates to serve Fiji. This followed a 25 May 2009 report in the Fiji Times quoting Fiji Director of Civil Aviation, Akuila Waradi, who stated that this would be given priority over air services arrangements negotiations with India, China, Canada, Australia and the United States.

On 28 May 2009 Arabian Business reported the airline as stating that “Emirates continues to be in regular dialogue with various governments. However, at this stage we have no immediate plans to operate to new gateways in the South Pacific.”

I recall being surprised to see how much advertising for Emirates was around Apia, Samoa, when I visited not that long ago.

Macau negotiates with Japan airline access to Tokyo

On 22 May 2009 the Macau Daily Times reported on a new Air Services Agreement and Record of Discussions that will give the airlines of Macau scheduled access to Narita (Tokyo) three times per week from March 2010. A couple of weblogs report (here and here) further details on the new air services arrangements negotiated between Macau and Japan on 18-19 May 2009.

Like Hong Kong, Macau has autonomy from the Chinese mainland with respect to its air rights.

Spain concludes new air services arrangements with the Philippines

On 21 May 2009 the Philippine Daily Inquirer reported the conclusion of a new air services agreement between the Philippines and Spain following negotiations in Madrid.

Canada concludes new air transport agreement with Turkey

On 20 March 2009 the Canadian Minister of Transport, John Baird, announced the conclusion of the first air transport agreement between Canada and Turkey.

Margaret Thatcher - "climate change pioneer"

In a 20 February 2009 weblog posting Richard Willis, a Reading Conservative Councillor, writes about the concerns the former UK Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, had voiced in 1988, 1989 and 1990 about global warming. Willis reminds his readers that she is a research chemist by training (HT to Iain Dale's Diary).

Actually we could do with a little global warming here today - as I write this it is hailing again!

The world's most liveable cities

Every year Mercer produces a global ranking of the world's most liveable cities. The Mercer 2009 Quality of Living Survey suggests that I am fortune to live and work in the 12th ranked city in the world. Auckland comes in at 4th equal with Vancouver this year. Vienna, Austria topped this ranking.

Perhaps more interesting from a transport perspective is that Auckland ranks a not so impressive 43rd and Wellington ranks 47th for infrastructure. The top cities on this measure are Singapore and Munich, Germany, and having used their public transport systems I have to agree. A feature of the New Zealand Government's 2009 Budget is a substantial increase in infrastructure spending, including on roading.

The Forbes coverage of this year's results has caused me minor amusement. Choosing one photo for each of the 20 top cities, they somehow managed to feature for Wellington, New Zealand a photograph of Apsley House, the former home of the Duke of Wellington in London, England (ranked 38th for liveability)!

Treat emissions on air routes to developing countries differently?

On 18 May 2009 GreenAir Online carried a very interesting article by Chris Lyle, formerly with ICAO but now Chief Executive of Air Transport Economics and an adviser to the UN World Tourism Organization. He suggests that if the principle of Common But Differentiated Responsibilities (CBDR) is to be applied to international aviation it should be based on air routes rather than the status of an airline's home country.

What Lyle proposes would partially solve the problem that Australasian airlines, such as Qantas and Air New Zealand, would face if emissions from major competing airlines such Emirates, Singapore Airlines and Cathay Pacific were treated differently because they come from "developing" countries.

New Zealand's economic growth held back by distance from major markets

A 2008 Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) working paper, The Contribution of Economic Geography to GDP per Capita by Hervé Boulhol, Alain de Serres and Margit Molnar, includes econometric analysis that suggests New Zealand and Australia's economic (GDP per capita) growth over the five years 2000-2004 was over 10% less than it might otherwise have been relative to the OECD average because of lower access to markets. Belgium and the Netherlands, on the other hand benefited some 6-7% as a consequence of their favourable location.

This analysis has been picked up in the summary of the OECD's 2009 Economic Survey of New Zealand which describes the country as "... a small nation on the world’s periphery ..." and having a "... geographic handicap ..." The Survey summary comments that "The small size and remoteness of the economy diminish its access to world markets, the scale and efficiency of domestic businesses, the level of competition and proximity to the world’s technology frontier."

Even before the sharp rise in oil prices last year and signs of protectionism resurfacing with the global economic recession, distance and remoteness do not seem to have died with globalisation (see previous post).

UK negotiates expanded air services opportunities with Cuba on behalf of the Cayman Islands

On 7 April 2009 Caribbean Net News carried a report on the outcome of air services negotiations held between Cuba and the United Kingdom (and Overseas Territories). Representatives of the Cayman Islands participated as part of the UK delegation.

In New Zealand's case we do not negotiate air services arrangements on behalf of the Cook Islands, Niue or Tokelau, even though New Zealand has responsibility for their foreign affairs and defence. Although the Tokelau atolls have no airport we still include in New Zealand's air services agreements a specific exclusion of Tokelau.

UK signs air services agreement with Iraq

On 22 May 2009 the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) announced the signing of an Air Services Agreement (ASA) between Iraq and the United Kingdom. This replaces an ASA dating back to 1951.

UK airlines will not be able to take advantage of the new opportunities created "for security reasons."

22 May 2009

Influenza epidemic almost halting Chinese outbound travel

The China Daily reported on 16 May 2009 that as a consequence of the influenza epidemic outbound travel from China is collapsing even to destinations that have not been affected.

Tourism New Zealand is commenting on the rapidly developing impact on the New Zealand tourism industry (see, for example, this release dated 20 May 2009).

Influenza causes plunge in Japanese travel to Hawaii

On 19 May 2009 the Honolulu Advertiser reported that beginning around 10 May daily arrivals by Japanese (see previous post) to Hawaii had plunged around 25% following concerns about the influenza epidemic. This decline is expected to have a major negative economic impact on the state's tourism industry.

21 May 2009

UK CAA report on business travel

In May 2009 the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) followed up its report on VFR travel (see previous post) with the release of a report on business travel.

When releasing the report, UK Business Air Travel: Trends and Characteristics (2.29 MB .pdf), the CAA highlighted the growth in UK short-haul business market share enjoyed by no-frills carriers from 3% in 1996 to around 30% in 2007.

19 May 2009

Downturn in outbound travel from Japan

Statistics of Japanese travelling abroad compiled by Japan Tourism Marketing Co. show that the downturn has not been as severe as from Korea. In the months of January, February and March 2009 the downturn was -13.4%, -1.4% and -3.2% respectively on the same month in 2008. It remains to be seen what impact the influenza epidemic will have.

The numbers of Japanese residents arriving in New Zealand for the same months were -25.6%, -14.3% and -11.8% respectively indicating that New Zealand is losing market share. Tourism New Zealand has market research available on Japan.

Thailand prepared to grant temporary "fifth freedom" rights

On 8 May 2009 the Bangkok Post reported that, in an effort to boost traffic through BKK, the Thai government is prepared to grant temporary fifth freedom air traffic rights to foreign international airlines seeking to operate through Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi airport. The airport is also reducing landing and parking fees.

New Zealand Government decides not to extend domestic screening

On 18 May 2009 the Minister of Transport, Hon Steven Joyce, announced that domestic aviation security passenger screening will not be extended to smaller turboprop aircraft and some New Zealand domestic airports not served by jet aircraft. Instead a range of other security measures will be introduced (see previous post).

17 May 2009

Taiwan and China agree to "regular" flights across the Strait

On 26 April 2009 Xinhua reported on the outcome of negotiations held that day between ARATS and SEF. The new air services arrangements change the status of flights from charter (non-scheduled) to regular (scheduled) from two Taiwanese airports, increase flight frequencies from 108 to 270 per week, introduce new air routes between Taiwan and the Chinese mainland, and increase the number of mainland points that may be served by six to 27 (see previous post).

On 24 April 2009 the China Post had reported that the Taiwanese negotiators had been seeking 375 flights per week.

On 1 May 2009 the Taipei Times reported on the implications for the allocation of these rights between Taiwanese airlines.

On 14 May 2009 China Daily reported comments from Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific (CX) on the implications of the deal for the airline.

On 15 May 2009 the Taipei Times reported that the negotiators had yet to agree to an exchange of overflight (first freedom) rights that would allow Taiwanese airlines to overfly the Chinese mainland enroute to Europe.

15 May 2009

Collapse of outbound travel from Korea

The latest monthly statistics available from the Korea Tourism Organization indicate that in January, February and March 2009 departures of Koreans were down -38.6%, -33.5% and -28.6% respectively on the same month in 2008 (HT to Associate Professor David Duval at the University of Otago).

Data from Statistics New Zealand indicate that in the same months, when compared with 2008 numbers, Korean resident arrivals to New Zealand were down -42%, -29% and -19% respectively. Tourism New Zealand has market research available on South Korea NEW.

UK House of Commons inquiring into Future of Aviation

The Transport Committee of United Kingdom House of Commons (the lower house of the UK Parliament) has started holding hearings as part of its inquiry into the Future of Aviation. Uncorrected transcripts of the first hearing on 6 May 2009, which heard from the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT), the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and the Royal Aeronautical Society among others, the second hearing on 13 May 2009 NEW and the third hearing on 17 June 2009 NEW are now available.

The six sets of questions the Committee is seeking to address in its inquiry are:

1. What is the value of aviation to the UK economy? What are the roles of the London and regional airports? What competition do they face from abroad?

2. Is the current aviation infrastructure adequate for the needs of UK business and individuals and how should it be developed? What are the implications of future passenger trends and possible mergers in the airline industry?

3. To what extent can rail provide an alternative to short-haul flights?

4. What costs does aviation impose on society and the environment? What are the implications of climate change policy—in particular the Climate Change Act 2008—for the aviation industry and infrastructure?

5. What is the impact of taxation on the aviation sector nationally and regionally? Are passengers adequately protected from the collapse of airlines?

6. What is the impact on the aviation sector of changes in the security environment?

The UK Parliament's web site also has a topic page on aviation.

Brunei increases air services flexibility with the Philippines

On 31 March 2009 the Business Mirror reported that the Philippines has reached a new understanding on air services arrangements with Brunei. Features include a move from single to dual designation, a conditional increase in capacity based on aircraft load factors and separate provision for cargo capacity.

On 17 April 2009 the Brunei Times reported that Cebu Pacific was seeking to take up some of the new rights that are now available.

11 May 2009

Singapore expands air services opportunities with the Philippines

On 10 May 2009 the Business Mirror reported on a major expansion in the air services arrangements negotiated between the Philippines and Singapore. This includes a major capacity increase and agreement by the Philippines to grant Singaporean airlines fifth freedom rights beyond Clark for 14 flights per week in total to all countries except Canada and the United States.

Korea negotiates new air services arrangements with the UAE

On 10 May 2009 the United Arab Emirates announced new air services arrangements with the Republic of Korea that will provide the opportunity for Etihad to commence operations between Abu Dhabi and Incheon.

On 8 May 2009 the Korea Times had reported the reaction of the Korean airline industry, including this interesting quote:

"'The government is supposed to speak up for its national flag carriers and stand on their side, but the outcome of the talks demonstrates that none of that happened,' said Lim Jae-won, a Korean Air spokesman."

10 May 2009

Mapping the spread of Influenza Type A H1N1

There are a number of maps now available on the web that are illustrating in this age of rapid international air travel how fast diseases can travel between countries and around the world:
At a national level the following web sites cover just the United States:
In New Zealand official information on the current outbreak is available from the Ministry of Health.

Bill increasing UK Air Passenger Duty progressing through Parliament

The Finance Bill 2008-09 (.pdf), the legislation that proposes to increase the United Kingdom's Air Passenger Duty and change to a system based on four distance-related bands (see clause 17 and Schedule 5 - the latter is on pp85-88), is progressing through Parliament.

Clause 17 comes immediately after a heading "Other environmental taxes and duties" (see previous post).

Caribbean opposition to UK Air Passenger Duty increases

With their economies so dependent on tourism and large expatriate communities in the United Kingdom, it is not surprising that the developing economies of the Caribbean are opposed to the proposed increases in the UK's Air Passenger Duty.

A 7 April 2009 statement from the Government of Jamaica noted concern amongst the Jamaican community in the UK.

A 24 April 2009 story in the Telegraph noted that, because of the way the distance bands are structured (based on the location of capital cities), the Duty would be lower on those travelling to California than the Caribbean. They could have actually used Hawaii as an example, a point made by the Jamaican Minister of Tourism, Edmund Bartlett.

On 27 April 2009 Caribbean 360 reported that the Jamaican Minister of Tourism was to take his concerns to UK Parliamentarians.

On 30 April 2009 Caribbean 360 reported opposition from the Lelei LelauLu President of the Island Nations Climate and Oceans Programme.

The Duty is not hypothecated so the revenue raised does not go to environmental projects.

European Commission investigating two global airline alliances

On 20 April 2009 the European Commission announced that it was launching formal antitrust investigations into some members of the Star and oneworld global airline alliances, focussing on trans-Atlantic routes.

Reports and commentary on the announcement appeared in the:

The Netherlands drops tax on air travel

On 26 March 2009 the European Low Fares Airline Association (ELFAA) and on 27 March 2009 the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and ACI Europe welcomed the decision by the Dutch government to abandon its tax on air travel that was introduced on 1 July 2008. AviationWatch commented on the background to the decision. The tax will cease to apply from 1 July 2009.

A 5 February 2008 post by Frans Vreede on Aviation Law Prof Blog briefly discussed some of the legal aspects. Key to concerns about the legality tax was the interpretation of Article 15 of the Convention on International Civil Aviation (the Chicago Convention).

As reported by DutchNews.nl on 17 July 2008, the tax had survived court challenges. The Board of Airline Representatives in the Netherlands (BARIN) gives further details.

EU air transport agreements with Canada and the United States compared

On 6 May 2009 the European Commission released a media Q&A statement that includes a summary of the differences between the air services arrangements it has negotiated separately with Canada (see previous post) and the United States (see previous post).

The statement also outlines the new Air Safety Agreement between Canada and the European Union.

Report on a policy response to NOx emissions from aviation released by the European Commission

At the end of March 2009 a report, Lower NOx at Higher Altitudes - Policies to Reduce the Climate Impacts of Aviation NOx Emissions (2MB .pdf), completed in October 2008 by the consultancy CE Delft, was released by the European Commission (HT to AviationWatch).

This is an area where the science is still uncertain but is receiving considerable research attention.

Indonesia signs new air services arrangements with the United Arab Emirates

On 4 May 2009 the United Arab Emirates announced the signing of a new air services Memorandum of Understanding with Indonesia.

The exact nature of the increase in capacity that was agreed to is not entirely clear from the statement.