22 March 2009

UK CAA publishes comprehensive reports on VFR and transit air passenger traffic

In March 2009 the Economic Regulation Group of the United Kingdom Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) published a comprehensive 103-page report (1.03MB .pdf) on air passengers visiting friends or relatives (VFR).

Of particular interest to Australasian readers is Table 4.3 on page 75. The report comments:

"4.48 Compared with Table 4.2, the emigrant destinations are far less dispersed than the immigrant origins, with over 27% of UK emigrants in either Australia or New Zealand, and a further 23% in North America. 80% of the total emigrant population is estimated to reside in the top ten named countries. This compares to less than one half of the immigrant population coming from the top ten countries in Table 4.2.

"4.49 It should be noted that the extreme long haul nature of trips between the UK and Australasia means that frequent trips are less likely, despite its appeal as a holiday destination – even if fares were to fall, the journey time is still very significant. This, in part, may account for the higher VFR percentages on these routes – whilst VFR passengers may be tied to the destination and make repeated or annual return trips, holiday passengers may be less likely to make repeated trips of such length."

In November 2008 the UK CAA produced a 30-page report on connecting passengers at UK airports.

Other reports produced by the UK CAA that are of interest include one from January 2008 on recent trends in growth in UK air passenger demand and one from July 2007 on long-haul traffic titled Connecting Continents (3.8MB .pdf).

Pacific Islands countries underwrite Air New Zealand operations to maintain direct links to LAX

In October 2008, with the price of jet fuel still near record levels, Air New Zealand made it clear that it would need financial support if it was to maintain what had become unprofitable air links between the Cook Islands, Samoa and Tonga, and Los Angeles (LAX)(see previous post).

On 24 November 2008 Radio New Zealand International reported that the Cook Islands Government had agreed to continue providing Air New Zealand with an underwrite for its RAR-LAX service.

On 20 February 2009 the New Zealand Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hon. Murray McCully, announced in a speech that the New Zealand Government (through NZAID) had agreed to help the Samoan and Tongan governments with underwrites to maintain the TBU-APW-LAX air links.

"... That means we need to be hard-headed in our focus on those initiatives that will contribute to sustainable economic growth.

"A good example is the provision of air services and shipping services - the arteries for tourism and trade.

"Recently the Samoan and Tongan governments requested support from the New Zealand government in retaining the Los Angeles link that is so vital to tourism traffic from the United States and Europe.

"We have agreed to an underwrite for the next year while we focus on longer-term solutions in this area.

"If we can't maintain the essential services that make trade and tourism possible, the rest of the debate is futile."

On 9 March 2009 Radio New Zealand International reported that on this development, quoting comments made by the New Zealand Prime Minister, Hon. John Key. On 10 March 2009 Radio New Zealand International reported on reaction from the Cook Islands Government.

On 18 March 2009 the Samoa Observer reported that the Cook Islands Government was concerned that the New Zealand Government was not also supporting it with its underwrite, together with comment from the New Zealand Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Government support for air services to remote communities is not unprecedented, with the United States having a comprehensive essential air service (EAS) programme, while Australia has a Remote Air Service Subsidy (RASS) scheme and in Europe there are public service obligation (PSO) air routes (Council Regulation (EEC) No 2408/92 of 23 July 1992 on access for Community air carriers to intra-Community air routes refers).

Air New Zealand has already been providing a weekly B737 service to tiny Niue with an underwrite.

ECI paper on quantifying CO2 emissions from flights

A February 2009 paper, Calculating The Carbon Dioxide Emissions of Flights from Dr Christian Jardine of the Environmental Change Institute at Oxford University offers some interesting observations.

A key point is that, compared to CORINAIR (see previous post), the FAA's System for Assessing Aviation's Global Emissions (SAGE) data offers greater detail on the environmental performance of different aircraft types. This is essential if one is to take into account the significant technological progress that the aerospace industry is making.

Lord Turner suggests flight rationing

In early February 2009 the Telegraph, the Daily Mail and the Financial Times Westminster weblog all carried stories reporting that the UK Government's Chairman of the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), Lord Turner, has raised the possibility that in future flying be rationed in order to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

On 1 December 2008 the CCC published its first report on Building a low-carbon economy – the UK’s contribution to tackling climate change. Chapter 8 covers International aviation and shipping.

The CCC is now writing an Aviation Report to be published in December 2009.

Four airlines call for global approach to aviation emissions

A new industry coalition, the Aviation Global Deal (AGD) Group, which brings together Air France/KLM, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Virgin Atlantic and airport operator BAA, is calling for CO2 emissions from international aviation to be included in a new global climate deal.

Australia and the Philippines expand air services arrangements

On 19 March 2009 the Australian Minister for Infrastructure announced that Australia and the Philippines had agreed to expand their air services arrangements. This includes a substantial increase in available capacity.

A 17 March 2009 report in the Philippine Daily Inquirer gives some further details of the outcome of the negotiations that were held in Canberra.

New Zealand Monthly Economic Review from the Parliamentary Library

Amongst the research papers produced by the New Zealand Parliamentary Library is a good Monthly Economic Review.

As well as giving key economic indicators, the eight-page March 2009 issue features Arthur Okun's misery index.

Danish top visa-free entry to other countries

On 5 March 2009 The Economist carried a chart showing some countries ranked by how many other countries their citizens had travel visa free access to.

This index was compiled by Henley & Partners and their fuller listing is also available online. Denmark ranks number one while New Zealand ranks eighth equal with Singapore.

Graphics on the state of the global airline industry

The November/December 2008 issue of Foreign Policy included two pages of graphics partially illustrating the state of the global airline industry entitled Prime Numbers: Change Is in the Air from William Swelbar at MIT.

"Binge flying"

A 27 February 2009 article Aviation - The need for green sky thinking in Ethical Corporation contains a reference to an expression that I have only heard used recently - "binge flying". It quotes this expression being used by Greenpeace UK.

In a 10 May 2007 post, Wordage attributes the phrase to Rough Guides founder, Mark Ellingham, and links to a 6 May 2007 Guardian article Travel: the new tobacco.

Given that some attribute the origins of Ryanair's success to transporting Londoners to visit the pubs of Dublin, Ireland for the weekend, perhaps the expression is appropriate to that kind of flying.

Where is the world's economic centre of gravity?

An interesting paper from Jean-Marie Grether and Nicole Mathys in Switzerland entitled Is the World’s Economic Center of Gravity Already in Asia? and dated August 2008 locates the world's current economic centre of gravity off the north coasts of Norway and Russia.

The bad news for New Zealand is that Auckland is the most distant major city (with more than one million inhabitants) in the world from the economic centre. The vaguely promising news for New Zealand is that the economic centre is slowly moving closer.

As for Iceland, even without its recent economic collapse, the centre has been moving away to its north east since the mid 1970s.

Progress at ICAO on addressing climate change?

On 18 March 2009 GreenAir reported on and linked to papers from the most recent meeting of the International Civil Aviation Organization's Group on International Aviation and Climate Change (GIACC) held in February 2009.

One further GIACC meeting is to be held on 25-27 May 2009 before the UNFCCC Copenhagen Summit in December 2009.

08 March 2009

The start of the Iditarod dog race in Alaska - Standard Poodles banned!

The 2009 Iditarod dog race is just starting in Alaska with Reuters reporting competitor numbers down because of the recession. The Anchorage Daily News provides comprehensive coverage.

The race commemorates the transport of urgent medical supplies to Nome in 1925 following an outbreak of diphtheria in the days before bush flying. A web site, Balto's True Story, has more details.

One interesting fact about the race is that in 1989, 1990 and 1991 a competitor, John Suter, raced a team of Standard Poodles and achieved credible results. The breed was subsequently banned perhaps more for image reasons than anything else? Blatant discrimination?!? Okay, I have to concede that their fur coats are probably not as well suited as the "northern" breeds and dogs have died out in the cold on this very testing race.

ICAO safety audit results

In recent years the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) has been conducting audits of the aviation safety administrations of its member states under its Universal Safety Oversight Audit Programme (USOAP).

As part of ICAO's Flight Safety Information Exchange some of the ICAO audit results are now being made available on the web (works best with MS Internet Explorer) and there are also Audit Result Charts that allow you to see at a glance how the various safety administrations around the world measure up with respect to the level of implementation of the critical elements of a safety oversight system.

This follows a similar program of International Aviation Safety Assessments UPDATED (IASA) conducted by the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

The European Commission publishes a list of airlines banned within the EU NEW.

Australia grants Qatar access to SYD

The Sydney Morning Herald reported on 7 March 2009 that Qatar has managed to negotiate with Australia immediate access to Sydney (SYD) for Qatar Airways. Further details were announced UPDATED by the Australian Minister for Infrastructure on 12 March 2009.

Qatar had originally be granted access to a number of other Australian cities, including Melbourne, but Qatar Airways had not used these rights (see previous post).

Meanwhile Singapore Airlines is reportedly continuing to feel frustrated by Australia's international air transport policy.