24 April 2011

My Grandfather Edgar Thomson Shand RFC

For ANZAC Day 2011 here is a previously unpublished photograph of my grandfather, Edgar Thomson Shand, wearing his Royal Flying Corps (RFC) uniform.

Edgar Shand (28 February 1891-15 January 1938 aged 47) went to Egypt in 1916 as a Second Lieutenant (9/2027) to join D Squadron of the Otago Mounted Rifles where he transferred to the RFC (PI 7225) in 1916 (see Supplement to the London Gazette, 17 October 1916, page 10067) and trained as a Observer.

He joined 17 Squadron of the RFC and served briefly on the Macedonian Front where he was wounded in action:

"On August 19th [1916] an Army Reconnaissance was carried out over the Carniste-Valandovo area [near Salonika], the BE2c machine being escorted by a two-seater Nieuport (110 Clerget) attached from the French Aviation. This reconnaissance machine was attacked by an Aviatik which was immediately engaged by the Nieuport. In the course of the combat the French pilot, Lieutenant Ducas and the English Observer, Lieutenant Shand were both wounded. They, however, succeeded in driving off the enemy machine and returned safely to their Aerodrome."

On 20 July 1917 the Evening Post carried an account NEW of a talk he gave on his RFC experiences (HT to Dr Don MacKay).

On 2 August 1917 the Poverty Bay Herald carried his account NEW of the action near Salonika in an article entitled "Fight at 11,000 feet."

A photograph of him on the SS Galeka evacuating him from Salonika in September 1916 is available here NEW.

He was reported in a list of the sick and wounded to have disembarked from a hospital ship at Malta on 12 September 1916, reported on 4 October 1916 to be embarked for England and then reported to have arrived back in Auckland, New Zealand on 29 April 1917. His transfer to the RFC was approved on 1 August 1916 but not reported in the New Zealand Gazette until 1917.

He went on to serve in the Army (and was keep on in the Royal Air Force (RAF)) in New Zealand, first as Adjutant, Otago University Officers Training Corps and then on the staff of Colonel A. V. Bettington (see page 7 - Footnote 4: J.M.S. Ross: Official History of New Zealand in the Second World War 1939-45; Royal New Zealand Air Force: Wellington: 1955).

In Henry (later Sir Henry) Wigram's diary for 28 Aug 1919 there appears this brief mention of Shand (HT to Errol Martyn):

"Went out with A [HW's wife Agnes] to aerodrome [i.e. Sockburn, now Wigram], the machines [2 Bristol Fighters and 2 DH4s] ex Matatua were arriving and being assembled under direction of Capt [John Hallan] Don and Mr Shand, there were about 120 cases some of them 30 feet long by 9 ft high which only just squeezed through the [Lyttelton] tunnel."

My grandfather relinquished his commission on 2 February 1920 (see the London Gazette, 13 February 1920, page 1832).

Having visited Japan twice, his comments on the political and military situation there were reported in the Evening Post of 17 September 1934. He was obviously still taking an interest in military aviation.

My father, James Macilree, served as a pilot in the RNZAF in the Second World War and I have maintained the family connection with aviation.

19 April 2011

Saudi Arabia initials "open skies" agreement with the United States

On 18 April 2011 the United States Department of State announced that it had initialled an "open skies" agreement with Saudi Arabia.

16 April 2011

Saudi Arabia to consider allowing cabotage flights?

A Reuters story dated 5 April 2011 reports that the Shoura (Shura) Council, the advisory assembly of the government in Saudi Arabia, has recommended consideration be given to grant some airlines from other Gulf states the right to operate domestic flights within Saudi Arabia. The report notes price caps on domestic air fares, and fuel subsidies and privatisation of Saudi Arabian Airlines (Saudia).

Australia negotiates air services agreement with Oman

The Oman Tribune reports that a Memorandum of Understanding with a draft air services agreement between Oman and Australia came into effect on 6 April 2011.

A notable feature is that, in line with new Australian policy (see previous post), there is no capacity restriction on capacity outside of the two main Australian cities. In practice this means Cairns and Darwin (see official list of Australia's international airports).

10 April 2011

Four additional airlines operating to New Zealand

In just the last four months four international airlines commenced operations to New Zealand and one started code sharing here. Well actually the story is a little more complicated than that.

China Airlines (CI) from Taiwan recommenced services after a decade. Its operation to Auckland (AKL) from Taipei (TPE) via Brisbane (BNE) started on 1 January 2011 (see previous post).

Jetstar Asia Airways (3K) from Singapore (SIN) started operating to AKL on 18 March 2011 in direct competition with Singapore Airlines (SQ) (see previous post). This is only the third long-haul route to New Zealand to have such direct competition on the same sector - the others are AKL-LAX (NZ and QF) and AKL-HKG (NZ and CX). Jetstar Asia is actually wet-leasing VH registered aircraft from Qantas subsidiary Jetstar (JQ) in Australia. However, Jetstar had to obtain a Foreign Air Operator Certificate from the New Zealand Civil Aviation Authority because the operation does not qualify to be covered by the mutual recognition of safety certification regime between Australia and New Zealand (see previous post). The new service is being provided under the MALIAT.

AirAsia X (D7) commenced operating to Christchurch (CHC) from Kuala Lumpur (KUL) on 1 April 2011 (see previous post). The airline is to be commended for persisting with the launch date despite the devastating Christchurch earthquakes.

China Southern Airlines (CZ) commenced operating from Guangzhou (CAN) to AKL on 9 April 2011 (see previous post). This is a major new non-stop addition to the set of long-haul air routes to New Zealand. The inaugural flight was welcomed by the Prime Minister John Key (he is also Minister of Tourism). The new service is being jointly promoted by the airline and Tourism New Zealand.

The excellent MRC Aviation blog has photographs of the new operations in New Zealand by CI3KD7 and CZ.

Finally, Virgin Atlantic Airways (VS) from the UK commenced code sharing to New Zealand on Air New Zealand (NZ) operations on 27 March 2011 (see Air New Zealand announcement dated 12 January 2011).

The next announced airline to recommence operating to New Zealand should be United Airlines (UA) in 2012 after it takes delivery of the B787 (see previous post). United already code shares to New Zealand.

I maintain a list of international airlines that serve (and those that have served) New Zealand on my homepages.

08 April 2011

Next air services negotiating priorities for the United States

On 31 March 2011 Air Transport World reported US Assistant Secretary for State Jose Fernandez as saying that the next air services negotiation priorities for the United States are China, the Dominican Republic, Mexico and Russia.

07 April 2011

Chinese concern about EU ETS covering international aviation

On 22 March 2011 Air Transport World reported opposition from the major Chinese airlines to the inclusion of international aviation in the European Union's emissions trading scheme (US airlines have similar concerns - see previous post). It will be very interesting to see what position China's Government adopts.

Wikileaks releases diplomatic cables on UK position during EU-US air negotiations

The Telegraph has published a confidential diplomatic cable from the US Embassy in London dated 4 February 2010 concerning the UK position with respect to the second set of air services negotiations between the European Commission and the United States (see previous post). An earlier related unclassified cable dated 11 March 2009 was also released. Both cables were obtained via Wikileaks.

Issues to feature include the restrictive US position on foreign ownership of airlines and anti-trust immunity for oneworld alliance members (this was subsequently granted - see previous post).

The Guardian carried a report dated 14 February 2011 on the two leaked cables.

While there can be little doubt that for the academic community Wikileaks is providing a valuable source of current history and for the news media plenty to write about, much of what is released shows US diplomats very professionally going about their work. Some of the disclosures have already been damaging, and not just to US interests. It also no doubt leaves many people who deal with US diplomats (including me) wondering how free and frank one can be in conversation. This can only be to the detriment of better international understanding. When it comes to foreign relations I for one think that there are communications that should legitimately not be dropped into the public arena.

Brazil relaxes air services restrictions with Canada, Mexico and Russia

On 29 March 2011 Reuters reported that Brazil had agreed to relax restrictions in its air services arrangements with separately Canada (restrictions on capacity removed), Mexico (restrictions on capacity removed except at Sao Paulo and Mexico City) and Russia (to 14 flights per week up from three).

India signs replacement air services agreement with Brazil

On 8 March 2011 the Indian Ministry of Civil Aviation released details of a a new air services agreement that the Minister of Civil Aviation had signed with the visiting Brazilian Minister of Foreign Affairs.

There is a flexible route schedule and third-country code sharing is permitted but passenger capacity is limited to 21 operations per week.

03 April 2011

UAE adds to its fast growing list of air services agreements

In addition to that with France (see previous post), in recent months the United Arab Emirates has announced new or enhanced air services agreements with (dates are when a statement was posted):

Ecuador - 27 March 2011
Albania - 16 February 2011
Djibouti - 15 February 2011
Bosnia and Herzegovina - 19 January 2011
Portugal - 19 January 2011
Mauritania - 16 January 2011
Cambodia - 26 December 2010
Botswana - 24 October 2010
Burkina Faso, Guatemala and Vanuatu - 11 October 2010
Panama - 28 November 2010
Slovak Republic - 18 March 2010.

The UAE has also been negotiating with:

Colombia - 19 December 2010
Venezuela - 28 November 2010

This illustrates an interesting dilemma. How many countries and territories does it make sense for a country to establish air services relationships with? ICAO currently has 188 members known as "contracting states". One wonders how many of these members the UAE is aiming to negotiate air services agreements with and how many of these agreement will eventually be used to provide international air services.

If countries are ranked on the basis of the their true origin/destination (TOD) market size (the traditional basis for exchanging restricted traffic rights), the largest markets that New Zealand currently does not have air services agreements with are Israel and then Saudi Arabia. In terms of TOD traffic, some countries with which New Zealand has air services relationships are smaller than this in terms of market size and we continue to receive approaches from countries where the end-to-end market is tiny (less than 1,000 passengers per year). New Zealand now has around 49 air services relationships.

Even if the home market one might gain access to (and through) in an exchange of air services arrangements is small, how, for example, should one take into account the size of a potential partner's airline industry (see previous post) or traffic through its main international airport measured in terms of passenger numbers when considering whether to exchange air rights? According to Airports Council International in its 2010 ranking released on 15 March 2011 Dubai International Airport (DXB) was 13th in the world in terms of passenger movements and 8th in the world for air cargo.

On 3 January 2010 UAE Interact carried a report that quoted Saif Mohammed Al Suwaidi, Director-General of UAE's General Civil Aviation Authority (GCCA) as telling Khaleej Times, "We have already signed open sky agreements with about 45 countries in the Mena region and with some in Europe, North America and Asia. We are willing to sign open sky agreement with any country which is willing to reciprocate."

02 April 2011

UK Department for Transport consulting on developing a sustainable framework for UK aviation

The 39-page scoping document for the consultation was published on 30 March 2011. It includes 49 questions on which feedback is sought.

The current UK government is working under severe fiscal constraints but all the same seems to be continuing in the tradition of a long line of UK administrations that arguably have had distinctly negative approaches towards the development of both civil and military aviation in the United Kingdom. Having said that the industry itself has allot to answer for.

European Commission publishes its vision for Europe's transport future

On 28 March 2011 the European Commission published a white paper Roadmap to a Single European Transport Area - Towards a competitive and resource efficient transport system.

Contrails a significant contributor to climate change?

Recent German scientific research by Ulrike Burkhardt and Bernd Karcher from the DLR Institute for Atmospheric Physics published on 29 March 2011 by the prestigious journal Nature suggests that contrails formed by airliners flying at high altitude may be as significant a contributor to climate change as aviation emissions. The journal has also published a news report written by Olivier Boucher from the UK Met Office Hadley Centre explaining the results.

The potential implications for the airline industry are far reaching, particularly if airliners are forced in future to fly at less fuel-efficient altitudes. To date the focus has been on reducing CO2 and other emissions from aircraft so there has been an alignment of interests between airline companies seeking to reduce their fuel bills and environmental concerns.

For those who want to see under what conditions contrails form there is a neat application available on the web.

Australia and Vanuatu expand air services opportunities

On 14 December 2010 the Australian Minister for Infrastructure and Transport announced that Australia had negotiated new air services arrangements with Vanuatu. As well as a phased increase in passenger seat capacity, the new deal includes open arrangements for freighter services.