January 2020 Newsletter
The World of Contempt
Our first editorial of the year is perhaps a mundane one and is indeed a story that has run and run and run throughout the past year: namely the implied arrogance of aircraft manufacturer Boeing surrounding the (avoidable) crash of two of their Boeing 737 Max aircraft. As more information appears surrounding the events, the clearer it becomes that Boeing put its own profits ahead of any other consideration and that includes the safety of airline passengers.
After the first crash in October 2018 and Boeings initial denial of responsibility and an adoption of the blame game to shift responsibility, the American Federal Aviation Administration predicted that up to 15 more disasters could occur to the Boeing 737 Max aircraft unless design changes were made. Itself a frankly startling statement, yet this fact was not communicated to users of the plane until after the second crash in March 2019. Boeing were left with the blood of 346 people on their hands. The same body also revealed that it had become aware of Boeing placing pressure on FAA inspectors to overrule FAA’s own engineers who were expressing safety concerns.
The airlines who have the Boeing 737 Max in their fleets are the ones who, after the families of those who perished in the crashes, have suffered the most. This has resulted in Boeing paying out millions in compensation to airlines such as Southwest, American Airlines, Turkish, United Airlines and Aeromexico. Whilst exact compensation numbers are difficult to pin down, Southwest announced that an ‘” extra’” 125 million USD will be added to its employee bonus scheme this year despite claiming to have lost 828 Million USD in lost earnings due to its Max planes being grounded. Similarly, American Airlines (who do not have as many Max planes in their fleet as Southwest) has announced an ‘” extra’” 30 million USD has been added to its profit sharing schemes. Whilst doing this, the question also appears of just where Boeings morals stand when it appears ready and willing to give its ‘” customers’’ sweeteners, but does all it can to avoid or reduce the amounts it should pay to victims’ families.
Boeing somewhat smugly assumed this problem would be resolved by summer 2019, then by the end of the year in 2019, but the reality is that their corporate culture failed to assume human intervention and the push back it would face. The corporate world in which Boeing exists puts profit as the holy grail and all else is immaterial. There are well documented comments from Boeings own engineers who described the plane as being “designed by clowns and supervised by monkeys”; equally well documented emails show engineers asking colleagues if they would feel safe flying on the plane to which the answer was ‘”no’”. Almost as damaging was the release of documents showing that Boeing refused to provide simulator training for Max pilots as this was too costly and Boeing would go ‘” face to face’” with any regulator who pushed for this. Profit at all cost.
The upshot now is that production of the plane has been temporarily suspended, 400 of the planes sit idle awaiting to be delivered and no airline particularly wants them due to the negative PR spin surrounding them. The very best Boeing can do is to change the name of the ill-fated Titanic of the skies and hope people’s memories don’t last too long.
Almost by amusement, Boeing this week test flew the world largest twin engine plane, the Boeing 777 X which can carry some 350 passengers. It is almost like a Marketing Graduate has thought that by doing this launch and organizing the PR troops to give it maximum news coverage, it will divert the travelling publics minds: it won’t. People do forget given time but possibly for the first time ever, the travelling public may be asking ‘’what sort of plane is it’” before they book a ticket: Boeings woes may not be over just yet.
Jamadvice Travel | BCD Bulgaria
Hilton set the Tempo
The Hilton has launched a US centric new hotel brand called “Tempo by Hilton” with the usual PR blurb that accompanies it.
The new brand is described as “an approachable lifestyle brand” with rooms that will be “reinvigorating and relaxing”.
The confirmed locations if you are interested and if your work takes you to such destinations are New York, Los Angles, Nashville, Maui, San Diego, Houston and Atlanta.
Gone but not gone
The largest shareholder in the “’defunct” tour operator, Thomas Cook, the Fosun Group are hoping to re-launch the brand by summer 2020.
The new version will start by being an online edition but the longer term plan for Fosun may well be to expand to both on and offline distribution.
The Fosun Group bought the brand rights to Thomas Cook for some 11 million GBP in November 2019.
It was the British Punk Outfit the Sex Pistols who famously coined the expression during their heyday that “’all publicity is good publicity’. Whilst one can see the logic in that, it perhaps is back firing for Mr. Trump’s hotel empire.
Apparently, demand for his hotels is declining whilst rivals such as the Hilton and Marriott chains are booming. Added to this, new hotel brands announced by the Trump empire have been put on hold.
Obviously promoting a surname like Marriott or Hilton can work but when presidents mix business with politics, the outcome is not always the desired one.
London Churchill Airport
London’s Heathrow Airport is known the world over, but not many people know it almost became “’Sir Winston Churchill Airport’” back in the 1990’s.
Apparently, the then Prime Minister, John Major asked aides to investigate the idea of renaming Heathrow. Archives confirm the proposal but did not reveal why the idea didn’t gain traction.
Which begs the question as to what would you re-name Sofia Airport? OK – don’t answer that one.
If you find yourself with a lengthy layover at the new Istanbul Airport, then why not try one of the 25 new “” sleeping pods’’. The service called “’IGA Sleeping pods”” cost 6 Euro per hour to rent in the daytime and 7 Euro per hour during the night.
Disposable sheets and a pillow are also provided with extra sheets and pillows available if required: at a cost of course.
Apparently, you can take your pet cat inside the pod with you to sleep as well if its travelling with you; or so the travel forums suggest! Its less clear if any miniature horses disguised as emotional support animals for their American owners, can participate in the offer.
Anti-drone technology in place
The potential threat of drones near or around airports has become a very real one, the past year or so has seen numerous occasions where airports had to effectively shut down due to drones either being flown deliberately or accidentally close to aircraft whilst they were taking off or landing. To combat this threat, London Heathrow is the first (known) airport to deploy a bespoke anti-drone system.
The system detects and tracks drones and can also track the drone pilot and his/her location. Furthermore, the system is equipped to ‘” take down’” a drone although just how this is achieved has not been disclosed.
Last year environmental activists tried to half flights at Heathrow by using drones but the attempt was thwarted with the activists claiming then, that their drones had their signals blocked.
Airline in trouble
Another year and already an airline in financial trouble and on this occasion it’s not a small player either. South African Airways are apparently teetering on the brink of bankruptcy and have already been cancelling numerous flights which they are unable to support.
The South African Government are withholding some 120 m Euro in aid which the airline badly needs to keep operating as the airline cannot provide any sort of guarantee.
Over the past 13 years, the airline has lost in the region of 2 billion Euro so little wonder the South African Government is reluctant to throw good money chasing bad.
A maths struggle
An amusing court case came to light recently from America, which raised the question as to whether most court claims there are filed by idiots?
The plaintiff was the Havana Docks Corp from Cuba, who, on consideration that the docks they owned in Havana was seized by the Castro regime in Cuba, were suing for damages from Norwegian and MSC Cruise Lines over their use of the port facilities in Cuba over the past years.
Obviously the lawyers representing the Docks Corporation were either beginners or illiterate as the judge ruled there was no case as the lease the Docks Corporation had prior to their nationalisation by the Castro regime, expired in 2004.
No doubt it kept journalists amused.
A recent poll of regular business travellers yielded some interesting feedback on what they find the most frustrating during their trips away. The actual aspects that seems to frustrate travellers the most are likely different from the perceived ones that management may have. The top three were; forgetting their smartphone, forgetting their laptop charger and not having the correct business attire.
The bottom three or least frustrating were; seeing co-workers in the gym, going to social events alone and attending dinners with people who are not known or liked.
It may be valid therefore to say that just like our children, we adults suffer the same withdrawal symptoms when our gadgets are not working.
The US Government seems to be finally getting to grips with their rules on what exactly constitutes “”an emotional support animal”. As we have documented, tales abound of countless nutters who try pass off all sorts of animals as being there for their emotional support.
The idea is that all such animals will have to be designated as a “’service animal’” and will have to undergo training. After which they will become licenced. This effectively bans all animals except dogs.
Common sense prevailing at last but that means we will have fewer stories of stupidity to write about.
BA’s greasy pole
An interesting report on UK airlines by the influential UK publication ‘Which’ resulted in it suggesting that customers avoid using British Airways. The airline, which had finished top of the same pile four years previously now found itself close to the bottom of the same pile.
The report tended to praise the likes of EasyJet and Jet2 ahead of BA although Ryanair did finish absolute bottom, being voted the worst short haul airline.
On the one hand, it’s not fair to compare airlines like this as it’s not really comparing apples with apples. However, what is beyond doubt is that whilst ‘” lesser’’ airlines exceed their passenger’s expectations, BA is continuing to fail to meet its own customers’ expectations with overall standards falling like a stone. This is a dangerous path yet, as long as profits are made and the shareholders are happy, then do they really care?
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