Archive for the 'airport' Category



FAA Ban On Lithium Batteries – What’s The Point?

Ban on lithium batteries in checked baggeges

To help reduce the risk of fires, air travelers will no longer be able to pack loose lithium batteries in checked luggage beginning Jan. 1, the US Transportation Department said Friday.

Bag under x-ray

Illustration: Bag under X-ray

Passengers can still check baggage with lithium batteries if they are installed in electronic devices, such as cameras, cell phones and laptop computers. If packed in plastic bags, batteries may be in carryon baggage. The limit is two batteries per passenger. The ban affects shipments of non-rechargeable lithium batteries, such as those made by Energizer Holdings Inc. and Procter & Gamble Co’s Duracell brand.

“Doing something as simple as keeping a spare battery in its original retail packaging or a plastic zip-lock bag will prevent unintentional short-circuiting and fires,” Krista Edwards, deputy administrator of the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, said in a release.

The Federal Aviation Administration has found that fire-protection systems in the cargo hold of passenger planes can’t put out fires sparked in lithium batteries. The National Transportation Safety Board earlier this month said it could not rule out lithium batteries as the source of a cargo plane fire at Philadelphia International Airport last year.

What is the point?

Taking a look at the ruleit turns out that there are many illogical parts in it. Just to mention some:

– there are lithium and lithium ion batteries, the regulation affects only the lithium ones.

– 2 batteries carry around the same volume of risk as 4 or 8 batteries.

– no, a zipped plastic bag does not protect anything from catching fire in case of a spark

– there is a much higher risk of explosion when these batteries are under usage or charging and it is allowed to charge or use your laptop for example during the flight.

– the regulation affects planes leaving from the US. But if you fly to Europe you can carry as many batteries as you want on your return journey.

So what is the real intention behind this regulation? Well, my idea is that besides causing more troubles to passengers just because authorities do not have tools to filter out the bad guys from the mass, the problem they needed solution for is that they were afraid that any bombs or explosives can be launched with the use of a series of batteries. That is why they limited it to 2 per passenger. Will it protect us? We’ll never be able to tell.

By Szafi
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Best Of AirlineWorld 2007

This is the last day of the year. As billions of people around the world, we also took a look back to what happened in the old year and made some New Year’s Resolutions.

For us 2007 was not a full year as we started our blog in June. It was a nice calm Sunday and Szafi wrote her first post about the Radio Alphabet – a useful tool not just for aviation fans. Balint01 joined her on the 7th with his first post about “Fuller Planes – Good Or Bad?” – a brief explanation of revenue and capacity management of airlines.

A380 

A380 was one of our main topics this year. We could see the a video of an imaginery evacuation of an A380, we reported on that quite unusual initiation that Singapore Airlines sold the first tickets to the A380 on e-Bay and gave the money (USD 1,25 million) for charity. We tried to find out more about the possible cabin configurations and then we reported on the first delivery.

Boeing 787

Boeing 787, the Dreamliner was our other favorite topic. We wrote about it when it was revealed, we put it in our blog header, we reported on the first announcement of delay that predicted 2 months. Now it seems that a 6-month delay is more realistic.

Developments 

Besides A380 and B787 we saw the birth of a Russian jet called Sukhoi Superjet and a Chinese one called ARJ21-700. We kept track of technology trends in aviation. We wrote an article about RFID usage at airlines and airports, about e-ticketing, a new online payment method at Qantas, a weightless flight, a solar powered, unmanned aircraft. Also we were interested in service developments such as the new Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse at London Heathrow Airport, Lufthansa’s new A380 First Class Concept, Boeing’s 747 development to keep up with A380,

Crashes 

Unfortunately again some serious accidents happened. We saw around 200 people dying in a very tragical crash in Sao Paulo, brazil. 19 people died in an accident of Air Moorea on the way to Tahiti. When China Airline’ 737 burst into fire and blew up, everybody could escape in time thanks to the flight crew, who was criticized for being rude – we thought it was better being rude than being inactive. Later it turned out that a loose bolt caused the fire. There was a sad collision of two planes at an Air Show in Radom, Poland. SAS Airlineshad a bad series of crash landings – without serious injuries – of its Dash 8 turboprop planes. Finally they decided on grounding all their Dash 8 fleet. 87 died in One-Two-Go Airlines crash in Phuket, Thailand. A few days later rallye driver champion Colin McRae died in a helicopter crash over Scotland. The most commented article was the weird accident of an Airbus A340 on the ground of the Airbus factory during testing. The last serious accident of the year was an MD-83 crash in Turkey killing 56.

Photo reports 

We received a lot of photos from our friends and airline enthusiasts, so we could show a photo report of a Royal Aircraft in Budapest, Red Bull Air Race in Budapest, an Air Show in Kecskemet and the A340 Airbus crash at the Toulouse Airbus factory.

Innovations 

We criticized airlines and other players of the industry about wrong steps and we were happy to present good initiations of other players. We found KLM’s promotion: a gift of a costmetics set for online bookers a very smart and useful initiation. We loved Iberia’s enviroment-friendly attitude with naming their new aircrafts Royal Owl, Imperial Eagle and other endangered species. We could read funny comments about an interesting topic: Vatican’s Air Mistral. IATA’s initiation of a greener aviation industry was also worth a post.

Sex and rock and roll 

And finally we tried to entertain those not interested in professional matters of the airline business with articles like Sex in an airplane, Sexy stewardess uniforms – with special attention to the self-designed uniform of Easyjet, Superstar pilots, Special aircraft paintings and we learned about where lost luggage end up going.

We also lost a very key figure of the European airline indusry. Tony Ryan, the founder of Ryanair died on 03 October at the age of 71. Net year we will definately write an article about him, because only a few know about his role in today’s aviation business.

And what is our New Year’s resolution? Well, we’ll do our best to entertain you and draw your attention to the magic world of airlines we so much love.

We both wish you a very happy, successful new year and please keep on reading us! 🙂

By Szafi and balint01

Iberia Airbus Slides Off Runway At Quito

EC-JOH slid off the runway at Quito - by airliners.net 

On  Friday, 09NOV2007, an Iberia operated Airbus A340-600 has slid off the runway in Ecuador at the Quito Airport and caused the airport to be shut down for two days. Arriving from Madird, at 17:06 immediately after touching down the aircraft overran the runway and came to a still in the soft terrain, where it is still standing after two days. According to the Aviation Safety Network’s preliminary report: “The A340 suffered one or more tyre bursts on landing at Quito (UIO). The aircraft overran the runway and came to rest tilting to the left with nr.1 and 2 engines touching the ground.” Such accidents happen every once in a while, but we have seen that they can turn out much worse as in Sao Paolo a few months ago for example.

Fortunately nobody was hurt, all 349 passengers and crew escaped woundless. When I saw the pictures, my first thought was that just in less than a year I have flown the same type of aircraft with Iberia, and when looking at the name just on the side of the cockpit, I realized that it was this same aircraft that took me back from Lima, Peru to Madrid last December… It is a very strange feeling to know that the plane which I once flew in my life and is registered as EC-JOH and named “Miguel de Unamuno” has been involved in such an incident…

At the moment there are only indications as per what really caused the accident, some comments on the internet praise the pilots that they managed to save such a situation without anybody getting hurt, while others blame them for the accident. Only investigations will tell, but I feel sorry for this beautiful bird to damage one wing, three of the Rolls-Royce engines plus basically most of the landing gears including the nose. It will be a big management and technical task to repair it on site by Iberia as I’m afraid Quito lacks the necessary infrastructure for such a repair. The terminal is also operating under some restrictions since the ILS antennas were destroyed and replacement will take 15 days (ILS – Instrument Landing System).

This picture from a different angle shows just how close to residential areas were to this accident…

Iberia EC-JOH in Quito - by Reuters

A slideshow with more onsite pictures on youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yqfQAm-iyJI

by balint01

New Runway At Tel Aviv Airport

Israel’s main international airport in Tel Aviv opened the nearly two-mile-long runway on Wednesday. Officials said it would accommodate the new Airbus A380, the world’s biggest passenger plane.Renovations at the airport also aimed to address chronic safety problems caused by the limited view of the previous runway available to the control tower.

Speaking at the inauguration ceremony, Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz said Israel has yet to fully meet international air-traffic safety and logistical standards, but that it should be addressed by 2009.

Tel Aviv - Ben Gurion Airport

According to Jerusalem Post the implementation a new runway monitoring system was started mid October following an “almost accident” situation, when an Italian charter plane was idling on the runway during the approach of an Israir jet. The pilot of the Israir plane saw the plane standing on the runway and notified the control tower, which could prevent the planes from colliding. The new monitoring system will use optical sensors and radar technology to avoid risky situations.

The news do not mention if other parts of the airport were also prepared for the handling of an A380, as AirlineWorld wrote about it earlier, there are more circumstances to consider around the reception of the giant plane. For Israel tourism is one of the key industries. The new terminal 3 was opened exactly 3 years ago (October 28, 2007) and it is really a huge and decorative building. Still, I am a little bit doubtful about A380s flying in to Tel Aviv in the near future. But let’s see. 🙂

By Szafi

New Runway In Beijing (Peking) For The Olympics

Beijing Olympics logo

Beijing is now ready to handle the increased traffic for the 2008 summer Olympics. A new runway was opened yesterday that is 3,8 km long and 60 m wide. Even the A380 is able to take off and land on it. Today Beijing airport manages 1100 operations (take-offs and landings) daily. This number is expected to increase to 1900 during the Olympic games.

Baijing Airport today

The next step of increasing the airport’s capacity will take place in February 2008 when the new terminal designed by British star architect Norman Foster will be opened for traffic. The new terminal will be one of the biggest airport terminal buildings in the world and with this additional building, Beijing will be able to handle 60 million passengers instead of the present 35 million yearly. The investment costs EUR 1,9 billion, but it is definately necessary for this mega sport event, where 500 thousand tourists are expected in August 2008.

By Szafi

The Scandalous Road of A380

On 25 October 2007 the first scheduled flight operated by an Airbus A380 takes off from Singapore to Sydney. Tickets for the first flight were sold on e-Bay for USD 1,25 million. The total profit of the first flight will go to charity. Singapore Airlines is a very caring, proud new owner. They took part in the developments from day one. CEO Chew Choon Seng said at the delivery ceremony: “From today there is a new queen of the skies in air travel.”

The Supersize Queen

The Superjumbo is a record from many aspects. The following numbers present how outstanding this giant plane is. It is 73 m long (as a comparison the width of a soccer field is 73 m). Its wingspan is 80 m and its height is 24 m. The operating empty weight is 277 tons, while maximum take off wieght is 560 tons. Usable cabin space: 630 sq m. In the cockpit there are no more rod controls, normal PC joysticks are used isntead. The big lady requires more space on the ground, too. The early studies thought that the A380 will ruin all runways and taxiways, but the first tests show it harms concrete and asphalt less than Boeing 747 as A380 has 22 wheels, while Jumbo has 4 less. It seems that any airport can accept the A380, but still it needs more space on tha apron and during maneuvering in front of the terminal buildings. Bridges designed for double decker planes are also necessary for simultaneous passenger boarding. Naturally the huge engines make bigger turbulance than other frequently used passenger aircrafts, so more space is needed for taking off or landing after an A380.

Airbus A380 nose by Hervé Goussé (from a380delivery.com)

Flying Wonderland

The huge milady is definately luxurious. The new Singapore Airlines fleet member will carry 471 people on board (the plane itself can be seated up to 800, but the standard 3 cabin – economy, business, first – configuration can have 550 seats). The 399 economy seats will feature and a 23 cm widescreen for 100 movies, 180 TV programmes, 700 cd and 22 radio stations to choose from. The 60 business seats on the upper deck will be laid-out in a 1-2-1 formation, with each seat being 86 cm wide. The business seats convert to a fully-flat bed. The First Class Suites look something similar to old classy train cabins rather than airplane seats. They are cabins and not seats with a full size mattress, a wide screen on the wall and they can easily be transformed from a bedroom to a mini restaurant, where first class passengers can invite their first class mates for dinner. First class cabins can be paired up and opened to a bigger suite with a double bed.

A380 Interior as planned by Emirates (Business Class)

It is not just Singapore Airlines that wants to give special services to its high yield passengers. Emirates that has just reseated it 777 fleet with first class cabins resembling the spirit of the old Orient-Express. They are expected to present similar luxury on board their new A380s. They will probably create more social scenes as well, such as a bar or a fitness room at least that is what Virgin Atlantic plans to do, so they must keep themselves competitive. 🙂 Qantas also plans a bar and even their business class seats will have built-in massage function. Lufthansa has just presented the first part of their new First Class concept by opening a new First Class lounge at Frankfurt and Munich.

The long and winding road

Airbus started planning the development of a Megaliner – as they called it at that time. Their goal was to break the dominance of Boeing in the giant planes segment with its very successful 747. Other competitors also tried to enter the market, but they all failed. It was clearly visible that this segment is too small for more than 2 models, therefore Airbus and Boeing joined efforts and wrote a feasibility study of a common plane together. The common development never started, so following the decision of Airbus’ Supervisory Board on 19 december 2000, a EUR 8.8 bllion project was started. The number 8 in the A380 is a symbol of the double deck and in many Far-Eastern cultures it is a lucky number (and as mentioned above, Singapore Airlines took part from the first day). The number was not that lucky in this case though as the project missed its deadline by 1,5 years and overdrafted its budget by EUR 2.2 billion. The first delay was announced in June 2005 blaming the enormous amount (530 km) of cables needed for each oaircraft. The next delay came in June 2006 followed by a 26% drop in the value of Airbus and the owner company EADS shares. At this point there were serious consequences and the CEO of EADS and Airbus and the A380 programme manager had to leave their companies. It was the new CEO who announced the biggest delay in October 2006 and successfully estimating the first delivery to happen a year later. In connection with the delays, a new scandal came into the sight of both the media and the French parliament. It appeared that before the June 2006 delay announcement, EADS and Airbus high level managers sold their shares. They are accused with internal trading and now a legal procedure is on against them.

What is next?

Seventeen airlines have ordered the A380, including an order from aircraft lessor ILFC. Total orders for the A380 stand at 190, of which 165 were firm as of 30 September 2007. Airbus expects to sell a total of 750 aircraft, and estimated break-even at 420 units, increased from 270 due to the delays and the falling exchange rate of the US dollar. In April 2007, Airbus CEO Louis Gallois said that break-even had risen further, but declined to give the new figure. Industry analysts anticipate between 400 and 880 sales by 2025. As of 2006, the list price of an A380 is US$ 296 to 316 million, depending on equipment installed.

CEO’s celebrating the delivery of the first A380 to Singapore Airlines

It is still unprojectable whether the business model of such a huge tin lady will be successful or not. It can be operated profitably by airlines taht have many long haul flights with huge number of passengers on these routes. The number of such airlines is limited and due to travel seasons it is not sure that even on these routes they can always fill this huge bird. Anyway we keep our fingers crossed, because when seeing such scientific development, we can always see our own evolution.

By Szafi and Balint01

Airline Economics – Ticket Prices

We always see fantastic price offers from airlines. But it is never clear if they contain taxes or not? How much is it whith taxes? And what are these taxes anyway? The following article will explain it all to you.

Today I read it in the news, that British Airways will have to pay a penalty of about EUR 20 000 to the Hungarian Competition Committee, because some of their past commercials were misleading for customers. The Committee’s main problem with these commercials were that they did not say taxes were not included in the price. Earlier SkyEurope, Malev, SmartWings, WizzAir and KLM were penalized for the same purpose. Therefore – at least in Hungary – some airlines started to publish their gross prices. However gross prices can be different at the same airline for the same trip bought on the same day. How can it be?

Basic ticket prices

Pricing is a very sophisticated process at airlines. we can say that almost every airline ha s adifferent pricing model. In general we can say that prices can differ:

– by cabin class: economy class tickets are the cheapest, business class ticket prices are higher and first class ticket cost the most

– by the date of departure. The closer we are to the date of departure when buying the ticket, the higher the prices are. It is thought to be the model of low cost airlines, but it is not true. Thishas always been the model of flight ticket pricing.

– by the rules attached. The less flexibility we need, the cheaper the prices are. Cheapest tickets are not refundable, not modifiable, usually a saturday night has to be spent att he destination and the length of the trip may not exceed 2 weeks. If we need a ticket that can be modified later or refunded or has an open segment (for example we do not know the return date) cost more.

(We will explain the reason of this pricing model in a separate article about airline revenue management.)

The basic ticket prices are paid for the airline and in case of a common operated, so called code share flight the operating and the marketing carrier share the money when the ticket is sold by the marketing carrier.

Taxes

Originally taxes were paid only for the airport. The airports publish their handling and other prices in the same reservation systems the airlines use for booking. They publish these prices in their own currency, that is why these amounts differ from day to day, because the currency converting rates change even within days. This minor change is the reason why airlines do not wish to include taxes in the basic price.

It also belongs to the truth that in case of certain currencies this change my reach bigger amounts as airlines publish their prices for 333 days. We could also say – so what? They can change their prices every week if the want to. This is also a possibility, but publishing airline prices is a difficult and expensive procedure as these prices have to be present in all the reservation systems all around the world. Thus it is understandable airlines do not wish to publish gross prices in all markets. However within the EU it is not a risk.

There is a nice trick about taxes airlines happily use. They did not want to increase prices in the same volume as kerozene prices rose in the near past. Therefore they created a so called YQ tax that is basically the fuel surcharge. This way they could keep prices low and include the extra cost into the taxes that are not shown in the comemrcials. Fuel surcharges are not paid to the airports.
“Other fees”

The other fees section of a ticket contains the so called service fee. Service fee came into the picture when airlines stopped paying regular commission to travel agencies a few years ago. (althoguh they still pay super or marketing commission and similar extras to agencies that qualify for these by selling a huge volume of the airline’s tickets) Instead of paying commissions they launched service fees that they also collect and this way they give some space to agencies to collect the missing commission from the clients directly.

At the same time airlines also started to play with this service fee to direct traffic to their more cost efficient sales channels, such as website or call center. It can easily happen that you pay more for the same ticket, same day, same trip in the airline’s airport office than on their website. The most expensive sales channel for an airline is the travel agency (including online agencies), then comes the city or airport office of the airline, then the call center and naturally the cheapest channel is their own website.

So if you would like to get the cheapest price for a certain flight, you should try to book it for yourself on the airline’s own website. Still it is possible that you will find the cheapest price at another website, because when you first look for it on the airline’s website, only a higher class is open, but in the meantime somewhere somebody in the world cacnelled his ticket, a few minutes later a cheaper ticket will be available.

That is the so called revenue management, but we will take a closer look at it in a different post.

By Szafi

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