Everest has been used as both a dustbin and a dubious dudes’ ego-trip for years? Well, that’s what some people think slumped in their armchairs making their way into a case of ‘tinnies’. But do you know – I think those sorts of motivation (if you can call them that) probably run out of steam whilst you are humping your bags into the taxi on arrival at Kathmandu.
A colleague (‘proud to call him so) Dan Hughes was travelling in Bolivia on honeymoon and found something that simply wouldn’t go away. On his return the desire to help by doing something tough and selfless (he’s a Triathlete) he decided to try and raise a £1 Million by placing a Red Nose on top of Everest.
Why? It’s obvious isn’t it? No one had done it before, and you can do an awful lot for those who desperately need it with Million pounds Sterling. Dan is carrying an extra 7kgs of communications technology to enable him to broadcast his movement up the hill live across the Internet, most people keep their weight as low as possible as… It must be very, very hard work pushing your body to the limits of its endurance whilst whilst pushing for hours against an icy blast that chills to the core – all the way up, then down again. The weather is notoriously changeable. Explorer? I don’t think that title quiet fits but can’t think of another without getting sentimental.
Dan needs to keep a tight hold on his fingers and toes as he is not only risking his career flying for British Airways, he is risking his life. This is no mean statement either, around 10% of those who attempt to summit Chomolungma do not return alive.
The least we can do is pledge £1 to help him on his way. He is currently 80% of the way up that mountain and has raised 3% of the cash in his target window. Would you do this, would you breath cold oxygen that saps the heat from your core whilst every squeaky, snow laden step up burned each and every muscle in your cold, tortured legs? Or would you prefer to be there with him, be a part of itby making a small donation that will make it into the hands of someone who has little or nothing?
Some time ago I was stuck on the ground in India with a piston Islander I was ferrying from Malaysia to the Middle East. The avgas supply situation across the world had been tightened by insurgent attack and the rupture of a critical pipeline in, of all places, Iraq. I made it as far as Calcutta before it affected me, we stopped dead in our tracks unable to proceed due to a lack of fuel supply from Indian Oil. Nothing would prize the uplift we needed from them to make it to Muscat, Oman on the next hop. There was none to be had in either India or Pakistan – stuck!
After a month of hanging around hotels and trying to kill time usefully, Christmas hove across the horizon and a decision was made for us to return to the UK. First Class tickets were obtained and barely able to contain my excitement I pitched up to fly home for the family festivities.
Everyone who travels by air knows this feeling, a hard session at the boardroom table or extended absence intensifies it, but for us all it is there – the sense of relief when you step from a chaotic terminal in a foreign land down the ‘finger’ and across the portal into an air conditioned paradise. Your ride home!
The rest of the experience is a variation of quality and presentation, but that feeling as you walk aboard can be priceless, something received that is from a point beyond a commercial exchange, it can be very personal. If you are flying with your flag carrier it might even provide you with a welling of patriotic pride. Been there?
What the airline does next is a measure of how well the crew and the company perform their time etched routines, but for that one moment the smiling face and the warm welcome have your heart.
How you are fed and cared for during your journey and at its finale is the source of raging debate with the bean counters on one side of the table, and the service delivery teams on the other.
A hero of mine, Sir John Harvey-Jones brought an idea before many during his time as CEO of ICI, the UK chemical giant he ruled after joining as a ‘tea boy’. He said, “In the name of saving you can slash costs in any area of your business bar one, NEVER erode your product – it is all you have.”
In our collective scrabble to stay in business we need to remember a few fundamentals, we forget his words at our peril. The advice is timeless, unlike some of us…
If you are looking for a flying job, at first sight this may seem like the last thing you want to hear but I hope you stick with me through to the end. “There are too many aircraft bouncing between too many places, carrying too many people.”
As I see it, that’s the truth of it. What is the point in offering seats at give away prices for what amounts to discretionary travel? That’s eating beans in a spacesuit. You could argue that that second holiday is important, or that a weekend away is vital in a stressed western environment; but having weighed the evidence and the alternatives I am not convinced.
Long haul flying with large time zone transits can be debilitating; more so if you are making an effort to enjoy yourself in the process and who wouldn’t want to do that? Most people seem to have a preference, some like going East, others West. With my airline if you are really senior, you go South where the winters are summers and the wine and steak are exquisite. The time change is tiny too.
“But how do you cope with it,” is often the question posed by those who deal with the problem as a nomadic business sufferer.
A quick break from the rough and tumble of the aeronautical world to take a quick look at where our pressurized aluminum tubes actually take us. Everyone has their favorite places, mine are India and Africa. The Dark Continent has a mystery all of its own and if you spend too much time there, you become entranced. The reasons for this are many and varied but for me it is the quality of the light, the wilderness and in particular, the wildlife.
Some years ago now I was scheduled to fly to Lusaka in Zambia, it was a four day trip with two local nights off which provided us with some ‘in country time’ giving us an opportunity to cast about and see something of the local color. “Who fancies a safari?” was the call and we all, the whole crew answered it crushing our dollars into the hands of the agent who arranged the trip. And what a trip it turned out to be; a thorough education in what it means to be out in the bush in Africa.
I won’t run on but will show you some photographs taken by a colleague of mine. Dave Stevens is one of our training captains and quite a character. He is one of life’s enthusiasts gifted with a quick mind and an inquisitive nature that takes him places many of us would never go. Dave is never happy until he has rooted out the cause of a problem or made something work that was broken. He also has a keen artistic and compassionate eye. I am sure you will agree but judge for yourself as you cast your eyes across the photos that he took whilst in Lusaka not so long ago.
Dave very kindly gave me permission to use these superb images here for your entertainment.
For instance, in a single move by publicly gravitating toward aircraft with two engines rather than four he has:
1/ Appeared to be showing concern for the environmental impact of his airline by expressing interest in the newest generation of fuel efficient engines.
2/ Laid the ground for his possible later withdrawal from Airbus purchases. (Likely to be seen as a pro-American move.)
3/ Placed the potential for a large Boeing order in front of those deciding whether or not to approve his Virgin America launch.
None of these moves in isolation will necessarily swing the vote in his favour, but they do what Richard has always shown himself to be a master at – setting the scene, spinning the pitch and laying the ground for the achievement of his grander schemes.
The collaboration with Scaled Composites to exploit their advances in the commercial space travel have also done him a lot of good on the publicity front. Again he is seen to be supporting a high profile American project in an arena that many Americans consider to be their nations rightful territory – the final frontier. Again, no harm done there.
I don’t like Richard Branson’s public persona and doubt that I would like his private one. I find his ingratiating, wheedling style quite nauseating and believe that after watching him operate for a couple of decades, I understand a little of the way he works.
But despite that brief release of suppressed venom, I find that I cannot help but be impressed by his gall, audacity and imagination. ‘Nice guy’ he may not be, but gifted entrepreneur he is, and he certainly keeps us guessing. I think THAT is no bad thing – but then I would, wouldn’t I?
According to reports in the UK press, two people — officials would not confirm they were military members suffered minor injuries in the incident and were taken to a hospital.
The MoD said although there was no evidence of hostile action, the plane was significantly damaged during the landing incident. After attending the injured, military personnel secured the area allowing the RAF to assess the damage to the aircraft.
The plane was destroyed about three hours later after technicians determined the extensive damage prevented flight to an area where repairs could be made.
An MoD spokesman told the BBC, “It was concluded that the aircraft could not be recovered without exposing our personnel to undue risk. There was also a potential risk that anti-Iraqi forces might obtain information on specialist equipment. The aircraft was therefore safely destroyed by multinational forces.”
UK-based MyTravel and German tourist conglomerate Thomas Cook are merging in a deal that will create the second-biggest travel company in Europe behind TUI.
The new company, called Thomas Cook Group, will produce combined revenue of about $15.6 billion selling holidays to some 19 million customers a year. It will be based in London.
In December, MyTravel reported its first annual profit in five years after a major restructuring exercise, cutting costs and selling real estate. According to the MyTravel website, the companies in the group operate 31 aircraft.
The move eventually is expected to generate at least $146.2 million of cost savings per year, the two groups said. Specific information concerning cost synergies was not supplied, nor was the future status of the airline portfolio comprising Thomas Cook Airlines UK, Thomas Cook Airlines Belgium, Condor Airlines, MyTravel Airways UK and MyTravel Airways A/S detailed.
Via: The GMB website……… GMB members who are covered by the British Airways Pensions Scheme have rejected BA’s pension scheme offer. Lead negotiator Ed Blissett and GMB General Secretary Paul Kenny will now meet BA Chief Executive Willie Walsh at Heathrow on Wednesday to discuss the result of the consultation ballot and progress outstanding items.
Ed Blissett, GMB National Negotiator with BA said, “GMB members covered by the British Airways pension fund have given the Union a strong mandate to reject the company’s pension funds offer.”
The members clearly believe that the current pension offer favours the highest paid workers in BA at the expense of the lowest paid.
GMB members do not want to cause the travelling public any inconvenience and so they have asked their negotiators to try to negotiate a settlement with BA. However, GMB cannot rule out the possibility of an industrial action ballot sometime in the future if negotiations are unsuccessful.
The Daily Mail
“The GMB union, which represents 4,500 baggage handlers, ticketing staff and other workers, said its members voted by 2-1 against moves aimed at tackling BA’s £2.2 billion pension fund deficit.”
Well, I think we all knew that a battle was over but the war not yet won. We have seen BASSA and the T&G have a go at British Airways and come out with a deal of sorts but one that has left them in internal disarray and widely seen as having made little if any ground. Now the rest are lining up to have a go at getting a better deal on pensions out of Willie Walsh and the Trustees.
But is this really about pensions? Unless you have been in cryogenic storage in the UK over the past five years you should, as a voting member of any union, be aware of the pension deficit problem that faces UK PLC.
Pension funds have either struggled to find a way clear of the problem or simply closed the schemes. The successes are those schemes that have managed to find a consensus on the course of action and agreement between the Board, the Trustees and the workforce as to how deficits should be tackled.
BA has a big problem that will not be solved by capitulation or an old fashioned surrender of the keys to the Unions. Willie was brought in by the Board to tackle this issue above nearly all others and he is determined to win an agreement. Trouble is, the wrangling has taken years and is over, the deal is settled. What is now on the table is what is available to all comers. Reopening the file, even if it where possible would open a Pandora’s box.
No, this looks more like a the beginning of a muscle flexing game, a continuation of the ‘Who runs BA at Heathrow, the BA leadership team, or the Unions’ farce. And how will it play out? Is this a flicker in the light of a dying fire, or are we looking at a can of petrol here with a burning rag being wielded in the wings? Willie and his team are going to need all the sleep they can get in the short term, because midnight oil is being loaded into lamps and wicks are being checked at Waterside.
Either way, the Unions must be aware that if they choose conflict, it is a battle that Willie must win and he has both the backing and the war chest to fight a hard campaign.
What is less sure is whether our customers will be bothered to stand on the battlefield and watch a company destroy itself. And who could blame them?