New Philippines flights for Emirates
2 January 2015
Emirates Airline will add two additional destinations to its
network in the Philippines in 2016 as it takes advantage of a revised
Bilateral Air Service Agreement (BASA) that has provided additional rights
to airlines from both countries.
Emirates has opened reservations for a new daily flight linking its Dubai
International Airport hub with both Mactan–Cebu International Airport and
Clark International Airport (formerly the Diosdado Macapagal International
Airport) from the end of March 2016. The flight will operate on a triangular
basis and will be flown using a two-class Boeing 777-300ER
Recent air services talks have resulted resulted in Emirates gaining rights
for four additional flights per week on its existing route to Ninoy Aquino
International Airport in Manila, and these will be launched from March 29,
Cebu will be brand new destination for Emirates, but the carrier previously
served Clark during the winter schedule of 2013/2014, ending flights in May
2014 after just seven months of operation. Clark International Airport is
located in the province of Pampanga in Central Luzon, around 80 kilometres
to the north of Manila.
New Years Eve shock in Dubai
1 January 2015
It was New Year's Eve. Downtown was packed. Hotels,
restaurants and bars were all full. The streets were closed. People everyone
Then, at about 9.30pm on New Years Eve the five star Address
Downtown hotel next to the Dubai Mall caught fire.
The fire spread up across the facade of the building
remarkably quickly. By 10pm the whole of the front of the hotel was ablaze.
Meanwhile at midnight the Burj Khalifa fireworks went ahead
while across the Burj Lake the Address Downtown still blazed.
There are plenty of news reports on the details of the fire
so I will restrict this to observations about the evening and the following
The following morning the Gulf News barely mentioned the
fire. The front page picture was of the fireworks; the short report noted
that 14 people had suffered minor injuries. "Fire at Dubai Hotel fails to
dampen the enthusiasm of revellers" claimed the small sub-title.
Inside on page 5 the paper claimed that "firefighting teams
managed to control 80% of the fire in a record time by 10.30pm to ensure the
new year party continue."
The Director-General of Dubai civil defence said that the
fire damaged only the external interface of the hotel.
The same message was echoed in Saturday's newspaper. With one
The suggestion remains that the fire originated on the 20th
floor of the hotel. There have been reports that it started on a lower
floor. The Saturday snapshots page show glittering fireworks pictures while
carefully avoiding any pictures of smoke or flames.
At midnight the Dubai Media Office @DXBMediaOffice was
tweeting as though nothing was amiss. I suspect this was the result of timed
auto-tweets. Yet at the same time we had no idea if there was anyone trapped
by the flames in the hotel
"Dubai's successful New Year's celebration is testimony to its steadfast
commitment to its major projects and initiatives"
"@BurjKhalifa welcomes 2016 in magical style #MyDubaiNewYear pic.twitter.com/IdXR3XKJIw"
"#MyDubaiNewYear ... Burj Khalifa kicks breath-taking firework show
If it was safer to set off the fireworks as planned then the
authorities should have said so. Otherwise it looked reckless - there was a
fire burning next to the tower - or callous; hundreds of people had been
endangered and many others evacuated and uncertain about what to do or where
There were fireworks at the Burj Al Arab and at the Atlantis
Hotel. Proceeding with those made sense. Continuing with the Burj Khalifa
fireworks left my friends and I feeling very uneasy.
A statement from Dubai civil defence on the afternoon of
Friday January 01, 2016 stated that "cooling procedures are still underway
after the blaze at The Address Downtown Dubai hotel was brought under
control and prevented from spreading to other buildings." There were still
fires mid afternoon and into the evening.
The statement "praised the exceptional collaboration between all the entities
that are part of the Crisis Management Committee and the extraordinary
efficiency of the Dubai Civil Defence in controlling the fire and helping
avoid serious injuries or causalities (sic).
Four fully equipped squads from Dubai Civil Defence units were dispatched to
the fire scene, while ambulance teams were rushed to provide instant medical
care and first aid on site. Dubai Government responded rapidly to the
incident and coordinated efforts to instantly evacuate the hotel’s guests to
ensure their safety.
Security forces secured the hotel’s premises and surroundings, and
re-directed pedestrian traffic through alternative routes."
The statement makes the incident sound routine; it was not.
Access for emergency vehicles was near impossible with closed roads and
massive crowds out to watch the NYE fireworks.
There was burning debris blowing in the wind onto adjacent
rooftops. It seems that it was just luck that stopped the fire from
There are many different reports of how people escaped from
the burning hotel. Were the fire alarms and sprinklers working? No clear
answer. Were staff and fire marshalls directing guests and residents. Or was
it a panicked free for all.
The good news is that the rear of the hotel - opening onto
the Boulevard appears untouched. so the structure of the hotel remained
intact and it is likely that stairwells and fire-exits were clear to allow
everyone to get out of the building,
But watching from a distance it seems like a miracle that
only 15 people were injured.
Our friends in the adjacent Souk al Bahar were sitting down
to a romantic dinner for two as the fire broke out. They grabbed clothes and
a toothbrush and came to stay in our apartment.
We walked up to the Souk al Bahar on Friday afternoon with
our friends. The tower was still smoking and flames in some rooms. There
were many modern fire vehicles including water tankers. But not a great deal
of activity. It was more of a tourist spot for pictures to be taken.
First pictures of Dubai inferno hotel's ravaged interior: Photos show
devastation left by huge blaze as investigators probe cause of massive New
Year's Eve fire that tore through 63-storey building Daily Mail
Quick response enable Crisis Management Team in Dubai quell The Address
hotel fire in record time DXB Media Office
Was Dubai’s Address Hotel Built to Burn? The Daily Beast
Dubai hotel fire: Inferno at 63-storey Address Downtown hotel near New
Year's Eve fireworks display The Telegraph
Emaar to restore fire-ravaged Address hotel to its glory Khaleej Times
Koh Tao debacle: Shoddy work from
beginning to end
1 January 2016
Thailand’s ludicrous official response to the outcry at the verdict
The investigation into the murder of two British backpackers on Koh Tao was,
from the very start, a muddled affair. Yet, despite public revelations of
mishandling of the case by the police and widespread doubt about the guilt
of the accused, the authorities were caught by surprise at the international
outcry that greeted last week's court ruling.
The sentencing to death of the accused, two Myanmar migrant workers,
provoked a raucous street protest in Yangon and grumbling in Nay Pyi Taw.
Irked government officials claimed the reaction was all a conspiracy to
discredit the Royal Thai Police. It would be wonderful if it could be so
easily imagined away.
The inescapable fact is that the controversy surrounding the Koh Tao case is
only the latest global outcry directed at the Thai police force, whose
reputation and credibility now seem irrevocably tainted in the eyes of most
outsiders and indeed many citizens.
The Koh Tao investigation was compromised from the beginning, when police
failed to properly seal off the crime scene. A rumour that the attack was
carried out by someone linked to influential figures on the island was
summarily dismissed and investigators quickly focused on the migrant
community, refusing to even contemplate the possibility that Thais might
have been involved. The police gave no explanation for this shift in focus,
which saw Myanmar migrants Zaw Lin and Win Zaw Htun arrested and charged
with the despicable crime.
Respected forensic scientist Pornthip Rojanasunand, who has clashed with
law-enforcement officials in the past, was denied access to the
investigators' findings. That decision suggests that the police allowed
emotion to overrule duty and professional ethics. Dr Pornthip was, however,
able to testify subsequently in court that the police had failed to analyse
blood found at the crime scene and might have destroyed evidence by
prematurely moving the body of one victim.
More doubts were raised over the failure to run comparative DNA tests the
female victim's clothing and a hoe that was the purported murder weapon.
Pornthip, acting on behalf of the defendants, conducted that test and found
that the DNA on the hoe did not match that of the accused.
The court presumably attached more credence to prosecution testimony that
the suspects' semen was found on the female victim's body, even though
analysis of the DNA samples of three people was, in the view of other
witnesses, done too hastily.
Most troubling of all for the police case - and for the police force's
reputation - is the fact the defendants, having withdrawn their confessions
once a lawyer was belatedly provided, claimed they had admitted to the crime
after being tortured. The court did not even take this point into
In spite of these many doubts and shortcomings, the national police chief,
Pol Gen Jakthip Chaijinda, had the audacity to suggest that an unnamed
political group had instigated the ensuing protests to discredit his men.
Deputy police spokesman Pol Maj Gen Piyaphan Pingmuang wondered aloud why,
of the 126 murder cases involving Burmese in this country in the past year,
no others met with protest.
The simple answer is that none of the other cases caught the interest of the
foreign press, which stemmed from the fact that the victims in this murder
were citizens of Britain, where the news media are not only highly
opinionated but also alert to the hazards of Thai tourism.
Moreover, the story evoked an all-too-common narrative - defenceless migrant
workers becoming ready scapegoats in criminal probes and the victims of the
whims of the rich and powerful. Those from Myanmar know all too well the
pitfalls presented by working here, beginning with horrendous labour
conditions. The protest in Yangon - which forced the Thai embassy to close
out of security concerns - was at core an expression of anger over Thai
attitudes and behaviour towards their countrymen.
In what can only be viewed as a bid to save face, Defence Minister Gen
Prawit Wongsuwan ordered a hunt for the "masterminds" behind the protest
rallies in Myanmar and Thailand. Rather than making matters worse, he should
be pushing for a reform of the police force.
Debating the UAE's future
20 December 2015
author, and Arab Spring activist Iyad el-Baghdadi was expelled from the UAE
- he now lives in Oslo. His commentary on Middle East issues is often
He recently wrote an article for the
International Business Times discussing the future direction of his
birth-country. It is too provocative to republish here; at least for now.
here is a link to the article.
This should be part of a debate held between
all the stakeholders who have committed to the future of the UAE. I know
second and thrd generation residents (non Emiratis) who have built business
here yet who still re-apply for their two year work visas. They can be
removed from the country at any time.
I do think there has to come a time when non-Emiratis
are given a greater opportunity to participate in the nation that so many
already call home; citizenship; permanent residence; representation. I think
that will create a sustainable, dynamic nation. But it will be a big step.
Then and now - Watford FC
18 December 2015
Sunday night's entertainment sees Watford FC entertaining
Liverpool, quite a well known football team from the north west of England.
Which is as good a reason as any to remember a famous day in May 1983.
Watford were in their first ever season in what was then the old first
division. If we beat Liverpool (who finished as champions) in our last game
of the season we could finish second.
Martin Patching, with his dodgy knees, scored our first. Luther Blissett got
the second after half time. Craig Johnston pulled one back for Liverpool.
There were over 27,000 crammed into Vicarage Road - including me! We
finished second - qualified for Europe and had to get our atlases out to
It was glorious, boisterous, exhilarating fun. More of the same this Sunday
would be welcome!
Teams from that day:
Watford: Sherwood; Rice, Rostron, Patching, Sims, Franklin, Callaghan,
Blissett, Barnes, Jackett, Sterling.
Liverpool: Grobbelaar; Neal, Kennedy, Lawrenson, Thompson, Hansen, Dalglish,
Lee, Hodgson, Johnston, Souness.
This was the Watford squad at the end of the 1982/1983 season.
EK's A380 plans for 2016
17 December 2016
Emirates today announced it will deploy its A380 to
Birmingham (BHX), Prague (PRG) and Taipei (TPE) in 2016.
Emirates’ daily Birmingham flight, EK39/40, will be converted
to an A380 beginning 27th March 2016. Emirates A380 services to Prague and
Taiwan will start from 1st May 2016. Additionally, Barcelona will be served
with a second daily Emirates A380 service from 1st June 2016.
Emirates’ inaugural A380 flight to Birmingham, EK39 will depart Dubai at
07:35hrs and arrive at 12:20hrs and will be operated in a two-class
configuration. EK40 will depart Birmingham at 14:20hrs and arrive in Dubai
at 00:35hrs (+1).
The daily Emirates Dubai-Prague route, operating as EK139,
will depart Dubai at 09:05hrs and arrive in Prague at 13:30hrs. The return
leg, operating as EK140, will depart Prague at 15:40hrs and arrive in Dubai
at 23:35hrs. The A380 route will be operated in a three-class configuration,
representing a 44 per cent increase in capacity.
In Taiwan, Emirates will up-gauge its service to a two-class A380 service,
representing a 44 per cent increase in capacity. Emirates flight EK366 will
depart Dubai at 04:35hrs and arrive in Taipei at 16:50hrs the same day. The
return flight EK367 will leave Taipei at 23:30hrs, arriving in Dubai at
05:05hrs the next day. Taipei Taoyuan International Airport recently
completed enhancements making it compatible with the double-decker aircraft.
Barcelona will be served twice daily with an Emirates A380 service, in a
three-class configuration. From 1st June 2016, the second A380 service
flight EK187 will depart Dubai at 15:45hrs and arrives in Barcelona at
20:55, while the return leg, EK188 departs Barcelona at 22:40hrs and arrives
in Dubai at 07:25hrs the next day. The first A380 service to Barcelona was
launched on 1st February 2014.
Thailand's Fear of Free Speech
13 December 2015 - The New York Times Editorial
Since it seized power in a military coup in 2014, Thailand’s military junta,
led by Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha, has become increasingly obsessed with
controlling public debate. This reached absurd proportions on Wednesday,
when the Thai police announced they were investigating United States
Ambassador Glyn Davies for possible violation of the country’s lèse-majesté
laws that make royal insult a crime.
The investigation focuses on remarks Mr. Davies made last month reiterating
the United States’ concern about efforts by the junta to curb free speech,
specifically the “lengthy and unprecedented prison sentences” given to
civilians by Thai military courts for violating the same lèse-majesté laws.
The government should know that its decision to investigate Mr. Davies only
confirms the truth of what he said.
And there is no way his well-founded criticism of the draconian efforts to
curb freedom of expression can be construed as insulting to King Bhumibol
Adulyadej. In fact, Mr. Davies praised the king in his remarks. But the king
is 88 and ailing, and the junta appears intent on maintaining an iron grip
at least until after a royal succession.
The junta has come down hard on critics. Media outlets have been raided and
journalists, along with academics and politicians, have been sent to camps
for “attitude adjustment.” Some of those arrested have disappeared. People
have been sentenced to decades in prison for Facebook posts, and the
military apparently has plans to reduce Internet traffic to a single gateway
it can control.
Meanwhile, Thailand’s once robust economy is floundering, and crime has
risen sharply in Bangkok. Farmers – half the country’s population lives in
rural areas – are suffering after the worst drought in decades, and a third
of the country is living with water rationing.
The junta is also embroiled in a corruption scandal involving Rajabhakti
Park, a lavish site it built to honor Thailand’s kings. And, on Thursday,
the top investigator into Thailand’s human trafficking rings, Maj. Gen.
Paween Pongsirin, announced that he had fled to Australia, where he will
seek asylum. He said he feared for his safety after exposing collusion
between crime syndicates and Thai authorities.
The best way for General Prayuth to calm growing public frustration, and
address the legitimate concerns of the United States and other allies, is to
tackle Thailand’s lagging economy, clean up corruption in the military’s
ranks and make progress toward drafting a constitution and holding elections
for a transition to civilian rule, as the junta has promised. Open public
debate is essential to that process.
Qatar's Miami incident - cover up, confusion and a lying
13 October 2015
The preliminary report from the Qatar CAA is here :
There really is no other word for it. Qatar Airways chief
Akbar Al Baker has been lieing to the US media about the 15 September
take-off incident in Miami.
Al Baker said that instructions from air traffic controllers
resulted in the September runway light collision in Miami, despite evidence
of confusion in the cockpit.
“It was an instruction given to our pilot by the air traffic control, which
he should have refused to accept,” says Al Baker at a media event in New
York today. “However, he had enough runway for getting airborne and it was
only an unfortunate incident. At no time was the aircraft or the passengers
put in any harms way.”
He added that “It was an instruction given to our pilot by
the ATC, which he should have refused to accept.”
Al Baker’s comments differ markedly from preliminary findings from the
Qatari civil aviation authority on the incident earlier in December.
Investigators found that the captain of the Qatar Boeing 777-300ER chose to
depart from the T1 intersection of runway 09 at Miami International airport
despite carrying out the calculations for a full-length runway departure and
despite a company prohibition on intersection take offs from this runway.
Neither the captain nor the three other crew members in the cockpit realised
that the T1 intersection was some 1,000m from the beginning of runway 09,
leaving the 342t aircraft with only 2,610m available for the departure, the
No where do the initial findings suggest that air traffic controllers told
the pilots to take off from the T1 intersection. They do say that the first
officer advised air traffic controllers that the intersection was an
acceptable line-up point for take off.
ATC is not responsible for where the airliner's captain
chooses to take-of from. ATC simply acknowledged the request and expedited
the departure in front of a landing aircraft.
The Qatar 777, operating flight 778, continued to Doha even after
overrunning the end of runway 09 and striking the approach lights on
“Such kind of incidents happen quite often, either it is a tail strike on
the runway or it is contact with the landing lights,” says Al Baker. “It is
nothing out of context.”
Al Akbar also said that "At no time was the aircraft or the
passengers put in any harms way.” Not true - he needs to read the report.
A CEO that is willing to lie to the traveling public does
little to reassure them that Qatar Air has an acceptable safety culture.
Battle of the airports: Singapore v Dubai
12 December 2015
Tai and I were back in Singapore for a day last week.
The only point of this post is to note how far ahead
Singapore Airport is of any of its major hub competition.
The original Terminal One has been renovated and is in great
condition. Welcoming soft coloured carpeting; plenty if space; short queues
at immigration and incredibly rapid baggage delivery.
The only downside - taxi prices have increased significantly.
Dubai - Terminal One is still in appalling condition despite
the attempt at renovations. It is as if the airport authority wanted to push
everyone to terminal three and Emirates. Oh yes, they do!
When all passengers checking in at Terminal One have to be
sent by train to the still unopened new Concourse D there is going to be a
serious bottleneck for train access.
As for Terminal Three - the check in area and baggage halls
are spacious albeit cold in appearance and devoid of all charm. The
concourses - A, B and soon all of C - are over-run with passengers - crowded
and confused. Worse - in order to extract every last $ of revenue the
authority has allowed stored to be built where passengers should be able to
walk. It is a planning and logistical disaster.
Baggage - my last three visits to Terminal 3 have seen my
baggage arrive an hour after reaching the gate. Poor.
Taxis - queuing system is as confused as ever. Yet for most
people arriving in the middle of the night this is the only way to leave the
airport as teh subway is not operating overnight.
Immigration - Good at terminal three with the e-gates. But
there are no e-gates in terminal one - expect long queues.
Singapore meanwhile is rushing ahead with a fourth terminal.
No one could ever accuse them of complacency.
A Kingdom in Denial
12 December 2015 By Pravit Rojanaphruk Senior Staff Writer
A society which does not dare look straight at itself is a society in
On Dec. 1, the frontpage of International New York Times in Thailand
contained a large, blank white space where there was supposed to be a news
article critical of Thailand. Two sentences were printed in that space,
“The article in this space was removed by our printer in Thailand. The
International New York Times and its editorial staff had no role in its
removal,” read the note printed in place of the news article.
Lighting struck again on Dec. 4, when a commentary on Thailand’s Crown
Property Bureau and its wealth were also redacted and replaced with the same
(If you think those two incidents are disturbing, they are an improvement
for the Thai printer, Eastern Printing, which in September just decided to
not print the whole newspaper for one day due to a long, front-page article
about the succession of the throne.)
I cannot really blame the Thai printer for censoring news and articles which
contain a less-than-flattering mention of HRH the Crown Prince, for the
printer is not alone.
When it comes to censoring even the most trivial news and information
critical or negative about the monarchy, the mainstream mass media in
Thailand is very efficient, though people just don’t see it.
All major Thai newspapers and TV stations subscribe to foreign news agencies
such as Reuters, AFP, Associated Press or Kyodo. And every now and then
there are news items or commentaries critical of Thailand’s monarchy from
these foreign news agencies, and those in charge routinely, automatically
and almost unconsciously censor them because they all have decided
beforehand that no news or commentary critical of the monarchy is fit for
printing or broadcasting, reading or viewing.
This practice is so normal that when Thai media organizations and
associations talk about press freedom, they do so without an iota of irony,
as they don’t see it as self-censorship anymore.
For those who fail to heed the commandment that thou shalt not spread news
critical of the monarchy, they risk ending up in prison.
Forty-year-old Ekachai Hongkangwan, a college-graduate and lottery-ticket
vendor, served two years and eight months in prison for violating the lese
majeste law for having peddled copies of a documentary news program about
the future of the Thai monarchy produced by the Australian Broadcasting
Corporation. He was released a few weeks ago and told me he’s finding it
difficult to get a job as employers are unwilling to hire a lese-majeste
This is a society living in fear if you happen to be critical of the
monarchy. Most of them have to hide their true political views more
discreetly and secretively than some members of the LGBT community shield
their gender identity in Thailand.
It is also a society in a chronic state of clinical denial, as it opts to
only consume positive-only news and information about the monarchy. Instead
of risking a maximum term of 15 years in prison under the lese majeste law,
some resort to gossiping in private among those whom they can trust, or at
least believe they can trust.
The gap between what’s reported in the mainstream media and what many,
including journalists, gossip about in private is ocean wide and disturbing.
On the flip side of censorship and self-censorship is the manufacturing of
overt glorification of the monarchy on mainstream television stations.
Most Thai TV news hosts were given a Bike for Dad T-shirt in honor of His
Majesty the King, and asked – in writing or verbally or both – to wear it
whenever they’re on air.
A newscaster from a major, free TV channel told me many would only put in on
before being on camera and remove it once the broadcast ended.
This is a subtle way of creating an appearance of overt consensus on the
glorification of the monarchy.
Why the need to go this far? I have no ready answer for that.
The cost of such a predicament for Thailand is considerable, however.
How can we make a critical assessment of our own society’s strengths and
weaknesses if the media and the rest cannot say anything critical at all
about the royal institution?
Some may say people are free to gossip privately and cite hearsay. But are
these un-rigorous and unreliable ways of communicating really adequate?
The need to be able to frankly talk about our own society, including the
monarchy, is even more necessary as Thailand moves closer toward the
transitional period in which a royal succession will eventually take place.
In reality, it’s expected that there will be greater censorship,
self-censorship and arrests under the lese majeste law in the foreseeable
We’re heading toward more big blank spaces, censorship, self-censorship,
even news blackouts, and all we have are these crude tools called gossip and
hearsay. This is definitely not a Thailand that I can be proud of.
This self-denial has been going on for a long time now, far too long even,
and the question has become: “How much longer are we going to keep
pretending that we’re not in self-denial?”
Emirates 2016 fleet plans
8 December 2015
Emirates has announced its
fleet plans for 2016. In total, the airline will retire 26 aircraft,
including 12 A330-300s, 4 A340-300s, 1 A340-500 (which we all though had
retired last month!), 6 Boeing 777-200ERs, 2
Boeing 777-300s and 1 Boeing 777-300ER. The average age of the Emirates
aircraft slated for retirement in 2016 will be 15.7 years. In addition, 13 more aircraft will be
retired in 2017 and another 13 will be retired in 2018.
Balancing its aircraft retirement programme, Emirates will take delivery of
36 new aircraft in 2016, including 20 A380s and 16 Boeing 777-300ERs. At the
end of 2016, the aircraft retirements and new deliveries will put Emirates’
average fleet age at 5.6 years, dramatically younger than the global
Sir Tim Clark, President Emirates Airline said, “Emirates has a global
footprint as the world's largest international airline, and we have a
responsibility to our customers, the communities we serve, and the planet.
We are fully committed to flying a modern fleet that is better for the
environment, and provides our customers with a superior level of comfort and
safety. With the retirement of older aircraft and the introduction of new,
more fuel efficient aircraft in 2016, Emirates will continue to lead the
industry in reducing the age of our fleet, while at the same time defining
new levels of service that our customers have come to expect."
Currently, the total number of aircraft in the Emirates fleet stands at 243.
In 2015, the airline received 26 new aircraft, including 15 A380s, 10 Boeing
777-300ERs and 1 Boeing 777 Freighter. The airline has 263 additional
aircraft on order, worth over US$120 billion at list prices. Its order book
includes 71 Airbus A380s, 42 Boeing 777-300ERs, 115 Boeing 777-9Xs and 35
When delivered beginning in 2020, the new Boeing 777Xs will come with a
variety of fuel efficient design additions making it almost 20% more fuel
efficient than previous models. It will also include a range of
passenger-focused amenities including larger windows, increased cabin
pressure, more humidity, higher ceilings and a wider cabin than previous
In addition to reducing the age of its fleet, Emirates argues that it also implements a
variety of other environmental practices that reduces CO2 emissions. These
include FlexTracks, a programme that plans efficient flight route patterns
based on weather conditions; single-engine taxi on the ground; idle reverse
thrust upon landing; and fuel-efficient ground handling and transportation
The trouble is that UAE airspace and the lack of space at
Dubai airport means that every night Emirates ahs a large number of
airplanes circling in the skies above the UAe for long delays. So while they
may be efficient in other areas the reality is that all the upside is wasted
by the inefficiency of the hub airport and its airspace.
But Emirates PR machine will never tell you that!
Emirates and Malaysia Airlines in significant codeshare
3 December 2015
Malaysia Airlines and Emirates have announced a new
partnership that will give their Malaysian customers access to Emirates
international network and Emirates passengers access to Malaysian's
extensive regional network.
Malaysia Airlines has been struggling for the past several
years. Legacy issues and competition from Air Asia were damaging. But the
real damage was from the loss of both MH370 and MH17; events that Malaysian
had little control over.
Malaysia Airlines has a new chief executive, Christoph Mueller, a turnaround
expert who is making some radical changes:
•Malaysia is trying to sell some of their A380s and 777s, in an effort to
transform into more of a regional airline
•The airline is in the process of laying off over 30% of their workforce
•As of a couple of months ago, Malaysia rebranded and formed a new company,
to which they’re transferring all of their assets
•Malaysia is introducing a new business class product on their A330s, in an
effort to compete long term
So the fit with Emirates is good. Malaysia transforms into a
regional carrier while directing as many passengers onto Emirates as
possible. Malaysian does fly daily to Dubai - it is not clear whether this
flight will continue to operate.
The detail in the press release stated that under the
agreement signed by Emirates’ President Sir Tim Clark and Malaysia Airlines’
Chief Executive Officer Christoph Mueller, Malaysia Airlines will add its
code on flights of Emirates to Europe, Middle East, Africa and the Americas.
In return, Emirates will add its code on flights of Malaysia Airlines to
domestic routes in Malaysia, South East Asia and selective cities across the
Asia Pacific region. The codeshare will be implemented progressively
throughout 2016 subject to regulatory approvals.
Further details, especially about reciprocal frequent flyer
plans and lounge access will be revealed over time; but the deal will give
frequent flyer benefits to members of both EK Skywards and Malaysia Enrich.
Sales under this codeshare agreement will commence from February 1 2016.
Malaysia Airines, like Qantas, is also a member of oneworld -
as oddly is Qatar Airways which arguably could lose business from this new
Time for America to wake up to Trump's nonsense
3 December 2015
Published by The Economist
For anyone unsure what sort of an event was about to unfold in Robarts
Arena, in sunny Sarasota, on November 28th, the elephant was a clue. It
stood meekly outside the entrance, a long-suffering fairground veteran, with
“Trump: Make America Great Again” chalked on its flank.
Had the thousands of fun-seekers filing past the pachyderm, most of them
grey-haired and wearing shorts, needed additional clues, there were plenty.
There was the carnival chatter inside the arena, a real holiday buzz, rising
from tightly-packed rows of seating, a column of mobility scooters and
elderly ladies—80 years old, some of them, but still game—wearing glittery
stars-and-stripes hats, badges and earrings. There was also the entrance of
the ringmaster himself.
Donald Trump, who still leads the polls in the Republican primaries, sprang
from his helicopter and asked someone to bring him “six or seven beautiful
children” to take a ride in it. (In that crowd, even ugly ones were hard to
see.) Then Mr Trump, just landed, launched directly into his speech. It was
relayed into the arena, where maybe 4,500 people faced, in bewilderment, an
empty podium, long before he entered corporeally. It was like the Wizard of
Oz, only louder.
Mr Trump would object to this portrayal. In recent days, he has castigated
the media coverage of his campaign for the Republican nomination; at a rally
in South Carolina, he spiced up one of his harangues with a mocking
impression of a disabled New York Times correspondent, shouting “You gotta
see this guy…” as he gurned and aped his crooked arms. He claims to be
serious—seriously tough, seriously clever, “the best in the world at
finance”, as he told the wrinklies in Sarasota. But Mr Trump is not at all
serious. He is a clown, and an increasingly sinister one.
His shtick is to describe a make-believe fallen America, beaten by everyone,
emasculated and immiserated by having “the worst government in the world,
there’s nobody as bad”. Then he proposes outlandish ideas to make America
great again, in Ronald Reagan’s phrase. As president, he would wall off
Mexico and make it pay for the privilege, then kick out 11m illegal
immigrants and their offspring. He would tax Chinese goods sufficiently to
get back millions of American factory jobs filched by those devious Asians.
He would seize Iraq’s oil wells and hand their revenues to the veterans of
wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and, hell, Syria, too, he told the crowd in
Florida (presumably with drone operators in mind).
Mr Trump’s ability to tell people just what they want to hear means they
forget that he was once a Democrat and pro-choice; now he is Republican and
pro-life. He used to be anti-intervention, but now wants to “bomb the hell
out of” Islamic State. He used to dislike loose guns laws, now he loves
them: “Some of those folks that were just slaughtered in Paris, if a couple
of guns were in that room and were held by the good guys, you would have had
a completely different story.”
Mr Trump can be funny; but in less than two months Republicans must start
choosing their presidential candidate. So how come 32% of them, when there
is that serious task to be done, say they want Mr Trump? One theory is they
are also clowning—that they have not yet made a firm choice, and when they
do, it will not be the billionaire builder. But Mr Trump’s persistence
suggests this is outworn, and so did his fans in Sarasota. In interviews
with over a score, most said they had made up their minds and were for
Trump. “I don’t have a second choice,” said Joan Combs, a retired
country-club manager from Long Island with glittery flags in her greying
By far the most common explanation for this strange loyalty was that Mr
Trump “tells it like it is”. That seems to confuse plain language, which Mr
Trump is good at (“Listen you motherfuckers, we’re going to tax you 25%” is
how he would talk to China), with plain speaking. He does not go in for
that. Not even he could believe the nonsense he spouts. Yet for most of his
supporters, Mr Trump’s larger-than-lifeness bridges the credulity gap.
Asked whether they believed Mr Trump’s absurd promises, many interviewees
offered the thought that “He’s a rich businessman, so he knows what he’s
doing”. Mr Trump’s biggest fans are middle-aged or older, white, rather
poorly educated and disposed to be awed by a shouty billionaire. The
interviewees included former light-blue-collar workers, retired secretaries
and nurses, a plumber, a prison officer, salesmen. When pressed, others in
the crowd acknowledged that Mr Trump’s biggest pledges, the wall, the mass
deportations and so on, are probably hokum. Nonetheless, they felt they
showed that “his heart is in the right place”.
The chauvinism Mr Trump displays when denigrating Mexicans as rapists and
Muslims as terrorists is another thing some of his supporters like. “I don’t
want any Syrians near me,” was one man’s main reason for backing Mr Trump.
“You need to take back Britain from the Pakis before you come over here,”
another volunteered, in response to being asked what the message on his
T-shirt—“It’s not that all Muslims are terrorists, it’s that all terrorists
are Muslims”—really meant.
Most of Mr Trump’s fans would probably disapprove of such rudeness. His
racism, and maybe theirs, is of a less obtrusive,
don’t-you-be-offended-by-this kind. The ninnies in Washington, not Mexicans,
are his main scapegoat; he claims to employ the latter by the thousand, and
love them. This helps supporters argue that it is not Mr Trump, bad-mouther
of women, Mexicans and the disabled, who has the problem, but rather the
politically-correct liberal zealots. “As a Christian there’s lots of things
I can’t say,” says Debbie Shiraz. “Lots of things, like ‘Merry Christmas’.”
Mr Trump is trying to rein in his offensiveness. At a rally in Alabama last
month he appeared to condone, or encourage, the roughing up of a black
protester. But when a heckler in Sarasota began to shriek, he enjoined the
crowd, with a pained expression, “Don’t hurt the person!” as she was carted
off. Nonetheless, a line has been crossed. If nothing else, Mr Trump’s ugly
racism would prevent him becoming president, because he has turned off too
much of America. Scouring the crowd in Sarasota, your correspondent found
three non-whites. One was an activist from the group Black Lives Matter, who
had come to heckle. Another was an elderly Sikh, Dr Steve Bedi, who said he
was a “guru in unconditional consciousness and how you can become a tree”,
skills he thought Mr Trump might wish to acquire. The third was Dr Bedi’s
The anxiety Mr Trump supporters betray by looking for scapegoats says most,
of course, about themselves. Typically members of the white lower
middle-class, they are at once jealous of the small privileges that
distinguish them from the toilers below, and bitterly resentful of the
faraway government that provides their Social Security and Medicare.
Remonstrating in hard times, they are the “radical centre”, in academic
jargon, who turned out for George Wallace, a populist southern Democrat who
ran for president four times in the 1960s and 70s, and for another pair of
crowd-pleasers, Pat Buchanan and Ross Perot, in the 1990s. Asked who was the
last politician to excite them like Mr Trump, several in Sarasota cited Mr
Perot. Mr Trump’s big achievement is to have entered the race with a message
already perfectly crafted for this group.
Now, as then, a fear that America is getting weaker, economically or
militarily, plays to its members’ fear of loss and change. That also plays
to a nationalistic desire for a strong hand on the tiller— for someone, as
Linda Miller, a retired accountant, said admiringly of Mr Trump, “to kick
ass and take names”.
It may seem odd to come across such bottled fury and despond among the
oldsters of the Sunshine State: they are enjoying the retirement, almost an
after-life, millions of Americans have aspired to for decades. Yet
retirement lends itself to the feelings of insecurity on which Mr Trump
preys; it is no coincidence that John Updike sent his great exemplar of the
radical centre, Rabbit Angstrom, from whose flabby mouth dripped endless
expressions of impotence, anger and glum humour, to Florida to nurse his
disappointment. “You are still you,” Rabbit reassures himself, in the
fictionalised late 1980s, under the same azure sky from which Mr Trump
descended, “The US is still the US, held together by credit cards and Indian
The anxiety of America’s disgruntled centre cuts across the Republican
coalition. Mr Trump is picking up some support from evangelical Christians
and Tea Party agitators, as well as national-security obsessives: wherever
the seam of resentment and anxiety runs. It also goes beyond it. Strikingly,
about half of those quizzed in Sarasota once voted Democratic, especially
for Bill Clinton. Shamefacedly, one man said he had even voted for Barack
This suggests that if Mr Trump wins the nomination, he might give his
opponent—especially if, as is likely, she is Hillary Clinton—a scare. That
prospect is no longer unimaginable; Mr Trump was supposed to have fizzled
long ago. Still, the size of his core support, perhaps 30% of the Republican
primary, and the opprobrium in which he is held outside it, makes it
unlikely. Mr Trump’s lead is chiefly the gift of a fractured field, in which
the steadier conservative vote is split between three or four candidates. Mr
Trump’s strong ratings, points out Nate Silver of Fivethirtyeight, represent
the views of only around 25% of the 25% of Americans who identify as
Republicans. That equates to 6-8% of the electorate—roughly the proportion
who think the Apollo moon landings were faked.
Mr Trump’s hold on American politics has been nasty, brutish and longer than
expected. Nothing about it has been pleasant; not even the appearance of the
pretty elephant in Sarasota, whose owner, it transpired, was once arrrested
for animal cruelty, and whose trainer is in the forefront of a fight for the
right to chastise elephants with sharp sticks. Almost none of Mr Trump’s
jokes are good jokes. It would be good for America if the end of him, as
seems likely, is in sight.
World Air Games 2015 in Dubai
3 December 2015
Dubai is hosting the World Air Games until 12 December 2015.
Think of it as an aviation olympics. There are a record number of 1200
athletes from 56 countries visiting for the competition hosted by Skydive
Held under the patronage of Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum,
Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of Dubai Sports Council, the World Air
Games is an international air sports event organised by FAI, the world
governing body for air sports, and inspired by the Olympic Games.
The last edition of the World Air Games was hosted by Italy in 2009
Events include aerobatics, man-powered flying, hot gas air
balloons and fuel-filled air balloons, hand-gliders, aeroplane races and
landing skills, as well as gliding, aero-modelling, helicopter races and all
sorts of parachuting and para-motor flying.
Competitions will be held across four locations in Dubai - Marina Dropzone,
Margham Dropzone, Jebel Ali racecourse and Sufooh beach - in addition to
activities at Dubai Mall Ice Rink while a medical symposium will be held at
Oddly, for a city built on aviation, neither Emirates nor
Dubai Airports appear to be in any way involved in sponsoring or hosting the
If Britain has learned anything in twelve years it should
be clear that bombing Syria is a mistake
2 December 2015
In 2003 Britain joined the US led war against Iraq.
This website made a mistake in accepting Tony Blair's
arguments in support of the war. This website was misled by apparent
evidence of weapons of mass destruction and the likelihood of their use.
Such evidence was subsequently found to be false and
misleading. The public had been duped.
Twelve years later the long awaited Chilcot report on the
Iraq war is still delayed.
Now we have a Tory Prime Minister who has sucessfully courted Parliamentary
support to launch airstrikes on ISIL targets in Syria.
In Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya,
windy rhetoric and strategic waffle have substituted for rational argument.
Cameron’s statement to Parliament is loud on values, ways of life and
examined consciences. What he does not talk about is that innocent lives
will be lost and that airstrikes on ISIL may simply be a call to arms rather
than a strategy for ISIL's defeat.
Bombing Syria has nothing to do with terrorism, except possibly to increase
the likelihood of it in Britain. It has nothing positive to contribute to
Britain’s national security, which is not currently under specific threat. The idea
that ISIL might undermine British values is an insult to those values.
The one remotely sensible objective of a resumed British engagement in the
Middle East would be to restore a modicum of order to Syria and Iraq. But as
long as the governments of neither state, nor of other states in the region,
are willing to offer troops to this end, the chances of the west succeeding
on its own are minimal – or at best likely to be temporary. So all we will
do in contribute to the continuing mess of power politics in the Middle
Trying to crush ISIL will win it
support and require a land army on the scale assembled to liberate Kuwait in
1991. Cameron has specifically said he would not join such an army, though
such pledges against mission creep are worthless. For the moment, there is
no such ground force to make bombing strategically effective. All Britain is offering is an
ugly bombing party, a gesture and a gift to the arms salesman.
There is no case for this bombing. Ed Miliband the former
Labour leader, said in a statement: “I do not think the case has been
adequately made that extending British airstrikes will either defeat Isil or
make us safer here at home. I fear he is correct.
Fear of the Thai junta now covers economic criticism
1 December 2015
Today's edition of The International New York Times was
printed with blank spaces, including on the front page, after the local
printer refused to publish an article critical of the Thai economy.
It is the second time in the last 10 weeks that the paper has said its local
printer declined to run an article in a country where media freedoms have
been increasingly curtailed since last year’s military takeover.
Today’s newspaper was supposed to carry a report headlined "Thai economy and
spirits are sagging", a wide-ranging piece exploring the junta’s inability
to kickstart the flagging economy and the disappointment felt among many
Instead chunks of the front page and page six were blank and carried the
sentence: "The article in this space was removed by our printer in Thailand.
The International New York Times and its editorial staff had no role in its
A spokeswoman for the paper gave the same reply when asked for comment.
Eastern Printing Pcl, the paper’s Thai printer, did not comment on why it
pulled the piece when contacted. The article was still accessible online in
On Sept. 22 Eastern Printing did not publish the entire newspaper because it
said the edition was "too sensitive to print".
Today’s piece primarily centred on the stuttering economy.
Thailand has one of the lowest growth rates in Southeast Asia and the
junta’s vow to reinvigorate the economy has shown little progress in a
country blighted by high household debt, low consumer confidence and
Earlier this month The International New York Times said it would cease
printing in Thailand altogether by the end of the year, citing rising
It is still available in six other Southeast Asian nations: Singapore,
Brunei, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines and Myanmar.