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  1. . The German car industry’s costly bet on electric cars could backfire as cities fight cars of any description Fri Dec 6, 2019 - The Globe and Mail Eric Reguly - European bureau chief Germany’s automakers are spending hundreds of billions of euros for the transition to electric propulsion. It is the country’s biggest industrial gamble since the Second World War – and it may not work. The auto industry is going against the wishes of consumers, who do not want electric cars, according to polls, and cannot afford them. It’s fighting unions, who suspect the phase-out of regular cars is a ruse to fire them or pay them less. And it will soon be at odds with cities, which of course prefer electric cars to emission-spewing ones but would rather have no cars at all, because their streets are clogged to the point of paralysis. Volkswagen alone expects to spend €60-billion ($88-billion) on electric, hybrid and digital technology in the next five years, the equivalent of almost 70 per cent of its stock-market value. The company intends to have eight MEB – modular electric drive – plants humming away on three continents by 2022. It calls its strategy an “electric offensive,” as if it’s going to war against its own fleet of traditional cars. Good luck, Volkswagen, Daimler (owner of Mercedes-Benz) and BMW. The electric bet is a lot riskier than it appears. Let’s start with demand. In Germany, Europe’s top car market, a mere 16 per cent of drivers are thinking about buying an electric car, according to a September poll commissioned by electric utility E.ON. But even in the countries that most like the idea – Italy and Romania – only a bit more than a third of drivers would consider going electric. No wonder so few electric cars are rolling out of showrooms. In Germany, just 420,000 of the country’s private fleet of 47 million cars were electric or hybrids at the end of 2018, according to Bloomberg. Their market-penetration rate is similar elsewhere. Ontario has about 12 million vehicles, but only 41,000 of them are electric. The provincial government’s environment plan assumes that number will rise to 1.3 million by 2030 – a fantasy figure, all the more so since Premier Doug Ford ended the hefty purchase incentives for zero-emission cars last year. Range anxiety has a lot to do with buyers’ hesitation, as do the lengthy recharging times and the dearth of charging points on highways and in cities. While the range of some electric models is now competitive with that of gas- or diesel-powered cars, their prices are still outrageous. An electric Volkswagen Golf starts at €32,900 in Italy (where I live), before government incentives; the entry-level Golf with a gas engine costs €22,250. To be sure, the price of electric cars will come down, broadening their appeal somewhat, even if regular cars will always be cheaper. Here’s the problem – and it’s a biggie: Electric cars make the most sense in cities, not in rural areas, because their regenerative braking systems make their urban ranges better than their highway ranges. But cities everywhere are trying to repel cars, not attract them. Today, about 55 per cent of the world’s population lives in cities. By 2050, the proportion will rise to two-thirds, the United Nations says. Since most of these cities, from London to Beijing, suffer from terrible air pollution, it’s in their best interests to develop environmentally clean transportation. But that does not necessarily mean opening the city gates to electric or autonomous cars, which will be mostly electric. There’s no room for more cars of any description. To ban or restrict diesel cars, which some cities are doing, makes sense for air quality, but it makes no sense if they’re simply replaced by electric cars that keep traffic at a standstill. The point is that electric cars have the pollution advantage in precisely the areas – cities – where there should be no cars at all. If the sales projections of German automakers assume saturation market share for electric cars among urban buyers over the next decades, they may be horribly wrong. Cities will buy electric and hybrid buses and electric trams. The biggest municipalities will expand their subway systems. If cities want to be livable, there is no alternative. In 2020, Luxembourg will become the first country to make all public transportation – trains, trams and buses – free. The country has the most cars per capita in the European Union, and its traffic congestion is horrendous. It doesn’t want commuters to use any cars, even electric ones. Some of the big cities in Europe are bound to follow its example. Have the German car companies overestimated the potential popularity of electric cars? The tiny market share of such vehicles suggests they have, and the inevitable launch of anti-car campaigns could keep their sales from soaring. Still, they plan to spend fortunes developing zero-emission cars. Here’s a guess: The German government, which already hands out lavish purchase incentives for electric cars, will have to come to their rescue in a few years as these products sit in showrooms. .
  2. . IATA chief says aviation industry will counter flight shaming movement Tue Nov 5, 2019 - Reuters by Ahmed Hagagy The aviation industry is to launch a campaign it hopes will counter a ‘flight shaming’ movement that has weakened demand for air travel in Europe where some travellers are increasingly concerned about their environmental impact. The industry’s image has been damaged this year by a growing Swedish-born movement led by activists such as teenager Greta Thunberg calling for greater action against climate change, including ditching air travel. Global lobby International Air Transport Association (IATA), which represents nearly 300 airlines, is co-ordinating the campaign which will involve industry stakeholders. “We will launch a very, very big campaign ... to explain what we have done, what we are doing, and what we intend to do in the future,” IATA’s head Alexandre de Juniac told Reuters in an interview in Kuwait on Tuesday. The campaign will try to explain to the public how the industry is reducing its environmental impact, countering what de Juniac said had been “misleading information.” IATA is co-ordinating the plan through the Air Transport Action Group, a coalition of industry organizations and companies. De Juniac did not say when the campaign would launch but said it would be available to stakeholders across the industry including airports and airlines. Flight shaming has dented demand in Europe, particularly in northern parts but also in the United Kingdom, France, and Germany. “It’s difficult to measure and beyond European borders we have seen nothing but it will come,” de Juniac said. Commercial flying accounts for about 2.5% of global carbon emissions today but without concrete steps to alleviate the problem, that number could rise as global air travel increases. The aviation industry has already cut carbon emissions from each plane traveller in half since 1990, largely thanks to more fuel-efficient aircraft, and has a plan to cut net emissions by 2050 and achieve carbon-neutral growth from 2020. Airlines have warned of the negative impact of the flight shaming movement and some have criticized the industry for so far failing to explain itself. Emirates President Tim Clark said in October the industry had to do a better job addressing the issue, highlighting improvements in technology that have reduced the carbon footprint of aircraft. .
  3. . Air Canada plans to hire 350 pilots ahead of eventual Boeing 737 Max return Airline had to cancel relatively few flights after Max grounding, but needed to lease planes Tue Oct 29, 2019 - CBC News Air Canada's shares hit an all-time high Tuesday even though its earnings fell slightly below expectations last quarter as the grounding of the Boeing 737 Max continues to weigh down the country's largest airline. The Montreal-based company's earnings fell slightly below expectations last quarter, but shares hit a high of $48.09 on the Toronto Stock Exchange and sat at about four per cent or $1.83 at $47.55 in mid-afternoon trading. Chief executive Calin Rovinescu said once authorities lift the airspace ban it could take up to a year for all 50 Max jetliners slated to be in operation by mid-2020 to hit the skies. Air Canada says it plans to hire 350 pilots next year in anticipation of the return of the Boeing 737 Max "This is a process that will indeed be gradual. This is not an overnight process," he said. Rovinescu cited "the serious disruption to our overall operations and to our cost structure and profitability" caused by the now eight-month grounding of the 24 Max planes in its fleet and 12 more that had been slated for delivery by mid-2019. "The removal of thirty-six 737 Max aircraft, or about 24 per cent of our narrow-body fleet, from our schedule during our peak summer season exacted a toll," he said on a conference call with analysts Tuesday. Rovinescu's reiteration of the "extremely challenging and complex situation" of the 737 Max came less than an hour before Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg sat down for withering questions from U.S. senators about two fatal crashes and whether the company concealed information about a critical flight system. "We have made mistakes, and we got some things wrong," Muilenburg conceded. While the carrier covered more than 95 per cent of planned flying in the third quarter, it was forced to lease two Airbus A330s on top of leases and life extensions for other aircraft that are less fuel efficient than the Max 8. The Max 737 has been grounded since a March crash in Ethiopia, which occurred just over four months after another model went down off the coast of Indonesia. A total of 346 people died in the two incidents, with 18 Canadians killed in the Ethiopian crash. Air Canada has removed the Max from its flight schedule until at least Feb. 14, while WestJet Airlines Ltd. has ruled the aircraft's return until Jan. 4 but is mulling an extension. 'Gradual' process of reintegration expected The 12 undelivered Max aircraft now sit on Boeing lots, delaying Air Canada's hiring of pilots — the company currently has about 400 Max pilots, relegated to training for the time being. Fourteen more Max 8s were slated for delivery in the first half of 2020, but may now be pushed back. The company will be able to remove about 15 planes from its fleet over the next 12 to 15 months, on top of the two A330s, chief financial officer Michael Rousseau estimated. "This is a process that will indeed be gradual. This is not an overnight process," Rovinescu said, noting it could be up to a year after the airspace ban is scrapped before all 50 Max jetliners are in operation. Analyst Walter Spracklin of RBC Dominion Securities said the effects of the grounding were to be "most significantly felt" in third quarter, when capacity is tightest. However, he said the cost impact was not as bad as had been expected. "The key takeaway in this quarter from our perspective is that Air Canada has demonstrated that it can successfully manage a significant external event through better pricing and nimble cost management to achieve strong results," Spracklin said in a note to investors. Rare decline in capacity Doug Taylor, an analyst with Canaccord Genuity, highlighted how "the company has been able to effectively pass the added costs through to customers." Net income fell nine per cent year over year to $636 million in the quarter ended Sept. 30. Revenue dropped three per cent to $5.53 billion. On an adjusted basis, earnings per diluted share rose to $2.27, up from $2.10 a year earlier but below analyst expectations of $2.34, according to financial markets data firm Refinitiv. Aircraft fuel, which comprises close to one-quarter of Air Canada's operating expenses, cost the company $1.09 billion last quarter, 11 per cent less in the third quarter of 2018. The company saw capacity decline year over year for the first time in several years, but expects capacity growth of three per cent in the fourth quarter, said chief commercial officer Lucie Guillemette. Revenue from high-yield business cabin passengers increased by $33 million or nearly four per cent year over year. Domestic passenger revenues rose by $123 million or nearly nine per cent despite a slight capacity reduction, with a new fare category adding to a higher yield. Rovinescu said he hopes Air Canada's acquisition of Transat A.T. Inc., which shareholders approved overwhelmingly in August, will receive regulatory approval by mid-2020 following heavy scrutiny from the Competition Bureau. .
  4. . I just took the world's first 20-hour flight. Here’s what it did to me and why I would take it again Flying laboratory explored ways to reduce soul-crushing, body-buckling jet lag Mon Oct 21, 2019 - Blooberg News Angus Whitley I’ve just endured the world’s newest longest flight, a 16,200 kilometre (10,100 mile), nonstop ultra-marathon from New York to Sydney. It took about 19 and a half hours, and was almost as demanding as that sounds. The record-breaking Qantas Airways Ltd. flight touched down early Sunday morning in Australia. The Boeing Co. Dreamliner delivered its few dozen passengers — including yours truly — to their destination more or less intact, even if some of us were not quite sure what day it was. Qantas wants to begin flying the time-saving route commercially as soon as 2022, so the airline used this test trip to explore ways to reduce its inevitable downside: Soul-crushing, body-buckling jet lag. Here’s how my journey unfolded in real time. Off the Ground Our plane has just left JFK International Airport, and it’s already become a flying laboratory. Since the goal is to adapt to our destination’s time zone as fast as possible, we click into the Sydney clock right off the bat. That means no snoozing. The lights stay up and we’re under instructions to stay awake for at least six hours — until it’s evening in Australia. This immediately causes trouble for some passengers. Down one side of the business-class section, six Qantas frequent flyers are following a pre-planned schedule for eating and drinking (including limiting alcohol), exercise and sleep. They wear movement and light readers on their wrists and have been asked to log their activities; they’ve already been under observation for a few days and will be monitored for 21 days in total. Most of them are bingeing on movies or reading books, but one of them is dozing within minutes. To be fair, I feel his pain. It may be the middle of the day in Sydney, but my body is telling me it’s pushing midnight back in New York. Two Hours In It’s feeding time, and a key moment in the experiment. The specially designed dishes are supposed to fire me up, and a flavorful serving of poached prawns with chili and lime is like a gentle culinary slap in the face. Spicy Chinese-style cod with jasmine rice and sesame seeds repeats the explosive action. I’m momentarily awake. The plane’s 40 passengers, including media, are all in business class: With so few passengers, nobody needs to travel economy. In an interview, chief executive Alan Joyce tells me the real Project Sunrise flights — if they go ahead — will have more legroom in economy than standard planes, and there will be some space at the back of the aircraft for stretching. The six human guinea pigs at the heart of the research are seated on one side of the cabin. I want to do my own set of tests to see how my body is holding up. Poached prawns with chili and lime, designed to wake passengers up. Angus Whitley/Bloomberg After speaking to a travel doctor in Sydney before the trip, I’m armed with equipment to monitor my blood pressure, heart rate and oxygen-saturation levels. I’ve also got a memory test and a mood questionnaire. I want to see if a flight this long impairs my brain or dims my spirits. The three-hourly tests I take during the first half of the flight reflect the demands of this trip. My blood pressure is elevated, though not high, and my heart rate picking up. My mood is light, though darkening very gradually. Three Hours In The physical pressure of this experiment is clear. Around me, passengers are standing up just to stay awake. The crew have been asked to keep sleep diaries, and to use iPads to rate their fatigue, reaction times, workload and stress. That dozy frequent flyer at the front of the plane is asleep, again. While I’m finding this regime fairly challenging — and I’m not even in a do-it-tough economy seat — I try to keep things in perspective. After I first wrote about this upcoming flight last week, one reader emailed to urge me into a stouter mindset. During the Korean War in the early 1950s, he said, he regularly flew 40-hour reconnaissance missions with crew rotations every six hours. “Man up,” the 83-year-old told me. Point taken. Four Hours In Marie Carroll, a professor at the University of Sydney who’s overseeing the passenger research on the flight, rallies her troops at the back of the plane. “This is the time, guys, when we really have to work through this,” she tells them. Moments later, they’re leaning against the food trolleys in the galley, stretching. Next, they perform upright press-ups among the empty economy sets. As a finale, they attempt synchronized dance moves in the aisles. All in the name of science. It looks like cabaret, but beating jet lag is serious business. Beyond the sleepless nights and daytime fatigue, experts say critical processes including heart function and metabolism are upset when the body clock gets disrupted. Seven Hours In A second meal arrives. For me, being fed twice in a relatively quick succession has really helped time pass quickly during the first part of the flight. This part of the menu should mean the next few hours slip by too: It’s heavy on carbohydrates and designed to send us to sleep. The sweet potato soup with creme fraiche is thick and luxurious, the toasted cheese sandwich less so. The chef on the plane tells me he’s been preparing our meals for three days. The lights are dimmed at last, and it feels like I’ve been released. I crash for six hours straight. That’s longer than I can remember sleeping without waking on any other flight, even with the business-class privilege of a flat bed. Fourteen Hours In Across the board, my own medical tests suggest I’m coping. My blood pressure, which the doctor in Sydney said would be a good gauge of stress and fatigue, is back to normal. My heart’s pumping slower, I ace my memory test, and my questionnaire shows my mood is brighter. The research on the passengers and crew will feed into Project Sunrise, Qantas’s plan to start direct commercial services connecting Sydney with New York and London. Other super-long flights from Australia’s eastern seaboard to South America and Africa might follow, Qantas says. On board, Joyce tells me he’ll “absolutely” roll out this flight’s regime on his other long routes — if the science shows it helps. The trick is accommodating those who want to drink and snooze at will, Joyce says. But don’t go booking your round-the-world flights just yet. Qantas needs new planes from Boeing or Airbus SE that can do the job with a full load of passengers, and a new deal with crew to work longer than 20 hours. “It needs everything to come together,” Joyce says. He initially had dreams of turning these super-long flights into flying hotels, with sleeping berths or a work-out zone. That vision gave way to reality when profit margins proved too tight to waste space on such luxuries. Our plane doesn’t have the range to haul a full load of passengers with luggage to Sydney. It took off with its fuel tanks maxed out — about 101 tons. To keep the weight down, there’s no cargo, and food and drink are limited. In New York, the captain had seemed confident we’d make it to Sydney with gas to spare. He planned on landing with six tons of fuel, enough to stay airborne for another 90 minutes. Seventeen Hours In Breakfast time, and there’s no limp sausage. Instead, it’s a bowl of ancient grains, avocado puree, warm haloumi cheese and a herb salad. This flight is turning everything on its head. One of the frequent flyers, Sydney-based investor Nick Mole, says he got almost eight hours’ sleep and feels good. What about a full day’s work after landing? “I probably could do that,” he says. He thinks the bigger test will be how he copes in a couple of days. A view of Sydney from on board the Dreamliner. Angus Whitley/Bloomberg Preparing to Land I feel better now than I did after flying to New York from Sydney a few days ago with one stop. The dozen or so hours it took to reach Los Angeles were followed by a grating hour and a half queuing at immigration with hundreds of other zombified travelers. As our plane approaches its destination, Joyce addresses everybody on board. He tells us the flight has given him more confidence that Project Sunrise can work. And come Sunday lunchtime in Sydney, I’m feeling jaded but far from debilitated. I even make it through a children’s birthday party, surely an acid test of anyone’s nerves. Personally, I would choose a direct Sydney-New York flight over one with a layover. But it won’t suit everyone: It took discipline and work to stick to the no-sleep routine in the first half of this flight. There may be a benefit to switching to the destination time immediately, but it comes at a price. I feel like I had to earn it. The author traveled to New York at Bloomberg’s expense to join the Qantas flight back to Sydney.
  5. . When it comes to electric vehicles, where do parties stand? Wed Oct 16, 2019 - The Globe and Mail by Neil Vorano Climate policy is at the forefront of the coming federal election. All the major parties have their own take on reducing emissions, including tax credits, bans on single-use plastics, promises on renewable energy and even plans to retrain fossil-fuel workers for the renewable energy sector. But with transportation making up 29 per cent of emissions in the United States in 2017, according to an EPA study, and light-duty vehicles making up 59 per cent of that, electric cars could be an important step in making change. But when it comes to the future of electric cars in Canada, which party will lead the charge? Here are the positions of each major party when it comes to zero-emission vehicles on our roads. Liberals The Liberal government’s last budget in March earmarked $130-million over five years to advance both electric charging and hydrogen fuel stations across the country for EVs and fuel cell vehicles, which would include workplaces, remote locations and other public areas. As well, an added $300-million over three years would be set aside to provide incentives of up to $5,000 for buyers of zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs) under $45,000, or ZEVs below $55,000 with seven seats or more. Another $5-million would go to Transport Canada to work with automakers to set sales targets for EVs in the coming years. All of this works toward the party’s target of making EVs 30 per cent of all light vehicles on the road by 2030 . Conservatives Perhaps tellingly, a climate change debate scheduled for Oct. 16 at the University of Ottawa was cancelled because the Conservatives refused to participate. Of all the parties, the Conservatives have given us the least to look forward to when it comes to zero-emission vehicles. During a French language debate on Oct. 2, leader Andrew Scheer said that the party will continue the federal EV rebate program until the end of its schedule. He then quickly pivoted to talk of producing more Canadian gasoline. And let’s not forget Ontario’s short-lived $14,000 EV rebate, which was set up by former premier Kathleen Wynne and almost immediately cancelled when Conservative leader Doug Ford took office. The only nod to green vehicles from the Conservatives is their promise to work on developing electric vehicle technology, although there’s no definitive plan or budget. NDP Party leader Jagmeet Singh is a proponent of financial incentives for ZEVs, saying they will start at the same Liberal target of $5,000, as well as waiving the federal sales tax. But the party also promises to raise those incentives eventually to a whopping $15,000 to buyers. The caveat? The vehicles must be made in Canada, which means consumers have just one choice: the Windsor, Ont.-built Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivan. Of course, this is a move to appeal to the Canadian Auto Workers union, but it’s highly unlikely – actually, pretty well impossible – that this will push automakers to move their ZEV production to Canada. The party also vows to convert government fleets to ZEVs, create what they call a ‘centre of excellence’ for ZEV research and development, expand the public charging network and give further incentives of $600 for home chargers, all toward a target of 100 per cent ZEVs on Canadian roads by 2040. Greens There are more incentives here, although not as many as you might expect. Leader Elizabeth May also vows to waive the federal sales tax on both new and used ZEV purchases. The party also plans to expand charging stations around the country, especially at government facilities, although there is no specific plan or budget. One oddity: While the Greens are promising to convert all Canada Post vehicles to EVs, there is no mention in their platform of any financial incentive for consumers to purchase battery powered vehicles, which is strange coming from a party whose entire platform – its existence, even – revolves around saving the planet. In summary From a purely consumer standpoint of someone who wants to put an electric vehicle in their driveway, the Liberals are the best bet by far, while the Conservatives don’t even merit a blip on the radar. But beyond financial incentives and infrastructure investment, there is one surefire way to get more Canadians into electric cars, and that’s by doubling or even tripling the price of gasoline. Unfortunately, every politician of any party stripe knows even the mere mention of that is political suicide. . .
  6. . Swiss Air grounds Airbus A220 jets after finding engine faults Tues., Oct. 15, 2019 - Bloomberg News Richard Weiss Deutsche Lufthansa AG’s Swiss has grounded its fleet of Airbus SE A220 jets after discovering technical faults with the model’s Pratt & Whitney-manufactured engines. The airline said it would suspend flights of the planes while carrying out inspections of the turbines. The move would lead to multiple flight cancellations, the carrier said. Swiss said it was talking to regulators, Pratt and Airbus about issues with the plane formerly known as the Bombardier Inc. C Series, now owned by the European airplane manufacturer. The carrier has suffered multiple incidents with the A220, including an engine failure on July 25 during a flight from Geneva to London when part of the turbine disintegrated over Paris. “Together with the engine maker we are supporting our customer in its daily operations,” an Airbus spokesman said by email. As of Sept. 30, Airbus had delivered 20 A220-300 models to the airline, as well as nine of the smaller A220-100 variants, making the unit of Lufthansa the largest operator of the aircraft. .
  7. . Drunken passenger jailed for 'vile' behaviour on transatlantic flight Fri Oct 04, 2019 - CBC News Blair Rhodes A drunken airline passenger has been sentenced to 30 days in a Nova Scotia jail for what a judge described as "vile and disturbing" behaviour on a flight that was forced to divert to Halifax. The Condor Airlines plane was en route from Frankfurt to Varadero, Cuba, on June 3, 2018, when three passengers became unruly. The behaviour of one of those passengers, Alexandros Moustakas, prompted the pilot to divert the plane. According to an agreed statement of facts entered at his sentencing in Nova Scotia provincial court in Dartmouth, Moustakas, 48, had brought liquor onto the plane and was drinking, despite being told not to. When the flight crew refused to serve him any more, his two travelling companions bought him additional drinks and slipped them to him. The court heard that at one point, Moustakas deliberately smashed his iPad. A crew member took it from him for fear the batteries could explode. Threats of violence At that point, Moustakas became verbally abusive. "This dirty w---e, I hit her in her stupid foreign face. I don't care if I break her jaw," he said, according to an English translation of comments he made in German. "As soon as we land on Cuban soil, I hit her in the face as there is no German law anymore." Moustakas went on to make sexualized threats against the woman and also gave the Nazi salute. He grabbed a second attendant, pinned her arm behind her back and forced her head down to her knees. When the announcement was made that the plane was diverting, Moustakas and his two travelling companions stormed the plane's galley to protest. He snatched a drink that had been prepared for another passenger and downed it. He then returned to his seat, telling another passenger he would "finish" him when the plane eventually reached Cuba. Judge says safety of crew and passengers was at risk Despite the violence and the threats, Moustakas was only charged with two offences under the Aeronautics Act, not the Criminal Code. "The vile infliction of sexualized verbal and physical violence against helpless and defenseless flight crew members, while in flight, thousands of miles in the air over the Atlantic Ocean, restricted in the small confines of an aircraft, with over two hundred passengers on board, is extremely aggravating as it put the safety and security of the flight crew and passengers at risk," Judge Frank Hoskins said in his decision. The judge noted that Moustakas had no criminal record and he accepted a defence argument that he has poor impulse control and that condition contributed to his behaviour on the flight. .
  8. . ‘Flying is not the enemy’: Airline emissions to take centre stage in Montreal before protest led by Greta Thunberg Aviation leaders under pressure to do more after overall carbon emissions hit record highs last year Tue Sep 24, 2019 - Financial Post 'She seems like a very happy young girl' MONTREAL — A global deal to curb carbon emissions from flying will take centre stage when the U.N. aviation agency’s triennial assembly opens on Tuesday in Montreal under the shadow of protests led by Swedish activist Greta Thunberg later in the week. The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), which holds an assembly every three years, set out a major climate initiative at its last full gathering in 2016, but aviation leaders are under pressure to do more after overall carbon emissions hit record highs last year. The plan, known as the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA) and the first of its kind for a single industry, is a medium-term scheme to help airlines avoid adding to their net emissions from 2020. Airlines, which are facing public protests over the issue, have urged ICAO to commit now to setting longer-term goals to reduce emissions at its 2022 assembly. “It is possible at the same time to fly and to reduce our carbon footprint,” said International Air Transport Association (IATA) director general Alexandre de Juniac, on a conference call with reporters. “Flying is not the enemy.” Thunberg, the teenage climate activist who admonished world leaders at the U.N. General Assembly in New York for failing to protect the environment, will lead a street protest in Montreal on Friday. Commercial flying accounts for 2.5 per cent of carbon emissions. With passenger numbers forecast to double to 8.2 billion by 2037, experts say emissions will rise if no action is taken. The United States, which quit the Paris accord in 2017, backs the U.N.-negotiated CORSIA, which is supported by most airlines and would cap rising aviation emissions at 2020 levels through the purchase of carbon offsets. However, U.S. support is tied to other major aviation countries also backing the plan and a guarantee that CORSIA would prevent airlines from being subjected to separate and more costly carbon tax schemes by individual countries, a U.S. State Department official said. Europe, meanwhile, wants to keep its right to run separate emissions schemes. “We support CORSIA being a first step, a minimum at this stage,” said Pascal Canfin, chair of the environment committee of the European Parliament. “But we believe our sovereignty allows us to be more ambitious if we wish to be so, and this is something that all ICAO members should respect,” Canfin said. Allowing other offsetting programs would put a “double charge” on airlines and could weaken other countries’ resolve to participate in CORSIA, de Juniac said. He added that he did not believe Europe’s actions would put U.S. resolve for the deal at risk. ICAO cannot impose regulations but sets standards that are approved by its 193 member countries. The assembly runs from Sept. 24 through Oct. 4. .
  9. . The airline bosses who will welcome Cook's fall Sun 22 Sep 2019 - The Telegraph Oliver Gill Whisper it – especially when there’s 21,000 jobs on the line and 600,000 holidaymakers stranded – but there will be plenty of people in the airlines sector quietly rejoicing at Thomas Cook’s collapse. Harsh? Yes. True? Absolutely. Overcapacity. It’s a curious buzzword that has been doing the rounds in the industry for some time. Crudely put, the European aviation market has too many flights chasing too few customers. Even more crudely, there are not enough bums to put on plane seats – and that’s not just because they are getting smaller (the seats, not the bums). Thomas Cook, which ceased trading early on Monday, will do its bit in addressing an imbalance between supply and demand. Take-off and landing slots will be swallowed up quickly – and Thomas Cook has some attractive ones. There are 200 at Gatwick and 350 at Manchester. Who’d buy them? One can’t help but think that Virgin Atlantic would be at the front of the queue. With Sir Richard Branson only a minority – rather than majority – shareholder, Virgin executives have exhibited a feisty approach in recent weeks. The Gatwick slots are valuable enough on a stand-alone basis. Meanwhile, the Manchester ones could come in handy for Flybe – which is now effectively Virgin’s domestic UK arm – allowing it to connect passengers from the rest of Britain with Heathrow. All in all, a perfect springboard for Virgin’s new(ish) boss Shai Weiss to lay down a marker. Last week, he revealed grand plans to expand Virgin’s destination list from 19 to more than 100. When (or is it if?) Heathrow’s third runway is built, Weiss wants Virgin to be first in the queue to soak up the extra slots. Virgin, which staff on its inaugural A350 transatlantic flight insisted is a jolly nice place to work, isn’t afraid on capitalising on others’ misfortune. Striking a distinctly cut-throat tone, Weiss told journalists in New York that Virgin had made “millions” by flying British Airways passengers to and from the US during recent strikes by the flag carrier’s pilots. Many other airlines stand to benefit from Thomas Cook’s malaise. EasyJet, which was dumped out of the FTSE 100 index of leading UK shares earlier this year, has seen its profits squeezed. Lufthansa and Air France KLM, which admittedly operate under a different model, may also be granted some breathing space and be able to increase prices. Another beneficiary could be Norwegian Air, the debt-laden low-cost carrier that a year ago a majority would have said was the most likely candidate to be the next big airline insolvency. It’s now in the hands of Geir Karlsen, a beancounter, rather than swashbuckling former fighter pilot Bjorn Kjos – and things may be looking up. Last week Karlsen struck a key deal to delay repaying around £300m of corporate bonds. His plan is to get the airline back in the black by 2020. With a spending spree on new planes at an end, and creditors kept at bay, the financially focused Karlsen will welcome the chance to nudge fares up a touch. No one wants to see people lose their livelihoods, holiday plans ruined and a repatriation effort that’s estimated to cost £600m. But once the dust has settled – however this sad saga plays out – many of Europe’s airline bosses may well be breathing a big sigh of relief and quietly saying to themselves ‘Thank goodness’. Stag-do fliers beware Every time an airline fails the Civil Aviation Authority trots out a very similar line: contact your credit card provider to get your money back on flight bookings. The idea is that if a service can’t be delivered, you should be able to get a refund from your plastic friend under consumer rights laws. But watch out. Experts are warning that an insolvency the size of Thomas Cook will likely lead to a flood of claims. Those clever heads at the credit card firms may be able to wangle their way out of stumping up the cash. There are already warnings that you might not get your money back on group bookings. Families shouldn’t be a problem. But a stag do? The banks might be able to argue that only the purchaser’s flight is covered. The rest of the booking is akin to a cash transaction between said purchaser and the rest of his rabble. It’s rarely fun to be the person arranging a stag do. Here’s another reason not to do it. Slaughtered journalists One can only think that despite the dire situation, Thomas Cook top brass and its creditors must have had at least a little chuckle to themselves at the thought of a scrum of journalists standing outside the offices of City law firm Slaughter and May. The time and location of the pivotal meeting had been leaked late on Saturday night. What did they do? Moved to the headquarters of one its rivals, namely Latham & Watkins, just across the Square Mile. It couldn’t have been a ruse all along. Could it? .
  10. . Lone Boeing 737 Max criss-crossed Canada for pilot checks during grounding Wed Sep 18, 2019 - Reuters Allison Lampert and Tim Hepher MONTREAL/PARIS - While the world’s Boeing 737 Max fleet remains grounded after two fatal crashes, a solitary Air Canada plane has been spotted in the skies, shuttling between Quebec and Ontario. In a rare exemption, approved by Canadian aviation regulator Transport Canada, the 11 flights in August and September were partly to maintain the qualifications of senior training pilots, Air Canada told Reuters in response to a query about flight tracking data. A spokesman for Air Canada said the airline was not able to use similar 737s within its fleet “to maintain check pilot authority in alignment with (Canadian aviation regulations)”. “So we are utilizing the 737 Max during planned maintenance movements to maintain qualification.” Between Aug 28 and Sept 8, the Air Canada Max plane criss-crossed between Montreal, Val d’Or, Quebec and North Bay, Ontario, data from Tracking website FlightRadar24 shows. Then last week, it was flown to Pinal Airpark in Arizona to be parked in a desert storage site. Although unusual after the grounding imposed worldwide in March amid concerns over an anti-stall system, the flights highlight growing pressures facing some airlines as they prepare for the return to service of the 400-plane Boeing fleet. The planes have been sitting idle since March following two crashes in the space of five months. For airlines like Air Canada, which did not have earlier versions of Boeing 737s in their fleets, this has made it difficult to make sure pilots can demonstrate the skills required to retain their licenses. As North America’s sole Max operator which had not flown the earlier 737NG, Air Canada cannot use that model to maintain the qualifications of its check or trainer pilots, the company said. So regulator Transport Canada authorized a select group of Air Canada’s check pilots to fly the grounded jet, which was also conducting maintenance flights, the airline said. All the jets have the same control software suspected of contributing to the accidents, which Boeing is now in the process of revising to smooth its impact. However, some pilots have said existing procedures can prevent similar accidents. Boeing declined to comment. MARKET BATTLE Transport Canada said in an e-mail that it authorized the flights “because the carrier does not operate the Boeing 737 NG aircraft, but the pilots still need to maintain currency.” However, one U.S. carrier questioned by Reuters said such flights would not be possible in the United States where pilot training was not included in a list of exemptions to the ban issued by the Federal Aviation Administration. “Pilot currency isn’t a listed exemption in the U.S. order,” an FAA spokeswoman confirmed. North American Max operators, including Southwest Airlines, American Airlines, United Airlines and Canada’s WestJet Airlines, said they would only move their Max jets for maintenance and storage purposes. Air Canada’s position as a newly-converted 737 operator follows a seven-year battle between Boeing and Airbus over the introduction of airplanes offering bold new fuel savings. The introduction of the Max, an upgrade of earlier 737 models with advanced new engines, coincided with a bitter contest for market share between Boeing and Europe’s Airbus, which was offering its similar A320neo. The feud saw both plane makers use the transition to a new generation of jets to try to poach each other’s customers, and traders said Air Canada’s 2013 decision to switch from Airbus’s A320 family to Boeing’s 737 Max stood out as a major defection. Now, the decision to switch suppliers potentially weighs on some of those same airlines as they cope without a 737 fleet. Boeing has predicted that the 737 Max will be cleared to take passengers early next quarter. The FAA, facing growing international scrutiny over its certification processes, has said it cannot give a precise date for the approval of software and training changes carried out in the wake of the two accidents, which killed 346 people. FAA chief Stephen Dickson plans to fly to Seattle this week to test modified 737 Max software in a simulator. .
  11. Might be prudent to top up before Monday... Saudi Arabia oil production reduced by drone strikes
  12. . The DB pension plan business model has failed – and everyone is paying the price Tue Sep 10, 2019 - The Globe and Mail by Brent Simmons - Senior Managing Director & Head, Defined Benefit Solutions at Sun Life For the past 20 years, many private-sector companies across Canada followed the same risky strategies for their defined-benefit (DB) pension plans as they did in previous decades. Unfortunately, over this time these strategies cost stakeholders almost $158-billion and jeopardized the retirement security of millions of Canadians. As a result, many companies have abandoned these perilous approaches, but a surprising number have not. To better understand why new strategies are needed, think of the DB pension plan as a division of the company – the DB Pension Division. A company’s employees lend the DB Pension Division money in the form of deferred wages. In return, the company promises to provide a pension to those employees when they retire. Until then, the DB Pension Division invests this money with the goal of being able to pay these promised pensions. However, many DB Pension Divisions are investing this money in a way that’s mismatched from the bond-like promises they made to employees. They make bets on equity markets and interest rates in the hopes of generating excess returns that will make it cheaper to pay these promised pensions. Imagine – what do you think would happen if you went to your CFO and told her that you had a great idea for a new business. You want to borrow money and invest it in the equity markets to generate excess returns for shareholders. I suspect you’d find that it would be a pretty short and career-limiting conversation! So why would this idea work for a DB pension plan? What’s clear is that for the past 20 years, it has not. After a lot of ups and downs, the average DB Pension Division is essentially in the same place that it was 20 years ago from a funded-status perspective. In fact, the typical company contributed significant dollars to its DB Pension Division during this period. According to Statistics Canada, companies in Canada contributed almost $158-billion between 1999 and 2018 to shore up deficits in their pension plans. This means that a typical DB Pension Division earned a negative return – destroying value for shareholders who invested in the company. If the business model had been successful, the typical DB Pension Division would be well over 100-per-cent funded by now and these $158-billion of contributions wouldn’t have been required. It’s not surprising that some DB Pension Divisions stuck with their historical business models over the past 20 years. After all, interest rates were at historic lows and were widely expected to rise and equity markets had a long history of providing excess returns. So why didn’t things turn out as expected? The business model involves making multiple bets on equity markets, interest rates, credit conditions, foreign exchange rates and life expectancy. Companies need to win all these bets consistently as the gains from good bets can be wiped out by the losses from bad bets. Making multiple successful bets with the DB Pension Division is very hard to do – especially given the increased unpredictability of the markets over the past 20 years. In addition, most companies rely on the same investment managers as their competitors, which doesn’t create a competitive advantage for their shareholders. Given these challenges, many forward-thinking companies are concluding that the DB Pension Division’s business model no longer works – an appropriate conclusion for a division that’s been losing money for 20 years. The first step these companies take is realizing it’s better to take risk in their core business rather than in the DB Pension Division. General Motors was one of the first companies to articulate this strategy. In 2012 Jim Davlin, vice-president of finance and treasurer at General Motors, said: “We’re in the business of making great cars – that’s our core competency. It’s not managing pension investments to provide a lifetime income to folks.” The second step these companies take is changing the business model of their DB pension plan to embrace better risk management. These companies are investing plan assets to match liabilities and/or transferring portions of their plans to insurers through the purchase of annuities. The bottom line? Everybody pays the price for a failed DB Pension Division. Let’s not lose track of why we created pension plans in the first place – to help Canadians be ready for retirement. Isn’t it time to adopt better risk management and switch to a business model that works? .
  13. . Air Canada’s Transat takeover looks shakier than ever to investors Tue Aug 27, 2019 - Bloomberg News After battling a rival bid, Transat A.T. and Air Canada Inc. now have one more thing to worry about. The gap between Transat’s share price and Air Canada’s takeover bid is sitting at the widest ever — indicating investors aren’t confident the deal will get done. Canada’s transport minister Marc Garneau said Monday that officials need until May to review the proposed acquisition in order to ascertain whether the deal is in the best interest of the public. Transat’s stock closed Monday at $15.97 (US$12.07), more than $2 below Air Canada’s offer of $18 a share or $720 million. That was raised earlier this month from $13 in an attempt to fend off an unsolicited bid from Group Mach Inc., a Quebec real-estate developer, that’s offered to buy at least one-fifth of Transat for $14 a share. The tour operator’s shareholders voted 95 per cent in favour of the Air Canada bid last Friday. It’s now subject to other closing conditions, including approval under the Canadian Competition Act, the Canada Transportation Act and European Council regulations. The competition review is anticipated “to be the most strenuous given the overlap of the companies in Montreal and Quebec markets,” AltaCorp Capital analyst Chris Murray said in a recent note. “The upcoming federal election could also expose the transaction to heightened levels of political discourse, which could make regulators reticent to approve relevant reviews.” However, Murray said he believes the deal will ultimately get the required approvals and will close by 2020. Scotiabank analyst Konark Gupta agreed that the deal will eventually get done but added that the “Competition Act approval could be relatively more tedious compared to other regulatory and government approvals” due to substantial overlap between the two companies in sun destinations and transatlantic markets. .
  14. . Pilots arrested at Glasgow Airport before boarding US flight Sat Aug 03, 2019 - BBC News Two United Airlines pilots have been arrested at Glasgow Airport for allegedly failing a breath test before boarding a flight to New York. The men, aged 45 and 61, have not been charged but remain in custody and are expected to appear before Paisley Sheriff Court on Tuesday. Police Scotland confirmed officers were called to the airport at 07:35 BST. The men were arrested before boarding flight UA162. It was expected to take off for Newark at around 09:00 but was cancelled. Pilots jailed United Airlines said in a statement the safety of its customers and crew was "always our top priority". It said: "We hold all of our employees to the highest standards and have a strict, no tolerance policy for alcohol. "These pilots were immediately removed from service and we are fully cooperating with local authorities. "At this time, we are working to get our customers back on their journey as soon as possible." A Police Scotland spokeswoman confirmed two men, aged 61 and 45, have been arrested and remain in police custody pending a scheduled court appearance on Tuesday 6 August for alleged offences under the Railways and Transport Safety Act 2003. The legislation covers carrying out pilot duties while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The limit for alcohol detected in the breath for pilots is less than half the limit for drivers in Scotland. In 2017, two United Airline pilots were jailed for breaching drink-fly limits at Glasgow Airport. First Officer Paul Grebenc, 35, was sentenced to 10 months in prison. His colleague Carlos Roberto Licona, 45, was jailed for 15 months. .
  15. . How the Boeing 737 Max groundings made Swoop's operational problems even worse Fri July 12, 2019 - Financial Post by Emily Jackson WestJet Airlines Ltd.’s ultra-low-cost carrier Swoop only has seven planes in service, so it’s no wonder passenger complaints ensued after unscheduled maintenance forced the budget brand to simultaneously ground two of its jets and cancel 23 flights during the past week. But Swoop’s operational problems were made even worse because of the prolonged grounding of Boeing 737 Max planes, said aviation industry experts. Although Swoop doesn’t operate any Max jets, it would typically turn to its parent company WestJet or a short-term charter to replace capacity if it needed to park a plane for longer-than-expected maintenance. But WestJet does not have any surplus capacity to spare since the Max fleet was grounded globally this spring after two fatal crashes, a move that required the Canadian airline to park 13 planes. “WestJet is totally ‘maxed’ out, as they have been scrambling to fill the gaps left by the Boeing Max fleet grounding,” Robert Kokonis, president of consultancy AirTrav Inc., said in an email. Airlines around the world are trying to fill those gaps with their remaining assets in an effort to keep up with demand during the busy summer season. Canada’s largest airlines, WestJet and Air Canada, have both suspended their financial guidance as it is not clear when authorities will approve the Boeing 737 Max fleet’s return to the skies. In the meantime, WestJet has delayed lease returns of older planes and held off on transferring aircraft to Swoop, Kokonis said. Other carriers with Max planes have taken similar measures, along with entering short-term leases for additional aircraft. “This has dried up the available pool of really short-term charter aircraft that could be popped into a schedule at short notice,” he said. Unfortunately, that meant disappointment for wannabe Swoop passengers who had booked tickets to destinations including Las Vegas, Halifax and Edmonton from July 5 to 10. Some were rebooked on flights as long as five days later when Swoop discovered an engine on one plane had a leaking oil seal and needed replacement. “This requires a significant amount of work and disassembly in order to fully repair the issue,” spokeswoman Karen McIsaac said in an emailed statement. “Swoop looked at leasing other aircraft, but due to the grounding of the MAX there is limited availability.” Swoop brought in extra staff at its contact centre to respond to customers by email and on social media, where the airline received a flurry of angry posts. It rebooked people on the next available Swoop flight and, if that wasn’t suitable, tried to find alternative arrangements or offered cancellations with full refunds. Swoop is conducting a full review of the incident so it can make changes to regain customer trust, McIsaac said. It has already determined the need for more support in the call centre, she added. Unexpected disruptions have an outsized impact on ultra-low-cost airlines such as Swoop, especially ones with such a small fleet, said Michael Taylor, practice lead for travel at research company JD Power. “It’s all about efficiency of aircraft,” he said. “They rely on keeping their aircraft in the air.” But it’s not just a budget brand problem. Rebooking passengers on any airline is more challenging than it was five years ago because an improved world economy has resulted in more people purchasing flights, especially in North America, Taylor said. Most people are flying on their own dime and aren’t particularly brand loyal, he said. Swoop’s problems over the past week are a “black eye,” Taylor added, but people will keep choosing it as long as its low prices bump it up the list on search engines. “Their business model is the lowest price,” he said. “That will attract people.” .