Airline Start-Ups – an Unreasonable Risk?

Mass Market - No Profit

Two (good) articles today about the riskiness of starting up an airline and the comments they got shared with, triggered some controversial thoughts with me.

The Articles + Comments

Airline Cash BurnOAG summarized on the Evolution of airlines since 2019 (just before the Pandemic) to today. While their findings are very interesting, there is a tone in the summary and a resulting summarization by Tim (someone I generally value) that I happen to disagree with. OAG’s John Grant wrote:

“Airline start-ups are incredibly difficult, cash rapidly disappears and securing the necessary operating licences frequently takes longer than expected and that’s even before sourcing aircraft, securing slots, avoiding the competition, and building all the necessary reservations systems and back-office support functions.”

And Tim shared the full post with a comment: “OAG is a great data resource for large scale review and schedule activity. This data really doe strike a chord. Airlines are a very risky business. This is very illustrative.”

The other one was an analysis by McKinsey, checking on the aviation value chain’s recovery shared by Patrick, which he introduced with these words: “McKinsey & Company has done an interesting analysis of the aviation value chain. For each subsector, they’ve calculated the “economic profit”, meaning (return on invested capital – weighted average cost of capital) x invested capital. In other words, are firms in that sector creating or destroying value? Their conclusion: only fuel suppliers and freight forwarders created value last year, and airports and airlines lost a lot!”

The Economist’s (My) Response

Mass Market - No ProfitAs an economist by original education and having experience with Startups and Business Angels, I do happen to believe in a sound “business case”. As an airliner, I learned with American to focus on the business case. Like to reconsider twice before approving any waiver on fare rules or trying to upsell to the more expensive (i.e. more flexible) air fare. But I also learned the value of a renowned brand (AA) and service. Or to treat your colleagues as your most valuable customers – they help you sell each and every day. And can ruin a customer relation as quickly.

In “global fares training”, I learned the cost of a flight transfer, something that I never forgot; thanks Ruth King (our fares trainer), I will never forget you.

At Northwest Airlines, I learned that airlines and their managers just sold “cheap”. With full flights in summer season, the airline generated losses on the transatlantic flights. A lesson I’ve seen later over and again. Most sales staff had neither information, nor idea about the “yield” they had to generate to fly profitable. Northwest focused on a minimum yield (revenue per seat-mile) half of that of American. Then sold at that yield as the standard “special fare” and making group offers or “reseller-rebates” below that rate aplenty. As I summarized 2019 on my article about why airlines keep failing, “know your cost”.

Yes, talking about Why Do Airlines Keep Failing. It’s the same response I have on the above two mentioned articles. And many like them. At ASRA 2008, I emphasized brand faces. But I also told those brand faces – the airline sales managers – that they are not there to sell the cheapest price. Anyone can do that, the Internet lives of that. A real sales manager understands that they have to sell the high-end tickets.

Live story, also happened today. Qatar Airways passengers (mother and three kindergarden-aged kids) arrived with >18 hour delay in Düsseldorf. German Rail (clerk) sold tickets to the customer to pick up the passengers that are neither change- nor refundable. So they had to buy completely new (expensive) tickets. A good clerk of this company renowned for it’s unpunctual trains (<60%) would have mentioned the possibility of a flight delay and sold the slightly more expensive tickets that allow for a change. Or at least the optional insurance.

So thinking back to my experiences with Northwest and other such airlines, it’s my questioning about KPIs as well. If my KPI is load and not revenue, I must expect to loose money. It remains beyond me, why airlines offer connecting flight at what a rough calculation on Ryanair or easyJet CASK/CASM (cost per available seat km/mile) proves as below cost, even without the “stop en-route” (landing fees, complexity, etc.). Those are managers who had a nap, when their tutors talked about sound economical calculation? And I keep questioning, why airlines publish loads without revenue per seat. To date, we have hundreds, if not thousands of flights every day, that fly full but loose money. All this is confirmed by the above mentioned and many other such articles.

The Fairy-Tale of Loss Making Airlines

Heresy. Aviation ain't profitable - and the world is FLATTo claim “aviation” is a loss making business is true and can’t be further from the truth.

Yes, many airlines are loss making. And it fits the common reasons I elaborated before. And yes, you can make airlines very profitable, if you have a management that thinks just a bit outside the box and applies economic rules to their modus operandi (mode of operation). But this also goes in line with route development and other areas. If you don’t have your numbers under control and focus on the ones that are “good to sell to shareholders”, you’ll fail.

Like with any company, with any startup, in and outside the aviation sphere, we must constantly have an understanding of our cost. And of the competition. What is it our customer wants? There is a psychological price. If you missed that in your economics studies, make your Internet-search for it now. If you have sales teams, train them to upsell the seats. Sell the higher yield fares. Not at a discount, but at a value!

Natural Leader LemmingsThis is one reason, I do not believe we can make Kolibri ever happen by taking over an already failing or failed airline. Wrong structures, wrong thinking in place. I learned this lesson with Air Berlin. The force of inertia was simply too strong. There are some airline that make revenue, but even their managers I find often blindly “follow the worms” (a Pink Floyd referral, yes, the picture is lemmings).

(That’s) The Way Airlines Operate

But unfortunately, all investors we talk to, always think inside their boxes. Can’t tell how many talks I had to radically change our approach and take A320 and do like everyone else does. Ain’t that contrary to the concept of Unique Selling Propositions?

And has ever a “disruptive investment” (another investor buzz word) been developed out of the box using the same thinking? The same values (I’m the cheapest)?

The others are usually starting to tell you that you have to start with smaller amount of money. Sure way to burn your money is a cheap business plan. As OAG writes “getting to size is so important”. You can’t produce a low cost in small numbers. For us, the ideal mix is seven aircraft, where the “administrative overhead cost” becomes manageable. i.e. You have the same cost if you maintain one – or seven aircraft. The same reservations office (just less staff and calls), only little less marketing. You must outsource your operations (at cost) to share the necessary organization with other small airlines. Etc., etc.

Source firewalkeraussies.comTo date, I am still working with consulting companies reviewing airline business plans. Aside the usual failure issues, size is a recurring issue. Another being the lack of fallback in case of flight disruptions, may they be caused by technical issues, weather or other events. Their focus on cheap “human resources” and missing team building results in friction and internal competition that further weakens their product offering.

But even taking that into account, we believe the business and financial plans we developed are sound. And profitable from the outset. With a focus on services and a military-style responsibility “for ours” (no “HR” in that company), a “service-focused concept”. Everyone to pull on the same side of the rope. Yes, not starting with a dead corpse, trying to revive, adds some bureaucratic hurdles. But it allows you to think outside the box and instead of following the worms (or other airlines), to do things “right”.

So ever since I entered into the business, I learned at American Airlines under Bob Crandall how to do things right. And learned over and again that the same mistakes are made by short-sighted, narrow-minded managers. And I know all the reasoning used to distract and divert off the incompetence to operate an economically sound business. Usually, I account this as “no faith in your brand”. That then goes along with topics I mentioned before, like brand dissolution (airlines are often academic example), missing USPs, etc. – Cobalt CEO told me about their USP shortly before their demise “We are Cypriotic”. Seriously? When I started, Lufthansa was the brand. Lufthanseat was the employee. All employees of American Airlines knew “Proud to be AAmerican”. Then came the button counters. And mighty AAmerican was taken over by their once-small rival U.S. Airways. Another box of memories.

So yes, airlines are often a loss making business. With bureaucrats leading them into disaster. Sometimes fast, often times a veeeery long death. Air Berlin and Alitalia are very good examples. “Too big to fail”? Simply “prestigious”? And there are “the others”. Airlines that have an idea about what they are doing. That know their niche(s). That know their cost and marketing. That value their brand. That build a reputation. Until button counters (aka. bureaucrats) take over.

I hope that someone of my hundreds if not thousands of readers (hard to believe, that’s what my server stats claim I’d have) knows some investor with the guts to understand that profitable aviation and sustainable aviation can be the same thing. That the stories those consultancies and their statistics and reports tell have two sides to the coin. And that we get a chance to proof, that climate neutral flying is no heresy, but the future of flight.

Food for Thought – Jürgen

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Sustainability – Ideas for Discussion

Going Beyond Greenwashing

The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals

This is not about Kolibri, but some thoughts and assessments about sustainability and greenwashing. And some ideas on why all the statistics show that the situation worsens. From Earth Overshoot Day to Energy Consumption to rising CO2 levels.

Working on Kolibri and benchmarking our cost against easyJet and others, we found our cost too high. One of the typical reasons for the airline one-day-flies, as I call them. Flying one or two seasons before they are pushed out or swallowed by the big shark. Looking for ways to cut cost, and as we thought about a sustainable operation, the extended way of the U.N. Sustainability Development Goals, we developed the business cases for truly sustainable aviation. Focused on fair income for the employees (that we refuse to call “human resources”), housing, food, transport and ground mobility, health… Yes, completely outside the box, but all contributing to the profitability.

Worshiping the Golden CalfWhile we now suffer from decades of management misconception that everything must be subordinate to (quick) financial profit and that profits justify the means, we now start to recognize that “sustainability” must be a “shareholder’s value”, as long as “long-term success” (viability). My friends and audience do know I questioned the pure financially focused “shareholder value” for the past 25 years at minimum. And as an economist by “original” profession, I question all those dreamworld models that burn money in the next big hype.

That said, aside our idea on Green SynFuel for aviation, as we though outside the box, what are other ideas I recommend investing in. Admittedly, ideas we plan to reinvest on our own journey to establish what shall become a truly carbon-neutral airline within ten years.

Circular Economy

Circular EconomyOne of the abused topics is Circular Economy, which Wikipedia defines as “a model of production and consumption, which involves reusing, repairing, […] refurbishing and recycling existing materials and products as long as possible.” While I find Wikipedia already distracting from the core of the case, the image they show is quite on the point. Whatever you use, must come from sustainable sources, and after being used must return into a state it can be reused for the same product.

Looking at plastics, 95% of the recycling in reality is downcycling! Or export. Or local landfills. Or incineration. Or – and quite a lot – ending up polluting the oceans and landscapes. But downcycling ain’t circular but add to disposal and pollution!

e-mobility Life Cycle Assessment Greenwashing Volkswagen AGIn a discussion group on Circular Economy and the Agenda 2030 organized by U.N., the focus was directed to the LifeCycle Assessment (LCA). In which i.e. Volkswagen came to rather devastating results for their ID3. The life-cycle of one of their ID3 electric “Golf” is not substantially better than the Diesel, worse if you consider the German grid-energy mix and not the more favorable (beautified) European one. It’s considered a direct consequence when United Nations Secretary General António Guterres ahead of COP26 blames: “Far too little, far too late“.

Vertical Farming

Indoor Vertical FarmingGiven the current droughts and considering circular economy, thinking about greenhouses filling entire regions in Spain, I think we will need to invest into vertical farming. Given a “closed system” to improve the water usage. Reduce use of chemical fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides. Discussing with a startup recently, I was surprised on the efforts on seed sequence. Not for the plant or the soil, but to make sure the bees they use at all times find sufficient nectar.

They are experimenting with water conservation and are able to provide a quality way better than “bio”. And it’s not just salad, but potatoes, tomatoes, cucumbers, broccoli, corn, you name it, they grow it. And they are testing apples, grapes, and other vegetables too. And they are using moving trays, from seedling at one end, to harvesting on the other.

The few remains they can’t reuse go into high quality compost for the plants that still require soil – there is no downcycling, it’s just that they use pure nutrients without soil wherever they can.

Desalination – Hydrogen – SynFuel … i.e. in the UAE

Last year, there was an article by the World Economic Forum about the UAE strategy on “extended” Hydrogen, reflecting about 1:1 on my, since 2008 frequently shared opinion that hydrogen is a natural successor to fossils in the expanded tropical belt. I strongly recommend reading!

Hydrogen powered Wing in GroundGiven our work in 2008 on the hydrogen-powered WIG, a “wing-in-ground”, an “airplane” that uses the “ground-effect” for smaller wing-size and improved performance, we were told the idea would be perfect for the tropical belt. As those WIGs “fly” in five to ten meters above ground, water is perfect for them. But even more important, the use of seawater allows to develop a salination. The sweetwater can to a large extend be used for the population. Naturally, before desalination the seawater is being cleaned. Then the salt from the desalination process is used to increase the salination levels of more seawater. That salinated seawater is then used for the electrolysis.

Operating in the “extended tropical belt” and seaside, the availability of wind and water for the “green” process is very safe.

World Climate Zones

Sure, this was a very steep learning curve. It triggered my understanding that carbon-neutral transport is not just imaginable. It’s feasible. And many of those ideas, applied to our ideas for Kolibri made and make it possible for me to develop a plan that makes it possible to use a body like Kolibri to make it fly carbon-neutral within 10 years (even less, given the right support). Saving a mere 2 Gigatons of CO2. Not by then, but by then every year!

The Four Columns for Happy Living

United Nations defined the four columns as the foundation for people to be happy as:

  1. Shelter
  2. Food
  3. Health and
  4. Safety

That naturally includes the families, something often ignored. Or is identified as “salaries”, hiding behind “politics” resulting often in the inability to secure the above columns. And did you know that those are a growing problem even in the so mighty “industrial world”?

Learning From the Military

Noone is left behind
Noone is left behind

Ndrec and I are both having a military background. While Ndrec was a career officer in the Albanian military, I grew up in a U.S. garrison town in Germany with their families.
In the military, while you are there, everything is taken care of. Aside a salary the soldiers can use for surplus luxuries.

Quite similar, in the last centuries, many companies developed housing and even just 35 years ago, I’ve stayed in an American Airlines-owned residence.  All larger airports have own cantinas for the airport employees and “external” airport workers.

Precarious Working Conditions

Most companies pay a “competitive salary”, but increasingly, those competitive salaries do no longer cover the most basic needs of people. That is especially true for families with children. “In 2020, there were 96.5 million people in the EU at risk of poverty or social exclusion, representing 21.9% of the population.” [Source] But while EU highlights progress on SDG1 (no poverty), even for industrial leader Germany reports show a growing poverty with wealth increasingly piling up with the rich 10%, owning currently 56.1% of it, the top 1 % holding about 18% of all wealth, as much as 75% of the population owns. More than 60% “own” less than 5% of the wealth, while 20% are being in debt! And those numbers are growing.

Those numbers are looking even bleaker on a European level!

#Greenwashing and #Raisinpicking

Greenwashing Demon (shutterstock_1170455851)

While the SDG funding gap grows at an alarming speed, poverty rises at alarming levels in Europe, there is an entire industry of greenwashing impact investors out there, using raisin-picking creatively to greenwash their investments. But there are 17 SDGS. And the possibility to do aa life-cycle assessment.

And as referred to before, two simple question disqualifies many, if not most of those “impact investments”: What is the energy bill and where does the energy come from? Is carbon-certificate-trading used to paint the idea green? Investments needing carbon certificates to go green are unsustainable themselves, selling their indulgences by buying what good others do. If you buy into grid energy, use grid-energy shares. Only if you have your own plans for energy source (solar and wind parks, etc.) you can calculate.

Primary Energy Demand vs. CO2

Our growing energy demand causes directly rising CO2-levels. The graph is already a bit older, but the statistics are showing that the short improvements during the global pandemic have already recovered and the rising energy demand in Europe is in line with the CO2-rise.

And do you claim climate action but pay no attention to your staff (and their families) happiness in form of sustainable salaries? Delivery services claim their “riders” deliver “green” using bicycles. Whereas it is commonly known that those very riders usually work in precarious working conditions! Same for Uber and other “investors’ darlings”.

Earth Overshoot Day 1971-2022Earth Overshoot Day

Did you know the Earth Overshoot Day after a very brief respite 2020 fell back again in 2021 and 2022? So what are your plans on using resources?

And did you know that “sand” is a resource in short supply? As is clean drinking water!

There is a frightening map on on the countries that use more resources than they have and there individual overshoot days. The U.S. overshot by March 13 already! Germany May 4th. All European countries overshoot in the first half year, so they use more than two Earths resources.

Timeline + Scale

EU climate plansThere are many investments into small-scale change, with a focus on two to three years. That by itself should be an issue of concern for any real impact investor. As for climate change and sustainability that can only be a start. What is the 10 year outlook? What impact will it make by 2050?

What is the impact on which SDGs? The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals! Precarious jobs are clearly a negative impact on the SDG1 and ripple also into the other SDGs. A negative energy balance naturally impacts climate. SDG7 and SDG13 are related, as are all the other SDGs!

Sustainability is a generation challenge! To turn around our abuse of global resources back to a sustainable level. Conserve energy. All that with as little impact as possible to the luxuries of the decision makers? Having grown up in the 70s, that was the time this all started. And my boss on the practical part of my economics studies questioned “price wars”. While there can always be someone cheaper, a good buyer considers the well-being of their supplier. And buying cheap from China comes with a price. His lessons resonate more than ever nowadays!

A Holistic Approach to the SDGS

Employee TrainingOne of the main concerns we are faced with at Kolibri is our approach to sustainability. First of all, why would an airline turn sustainable, it’s heresy, ain’t it? And why would we pay salaries above country average? Maybe, because they are sustainable and secure the people’s motivation and loyalty?

What about our plans for training, kitchens, real estate, residence parks, solar parks, transport? Can’t you shelve those (in the trash)? But we believe that if we right those wrongs, we will have a motivated and loyal work force. And ain’t that funny? All those “investments” are to be profitable too. As that is what we consider real impact investing. Do the right thing. With the right profit. As such, they are part of our 10 year strategy.

Kolibri 10-year outlook

So after 10 years, we don’t only save more than two gigatons CO2, per year that is by then, we will not just be a sustainability lighthouse, we will be not just profitable, but also disruptive. But only, if we get to #walkthetalk. Which means that we do find a real impact investor.

Food for Thought
Comments welcome!

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Too Many Chiefs …

… and the Question about System Relevant Jobs

Managers vs. Executives

Today I had a very emotional discussion about the need for new IT, new processes and all that other stuff the consulting industry keeps telling us, we got to have. Consultants, that have a standing relation inside the aviation company, with constant projects to “improve” and streamline the work.

At what cost?

Having addressed Consulting, Outsourcing, Cloud? COTS or tailormade back in August 2020, we meanwhile discussed over and again the issue of “System Relevant Jobs”. Back in my economics studies, 40 years ago, the general manager of my intern company questioned the increasing “management jobs” by academics, reminding, emphasizing that in the end, it is all about products. Even in whole sale (it was a central logistics warehouse) it’d be a question about benefit for seller and buyer, where the warehouse we worked in distributed the goods to the own satellite stores. He warned, that every intermediary becomes a leech and products becoming more expensive, not cheaper, by adding more and more intermediaries into the pool. His assumption was that 50% management surplus would be viable. And I should mention that he warned about dependencies from “rogue countries”, like China. Cheap but at what cost?

Being very pro globalization in general, he did call it hypocrisy to buy cheap in China, knowing that this is simply based on abuse of work force and stealing of patents and other ideas from other countries – back in the days, China did not much invent themselves, they were known copycats. In Germany meanwhile called “precarious jobs”, that don’t provide decent living, the living standards of workers in China at the time were at best questionable.

System Relevant Jobs

System RelevanceIs your job “system relevant”? If you work in home office, I can tell you the answer is No. If you work in consulting, I can very likely tell you the answer being No. Working in aviation and transport, the answer very likely is No. And if your salary is above average, the answer also very likely is No.

It’s all about leeches. Draining the money out of the really system relevant people, who normally are overworked, but underpaid. Not on the picture are farmers, friends of the family farming, living since I grew up on the brink of bankruptcies over and again. With more and more demands and pay for their products (milk, meat, grain, etc.) being often below the cost of production. Then they get generously state aid, to keep them working on subsistence levels.

The NHS personnel is on strike, the medical situation there in the U.K., also in Germany, being devastating. 24 hour shifts, 3 days “on call” duty?

Logistics drivers, the one delivering all those fancy goods we all buy, paid at minimum wage or just very little above for good feeling? Uber being a gigacorn? Delivery “Heroes”? But the managers in their offices having a “decent salary”? Who’s doing the work and what do we pay them?

U.N. Sustainable Development Goals

The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals

There are 17 SDGs. But all statistics show that all of them are actually still deteriorating. And if companies call themselves “sustainable”, they usually focus on the easy SDGs, most times at the cost of the others. Yes, we invest into climate, we buy CO2-certificates. And buy our growing hunger for power from the grid. Sure we buy “green power”… We upgrade our HR Director to “Chief HR Officer” and call it a board position, but only on paper to look good. We invest in R&D to find solutions how we can become sustainable in the future, while we fight the unions and deny salary increases for our workers. We add the (female) position of Chief Sustainability Officer to express our commitment to the SDGs. Oops, we forgot to give her a budget or empower her responsibilities? Examples aplenty…

We need companies to do the right thing. To embrace sustainability and evolve. It’d give them a competitive edge, a USP. When I was a child, it was common that people worked for “Daimler” (Mercedes-Benz) or “Bosch” all their live. You looked after your stuff from post-school training to retirement – often even beyond. Then they became “Human Resources” to managers who turned “shareholder value” from “what’s good for the company” and “long-term thinking” into “what’s good for my bonus” and “who cares about the time after I’m gone”.

A Question of Respect

My “intern” boss (again) taught me respect for everyone. The guy on the fork-lift, the cleaners, truck drivers and “secretaries” (yeah, we still had those). He taught us to set up the coffee when it was empty and not bother the secretaries. To clean up ourselves to make the cleaners’ jobs easier. To think beyond our petty box as “office workers” and value the hard work of the real workers. Also to question, but then also embrace the value of our work. IF we added value.

And in the pandemic, we should have (but obviously didn’t) learn the other lesson. That it’s not enough to sit at the windows “applauding” the system relevant workers that went above and beyond any perceivable “line of duty”, but to pay them decently. To look after them and keep in mind that they also have families to sustain, vacation wishes that go beyond the balcony on an old residential block they only can afford with added state aid.

Beyond White- and Greenwashing

I recently attended a multi-week project by United Nations Climate Action on Circular Economy. And the need for lifecycle-assessment. But it was also mostly #talkthetalk and academic ideas. And I had several objectives that then led to my image about the panacea distraction.

Aside me wondering, of that lady in the image might be an unpaid intern? Another reflection of the value HR managers and their bosses have about the value of training and labor. Any employer not paying their interns should be put in the pillory. For labor abuse!

Oh yes, and that goes in line with midwifes that quit their jobs as governments don’t reduce but add to the legal strains in the job. Or riders asked to bring their own bikes – and repair, all at minimum wage and abusive “time management”. Or airlines outsourcing their pilots forcing them into bogus self-employment without vacation or sick-leave cover, paid wages below their own pilots. Back in my intern-days, there were “personnel agencies” too. But to hire someone for short-term was always about 50% higher cost than employing someone directly. What went wrong there?

Yes I could go on.

Food for Thought
Comments welcome!

Yes. Comments welcome: Do you agree, disagree, partially, am I right, wrong, do I oversee anything? Have your own examples? What would, could and should we do?


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Recommended Reading

“For those who agree or disagree, it is the exchange of ideas that broadens all of our knowledge” [Richard Eastman]

These weeks I have been asked many times about which “older” articles from the blog are the most famous and/or useful ones, which I recommend for reading “first”? So let’s have a look at the archive. Which depends a bit on the topic…

Static Pages

Like the Archive, the “static pages” are classics. I do quote a lot what you find in the Quotes Page. And also from Lazarus Long, a character by famous author Robert A. Heinlein.

Following previous publications of the annually updated graph, I gave the map overlaying the German purchasing power map with the German airports it’s own page. I use that graph frequently to visualize the impact of airports to regional commerce.

If you’re in “online” marketing, I’ve paid a fortune to get myself up-to-speed on “online marketing” and the buzzwords SEO, SEM, SEA., unhyping them.

Social Media College, 3 courses, 100% each

The other static pages are compiled from blog-series, the one being personal with my friend Saphire on philosophical issues, we called SapPhilosophy. The other being the posts during the start and first peak of the Corona pandemic. I keep this, as I happen to refer to this, both as a proof of early sound assessments, but also of mistaken interpretation of the developments.

The First Post

Shift Happens YouTube screenshotTaken over from the predecessor of this blog, I’ve used the first-ever post in honor of one of the best YouTube-videos of all times: Shift Happens (Narrated) is based on a presentation Karl Fisch, a U.S. teacher gave to parents to emphasize the impact of the world wide web and digital world to global change and to the future of his students. While there were others that copied the idea years after, trying to update it, nothing I’ve seen so far matches the original. Still having it’s justification and value.

Frequently Referenced and Visited Posts

There are some posts, I keep very frequently referring to, they are also the most visited posts.

Corona – the New Measles? Or more like the Flu? Recently virologists question that there will ever be a super-vaccine and that the antibodies disappear within three to four months after the infection. And previously infected people reinfect on minor variants of the “Coronavirus”. So there is not “the” Coronavirus… And we know SARS since 2003 – Corona being a variant of a virus we know for many years?

Meteor kills DinosaursEvolution … or why should we save the Dinosaurs? Why should we bail-out the large players that show neither interest in sustainable aviation (beyond greenwashing), nor social responsibility? Lufthansa Group received € 9 billion bail-out by the German government, more by Swiss and Austrian government. Germany has a short work system that allows them to register and send their staff home at 70% pay until business recovers. That was just extended from one to two years. Nevertheless, instantly after they got the bail-out confirmed, they announced to fire 11,000 of their staff. Sure not on the senior management levels. Socially responsible? Or abusing “shareholder value” for “maximizing profits”?
Developing we learned that the development of sustainability and social responsibility done right will contribute to the profits.

December 2019

In December, I published two of my better articles it seems:

Why Do Airlines Keep Failingairline money burn was based on my experiencing working on the due diligence of airline startups. The reasons why I call all the cheap “virtual airlines” one-day-flies. They fly one summer, maybe two. Then “winter” hits so surprisingly and they go bust. Or they have high cost but sell cheap. The failure to understand their cost and optimistically compete with the mega-carriers, both classic and low-cost, with a far lower cost base…? Or when an airline CEO on the question “What’s your USP” tells me “We’re local”. While they compete with three low-cost mega-carriers at their home-base?

And The Financial Impact of Air Travel was based on a presentation by Ged Brown of LowSeasonTraveller on why airports need to focus on incoming traffic. Their job is to bring money and value to the region. Holiday flights leak money to the destinations. While they have some value, they can’t, they must not be used to justify the airport operations.

2017 … 2016

I think this time we got the numbers right ... we just don't know which ones to use.On The Bias of Route Viability Analyses, I expressed the shortcoming of most of those fancy “route viability analyses”, being data-driven, based on existing statistical data. But failing miserably when looking at routes that have not been served before. On regional routes. Recently (2020), I registered for a webinar by famous ASM, about their catchment area analyses on route-level. Kicked-out on last minute confirms to me, that they work on more biased data without sound source. As there simply are no sound data on a city to city level, not even region to region. Best commonly available is region (NUTS-3) to country. Northern Italy or South? Rich or poor? South or North-East Germany? What a difference!

The other noteworthy article was on Delay and Disruption Management as the most neglected and undervalued cost factor!

Data SilosIn 2016 with The Numbers Game, I addressed the lousy data quality with what we deal with in aviation. In 2020, the analysts in September base their analyses on data from March! And while the industry celebrates flight services quickly recovering back to normal, they fail to address the plummeting load factors and ticket prices. The few “full” flights have abysmal ticket revenues. Even inside the airline, access to accurate, real-time data is something most airline managers can only dream about. For the industry that once was global leader in cloud computing when there was no world-wide-web, it is simply an embarrassment. And hey, yes you big ol’ IT dinos, I urge you to tear down the walls! But most of them still create more data-silos! Something I also addressed in my more recent post on cloud, COTS or tailormade. Nothing new, we have this problem for years. Also simply embarrassing. Which reminds me of that article Not Invented Here, posted right after The Numbers Game…

And in line with The Numbers Game and Delay and Disruption Management was my post about On-Time Performance and Punctuality League. With quite controversial data from the big players, they simply disqualify each other, don’t they? And c’mon, give me a break. The best ones operating at 85% on-time flights – in aviation +/- 15 minutes? That is again embarrassing. And it did not improve ever since, every year, I keep posting the article when they publish their statistics – still way off each other! It’s the article about KPIs I published the same year and how managers don’t use them to improve, but to threaten. Or justify or cover up for their own shortcomings.

2015 … 2014

There was an SITA enforced outage in 2015, disallowing personal blogs by their employees. Instead, they require access to their employees social network profiles to feed their marketing messages to the followers of their staff. Ever since, I’m afraid I have still friends in SITA but I take their posts as what they are: SITA Marketing. And as they fire large parts of their workforce every year, they have to learn a lot about “social responsibility”. I’ve seen too many excellent people – not just myself – made redundant by their “HR Managers”. In my case, I was told by a VP who wanted to hire me that that is impossible as long as their Senior HR manager doesn’t make himself redundant.

2014 I wrote another article on data silos and silo thinking addressing APOC, OCC, NMOC and A-CDM – a Bigger Picture. The other still valid article addresses the shifting global economic center of gravity. Small, conservative thinking in Europe can’t stand up to developments in other regions of the world.

2013 … 2012 … 2011

In October that year, mighty American Airlines, the company where I started in aviation decades ago was acquired by US Airways, dropping their AA-brand in the process. It might be noteworthy that many ideas we had for resemble things I learned to value back in those days. Including to value staff and despise the use of “HR” (see SITA above), showing disrespect for people. People ain’t resources but we have a corporate social responsibility!

The other article from that year I keep to date referring to is about Big Data.

In 2012 I had some personal or also biased articles, but I also did address a core question. Ethics in our industry. If you wonder about my recent articles, the topics are not new.

Emirates A380 Hub Dubai

And in 2011, I addressed the UAE in a still fitting analysis. Today the A380s are a burden, but given the UAE’s rulers different priorities, I expect them to turn that back into an advantage once we recover from Corona. I expect Emirates to become the global long-haul carrier operating the high-density routes like Pan Am back in the days flew around the world.

2010 … 2009

Being Head of Marketing & Communications at state-owned airport Erfurt-Weimar, blogging was forbidden to me, I had to stick to the airport official publications. The airport at the time operated mostly offline and that came from the IT experts at the airport and resulted in one of my last posts in that time period: The Threat of IT and the Internet. As most airports today still try to use social networks and other activities as a “push medium”, just like SITA 2015. No, it did not change much. Most my LinkedIn and other airport contacts still tell me they are not allowed to publish anything on LinkedIn. Living in the past.

The other article will likely explain, why I believe if you want to make money in aviation, you got to change the game. The article is called The Power of Bureaucrats

There are other articles, older than 10 years I still refer to, but that might do for a starter to give you

Food for Thought

As usual, I appreciate your interest a lot, but I take it with my friend and early mentor Richard:

“For those who agree or disagree, it is the exchange of ideas that broadens all of our knowledge” [Richard Eastman]

Your comments are welcome. As yes, I also learn from your posts, your comments, your criticism, your support. Ask me!

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Why Video-Conference Will Not Impact Air Travel

There has been an increase in shares vouching for video conferences to replace air travel post-Corona.

Conference Call Bingo
Conference Call Bingo – click to enlarge

Face to Face

There is a lot in a personal conference that is not available in a video call, especially on multi-personal level. Who stands with whom, looks at each other, stands apart, shuffles papers, scribbles notes, shows interest, looks away (and why). Aside the sole focus on the call or conference when you’re onsite and out of your “common environment”. You paid to get there, you focus on the conference and not on your daily chores and tasks.

poor connectionCall Quality, Disruptions

Then there is the (video) call-quality. Especially on video-calls and webinars these days, even using the best provider to organize it online, the video often enough fails, speech becomes unintelligible, not just users, even the speakers get disconnected. Disrupting the thought, the statement, the information. Surely at the most inconvenient of times!

Lesson Learned 2002

video conference roomWhat it does keep reminding me is that for 2002, in the wake of 9/11, we had the very same discussion. And I brought in a video-conferencing-specialist to speak at ITB Travel Technology Congress. And while the big players added video conference rooms to their portfolio, they turned to dust-bins quickly. I know, c’mon, that was 20 years ago. And we simply don’t tend to learn from history. There’s all the young smart-asses leaving university. They have no experience with extensive travel, their live has been virtual, they are still to learn the lessons.

Perceived Importance

applause from colleaguesThe last issue is emotional, psychological. Which we found out post-9/11 already. There is the factor of “importance” when you are send to travel to meet your client. And I do not speak about the true importance to show your flag at your client. But the perceived importance for the traveler.

A face-to-face is valued a lot higher than any video-call. Have I met the person in real-life? What was my impression? Those are valid reasons to justify your trip to your boss. But especially for middle and lower management, the effect is fare more on a motivational level. To be “allowed” to travel raises your perceived standing. In the company much more important that with your client. The meeting could be sufficiently covered with a video conference, especially when done properly – not via Skype, Viber, etc. But to be “allowed” the expense to travel to the client raises your internal standing, your (imagined) “importance”.

Whereas for the manager of the traveler, that very motivational impact might very well justify the travel expense. So don’t disqualify it. But be aware of it.

Video-Call Will Replace Travel?

Virtual Reality RelationNaaaw. No it won’t. I have video calls with my family when traveling, my mom living 600 km away, friends around the world. And especially during the lock-down I keep with my network attending webinars, video and voice-only conference and one-on-one calls. And can’t wait to see all my counterparts in person either on conferences, on business trips and visits. Video-calls replace phone calls. But they don’t have what it takes to replace the real face-to-face.

Food for Thought
Comments Welcome!

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The True Meaning of Corporate Social Responsibility

For quite a while, I am stumbling over the issue of the common investor understanding of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and their implication that it is the same as Sustainability. Which it is not.

Wikipedia a.k.a. an Academic Idea

Wikipedia on CSRReading the Wikipedia page about it, they see it as a high-level code of conduct for large, international organisations. And focused on the representation of the company towards its customers. I think we must step back and make a change. A change to how we must understand corporate social responsibility. And not just, but especially in times of Corona, this is not a nice to have, it is a desperately needed definition update!

Shareholder Value vs. CSR

The Rise and Fall of Dennis MuilenburgIf you focus on shareholder value, human resources and only your own, personal profit, you end up in a deep, dark pit. Sometimes, like Boeing’s Muilenburg and others who have been on the Olymp, just for that much deeper a fall. Examples aplenty.

In most cases, it’s like the recent decline in employee morale at Lufthansa, Carsten Spohr shelving Germanwings in a “strategic” and likely necessary move, but without the touch to understand the emotional repercussions on overall staff. Them having very well in mind the fate of Contact Air, Cirrus Airlines, but also Air Berlin with their last CEO a Spohr-lackey sent to liquidate the airline. And sure, there is quite some green- and whitewashing involved by such CEOs, having their own “sustainability” and “CSR” departments.

Basic Principle

So what is “CSR” truly about? Or should be? Like with all such “definitions”, there has been a basic idea. Then it was abused to abstraction to #whitewash investments and make them attractive to investors.

To understand the original idea behind corporate social responsibility you simply need to read it. It is everything about the social responsibilities in corporate (organisational) environments. Is it social to support sustainability? Definitely. But not only. Those definitions applied to CSR crippled the original definition. Then the #whitewashing continued. As Wikipedia refers to, there’s a cost-benefit analysis. Don’t get me wrong, it makes sense. But then let’s name it – it’s a business model, has nothing to do with philanthropy.

Micro Level Social Responsibility

Branson on EmployeesCorporate Social Responsibility starts with your immediate environment: Your own organisation!

When I started my aviation career with American Airlines under Bob Crandall, we were a family. My friends at Delta and Pan Am envied us for that family spirit, called us “brain washed”. To date, we were not brain washed, but professionally motivated. Something I miss since the button counters took over. Something Carolyn McCall at easyJet understood and (as I predicted) what left easyJet with her. The top management understanding that humans are no resource and that motivated staff and service are invaluable assets!

Air Asia CEO Tony Fernandes on staff importance CSRAside the example i used on the different approaches between Alex Cruz at British Airways and Branson’s Virgin Atlantic, there was a noteworthy post by Tony Fernandes of Air Asia. Please read it, this is only a key message out of it:

“What always drove us was our people, our AllStars . It’s what’s drives us every time we are in a Crisis. We must do whatever to protect their jobs.”

CSR the Style

United Nations Sustainable Development GoalsCo-Founder Ndrec coming from a military background, me grown up with American military and starting my career with American, it was clear from the very start, that developing such a better airline, aside profitability ☑ (check), USPs ☑ (check) and sustainability ☑ (check), we must take care of “ours”. What we considered and consider true “CSR”. From the outset, we such looked at staff management and banned to wording of “Human Resources” and its shortened version “HR”. And we looked at the locations we plan bases for, beyond the company, but the impact such development has to the communities “we serve”.

Aviation holistic viewIt might be surprising to the bean counters (accountant-mindset “managers”) that all of our related “cost centers” turned out to be no just driving loyalty, but to be true profit centers and vital in our attempt to melt the cost factors to competitive levels. As a start-up, investing into all the company’s assets, you must be competitive against all those large, established companies like easyJet owning around 70% of their fleet, cost down to maintenance, with roughly 25% being paid off and around 5% being leased to cover ad hoc opportunities (like taking over Air Berlin routes). And while now being a “burden” in Corona times, airlines cannot drop out of leasing either, so the cost still is there. But those airlines can secure credits based on their (aircraft) assets. To develop profit centers that allow to cut down the cost to competitive levels such ain’t a mere strategy, but a vital need.



The Man in the Mirror (Michael Jackson)

As in all my posts addressing moral and ethics, I turn back to my father, who told me that you got to be first and foremost someone you see in the mirror and you like the guy. Secondly, despite all mistakes you do, you must keep your sheet clean. Your sins will backfire on you.

So you got to start with the good old (wo)man in the mirror. Then think about “yours truly”, family, employees. Then look after the extended community, local and work. If you look at all that, sustainability will be a “natural development” for you.

Food for Thought
Comments welcome!


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The Dying of Social Media

“For those who agree or disagree, it is the exchange of ideas that broadens all of our knowledge” [Richard Eastman]

“For those who agree or disagree, it is the exchange of ideas that broadens all of our knowledge” [Richard Eastman]

Look to Book

Leecher… or the question of leeching.

Social networks become more and more inactive, “leechers” that consume but not share their own opinion even with a “like”. In “online booking”, we called that a “look to book ratio”. In Germany, we call it the “caller in the forest” (echos, but no replies). In modern times it’s called the “social media bubble”. Which statistics say consist of 100:1 or worse “data corpses”.

But this is about success eating its children. The larger your network, the more information jumps up on the timeline. With little to no “filtering”, much of those “news” showing on the timeline becomes “irrelevant”. The more often you post, the more the social networks show your news on your followers timeline. Whereas I would like to be attracted every time someone posts who does not post that often. But then we come to Post Expiration and Information Flooding:

Post Expiration

How long are posts visible in social networks
Source: Sprocketwebsites (click on image)

In my last years qualification on “online marketing”, there were some interesting statistics about post visibility, that I found quite interesting.

What is not covered here are the increasingly used online chat tools like WhatsApp, Skype, etc. – posts there are lasting minutes.

You may remember my articles sharing my experience with LinkedIn articles and also media campaigns. As a result, already four years ago, I discontinued writing “articles” on LinkedIn, but with ongoing visits to my blog archive articles, LinkedIn articles (different from the normal posts) have a life span of about three days – older articles are not having relevant visitor numbers ever after.

Now companies, SEO-experts etc. tell you to post constantly to show constantly on those “channels”. But that turns, no it backfires into

Information Flooding (1)

LinkedIn CampaignFor which there are two reasons. And both reasons are in reality counterproductive.

In the beginning, Facebook promoted to post “everything”. Other companies built on that and developed i.e. restaurant reviews and posting of food, selfies from the weirdest places on Earth, etc. – now people post all relevant and irrelevant stuff and clog the timelines. Where it was nice in the beginning to get input from friends, now the flood of irrelevant information makes the tools largely unusable. A business friend recently asked me why I did not respond to his latest posts. Well, I was busy with real life and did not even see those posts, they were long gone when I logged in again. Don’t get me wrong, I did the same mistake. Posted irrelevant things, missing out on relevant news.

Now I will intentionally limit my Facebook to less but higher quality posts. So this week I deleted my all the old content (since 2008) of my Facebook profile. I decided to keep my profile but only for an occasional look, the most important “updates” and use of the messenger to reach out to my friends. But it took me three days to remove all that data, even using Chrome Apps that allow bulk cleaning – with some bugs to slow you down anyway. Now I can “restart” with focus on quality, not quantity.

Back in 2016, I removed my “articles” from LinkedIn, after I found them to be seen just a few days with little interaction, whereas this blog, with the same little interaction except from the same people, has several thousand readers meanwhile and a constant flow of readers on the “old” articles as well. Except for a few readers they do not interact, not even with the easy “like” button I’ve added to all posts some years ago. It keeps motivating to hear on conferences that people obviously follow my blog, referring to my articles.

Information Flooding (2)

App Flood

I also last year discontinued to actively use Skype and drop WeChat. Same reason. In business and with friends I now mostly use Viber, WhatsApp (another Facebook-company). Many years ago, I decided to stick my newsletters to ten. As I can’t keep following the flood of information, it distracts from doing business and make money to sustain my family.

A friend on a conference talked about the “first screen” on the mobile phones. While they become bigger, you also need to decide, which apps make it to your first screen. My new smart phone has space for 30 app icons. I may be unusual by having my apps grouped and using folders, even on first screen, but yes, I have my few important ones.

Social Networking – Lessons Learned

In the expensive Social Media lectures I attended last spring, on which I shared my lessons learned, I mainly learned that if you are a good marketeer, the same rules apply on- and offline. It also confirmed, I can spend all the time someone wants to pay me for, to analyse the online performance with KPIs that are the same useless as the QSI (Quality Service Indicator) as they are set and defined by the analyst with an intentional or (rarely) unintentional outcome in mind: “you are going to get very quickly to ‘factors’ and ‘coefficients’. And that they are variables, subject to interpretation and weighting, they are “relative values” (from The Bias of Route Viability Analysis, Dec. 17).

Lunchmoney Lewis - I've Got Bills [Unhyping Online Marketing]We all know of headlines that celebrities (and companies) bought and buy “followers”. Implying that all those leechers make an impact to your business. While it may take longer to grow your real “Stammkunden” (patrons, regular customers), only the ones that “buy” or stimulate a purchase by recommendation are valuable to your business. In the end it you got to pay your bills!

Marketing is about reputation management, it’s about indirect sales, but in the end, marketing is a part of sales and sales support. Brand is marketing, but in the end it is to stimulate memory and reputation and bring the brand to mind in the purchasing process. Neither marketing, nor brand, nor sales or public relations are an end to themselves. They are to stimulate business and keep the coin rolling.

So where do “Social Networks” fit in here? Same issue. Commercially, it does not help to have leechers. You need either buyers, or ambassadors. That must be first and foremost on your activities. Privately, you neither want leechers, you want people that share information with you, to discuss, agree or disagree, help you to evolve.
So I split my activities to two layers. Connecting with friends. While I appreciate a lot of Facebook “friends”, interaction is limited to very few. I will keep posting occasionally there, but just personal and limited to friends and only the “important” news, not to “flood” my friend’s timelines! I use LinkedIn for business and have some other responses there, confirming the value of the network. Xing is a German social network, but I keep finding them focused on job opportunities. So don’t expect me to do much there.

We are Listening ... and we're not Blind! This is your Life. This is your Time [Snow Patrol - Calling in the Dark] Instagram? Twitter? YouTube? Tik Tok? Yes I could do more there. If you convince me to drop LinkedIn for better impact to my information exchange with friends…?

And if you want my opionion, feel free to reach out to me or to share. I’ll keep watching my Facebook timeline for updates and on occasion also look at Instagram. You can reach me directly using Viber or WhatsApp (if you have my number).

And again, it boils down to my early mentor Richard Eastman‘s favorite quote:

“For those who agree or disagree, it is the exchange of ideas that broadens all of our knowledge”

It is all about interaction, about exchange. Without a “feeback loop”, writing blogs or posting on Social Media becomes boring – in turn, more shares turn to leechers – and the slow dying of Social Media continues. And if you like this post, click onto the little like button… If you did not, let me know what I could do better or where I’m far off in your opinion. Preferably not by e-Mail or direct message, but use the comments function this blog has.

Food for Thought
Comments welcome!

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SEO, SEM – Who Do You Write For?

College Qualification 2019

Online Classroom Qualification 2019, 3x 100% grade 1.0 online P.R., online marketing, search engine optimization and analysis, online advertising

As many of you know, from March to June, I attended a full-time qualification in Online-P.R. (public relations), online-marketing, search-engine optimization (SEO), marketing (SEM) and analysis (SEA) and online advertising. Sure this was contemporary in an online class room I had to log-in at prescheduled times.

The motivation to do that was an implied lack of online experience, a missing understanding of the intricacies (details) what makes online different from the classic offline. That this was a bold misperception on my own can be seen in the results. All three exams I finished with 100% (grade 1.0). I was mostly unchallenged, contributed to the topics, explained and even on several occasions proved the tutors wrong.

What surprised me most is the fact that there is an industry that claims that this is all new and you need all new experts and agencies doing it for you. But if you properly learned your business, it is nothing new at all. The rules are all the same! In addition, I found there is simply an industry implying and claiming value where there is none. We talked and learned a lot about analysis, but you can analyse yourself to death. To do an analysis of one simple “advertising” or “website optimization” for the search engines took hours. Aside the need for external (mostly paid) services.

Google Analytics vs. Matomo

I still believe, the tutor on search engine optimization and analysis has been paid to use certain tools. There is no alternative to Google Analytics? Feed the big monster your internal data? By adding Google Analytics, Google learns about “hidden pages” and if they are not password protected, Google can (and does) parse them. Yes, I know many cases where Google had access to pages that were not linked elsewhere. Funny as that is, I have my browser to only accept cookies from the website I visit and not from “third party websites” (like Google Analytics). A not uncommon setting That results in an offset with Google, counting me again and again and again.

Matomo VisitorsInstead of Google Analytics, I prefer Matomo on Premise analytics. They also offer “in the cloud” (on Matomo servers), but that results in the same shortcomings as Google and comes with a price tag. So if you want to become independent of releasing sensitive information to Google, go to Matomo on Premise. If you use WordPress, they are in the process (Beta testing phase) for Matomo for WordPress, which I am about to test on this blog.

As Matomo runs on your own server, the cookies work properly an the analysis are as  good – sometimes better, sometimes worse, just like the difference between Apple iOS and Android or Open Office vs. Microsoft.

Who Do You Write For?

If you have subscribed to the RSS or follow my posts on LinkedIn, you may recall my note on the June-post, which I “optimized” for Search Engines (aka. SEO). And analysed. Funny as that is, the website did not appear much better in the real world search engines. Slightly maybe. But I got quite some feedback from my friends reading this, that I shall go back to write “my style”.

Search Engine Analysis

I somewhat expected that, but was quite shocked to the extend of the quality (or lack of it) of search engine analysis. While we looked at real websites, analyzing using several different services (including Google Analytics), we could create success by the selection of analysis results. It was another fantastic example on the proverb usually (incorrectly) attributed to Winston Churchill: “The only statistics you can trust are the once you falsified yourself”. Presented then to managers without the experience, it all looks shiny and good, but is simply Hokus Pokus.

The Fairy Tale of Reach

Oh Gawd... Helpdesk: Final Level. Pray

How do you qualify “Reach”? By the visitors? See above on Google Analytics relying on IP and Cookie – a cookie they never get in my case. At home, I have a new IP every 24 hours (thanks to my internet provider). Talking to Marketing Managers, I keep getting the confirmation of what I learned in the early days of Internet. In the GDS and first online tools we talked about the “Look to Book Ratio”.

In the good old GDS era before Internet, a travel agent looked up an availability (for a flight, hotel, rental car, etc.). Talking to the customer, the booking was confirmed, a “look to book ration of 5 I believe to remember. At the dawn of online travel booking, the processes got instant. First the availability. Then a booking. But to book, the availability was redone. And that is just the tip of the iceberg of the complexities we (I) resolved developing the first online booking tool in Europe. The look to book ratio exploded. Even adding sophisticated caching (reuse of data), the systems had to “evolve” to manage the increase in processing power needed.

But how does that compute with “Reach”? Reach are generally unique visits. Some SEA-experts use simple visits – every time someone visits or revisits a website or page. Even with the more accurate unique visits, a visit does not tell you anything on any revenue being generated. Except if you use banner ads and get paid by vistor. Aside visits, there is clicks. Most advertisements are “per click”, at least that brings a visitor to the targeted website. But while P.R. and Marketing are not Sales, they are not an end to themselves but must result in promoting the product and services and generate revenue. I know many P.R. and Marketing Managers (and their bosses) not understanding the difference.

If you believe “Reach” is your goal and you value “Reach” above all else, I hope that that reach results in revenue. And you can have the best reach with no revenue. So I call reach a fairy tale. In the end, it is all about revenue. For sales, not only the price counts, but also brand, reputation and being in the mind of the customer. But it all boils down to being where the customer is when the customer needs your products or services, to be in the mind and to come up.

Key Performance Indicators

I think this time we got the numbers right … we just don’t know which ones to use.

What are your KPIs, your key performance indicators in Marketing and P.R. qualifying success?

As a Chief Marketing Officer of a now bankrupt airline recently told me: “In Marketing KPIs are a smoke wall. Do you truly believe all those haters visiting your website are lovers? How can you distinguish visitors?”

They had all followers, all fans, all visitors – but not enough sales. Marketing is long term, make sure you’re seen, together with P.R. looking after your reputation, that it is good, but in the end, if they don’t steer sales and help to improve revenue, you can shunt their KPIs. Even “reputation” and “visibility” are only means to generate sales.

If you reach the wrong people, they don’t mean anything. So what’s your KPIs and are they clear? “The good ones in the little pot, the bad ones for your little crop”.

And our tutor showed us how to tamper the statistical outcome in your favor by selecting what confirms the wanted result. I call that cheating your bosses…


Wow, I already had five super discussions... -- Don't worry, I've not sold anything either...!
Wow, I already had five super discussions… — Don’t worry, I’ve not sold anything either…!

Talk to me if you are interested to discuss this. It’s a complex topic and can (and does) fill books. But to boil it down, the rules of engagement are the same on- or offline.

KPIs were in use long before Internet and mostly used as misleading as I see those agencies use them. And there is a very strong tendency by those agencies to justify their overvalued work as valuable. So they try to tamper the KPIs and the statistics in their favor.

Who do you write for? What is your goal? How can you reach the customer, spread your brand message, stimulate sales and reputation? If you look at it “academically”, you can spend your time analyzing your efforts to death and beautify the results to your liking or the one of your superiors.

Or you get things done, use two or three tools for analysis and make sure you understand KPIs and use them meaningful.

Sales will hardly work if you have no marketing, nor P.R., advertising and branding. But don’t overdo it. And don’t split them up, they got to interact and work together for a common goal. Revenue. Income.

Food for Thought
comments welcome!


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#flygskam (FlyShame) Reality Check

All the industry discusses #flygskam (flyshame), but even given sound studies disqualifying the topic, our own lobbyists fail to organize a concerted response to the case. Let’s have a reality check…

There were some reports recently on German television and in the media. German “Welt” (TV + newspaper) reported “Green (party) Demands: Climate Sin Domestic Flight? Abolition Hardly Saves CO2“.

The use of ships to travel from Scandinavia or Britain to Europe or crossing the Mediterranean I think I don’t need to remind of the extreme emissions of cruise and other ships?

Rail Greenwashing

But there was another article even more to the point: “Where there is a will there is not always a train“. But there are some issues that are unrealistic. The numbers of German Rail are biased and greenwashed. They claim to use only “Green Power”. But in fact, published by the German Federal Environmental Agency, their power comes from the public grid and no matter what “deals” they do, it is grid power. And on the grid, in 2018 only 16.6% has been “Green” (Source). The energy industry accounts for 85% of all Greenhouse Gases of which 98% CO2, the remainder being mostly Methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O) (Source).

The Myth about Green German Rail
[Image with Link added Oct.21]
So in fact, the amount of greenhouse emissions by German Rail are considerably higher than advertised. As a report from 2018 shows, we talk about up to 83% “dirty energy” on the “green” energy companies… So if we increase the “public” German Rail assumption of 36g per km (greenwashed) and adjust it to reality, we talk about +200 g/km. Suddenly the published 201 g for flights is not so bad at all!

But what also needs to be taken into account is the emission per passenger. Be it rail, in average used 22% only, whereas those passengers are mostly commuters, filling up the trains above their limits in the rush hours. That is not only true for the commuter but also the long-haul routes. This year, the long-haul trains’ punctuality was only 69.8%. For 2018, German Rail reported 16 routes operating above capacity – passengers finding no seat being just another annoyance, half of the delays are a result of those overused routes. That 20% of the trains are in (often unscheduled) repairs, toilets and air condition known to be out of service just being others. Just a reminder, the average load factor of flights according to IATA is about 85%.

e-Mobility: Battery Greenwashing

Given the devastating destruction of the natural environment in Lithium mining, I do not understand that politicians push forward battery-based e-Mobility. Using fuel-cell technology we can use the existing gas stations infrastructure. Refueling takes only about five minutes! And given a broad use will lower the prices and make the technology available on smaller cars too. They can even power scooters, so don’t tell me it doesn’t work for a compact car!

Instead they promote an ecologically catastrophic technology with a completely missing loading infrastructure…?

More information I addressed in September 2021 in the post The e-Mobility Lie. Inspired by a documentary by German ZDF’s Planet(e): Mythos Elektroauto (naturally German). [Added Oct.21]

Ground Sealing

Memmingen Airport (FMM)There is an important advantage of air travel to both rail and road that is frequently not addressed. The issue of ground sealing!


For an airport, about 2,500 x 45m are typically “sealed for the runway, in total about 3,000 by 400 m are required for a regional airport, of which only 25-30% of the ground are “sealed” by infrastructure, 70-75% being grass areas. So we talk about 400,000 m² of an average regional airport being “sealed.


A highway with four lanes is about 31 m wide with about 24 m being sealed. A 50 km highway such seals about 1.2 million m², so three times as much as a single airport. Highways are known to be an insurmountable obstacle for wildlife.

rail bridgeRail

For Rail we talk about a minimum of 12 meters sealed width for 2 tracks, up to 20 meters on high speed train routes and and average of about 15 meters. So on 50 km of rail we talk about 600,000 m² of sealed ground. Before we start talking about the railway stations…

Ground Sealing Summary

I don’t have the number, not even for Germany, but it might be an interesting comparison for the aviation industry to compare the total ground sealed for highways (not talking about cities) and rail, compared to airports. I think that will be a devastating result for the ground transportation modes.

My hope on rail is that hyperloop we will not seal more ground, but will be established underground.


Image: Carbon Engineering

Yes, I am a big fan of the CO2-tax. If it is used to compensate for bio- or better SynKerosene! So far, all eco-taxes are abused to cover up for growing demands of the policos for their “other agendas”. But did you know that the German air traffic accounts for less than 0.3% of the CO2-emissions in Germany? (Source)

National Geographic last year reported about a development by Canadian Carbon Engineering, using CO2 with hydrogen (H2) to create artificial kerosene (and gasoline). Whereas there are industry sources to provide excessive CO2, hydrogen can be created using solar parks. The resulting bio-kerosene is an independent power storage. As the CO2 from burning that bio-kerosene equals the amount that was used from the environment, it is a completely climate neutral solution. And using solar energy for the electrolysis and the power needed for the processing, there is a power loss, but that is ecologically irrelevant.

But… Why do the media and politicos actively neglect those developments? Why do they go for dirty Lithium?


So what is the reality check for #flygskam (flight shame) vs. the “green rail”? Green rail is a myth, the power consumption not close as “green” as they say. Considering the ground sealing also favors aviation. And should we in aviation invest large scale into bio-kerosene, lowering the prices to competitive cost levels, replacing crude-oil-based fuel… A CO2-tax such might be an enabler for the conversion. If our lobbyists would show balls, which I’m afraid from experience, they don’t have.

But sustainable transport, including air transport is acknowledged as an important factor in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals to develop regions, counterbalancing inequalities and disparities!

The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals

I think it should not be aviation bashing, nor should we greenwash rail, but we should develop a sustainable transport network for everyone. Connect individual transport to rail, hyperloop or flight. It is the mix we need, not enemy stereotypes! And we need funds to support strategic projects selected, not the ones having the biggest lobbies. And “batteries” are no solution but a pest! Lithium mining destroys the planet!

#flyshame is out! Flying is a vital service for a global world. To disqualify it with false facts does not help to make our world a better place.

#railshame is my new buzzword!

Food for Thought!
Comments welcome…

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