What is ‘Low Cost’?

Juergen is one of the very few people, I really mean, VERY FEW, people that understand both airlines and airports.

An interview in ATN with Girma Wake, Chairman, RwandAir triggered a question that spooks around for quite a while now.

Wake-GirmaATN: Are you afraid that this new environment will bring more low-cost carriers or do you believe that this model does not fit into the African environment?
GW: I personally believe that low-cost carriers in the African sense will be very difficult to achieve. First, because the cost of fuel in Africa is high, second there are limited  secondary airports in Africa, we all fly from the same airports, and third there are few countries where the traffic density is large enough. If you are paying more for everything, handling, fueling, overflying etc, how can you be a low cost carrier?
So the question will have to be modified, may be not so much on the low-cost aspect of it but considers the issue of flying smaller airplanes to smaller airports covering smaller destinations bringing passengers to the major hubs. Such a model will probably work but the low-cost model as it works in Europe and America will take some time to develop in most parts of Africa.

Can a regional carrier with small airlines operate low cost? Can a long haul carrier operate low cost? Why can’t the big ones operate low cost?

InterskyJust my idea on that: I truly believe that a small carrier can operate a low cost model. In the beginning the carriers operated large narrow-body like 737-800 or A320 with some 185 seats. More and more, they also operate smaller aircraft like the 737-700 or the A319. And the time the prices were really low are gone as well. In the end you have to cover cost of operations as well as secondary cost like marketing, call center, claims and refunds, taxes and the likes. Not to forget the kerosene as a main cost block, forcing the models to slowly converge. Did I mention Intersky’s regional low-cost operations?

German DLR recently made a study on the fare levels. Comparable flights turned out i.e. an average fare incl. taxes/fees (selected days) like

Ryanair (FR) 78,78
Easyjet (U2) 97,44
Germanwings (4U) 144,33
Air Berlin (AB) 158,64
Wizz (W6) 69,99

With “low cost” and “traditional” airlines offering about the same price levels, it is about cost of operations and you got to cover your cost – low cost or “old model”.

IHS actually reports on the importance of low cost carriers for the smaller regional airports. With cost savings programs reducing services (and service), the “old carriers” loose quickly ground to the ever-expanding, young and hungry competitors. Where Lufthansa services about any German airport in the past, today Turkish Airlines offers more services to German Airports from Istanbul than Lufthansa from Frankfurt! easyJet (with a large base in Berlin) today operates more aircraft (199) than Air Berlin Group (153). And easyJet has 166 aircraft on order plus 100 options (Air Berlin Group 55 orders).

But easyJet can be booked in the GDS. There website even supports to book multiple flights connecting, which I did myself to the U.K. lately (via LGW). As I keep saying: The difference between Lufthansa or Air Berlin and easyJet is NOT that they are only bookable on the Internet (which is simply not true), but that easyJet doesn’t have legacy systems and processes – for easyJet, they focus on the business case! Where “airline sales” often gives special rates to portals and travel agency chains, easyJet does not see a benefit to sell low. They focus to sell high. So if you negotiate with them, you don’t negotiate competing the cheap fares. Also repeating myself: Anyone can sell “cheap”, you need no sales manager to do that.

And two remarks closing: Carolyn McCall, CEO of easyJet is known to understand and promote “service” as a unique selling proposition (USP). And WestJet with its Christmas Miracle had clearly a promotion for the WestJet trade mark in mind. While the “established” airlines keep diluting their own trade marks: What again has “Lufthansa” to do with “Germanwings” (Swiss, Austrian, …)? Ain’t they competitors?

Post Scriptum: ANNA.aero just announced axing of Ryanair, mostly of regional routes.

Ryanair_Cuts__2013-14

You should not rely on Ryanair for anything more than a door opener to make your airport known… And as an airport and region, you should have a strategy to sustainably place your airport on the “road map” of the global aviation network. That requires a strategy, incoming, route feasibility studies and all that common homework.

Food for Thought
Comments welcome

In memoriam: Airline Sales Representatives Association Frankfurt e.V

asra

Having addressed “Airline Sales & e-Commerce” in presentations between 1994 and 2007, I became honorary member in 1999. I have tried to raise awareness for the changes our industry faces but now regretfully have to accept the official disbanding of the association effective August 1st, 2014.

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APOC, OCC, NMOC and A-CDM – a Bigger Picture

Juergen is one of the very few people, I really mean, VERY FEW, people that understand both airlines and airports.
IHS Jane's ATC Innovation Award 2014
IHS Jane’s ATC Innovation Award 2014

Returning from World ATM Congress in Barcelona (with the IHS Jane’s ATC Innovation Award in my baggage!), I think it’s time to address some feedback on an issue that I keep discussing in LinkedIn and elsewhere: The need to “link” the Airlines Operations Control Center (OCC) and the APOC (Airport Operations Center), the latter being a vital part in A-CDM.

Unfortunately, I see it happening frequently that these “control centers” live in their own little universe with little to no links to their peers. Talking about “Big Data”, Sabre as well as Amadeus and Travelport are “big data players”, though in danger to keep the silo thinking up too long.

Where Sabre once brought global e-Commerce to aviation, back in the 60s, back in the mid-80s, we installed the first Sabre Terminals in European travel agencies, aviation now stumbles behind on the possibilities of global e-Commerce, thanks mostly to technical limitations. As no-one wants to invest… If AA wouldn’t have invested at the time, where would we all be today? But is TPF (Transaction Processing Facility) still the core of our being? Or is it time to move on?

“When we are taught aviation at university we get the impression of how advanced aviation technology really is. When we start working, we are at awe, how little common sense or state-of-the-art is applied in aviation technologies.”

[a student at DLR German Aerospace Agency I recently talked to]

Today’s Agenda

Some keywords what I mean to address here are definitions such as A-CDM (vs. CDM) and Departure – or concepts like Collaboration or Rotation

What is the difference between an Airline Operations Control Center (OCC) and an Airport Operations Center (APOC)? And what about the Air Traffic Control’s Network Management Operations Center (NMOC)? And where is the “collaborative aspect” in these?

Right now, they are just three different data silos and collaboration, where it exists, is on a very small local level.

The OCC focuses to limit the negative impact any disruptions have on the operation of any single aircraft in the fleet. The OCC is – so far – the only point that has a rotational point of view, looking at the entire rotation of the aircraft and trying to minimize the impact of disruptions not just on the flight in question, but for all the ones following that particular “segment” (flight A to B).

PassengerRights2With increasing legal demand to reimburse passengers on late or canceled flights beyond the value of their net fare they paid, this is were money for the airline is burned. And impact of disruptions and delays at the airport or in the air space may be a nuisance for the work at the airport or the air traffic controllers, but they have a commercial impact on the airline:

They are expensive.

Nevertheless, I seem to be rather alone in that point of view in discussions. Yes, there is an intellectual understanding at airports and ANSPs, but I have a gut-feeling, that it does not “compute” there really: Or why is it, that many ANSPs are not having their representative in the APOC? Not to talk about direct links yet. Or in the OCC? Or why do many APOCs not have direct (data) links to the OCCs of even their most important airlines?

What is … Departure Time?

Eeee...gypt_One discussion a few days ago addressed the definition of “departure”. And it is such a basic difference in definition, it hit me like a hammer, making me understand the impact of that different perception! When air traffic control talks about departure, they talk about the take-off of the aircraft (ATOT). When the airline and airports talk about the departure, they often talk about the time, the aircraft leaves it’s parking position at the terminal or on the apron, the off-block-time (AOBT). I had trouble, understanding, why an airport should invest into a “Pre-Departure Sequencer” instead of a DMAN in the delair-definition. The difference is based on the same subtle misperception of departure. The PDS and most “DMANs” out there focus on the TOBT, taking somewhat into account the delivery of the aircraft “in time” to the runway. Based on a rather “static” assumption of ATC capacity. The DMAN in delair perception optimizes the “real” departure. Taking into account minimum separation of aircraft, depending on the Standard Instrument Departure (SID) route and other highly complex parameters, the DMAN calculates the best TOBT. Thus, no matter the general disruptions at the airport and the real throughput on the runway by ATC, it delivers as many aircraft as possible for departure. That maximises the throughput and in turn minimizing the recovery time after general delays or disruptions.

All that though happens at the given airport, i.e. Zürich. Talking with airports about departure management, the issue is about always that ATC (the ANSP) does not participate in the departure management, does not provide the needed information and – heresy! – how could we just imply that we could sort out the sequence for the air traffic controller? It works in Zurich? Heresy!

Is A-CDM not an FAA and Eurocontrol requirement? Burn it at the stake!

But now we go a step further…

Rotation

The impact of the aircraft rotation and why A-CDM is something airlines should consider linking OCC to APOC, consider to spend time though the ANSPs who initiated the entire process are the ones stumbling behind their once shining visions of collaborative approaches:

Because the ANSP thinks in “Silo” and leg (flight from A to B).

A friend just recently told me about a major market, offering free access to the excellent flight-data for all flights within the region to the ANSP of a neighboring region, giving this to be offered in reverse to them. The neighboring ANSP (smaller) is not interested, the data is for sale. And they don’t see the additional value having access to the live flight data offered to them. Excuse me? That is Silo thinking.

eastman

And that is, why aviation technology today is way behind other industries. Because there is still silo-thinking. “Collaborative Decision Making” is a nice concept, but it fails real life on a large scale for the narrow-minded thinking of the people who’s job it would be to push the idea! It’s not about the bigger picture, but simply about own benefit. People call that “Greed” and it’s a mortal sin.

Food for Thought
Comments welcome

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The Right Perspective

Juergen is one of the very few people, I really mean, VERY FEW, people that understand both airlines and airports.

inside-outNew Airport Insider recently published a blog by one of who they call the “Generation Y”, students, getting ready for the travel and aviation industry. What triggered my attention there was a very basic, though very common misperception, what I call “the inside-out-look”.

What’s wrong with that?

That is rather easy. If you provide flight services, you fly both directions. Worse, if you subsidize any airport, you likely do it to attract commerce to your region (tourism is commerce too). You likely don’t do it to make the people in your region to take their money elsewhere. As such, the focus of airports and politicians alike must be on the outside in, or as we say in the travel industry; the incoming.

In the example, which is very common, the French author considered “rail” a competitor to flight. Which is true on the inside-out-look, or outgoing, but it’s simply missing the point once you look outside-in.

crowdedtrainsAside of Germany, France and a handful other nations, train is usually no issue. Within these countries, train is very competitive on the local market, especially the high speed trains like French TGV or German ICE. But now I go abroad. Into another country. I go into any travel agency, even in France or Germany and ask for international travel. Give me a guess: How often will they offer you train, even i.e. Paris-Frankfurt? All they intuitively look for in phase 1 is “flight”. Is the city the client wants to connect to bookable on the GDS (Global Travel Booking System)? If not, the agent (hopefully without showing you) rolls the eyes, curses you and starts looking up how the f*** to get you to that godforsaken town you ask for…
noflights
Offline Airport

In short: If you have an airport “nearby” with scheduled services that link you into the global aviation networks on the GDSs (connections are important), you are visible. Else, you’re an annoyance. If there is an airport “nearby”, travelers may take train, bus, rental car or taxi for the remainder of the trip.

pickupLikely, not knowing the language, maybe not even the local alphabeth, it’s going to be a taxi or a car from a large (global) rental car company offering navigation system. Or a personal pickup…

Later, the train may become a competitor. But that’s another story. To trigger global commercial interest, an airport is a strategic answer.
But not just the airports, but also the connectivity by scheduled flights, which can be booked in the GDS, connecting the airport to the global aviation networks! Second lesson, most local-minded politicos miss to understand with their inside-out-look…

Food for Thought
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Check-in 2020

Juergen is one of the very few people, I really mean, VERY FEW, people that understand both airlines and airports.

Aside other sources, I copy the content of that news with kind approval of Momberger Airport Information:

Picture: Dailymail.co.uk
Picture: Dailymail.co.uk

Passengers travelling with British Airways through London Heathrow Airport Terminal 5 have begun to test the personalized digital bag tag being developed by the airline. Microsoft Employees have been chosen to take part in a month-long trial, using a specially adapted version of the British Airways app, to provide essential feedback that will help shape the final product. The digital bag tag, which contains all of a passenger’s baggage details, could eventually replace the need for a new paper tag for every flight. Comprehensive testing of the tag has already taken place to make sure that it works in a live airport environment and can stand up to the rigours of airport baggage systems and everyday travel. Customers on the trial will use a Nokia Lumia Windows smartphone to check in, chose their seat and obtain their mobile boarding pass. Each will be equipped with a specially adapted version of the British Airways app, which automatically updates the digital bag tag with a unique barcode, containing new flight details and an easy-to-see view of their bag’s destination – just by holding the mobile phone over it. They can then save time by quickly dropping their bag off at a dedicated bag drop desk, before going straight through security. The personalized digital bag tags have been specially developed by British Airways, in partnership with Densitron Displays, and Designworks Windsor. #963.AIT4

Image R.Kollau
Image R.Kollau

These news upset me as much as the one I read about Amadeus trying a bag tagging based on 3G-technology. Or Air France and other airlines introducing “home-print” bag tags.

As I mentioned two years ago in my little article about a possible check-in-scenario for 2015, I would see a far more reasonable approach (and easy/fast to bring to market) by the aviation industry to use established standards. Why do they use a QR-code with a modified layout? Anything to hide? Or simply to do it different? Which by the way equals “more expensive”, faulty and slow. And – worse of all: Incompatible like VHS and Betamax…

RFID: Q-Bag-Tag
RFID: Q-Bag-Tag

Why do they try to implement and sell expensive, non-industry-standard-compliant stuff here? Why not using existing and proven technologies like RFID or the newer (but to be standard) NFC? Why force me to use an “App” (and where can I get online when being abroad?) or even worse, an expensive 3G-Network technology?Which Network???

In addition to my (somewhat delayed) prediction about Check-in 2015, I’d also like to see a common free airport WiFi system; wherever an airport offers free WiFi, it’s a common log-in worldwide. Maybe even the same for inflight, just a quick cost note if not free. Or at least a common log-in-process. Enabling to register “globally” is an added value for the Jet Set. And would encourage safer WPA2-connections. “CDM” in action – across aviation industry stakeholders 😉

I’m allowed to dream, right?

Food for Thought
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Global Economic Centre of Gravity

Juergen is one of the very few people, I really mean, VERY FEW, people that understand both airlines and airports.

A Wake-Up Call

Frankfurt Airport at night
Frankfurt Airport at night

If you ask yourself, why Germany and Europe and their Aviation Industry stumbles behind on a global scale, ask our politicians! Ask them why new airports are being built in Turkey (+150 Mio. passengers) and Dubai (+160 Mio. passengers), triple the capacities of Frankfurt (56 Mio. passengers), more than double that of London-Heathrow (70 Mio. passengers). Each! More even than all London Airports together have – and they operate at their limits, new expansion stalled in bureaucracies. And ask them, why German Airlines go bankrupt (Augsburg Airways, Cirrus Airlines, Contact Air, OLT, …), struggle to survive (Lufthansa) or are already steered by Arabs (i.e. Air Berlin, Darwin Airline) … Our answers? “Air Passenger Duty“, night curfews, stop of 3rd runway in Munich (instead of Transrapid), Capital Airport disaster in Berlin, etc., etc.
There was a time, when German Lufthansa was the measure of all things. Without Lufthansa, i.e. the Boeing 737 would never have been build, nor become the most successful airplane type of all times.

Emirates A380 Hub Dubai
Emirates A380 Hub Dubai

Today the big shots are called by the Arab airlines, Emirates wiht 39 Airbus A380 just ordered another 140 of that mega-airplane, their fleet of 200 aircraft triples with more than 400 new aircraft on order. And Lufthansa’s Star Alliance partner Turkish Airlines doubles the fleet, adding almost 200 to the existing 200. And as mentioned, Istanbul gets another airport (they have two already) for another 150 million passengers, three times as many as Frankfurt manages today.
Lufthansas order list may look similar, but most of the aircraft needs to replace older generation “gas hogs”. And with 10 A380 and another four on order, with 29 747 with just 10 new on order, Lufthansa is in no position to play in the same league as an Emirates.

Germany Purchasing Power vs. Airports
Germany Purchasing Power vs. Airports 2016 [updated 2016]
What many oversee is the commercial impact of aviation. As I show for many years now the correlation of economic centres in relation to airports and their size, there is simply also a historic development giving a warning example.

As Carthage and Rome have been the centre of the world in there time, as was Genoa (Columbus) or Bombay. Always the metropolises where strategically located at trade routes. And as shipping (the one on the water) got competition by rail, street and aviation, developments in aircraft construction shot airports like Shannon or Anchorage into the insignificance of history.

train-vs-planeMy former boss compared this with the old American railroad tycoons. Their self-conception was to build rail tracks and operate large iron horses, not the mass transport of people and goods. As the first aircraft were developed, they belittled these developments. As the World Wide Web developed, Microsoft belittled this development and to date limps reactively behind current developments (the Windows 8 Apps are simply uncompetitive compared to their Apple paragons).

Merkel-PutinAnd currently, the politicians of the “industry nations” miss to set the right tracks for the future. Would Moscow get the Russian corruption in check, no politicians would dare to challenge the authoritarian regime of this resource rich country. Just as they handle China with velvet gloves, knowing exactly that money rules the world and in the end, if they want to “profit” from the business, they dodge their high moral and ethics first… And aviation is simply a punching ball for them, screaming “noise” and “pollution”, no matter the major, largely unsubsidized developments in quieter and fuel efficient aircraft… Yeah, don’t think, just hit’em and milk’em!
For aviation, it is finally about moving people and goods from A to B (as efficiently as possible). And who believes the thousands of aircraft seats ordered in the Middle East would fly empty… Where does the traffic flow? Minimum growth in Europe. A graph by the CEO of Turkish Airlines given when he took seat of chairman of the European Airline Association AEA pinpoints it:

global economic centre of gravity 1971-2031

At the same time Lufthansa impairs it’s cooperation with Star Alliance Partner Turkish Airlines, with the reasoning that they would “unfairly” pull longhaul passengers to their hub in Istanbul. “Obstinacy” you call that I think. Because factually, in the current political sludge and struggle for survival, Lufthansa has nothing substantial to counter such developments

Cash cow - milked dry
Cash cow – milked dry

Aviation in Europe: Lufthansa and Air Berlin have rested too long on their successes, Western politicians simply understand aviation as a milk cow they can drain, ignoring the negative repercussions to commerce of their decisions against aviation development. Even Ryanir “stumbles” and frantically tries to reshape the own, aggressive business model, replacing it in fact with a core-different business model. If that will succeed? I doubt it.

Feeder for the Hub (FRA)
Feeder for the Hub (FRA)

My expectations: One global hub will remain in Europe. With Easyjet and current focus by Norwegian, London has a good chance, if they get their capacity problems managed. London isn’t dependent on the drip of British Airways as are Frankfurt (Lufthansa) or Paris (Air France), being tied to these airling operators for the better or worse.
Passengers from or to Europe then will fly with regional feeder services into the real global hubs in Moscow, Istanbul, Abu Dhabi or Dubai. As a hub to South America Portugal could position itself, but also Madrid and Morocco (outside the EU) are showing ambitions, a prophecy being rather risky there.

The traffic and commerce streams are changing. And I have concerns about the ability of the industry nations politicians to realize that the world suddenly bypasses them. And when they wake up, it will simply be too late.

Food for Thought
Comments welcome
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Always Online – the Smartphone Revolution

Juergen is one of the very few people, I really mean, VERY FEW, people that understand both airlines and airports.

How the smart phone changes my life – and will change yours if it hasn’t already…

First a quick review, how I got “addicted”… First Yulia “fried” the mobile phone that she brought from Russia. 2009, being the year the first real “smart phone”, the iPhone 3(GS), hit the German market, it was virtually impossible to get any other “smart phone” that would allow us to install and use the phone to write Cyrillic SMS – a must have for my wife. So I had the choice to order a phone from Russia – or get her an iPhone…

As she got the iPhone, I “inherited” her iPod (1st gen.) and started to use it. To read e-Books, to hear music, to go online and quickly check things, to do many things. One of the short-comings of that iPod was the missing camera, so I could Skype, but I could make no video calls at that. So getting the opportunity, I got myself upgraded to the (at the time brand-new) iPod 4th generation and started using Skype and do again many more things with it… No, I did not take an iPhone as – at the time – I had a dual-SIM-phone and appreciated the ability to have one phone for business and private. One major disadvantage remained – I needed WLAN to use online (= smart) functions… So when iPhone 4S came out, I had waited for iPhone 5 but decided to wait no longer… So here I was… Having predicted always onlineback in 2004 at my annual ASRA presentation about e-Commerce-trends, I finally am…

c't Schlagseite 1/2003
Always Online: New Device found: Airbus A320 – Installing

Another issue I mentioned in the last years was the evolution of RFID (Radio Frequency Identification), which is virtually the same as the NFC (Near Field Communication) that is expected to be part of the next smartphone generation. A sender transmits a signal that triggers the “passive” RFID chip. “Powered” by the radio waves, the otherwise “passive” RFID chip (where NFC may use “own” power) returns a given code, that can be used to identify the passport or ticket number, the suitcase’s ID, the frequent flyer number …

c't Schlagseite 15/2005
Dear valued customer! The RFID chip in your tampon reports to be filled to the brim. Fantastic offers on tampons in the next aisle, shelf 7…

Receiving that RFID it is the server to be able to use and interpret these short codes. Following the Security by Obscurity-idea, such solutions increase the security, by removing unnecessary (and time-consuming) “checks”, bothering the passengers today.

One of the new apps (smart phone programs) I got was Barcoo, giving me information about products I saw in the store, identified by its barcode I scan with the inbuilt camera. And one of the more recent trends is the QR-code (Quick Response), the “next generation barcode”. Different from the good old barcode, the QR-code has the ability to contain more complex information, it can give you a simple URL (internet address), a vCard (virtual business card), event information (calendar data), WLAN access information, … Many, many possibilities! All you need is a smart phone, maybe a small “app” (application, a program) to interpret the QR code. To create one, go online, there are tons of generators around, many are free to use. Abusing the high quality error correction being part of the QR-code, you can even add a logo or icon to personalize it (which the scanner interprets as “faulty data”):

SocialSample

Same principle as QR-code, just one reference area in the center
Same principle as QR-code, just one reference area in the center

So airlines us QR-codes to manage check-in-data and get you your “online boarding pass”. They will use RFID and NFC to identify your suitcase, to identify your passport and it’s “public” data, check you in automatically, enable the lounge access and charge you directly and automatically over your phone in case you are not entitled for free access. A sticker at the entrance provides you with the current (changing) access code to enter the free WiFi, etc., etc. pp.

Now… Computer hardware looses about 50% in size every two years, doubling the capabilities in the same time. Only the necessary screen size today is an issue, why that technology is not (yet) in a watch – or any other “aesthetic” jewelry or gadget you may prefer.

iPhone’s Siri to me is still a female bitch. Usually she simply claims not to understand me… But as soon as that improves (and it will), you can have a small hearing device behind your ear to telephone. The microphone being a stylish necklace (or the entire thing a small headset). If you need to go online, you unfold an external flex-screen or put on some stylish sun glasses. You won’t need a mouse, as Siri’s grandchild will understand your wishes and/or your eye movement is tracked: “Blink to Enter”… Remember the Visa advertising?

What did they know 2000 about “smart phones”? Where will be in another 10 years?

Yes, please share your thoughts: For those who agree or disagree, it is the exchange of ideas that broadens all of our knowledge. [Richard Eastman]

Food for Thought…

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You Don’t Have to Be…

Juergen is one of the very few people, I really mean, VERY FEW, people that understand both airlines and airports.

ERF You Dont Have to Be the PresidentIn 2009, I had the honor to be part in the handling team to prepare for the short visit by President Obama in Thuringia.

erf_pope2011_1In 2011 the President was followed by the Catholic Pope Benedict XVI, also visiting ERF and Thuringia, the heartland of the ‘renegade’ Lutheran church. Being the ultra conservative he is, he rejected the offered hand of the Protestant church.

The most preposterous notion that H. Sapiens has ever dreamed up is that the Lord God of Creation, Shaper and Ruler of all the Universes, wants the saccharine adoration of His creatures, can be swayed by their prayers, and becomes petulant if He does not receive this flattery. Yet this absurd fantasy, without a shred of evidence to bolster it, pays all the expenses of the oldest, largest, and least productive industry in all of history. [Lazarus Long]

P.S.: God is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent-it says so right here on the label. If you have a mind capable of believing all three of these divine attributes simultaneously, I have a wonderful bargain for you. No checks, please. Cash and in small bills. [Lazarus Long]

Food for Thought…

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What does an airline do with 90 A380

Juergen is one of the very few people, I really mean, VERY FEW, people that understand both airlines and airports.

A380 Terminal DXBIn LinkedIn, based on a recent analysis by RBS, someone raised the concern about 90 A380. Will it impact Europe? I disagree with the question, it’s point of view and the analysis.

The main mistakes most “Western” analysts and experts do in looking at the Emirates (and the greater Middle East) is the trained focus on shareholder value, fiscal year (results) and political elections.

Long term thinking in “The West” has been replaced long ago by the above obstacles. But it is a vital part of the cultures in other parts of the world. First and foremost is the family. Followed by the clan. Then the neighboring clans, then by the “same people” (i.e. Muslims, other Sheiks, …). The main rule is that the family and the clan must prosper. Until very recently in such terms, the Sheiks survival was simply a matter of following these simple rules – which by the way are also described in the bible.

So what will ‘the Emirates’ (not just talking about the UAE) do with hundreds of A380s, with thousands of seats? Why do they build the largest number of luxury resorts worldwide? The Palm? The World? Free Zones for commerce? Because having the – what thes DO understand to be temporary – “Gift” of Cruide Oil income, their expressed target is to establish the Emirates regions as a crossroad for international tourism and commerce – and the “it-destination” for the rich and famous.

triballeaders_natgeoWhen the crude oil is gone, they will be remembered by their own for their foresight and to not just have spend the riches but at the same time made a lasting impact.

Will Europe, India, other markets suffer from that? Yes. Because the Emirates and their development tries to take away long-haul-connecting passengers. They will expand. They started on the racetrack Europe-Asia. They slowly expand now to Russia-North-Africa, connecting Asia with North Africa at the same time. They will not be competing much on the ruinous Europe-America-market, except to take the passengers connecting in Europe from North America to Asia…

They play by the rules, as long as these rules don’t interfere with their goal. when politically advisable. Else, always be aware: Their family and the clan comes first! If they have to bend or break other people rules for the benefit of the family or clan, they will do.

Their goal is so easy – but hard to grasp for too many of so-called “experts”, as their goals are so long-term…

Food For Thought…

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Seven Weeks Without

Juergen is one of the very few people, I really mean, VERY FEW, people that understand both airlines and airports.

7wochenohneIt is Easter Sunday. In the wake of my father’s death (the reason there was no Food For Thought last week) I think about god. Yulia does an Easter Lent. So I thought about the Easter Lent in Germany and learned only today about “Seven Weeks Without”, an Easter Lent initiative in the German churches. This year’s motto: “Decide! Seven Weeks Without Hesitation” (Sich entscheiden! Sieben Wochen ohne zaudern).

The publications that came along with the motto say we make the mistake to play it safe. Don’t we all know (what we call) the “egg-dance” of politicians, trying to avoid any decisions? I have too much of those to my liking lately.

Then I received a post by my dear friend Sapphire, called Orphan. About the missing link to god. I do not believe much in church. But in the wake of my father’s death, I also learned the truth of the saying “You can remove a boy from the bible belt, but you cannot remove the bible belt from the boy” (the bible belt is a very religious region in the U.S. midwest). I was raised Lutheran (a Christian variant). I believe in god. And as Yulia just said to me yesterday: It is the believe in god that unites us.

But this Food For Thought is a business blog, so why do I address something like god, the lent or Orphan here? Because of the lent motto. Decide! We cannot always play it safe. This is another recurring topic, in this case on LinkedIn Q&A: What makes a good manager. A good manager decided, stands to his decision (doesn’t blame others on failure) and reverses it quickly if needed. Not like a politician without an own opinion. First it is the decision. And no, not the decision not to decide 😉

Especially in the crisis, the decision makers are likely to survive. They move.

Or to quote Barrack Obama: Change! Yes – We CAN !!!

Food For Thought. Thanks for sharing yours!

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The Power of Bureaucrats

Juergen is one of the very few people, I really mean, VERY FEW, people that understand both airlines and airports.

The past weeks have been quite a dramtatic change to me. Taking over the marketing at Erfurt Airport was the right decision. It calls for a fire fighter. And the first weeks produced a lot of bureaucratic overkill that made my life more miserable than it hat to be – challenging and fun as these weeks were.

bureaucracyWhat I discussed with family and friends is actually the thought, why bureaucrats are that way. Why is it, that they require reports and statistics on obviously clear things? Why do they knowingly destroy instead of create? I will never truly understand it, but we are all facing them, so the bureaucrats are somewhat a part of life we got to live with.

Some discussions on LinkedIn address the same topic. What makes a “leader”? My first ever boss told me some basic rules:

  1. Keep your supplier in mind. Only if you pay decently he will produce good work and only then he will remain your supplier. And suppliers are a small family always – they know each other. So once you go the cheap route, you will have trouble getting decent quality.
  2. A leader decides. Get as much data at as short time as possible and decide. Sometimes you have no data. Trust your experience. Some call it “intuition”. It’s as good a guide than any made-up figures. Future holds no guarantees.

Thinking about the last sentence: We all learned that lesson well last year, did we not? But one sentence is also true and may make the bureaucrats happy. We do need the bean counters. They shall question us. We better have a good idea, what we are doing. But we are here to do something. Not to count the beans.

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