Saturday, 14 February 2009

Firm which gave third runway a clean bill of health has links to BAA

According to the Evening Standard, a company which the Government hired to help make the case for the third runway previously had BAA as one of its clients.

Surprise you? Naaaah...

Wheels fall off BA plane

A British Airways flight from Amsterdam lost its front wheels during a "hard landing" at London City Airport last night. Luckily none of the 71 people onboard were seriously hurt.

Friday, 13 February 2009

Video conferencing to replace 2.1 million airline seats per year by 2012, losing the travel industry $3.5 billion annually

Gartner, one of the world's leading information technology research companies, has published a report predicting that innovative new technologies are set to replace 2.1 million unnecessary business flights by 2012.

The report focuses on a technology known as Telepresence - essentially high resolution video and audio conferencing, which allows "a person to feel as if they were present, to give the appearance that they were present, or to have an effect, at a location other than their true location" (Wikipedia).
Clearly, the key use for this technology is face-to-face business meetings - users get a very real feeling of "being there" without the need to hop on a plane.

Gartner goes on to explain that...

"...not every meeting needs to be face to face and there is no doubt that telepresence and other approaches to virtual collaboration such as Immersive Workspace, which is built on top of Second Life, or yet to be released solutions will provide a real alternative for many businesses"

One of the arguments given for the third runway is "increased competitiveness" and the growing demand for business flights in and out of London. Even if you ignore the environmental impact of unnecessary air travel and the dropping demand for flights, there are a number of other clear benefits to using this technology:
  • Cost savings on travel
  • Executives can stay at home with their families
  • Less man hours wasted through travel and therefore productivity gains
  • Health aspects - no jet lag (maybe a few late evenings in the office!)
Although global travel in a job may sound quite glamorous and attractive, I'm sure many executives can tell you how tiring and inconvenient it becomes over time. You rarely get a chance to see the cities you visit and you spend much of your time holed up in your hotel.

Through innovation in communications and IT, global business travel is now becoming less of a necessity for business and will continue to do so as technology improves.

Isn't it time Gordon Brown focused more of his efforts into fostering science and technological innovation in the UK than folly such as the the third runway at Heathrow?

More details here:

Monday, 2 February 2009

Plane slips at Heathrow taxiway

For the last 24 hours in the UK, it's been snowing heavily and much of London is covered in a very thick blanket of snow.

Despite ample warnings about the arctic conditions about to hit Heathrow, it seems that BAA were unable to ensure planes couldn't slide onto the grass.A BAA spokesperson explained,

"the snow keeps falling every time that we try and clear it."

Sunday, 1 February 2009

More contradictions from the government

Currently, a number of wildcat strikes are planned or underway in the UK.

Last week, about 700 workers went on strike at Total's oil refinery at Killingholme and another 3,000 walked out in sympathy at other refineries and power stations across the country. The workers are protesting at the use of 400 Italian and Portuguese workers on a £200m construction project at the site, in north Lincolnshire - The BBC provides more details.

Of course, Gordon Brown has stepped in to give everyone his opinion on things. According to Sky News,

"he recognised people were 'worried' about jobs being taken by workers from other countries, but stressed that the UK was part of a 'single Europe'"

Can you see a contradiction here? The government's been using the 'international competitiveness' argument for a while, stating that Heathrow needs the new runway to compete with Schipol and Paris Charles de Gaulle. Even though this argument is based on dodgy economics, when considered in isolation it does seem a fairly reasonable one.

However, based on Brown's statement above, where does the UK stand? Are we agressively competing against the other countries in the EU or are we all in this together as part of the 'single Europe' he talks about?

The ironic twist to the story would be if BAA's owners, Grupo Ferrovial, decided to draft in their own Spanish workers to build its new runway. As a large multinational construction company, this is not beyond the realms of possibility....