Thursday, December 31, 2009

YES.... WE SHALL

One more day left and 2009 will be over, it is not just another year gone by, but the end of the first decade of the 21st Century. We are at the dawn of another decade and another year, 2010.

2009 has been a bad year for a lot of people, a year of uncertainty for most of us. A year that brought the best and the worst in all of us including corporate bodies. Companies that had to let go people, some acted generously with good end of service benefits, help in trying to find work and assisted in visa arrangements. Others acted pettily not only with people that were let go but also with people that stayed to run their business.

2010 is a year of recovery on all aspects. The global economy is said to be improving and green shoots may turn into fledgling branches. More importantly it is a year of recovery for each and every one of us.

We need to look forward to a better tomorrow, to a tomorrow that we help shape and not lie down and hope for the best. The future is not in our control but we can help make it better for ourselves and those around us, family, friends and strangers. We have to be proactive and forthcoming and if something does not work or someone wants to be petty and obstructive, just move on and leave them behind. Yes, move on, way outside our comfort zone.

It is no more Yes We Can...... it is Yes We Shall

Wishing you all a Happy and Prosperous 2010, Live Long and Prosperous


Monday, December 28, 2009

They WON

Well the TSA has imposed new draconian measures, this time not on ground but on board.

1. Passengers must remain in seats beginning 1 hour prior to arrival at destination.
2. Passenger access to carry-on baggage is prohibited beginning 1 hour prior to arrival
at destination.
3. Disable aircraft-integrated passenger communications systems and services (phone,
internet access services, live television programming, global positioning systems)
prior to boarding and during all phases of flight.
4. While over U.S. airspace, flight crew may not make any announcement to passengers
concerning flight path or position over cities or landmarks.
5. Passengers may not have any blankets, pillows, or personal belongings on the lap
beginning 1 hour prior to arrival at destination.

It is rumored that these measures will be removed by year end. Knowing the TSA it probably will take longer. Is this the TSA deflecting attention from its failure. I mean the guy's father told the USA Embassy in Lagos, his son is up to no good.

I am all for security screening on ground, no matter how stringent or thorough or how long it takes. They are designed to make us feel safe when we board an aircraft.

Now the TSA wants the travelling public to sit still in what amounts to sensory deprivation, mass solitary confinement in a flying tube at 40,000 ft. for 8 to 12 hours. Why not just ground all flights and save us all the trouble. So we will all travel to Mexico or Canada and drive into the USA.

The day the TSA has instated these measures they have acknowledged that the war was lost, THEY HAVE WON.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Flying American

Merry Christmas and a Happy and Prosperous 2010

This last week has been weird and exciting. For the first time in 20 years I have decided to fly with a USA Legacy carrier on an international flight (Last time was 1990 from JFK to LAX with TWA).

I flew American Airlines (AA) from Dubai to Detroit.

Well, the first flight was DXB to LHR a code share with their One World Partner British Airways (BA), I suppose we all know about their Flight Attendants' call for a strike over the Christmas/New Year season and the ensuing drama. I fly with BA several times a year, but that was different. The crew were very professional, courteous, poker face, fake smiles and cool, well more like cold, lucky it was a night flight and I slept.

Then came AA, now I am used to American Eagle Flights between Chicago and Detroit, commuter aircraft, very short and very informal. AA at LHR were friendly, my boarding passes issued and sent on my way to their Admiral's Club. I liked their lounge in LHR the layout was nice, much better than BA's T5 lounges. The one in Chicago was great but other than a voucher for a free bottle of water everything else is chargeable.

Now AA must have a great profiling software for additional security screening. In the last 8 months I got profiled twice for extra screening, I suppose a Jordanian, residing in the USA traveling back and forth to Dubai does raise some concerns to somebody in AA, so you get a bunch of SSSS typed on your boarding pass. In Detroit the TSA made sure I understood that it was "my airline requested extra screening", in LHR the security personnel told me SSSS was for special, I actually laughed. I don't mind it.

I love travelling in B777, it is a great aircraft and the Business seat on AA is so complicated, they have a video clip on how to use it, pretty cool. The entertainment system is not as extensive as BA's just a few movies, but I loved their Audio especially the Classical Music.

The food was not bad, imaginative and tasty (Chicken on a bed of couscous with tomato sauce, not bad for a Legacy Airline) and the chocolate ice cream was divine, I was impressed.

The crew was professional and aloof. The Purser told us not to leave our designated zones, congregate around toilets and not to approach the galleys and she meant it. WOW.... very clinical almost surgical, of course the Captain's announcement to us that if we see something unusual, it is probably unusual and tell your FA.

All in all, it was a great Atlantic crossing, surprisingly


Thursday, December 24, 2009

GLORIA

It is Christmas Eve and my friends in UAE and Jordan must be getting down to some serious get togethers, while us in the western hemisphere are still running around doing last minute shopping (between bouts of jet lag napping).

So, what did you get for Christmas? Were you good, must be or Santa would not visit. It is nice to get presents, makes us feel good and appreciated.

Well Christmas is about giving? right? Sure, it is about giving to family and friends, giving love and friendship. It is about getting together (physically or virtually, does not matter) with family, friends and acquaintances and showing them you care.

It is about being kind, being forgiving and willing to start all over again. Yes, about telling people that all is good, forgiven and forgotten.

It is about living to that angelic hymn "Gloria in excelsis Deo et in terra pax hominibus bonae voluntatis (Glory be to God on high and in earth peace,and goodwill towards men)"

Yesss, Goodwill towards men (and women), life is too short, so Merry Christmas

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Reflections

End of the year, a time for reflection. A time of remembrance of loved ones, those who are with us or far away and those who have left us but their memory and love remains in our heart.

It is a time to take stock of our actions and/or inactions of the previous 12 months. A time for looking inward and really have a hard and honest look at our inner selves. Are we proud of what we have achieved? Are we proud of the person we have become? Can we look ourselves in the eye every morning and like what we see? No deception, no self delusion but the real us.

Time, to chart our path for the future or try to write down our wish lists. Resolutions are made only to be discarded in a few weeks. However deep down we know what we want or think we know the path to follow. A mixture of hope, apprehension, uncertainty, fear and confusion. And, if we are lucky we have someone special to share with.

Ahh, that special time of the year where hope and happiness coexist side by side with apprehension and sadness.

May the LORD bless you and all your family and friends and keep you healthy, wealthy and above all loving and happy.

1 Goal

1 Goal (click here to learn more) Education For All.

In 2000, 164 governments signed the UN Millennium Development Goals, 2 of the 8 goals addressed ending poverty through education;

  • To ensure that all boys and girls complete primary schooling by 2015
  • To make sure that girls have the opportunity for education at all levels by 2015

1 Goal is part of a large global initiative, The Class of 2015, aimed at mobilising support to ensure world leaders keep their promise for 2015.

FIFA joined the Class of 2015 with the promise to leverage the 2010 World Cup Audience in South Africa to have a lasting Legacy on Education in Africa and the World.

Sixteen Billion Dollars are needed annually to achieve the goals of the Class of 2015, a drop in the bucket compared to what governments spent on the bailout of the Banking Sector.

Education is a basic human right that no child should be deprived from. The cost of education is negligible when compared to defence spending or bail out outlays. Yet, governments to their own and their people's detriment are hesitant to commit funds especially in hard times. The empowerment of women and their contribution to the world economy and culture will be only realised through education.

So, go to the 1 Goal website http://www.1-goal.org/about-us.php and join the movement, blog about it and tell your friends. Together will achieve the goals of The Class of 2015

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Walk The Talk

Every CEO of every organisation in the world will tell you how great they treat their employees. Claims that will not withstand a one hour scrutiny of their HR departments' policies and procedures or they way these policies and procedures are administered. Statements made for public consumption.

I always maintained that an airline, more than any other business in the world, is about people. It is never about airplanes or assets. It is the employees and how they interact together and with the passengers. A work ethic that every work group in the organisation is equally important and that an employee once trained is trusted to do what, in his best judgement, is right for the company's best interest at a given situation.

Very few airlines or organisations really "Walk the Talk".

One that shines is Southwest Airlines (SWA), 35000 happy employees (mostly unionised) who helped SWA carry 101.9 million passengers in 2008 (in 2008, the second carrier was AA at 92.772 million passengers) on board 544 B737 narrow body aircraft (AA has 608 including a large portion being wide bodies). More so, 2008 marked the 36th consecutive year of profitability at SWA since its inception on 18 June 1971. Pretty impressive, huh.

What is really impressive, is to hear Ms Colleen Barrett, President of Southwest Airlines talk about the employees being the highest priority and that she spends 85% of her time delivering "proactive customer service to the employees" (click here to hear Colleen Barrett on "Servant Leadership" from KnowledgeAtWharton) and if everyone else does their job right you have success.

WOW, 85% of the President's time delivering "proactive customer service to the employees", go figure. And darn it, it works very well at and for what is definitely the most successful airline in the world.

That is really Walking the Talk.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Finally, She Flew

Finally, the Dreamliner flew, a little late, but it flew. On December 15th 2009 the B787 Dreamliner had its first flight. The aircraft is almost an all composites aircraft and Boeing had design issues and workload issues, the B747-8 the latest variant of the venerable B747 has still to fly.

Boeing had to delay the first flight 6 times in the last 2 years until they got the right fix. Airlines were unhappy about the delays, but then the Recession hit and it was not all that bad, considering there were discussions about compensations.

The B787 has leading edge technologies (click here for details) incorporated in the design. However, the most important feature is the composite content of the aircraft, which has caused some of the delays. An almost all composite aircraft poses problems in maintainability and repairabilty of the structure. This requires development of new repairs and specialised training.

The coming few months of flight testing will be prove the new technologies and it should be very interesting .

Finally, she flew, Boeing has always been known to design beautiful airplanes and the Dreamliner follows this tradition very sleek lines and performance and handling that matches it.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Deliveries

Since 2005 I was involved in about twelve and a half (12.5) deliveries, aircraft deliveries that is. The bulk happened at Airbus at their Toulouse facility. I enjoy Toulouse, such a historic place with a young population, full of university students. Great countryside and not too bad weather.

Three other deliveries happened in Barcelona. Definitely one of my favorite places. The place brims with diversity, from people to architecture to food. A place where the sea meets the mountains, the old meets and coexists with the new.

However, 2009 brought in new deliveries in terms of type; from commercial to VIP and at totally new locations.

Two EMBRAER Legacy 600s from Sao Jose Dos Campos in Brazil. A city that lies in the middle of rolling green hills and beautiful countryside. An aircraft delivery is an aircraft delivery is an aircraft delivery, what changes in a VIP interior is the emphasis on the quality of the cabin. No big deal, well actually it is a big deal, it looks at a totally different level of comfort and quality.

Finally, this brings us to the HALF delivery, it is a green aircraft!
Noooo, nothing to do with the environment, it is green because it has no interior installed. The final acceptance will be performed after completion of the interior installation. This one happened to be in Hamburg. This is my first visit to Hamburg, the city architecture is diverse and so is the landscape, rivers, canals, lakes and the sea. At this time Hamburg is in a festive mood with Christmas just round the corner. The Christmas Market, an open market, was crowded in spite of the rain and a Sunday evening. Gluehweine (hot wine punch) and generous portions of sausages and ham sandwiches seemed to be the favorites of the crowd. Christmas trees were all over the city including the container terminal at the Port of Hamburg.

Deliveries are highly technical and contractual events but that should in no way detract from enjoying the cultural aspects of cities like Toulouse, Barcelona, Sao Jose Dos Campos and Hamburg.

Friday, December 4, 2009

This That and The Other

The last 10 days or so have been very bizarre. A long holiday the start of which coincided with Thanksgiving. Two holidays, Eid al Adha and Thanksgiving, two occasions for men and women to give thanks for the bounties God has given us.

It all started the evening before the holidays when Dubai World announced it wants to defer 60 Billion USD in debt for six months, the greatest faux pas in PR history. WOW, what were you thinking Dubai, by the time the holidays are over, all will be forgotten and life resumes normally. Well, the world freaked, a story like that and no one available for comment, not even the janitor, for 10 days. It did not help that Dubai disowned its off spring. As expected Dubai bashing restarted in the western press in earnest, stories like the city built on the sand, which assets Dubai will lose to Abu Dhabi but the best one was this crisis would derail the world economic recovery. Huh, 60 Billion USD in deferment will derail the world, what about the trillions lost and others spent for the bail out all over the world, get real people. Eventually cooler heads prevailed and the world settled down in anticipation.

All that while, the UAE celebrated the 38th anniversary of the union. A celebration which was nothing like the previous 13 I witnessed here. Emaraties expressed so much pride in their country, union and culture, a real coming of age.

Of course I did not get 10 days of holidays, private sector you know, The three days between Eid and National days were so full and hectic having to cope with the introduction of 2 new aircraft types in 6 months.

Of course it was not all work work, on National Day we had a Tweetup at Wild Peeta, great company, great fun and so diverse.

All in all a fun week or so, but really weird, freaky weird.


Tuesday, December 1, 2009

National Day

Tomorrow December 2, 2009 marks the 38th National Day of The United Arab Emirates (UAE). The only true and successful union in the Arab World. The result of the Vision of Sheikh Zayed of Abu Dhabi and Sheikh Rashed of Dubai (may they rest in peace) that forged a federal union of seven emirates known at the time as the trucial states. A vision that transformed a desert into one of the most dynamic and visionary countries in the world.

I arrived to the UAE in 1996 at the time of the 25th anniversary and was fortunate enough to witness and experience and may be contribute in a small way to its development. The change in the last 13 years was staggering and amazing. A vision so powerful, it galvanised Emaratis and Expatriates alike.

The UAE is a country that is tolerant towards religion, life styles and most expatriates' idiosyncrasies. This tolerance provides an environment that promotes a very comfortable life style, which is rarely found in any other country, just ask any expatriate that has returned home.

It is a tribute to the Rulers and Emaraties who along with millions of expatriates, have sustained, nurtured and developed the original vision that created this great nation.

Finally, thank you to all Emaraties for making us feel welcome and at home, in spite of our diverse life styles.

Wishing you all a Happy National Day

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