15-16/2013 A spanner in the works
Guests arriving early for a ceremony to mark the recent opening of a new airport in Doha may have felt a little bit silly. The first Qatar Airways aeroplane was scheduled to land at the new hub at 12.20 on 1 April – but at 10.30 the party was cancelled. Construction delays. The grand opening of Hamad international airport was originally pencilled in for three years ago, then for 12 December 2012. But now the ministry of the interior’s civil defence authority realised – rather late in the day – that the facility’s safety standards were below par. Does that remind you of anything? Disputes surrounding a new airport in Berlin are similar – except that last May the German authorities noticed three weeks before the formal opening of the hub – which had also already been delayed several times – that the fire precautions were not up to scratch. Whilst the Germans have to wait until summer to find out when their new capital city airport will open, a renewed attempt to launch proceedings in Doha in April is apparently not completely off the cards. Even when there is a spanner in the works, the clocks seem to beat to a different tune in the region.
Arab culture does not include playing April Fool’s jokes– but that was my first reaction when I read the news from Doha. Genuinely false rumours from the aviation world this year included an announcement from space tourism pioneer Sir Richard Branson’s airline Virgin Atlantic that they will be equipping short-haul planes with glass floors, and one from Korean Air, announcing a new thrice-weekly service by Space Shuttle, decked out in the company’s light blue livery, on the Seoul–Mars route. The US low-cost carrier Southwest Airlines’ statement that it was going to offer even cheaper Boston–Denver flights – in a hot-air balloon, was in stark contrast to Air Malta’s offer to its rich customers who are in a bit of a rush. It offered them rather adventurous flights in 1950s fighter planes.
Here at the ITJ we stick to the hard facts. We wish you a pleasant read in these ongoing difficult economic times.
See you at the TransRussia trade fair in Moscow!
Head of airfreight