Archive for February, 2009
Until the now defunct British all-business class airline Silverjet installed “women only loos,” there was really nothing new to write about when it cam to the normal onboard experience of using the lavatory At least Silverjet attempted to do something new, innovative, and entertaining with their offering. Then today, Ryanair’s boss suggested that the potential for “spending a pound [sterling]” to go take care of your business might be a better way to go.
There is a lot I can say about Ryanair, and most of it would sound like it was coming out of the mouth of Mr. Michael O’Leary himself. My diatribe would be full of colourful references of how the airline has treated me and the references and would have to be as blue as O’Leary’s Irish eyes. The one thing that you do have to respect about O’Leary and his team is their insatiable hunger for public relations attention of any kind.
So after a week that gave us the announcement that Ryanair would abolish airport check-in desks completely and require passengers to check-in online for all flights, as well as the now classic exchange between Ryanair’s Technology Support team and a passenger, it came as no surprise that we had not seen the last from the man who has been dubbed “The Mouth” and his team.
So this morning, during an interview with the BBC O’ Leary said that the airline had also looked at the possibility of installing coin slots on its toilets, “so that people might actually have to spend a pound to spend a penny in future”. When the reporter further questioned him about what passengers without any cash would do when they required the toilet, he responded that he didn’t think there was “anybody in history that has got on board a Ryanair aircraft with less than a pound”.
Now, Mr. O’Leary knows better. You cannot even get a license to run a restaurant in the EU unless you have provided the appropriate number of toilets for the number of potential patrons you have. In addition, aircraft Layout of Passenger Area), or LOPAs have the same requirements. This is just basic health and safety mathematics. He and his team know that this plan is ludicrous, and he knows that it even borders on the illegal. Yet, still there he is with the inflammatory statements.
The one thing that you have to admire about Ryanair is that they will sell you a seat to X, and tell you no lies. The seat is just a seat, and the credit-card surcharge to purchase the ticket, the extra money for the baggage, and your soda, are all optional extras. Well, I don’t know about you, but my need for an in-flight lavatory is not an optional extra. So I am sure to make up for that, he will find a way of adding a “convenience charge” for checking in online.
There is no question that Mr. O’Leary is a sharp man with a business acumen that borders on ruthless. It strikes me that he has never really left his roots of selling newspapers at the corner shop, where he claims to have started. In essence isn’t Ryanair a flying newsagent? “Okay, so that is a copy of The Times, €1.00, a candy-bar €2.20, a cola € 2.25. So that’s 5.45, plus and extra €1.00 for the directions to the nearest public convenience. That will make it €6.45 then.”
Frankly, we suggest for our comfort, and for comfort and safety of those sitting around the airline business, that Mr. O’Leary purchase a one-way ticket to somewhere suitably warm… and stay there.
Updated 12.55 (London time): Local Dutch authorities have been quoted as ” Up to 9 people have died”. This conflicts with initial reports from the Turkish Airlines. As of this update, Turkish Airlines has yet to release a formal written statement ot the press.
According to Turkish Airlines press office in Istanbul, TK1951 was on approach to Amsterdam’s Schipol airport (Runway 36L-18R) when it crashed at approximately 1130 Istanbul tme/0930 Amsterdam time.
They can confirm that the aircraft was a Boeing 737-800 with 135 passenger and 7 crew on board at the time of the incident.”, said a Turkish Airlines spokesperson from Istanbul. He went on to say “that all on board the aircraft have survived.” Previous media reports had advised that at least one person had died, however, official sources including the Turkish Transport Minister are now advising that all aboard have survived.
The aircraft has come to rest in a rather muddy field, where rescue workers are having some slight difficulty. The weather at the time of the incident has been reported to have been foggy, and Instrument Flight Rules were in place.
Dutch media sources are advising that eyewitnesses are saying that the aircraft “appeared to be flying slowly” at the time of impact.
At this time, however, we are unsure if the aircraft had declared an emergency or was on a final approach.
A quick examination of our photo’s courtesy of Reuters, show that the aircraft does appear to be in three pieces, and the aircraft appears to otherwise to have come down in a such a manner that kept the wings even and nose up on impact. While we are not speculating, it appears that the aircraft had landed in much the normal pitch as it normally would, which as the story emerges may prove to be a key element of why no fire broke out on board.
It is an established fact in air crashes that survivability is greatly diminished by on “on-board” fire. Luckily, for these survivors that was not something that they were faced with.
Turkish Airlines advises a written statement should be available shortly. At this point, the official website for Schipol airport is only giving basic flight data and appears to be otherwise unavailable. Normal operations do appear to be in place on the other runway at this time. Expect, however, severe delays.
In the meantime, our thoughts go out to those who have been injured and shaken. We wish you a speedy recovery.
Updated 1058 (LONDON): A revised statement has been issued clarifying the numbers of injured and their condition.
Some more turbulence in the industry, this time it was the real thing. As Northwest Flight 2 from Manila to Tokyo Narita was approaching its final destination the aircraft experienced what is being described by some passengers as “serious” turbulence. The Boeing 747-400 had on board 408 passengers and 14 crew members and landed at approximately 12:40 local time, with a scheduled arrival time of 12:18.
The aircraft landed safely at Narita airport, and the pilot had not declared an emergency of any kind after experiencing the turbulent air. This may have been due to the cabin crew having not yet fully assessed the extent and number of injuries, and the aircraft was already on final approach to the destination airport which could provide appropriate care.
Currently, weare receiving revised number of those injured and their condition. In a telephone statement from the Delta Press Office, they advise that there were “over forty have been taken to hospital upon arrival and 4 of them are hospitalised.”. The Japanese Emergency authorities had been quoted by as saying that “three passengers have suffered severe” injuries. We are also still unclear as to how many of the injured are actually cabin crew versus passengers.
The airline has also confirmed that the aircraft was deplaned normally at Narita’s Terminal One.
The text of the latest combined Delta/Northwest Press Office Statement is as follows:
Northwest flight #2 traveling from Manila Feb. 20 experienced severe turbulence upon approach to Narita airport. The plane, a B747-400 with 408 passengers and 14 crew members on board, landed safely. Over 40 passengers were sent to hospitals upon arrival and 4 of them are hospitalized. The details are under investigation. The safety of our passengers and crew is Northwest’s number one priority.
14 Feb 0700 Local: London City Operations Officials advice they are returning to normal- flights subject to delays.
14 Feb 12:15 Local: Sources close to the situation have confirmed that one passenger was hospitalised overnight, and one was treated at a local hospital and quickly released.
This evening at approximately 1810 local, a BA CityJet AVRO RJ100 suffered what BA called a ”nose gear failure on landing at London City Airport.” The flight was BA 8456 operating from Amsterdam to London City.
Current reports from BA public relations manager on duty, Sophie Greenyer, indicate that there were 67 passengers and 5 crew members involved in the incident. Upon landing the front nose gear appears to have failed causing the aircraft to skid to an halt on the single runway at London City in with a shower of sparks.
One airport worker described turning toward the single runways after he heard a “loud noise” and saw sparks flying from the bottom of the aircraft as is skid to a stop just over halfway down the useable runway.
Passenger Justin Fletcher who was on-board the flight from Amsterdam to London City has been quoted by The BBC as saying he heard “a loud thud” that was presumably the front of the aircraft hitting the runways after the gear failure. He also advises that all passengers “evacuated immediately” and also that some suffered cuts and bruises.
The Official BA Statement
The official statement from BA Media Relations advises the following:
“The nose-gear of a British Airways aircraft suffered a failure on landing at London City Airport this evening.
The BA8456 from Amsterdam had 67 passengers and four crew on-board; all of whom were evacuated.
As a precaution the emergency slides were deployed and the passengers were evacuated down the slides onto the runway. Unfortunately one passenger sustained a minor injury and is currently on the way to hospital.
There was one other minor injury.
We don’t know the nature of the injury or how it was caused yet.
Our priority at the moment is to ensure all the passengers involved in the incident are well cared for by our ground staff”
London City Airport Closed as a result of the incident
London City Airport, which has a single runway, has reported the airport is now closed to both inbound and outbound traffic. Airlines are making appropriate provisions to land at alternate London airports.
Note on Scene Photo 13 FEB: We were contacted by the BBC today and advised that we had “taken or used” their photo of the scene. We would like to clarify that we received the photo via MMS from a local airport contact w/ ramp access (when you have been in the airline business as long as we have you get to know people) At the time we were not aware that he was sending it to the BBC- or others- and we made a choice to publish the photo. We are now using a stock photo that we purchased from our supplier Reuters.