Archive for October, 2008

Despite protests and legal battles over the last decade, Tempelhof Airport (Flughafen Tempelhof) closed all operations on October 30th 2008. The airport was one of the three airports in Berlin, Germany.

“A “Goodbye Tempelhof” gala was held at Tempelhof airport for eight hundred invited guests in the last hours of October 30th. Meanwhile protesters against the closing held a candle vigil in front on the Platz der Lufbrücke. The last commercial flight was a Cirrus Airlines Dornier 328 that departed at 22:17 towards Mannheim.[31] “Time to say goodbye” was sung to the spectators on the tarmac at the conclusion. At precisely four and a half minutes before midnight the last two airplanes – a historical Junkers Ju 52 and an airlift “raisin bomber” Douglas DC-3 – took off in parallel, waved their wings, and flew off south-east to Schönefeld airport. The runway lights were switched off at midnight.”

From Wikipedia

Tempelhof was one of Europe’s three iconic pre-war airports — the others being London’s old Croydon Airport and Paris Le Bourget. One of the airport’s most distinguishing features is its large, canopy-style roof that was able to accommodate most contemporary airliners during its heyday in the 1950s, 1960s and early 1970s, thereby saving passengers from the elements. Tempelhof Airport’s main building used to be among the 20 largest buildings on earth. Tempelhof used to have the world’s smallest duty-free shop.

Glorious Past from BBC Article

Tempelhof played a crucial role during the Berlin Airlift.
From June 1948, hundreds of Allied aircraft landed at Tempelhof. The planes dropped coal, food, medicine and other supplies to the residents of West Berlin, which had been cut off by the Soviet Union.
At the height of the airlift, one Allied aircraft landed at Tempelhof every 90 seconds. The Airlift was an extraordinary humanitarian operation and it kept people alive in West Berlin for 11 months until the Soviet Union ended the blockade.
As a reminder of the airport’s rich history, an old “candy bomber” DC-3 took off from Tempelhof on Thursday night (“Candy bomber” was the name given to the crews who dropped sweets attached to parachutes to German children during the Airlift).


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Northwest + Delta = Delta

Northwest + Delta = Delta

Today (Wednesday October 29th 2008), the Justice Department approved the merger between Delta Air Lines and Northwest Airlines. The merger will be the largest airline in world bringing down American Airlines to the second position.

The combined airline will be called Delta with headquarters at Atlanta and Chief Executive as Richard Anderson.

From CNN Money

After a six-month investigation, government lawyers concluded the
merger would likely drive down costs for consumers without curbing
The proposed merger “is likely to produce substantial and credible
efficiencies that will benefit U.S. consumers and is not likely to
substantially lessen competition,” the Justice Department said in a
statement issued by its Antitrust Division.
The merger should create cost savings by combining airport operations,
information technology and other efficiencies, ultimately driving down
prices for fliers, the regulators said.

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Qantas Airways and British Airways have agreed to pay a combined fine of $15.5 million (equivalent Australian $25 million) to “charges price-fixing charges brought
by Australia’s Competition and Consumer Commission
“. The price fixing charges were related to fuel surcharges applied to International Cargo shipments from 2002 to early 2006.

Qantas will pay around $12.2 million (Australian $20 million) while British Airways will have to pay the rest of A $5 million.

From Bloomberg

“Qantas apologizes unreservedly for the conduct of the
employees involved,” the airline said in a statement. Once the
agreement is accepted by the court, the liability for Qantas and
its current employees will be settled, the airline said.
BA has paid a total of $677 million in fines and class-
action settlements related to price-fixing investigations by
U.K. and U.S. regulators into fuel surcharges on cargo and
passenger flights. The European Union also is investigating
cargo-related antitrust violations.

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Choochy the white poodle caused a raucous at Boston’s Logan Airport. She broke free on the tarmac after her “cramped” flight from Detroit landed at 7:15p on Saturday October 25th 2008. She was successful “to elude nearly a dozen Massport employees and State Police, holding up runway traffic as she cavorted on the tarmac”. She managed to delay 8 flights for about 20 minutes each.

Imagine to be on a flight about to land at the airport and being told that they cannot land due to a poodle on ground :).

From Boston Globe

Gideon Lester, who was headed to New York, watched from his window
aboard his 11 a.m. US Airways flight, which sat on the runway for 25
minutes as five Massport vans drove in circles trying to corral Choochy.The
poodle “seemed to be having a good time,” said Lester, artistic
director of the American Repertory Theatre. “They looked like they were
running cattle.”His fellow passengers were mostly amused rather
than annoyed by the runaway, he said, but were “a little incredulous
that it would take so many men so many hours to catch this little dog.”

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European Union (EU) lawmakers (EU-MPs) have delayed the installation of full body scanners or millimeter wave scanners at European Airports which takes an X-ray picture to view “under the clothes” outline image of the person, an alternative to pat down search. EU MPs passed a resolution to conduct further study on privacy and health implication of the technology. 

The device has already been installed in some of the  airports in US and couple of months back, I blogged up my experience with one at Phoenix’s Sky Harbor Airport. Do you think you will comfortable with the someone looking at an image like the one on the right?

Privacy Concerns from Wikipedia Article

Privacy advocates are concerned about the use of this technology because it allows screeners to see airport passengers without clothing.
Currently the technology does not mask any part of the bodies of the people who are being scanned. Proposed remedies for privacy concerns include only scanning people who are detected to be carrying contraband, or developing technology to mask genitals and other “private parts.” At least one government official has stated this technology is already in place, leading some to suggest that there are no privacy issues for regular passengers. In some locations, travelers have the choice between the body scan or a traditional “pat down.”
Note that in the specific case of the TSA, they have promised to separate the people viewing the private images from the people being scanned in order to retain some privacy. This policy seems to have been recently neglected, however, when the TSA set up scanning stations in public areas of the airports of Denver and Minneapolis during the 2008 Republican and Democratic National Conventions.

From CNN International

The European Parliament voted 361 to 16 with 18 abstentions Thursday in
favor of a resolution demanding EU authorities carry out a full study
of the privacy and health implications of the new technology.
The new systems allow guards to see an outline of passengers’ bodies
beneath their clothes. Supporters say it makes it easier to detect
concealed objects such as liquids or plastic weapons not picked up by
traditional metal detectors.

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Today, JetBlue welcomed its new home at New York’s John F. Kennedy (JFK) Airport. The airline moved from the old Terminal 6 to the new $743 million Terminal ($663 of which is covered by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey), Terminal 5.  The first flight into the terminal arrived at 5:05 am which was greeted by “balloons and cheering JetBlue staff members“. Yesterday night the airline sent an update on Twitter – “Flt 194 LAS-JFK taxis to its gate: Our last flight into JFK’s T6. ”
(Translated, that was Flight 194, from Las Vegas to J.F.K., arriving at
Terminal 6.)

Highlights of the new terminal –

  • 26 Gates (can handle 500 daily flights)
  • 20-Lane security checkpoint
  • Free Wireless Internet Access
  • Children’s Play Area
  • 1,500 space Parking Garage

For Architectural Details please read the Bloomberg Article. Some excerpts –

JetBlue Airways has invented a loyalty-inspiring bargain brand with smart customer service and meaningful design touches — like bigger seats — that actually improve today’s degraded flying experience. A few of those touches still can be found within Terminal 5, but that savvy goes missing in the architecture of the building itself by New York-based Gensler, one of the largest architecture firms in the U.S.

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The story came out a week back and is still developing. Recently Britain’s National Archives revealed a document that enumerates unexplained UFO sightings from 1986 to 1992.

Details of the Document (from CTV)

The more than 4,500-page online document is the second batch of
testimonies chock-full of shimmering objects, mysterious crop circles
and creatures from another dimension collected by British military and
released this month. It includes first-hand accounts such as:

  • Statements from police officers in West Yorkshire describing sightings of “bright lights in the night sky”
  • Testimony collected from a U.S. Airforce Sabre jet pilot ordered to
    “shoot down a UFO” flying over eastern England during the height of the
    Cold War
  • A letter from a person dubbed “alien-spotter extraordinaire” who reported regular alien visits since 1982

Another of the 19 files released by the British Ministry of Defence
to the National Archives details a near-miss with a possible UFO and
passenger jet carrying 57 people en route from Milan to London’s
Heathrow Airport on April 21, 1991.

Alitalia Pilot’s Story

On Alitalia flight in 1991 from Milan to Heathrow, Captain Achille Zaghetti and his co-pilot saw “a mysterious khaki-coloured, missile-shaped object streaking across the sky above the Kent countryside.” The object was a 10 feet long UFO.


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