Aerius Lecture:

On May 19th, Aerius hosted an aviation lecture by Mr Onno van den Brink, CEO of Dutch airline This short report reflects the lecture in which the transition of Transavia from a traditional charter airline into a dynamic ‘web enforced airline was the central theme.

Download article here.

From Past to Present: 1994 – 1995

Aerius was founded on June 16th 1994 by Jeroen Graafland and Erwin Krijger. Bastiaan Geurts, Reinier Evers, and Alex Kuhlman soon joined them. In the beginning of 1995, the young association welcomed its first business member: Chartair (nowadays called Panalpina) Mr. J. Busscher, CEO at Chartair, was thefirst to sign an agreement with Aerius. Mr. Aris, CEO of TMI ROAD Air and Mr.Heldeweg of Amsterdam Airport Schiphol soon followed him.

On 22 February 1995, the first official issue of Aerlines was published. The monthly reports of January and February 1995 say: “Compared to the pilot issuemuch has changed. The size has grown to A4, from now on, the text will appearin English. For the first time we included advertisements, we started a numberof columns to be continued in the next issues and the activities agenda of otherassociations has been included (VSV Leonardo da Vinci and Euroavia).” Thereport goes on saying that the board received many positive reactions. “Peoplewere astonished because such a young association like Aerius already managed topublish such a magazine.”

Already in the early days, social contact has been an important item. On 22 February 1995, Aerius held its second cocktail party at Grand Café ‘Het Badhuis’in Amsterdam. Approximately 90 persons showed up at this ‘very successfulevening’ and received their personal copy of Aerlines issue 1.

In April 1995, Mr. Eelco Bruinsma joined the Aerius board. In the same period,a delegation of the Aerius board visited both Cranfield University as well asWestminster University in England.

The year report further mentions that effective April 1995, Aerius has an ownhomepage on the Internet. However, a lot of thought still had to be done concerningthe contents of the page.

Aerlines issue 2 appeared on 3 May 1995. Again, our members reacted positively.May 1995 was a joyful month for Aerius, as the association welcomed its 100thmember! In the meeting minutes of the board meeting of 11 May 1995 we foundthe following quote: “100th member: We decide to bombard Tom Kok as our 100thmember, however we will not pay further attention to this matter” In the samemonth, a delegation of IFURTA France visited Amsterdam. Aerius prepared aspecial program with visits to Fokker, KLM Cargo, Schiphol, LVB, the Universityof Amsterdam, and the control tower at the airport.On 14 June 1995, Aerius celebrated its first year of existence with a cocktail partyat the Aviodome. We were surprised with a spontaneous tour around the museum by the director Mr. Arno van der Holst.

Hong Kong

Each year, Aerius organizes a study trip. This year, Hong Kong is next, after successful (European) trips to Brussels, Berlin and London and intercontinental destinations like Florida and Dubai. In Hong Kong we are going to visit distinctive companies and institutions with relation to the aircraft and logistics industry. To make this study trip possible we will do research for several aviation related companies and government institutions.

This article is written to inform and hopefully interest parties that might have an assignment for us. We hope you know (or better yet: are) somebody to whom Aerius can provide some knowledge. The members who will join this summer’s trip will be selected with the research assignments in mind, for example: when judicial knowledge is needed, the participation of a law student will get priority. As soon as a good match is found – this may also be a multi-disciplinary group – the students begin their desk research, so that they can efficiently fill in the serious part of their stay abroad.

The idea of Aerius’ study trips is that of mutual benefits:

Besides the fun of the ‘unofficial’ part of the stay abroad, the students get a chance to visit relevant foreign companies and institutions (e.g. Universities and government authorities) for a student fare
Besides their training in ‘desk research,’ they get the chance of doing some ‘field research’
The sponsors can expect a good research report for relatively little money (former sponsors often come back with other assignments for the next trip)
When you become aware of certain research assignments we could complete in connection with our visit to Hong Kong, or have some suggestions on where possible assignments can be obtained, we will be delighted to hear from you.
The Hong Kong committee,

Rob Besseling
Kristian Horst
Dennis Smit
Robert-Paul van Tol

China is situated in eastern Asia, bounded by the Pacific in the east. The third largest country in the world, next to Canada and Russia, it has an area of 9.6 million square kilometres, or one-fifteenth of the world’s land mass. The border stretches over 22,000 kilometres on land and the coastline extends well over 18,000 kilometres, washed by the waters of the Bohai, the Huanghai, the East China and the South China seas. The Bohai Sea is the inland sea of China. There are 6,536 islands larger than 500 square metres, the largest is Taiwan, with a total area of about 36,000 square kilometres, and the second, Hainan. The South China Sea Islands are the southernmost island group of China. China lies mainly in the northern temperate zone under the influence of monsoon. Mountains and hilly land take up 65 percent of the total area. There are five main mountain ranges. Seven mountain peaks are higher than 8,000 meters above sea level. The Bohai Sea, East China Sea, Yellow Sea and South China Sea embrace the east and southeast coast.

The national language is Putonghua (the common speech) or Mandarin, which is one of the five working languages at the United Nations. Most of the 55 minority nationalities have their own languages.

China is a multi-religious country. Spread all over the country, we find Buddhism, Taoism, Islam, Catholicism and Protestantism.
Chinese Money is called Renminbi (RMB). The popular unit of RMB is Yuan. The official exchange rate between U.S. Dollar and Renminbi Yuan is about 1 : 8.3 (1.00 Dollar = 8.30 Yuan). In Hong Kong they call the money Hong Kong dollar’s. The time in Hong Kong is 8 hours ahead of GMT.

Hong Kong’s economic life began to slow after the United Nations’ embargo on trade with China in the 1950s. The territory was forced to develop internal industries taking advantage of local and regional resources in order to continue to grow. And Hong Kong’s success in this field was due to a number of factors, namely cheap labour, capital input and the government’s tax policies. The constant influx from China of capital and manpower led to the establishment of light manufacturing throughout the territory by the 1950s and 1960s. At the same time, Hong Kong’s tax policies began to attract growing foreign investment further adding to the territories rapid growth. In the 1950s Hong Kong began in earnest a new career as a manufacturing and industrial centre. Textiles, electronics, watches, and many other low-priced goods stamped “Made in Hong Kong” flowed from the territory in ever-increasing amounts. Associated with events in China, the territory was thrown into turmoil in 1967.

The flow of refugees from China continued unabated throughout the late sixties and into the seventies adding to the human resources, as a work force, in Hong Kong. During the 1980s Hong Kong started to work with China on a series of joint projects that brought the two closer together.

China has always maintained that the three treaties which brought Hong Kong into existence were signed under pressure, and thus unjust. In 1984, the Joint Declaration signed by Britain and China agreed that the sovereignty of Hong Kong would revert back to China in 1997. Hong Kong became, from July 1, 1997, a Special Administrative Region (SAR) of the People’s Republic of China. The Joint Declaration also provides that for 50 years after 1997, Hong Kong’s lifestyle will remain unchanged. The territory will enjoy a high degree of autonomy, except in foreign and defence affairs, and China’s socialist system and policies will not be practised in the SAR.

The new Hong Kong International Airport at Chek Lap Kok was officially opened on 2 July 1998 by president Jiang Zemin, but was opened for business on July 6. It replaced the existing international airport at Kai Tak, one of the world’s busiest international airports for both passengers and cargo. Hong Kong International Airport covering 1,248 hectares is almost four times the size of the old airport. The new airport opened with a single runway and facilities able to meet the demand of 35 million passengers and 3 million tonnes of air cargo annually. The second runway was opened by the end of 1998. It is to be expected, to handle ultimately 87 million passengers and 9 million tonnes of cargo a year. The new airport is able to operate round-the-clock without the night-time flight restrictions imposed at the old airport at Kai Tak. Enclosed you will find a fully detailed list with information about the two airports.

The Airport Authority was established in 1990 by the Hong Kong Government as a provisional body to plan, design and build the airport. The Authority was responsible for the construction of the airport islands, its runways and airfield, the passenger and terminal complex and all on-island infrastructure.

The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government is responsible for air traffic control, police, fire services and other institutional facilities such as the airmail centre.

The Airport Core Programme (ACP) includes ten infrastructure projects. These developments include 34 kilometres of expressways and tunnels; a high-speed rail link that connects the airport with Hong Kong major population centres; the world’s longest road-rail suspension bridge; a third cross-harbour tunnel linking Hong Kong to Kowloon, and an new town development. The ACP brings a lot of benefits for the community. The new international airport is located away from the urban area. That means, the airport is not a nuisance to the Hong Kong population. A road/rail network gives the possibility to access the airport in a short time. Due to the ACP, there is more employment, which does good to the economy. For the first time, Lantau Island is linked to the rest of Hong Kong by road. There are many more projects, which will make a better infrastructure.

Hong Kong in figures, the latest developments:

Preliminary figures showed that real GDP declined by 7.1% in the third quarter of 1998, with private consumption contracted by 10% and gross fixed capital formation by 9.1%.
The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate rose to 5.5% in Sep-Nov 1998.
Inflation measured by CPI(A) declined by 0.9% in November 1998.
The prime interest rate was further reduced to 9% on 21 December 1998.
The number of tourist arrivals grew by 5.1% in November 1998.
Total exports dropped by 6.9% in the first eleven months of 1998, while imports declined by 11
Major Economic Indicators 1996 1997 1998
Population (mn) 6.4^ 6.6^ 6.7**
Gross Domestic Product(US$ bn) 152.8* 171.8* 165.0#
Real GDP Growth(%) 4.6* 5.3* -5.0#
GDP Per Capita (US$) 24,216* 26,416* 24,627#
Inflation (%) 6.0 5.7 3.0 (Jan-Nov)
Unemployment Rate (%) 2.8 2.5 5.5 (Sep-Nov)
^ End-period figures * Revised estimates (Oct 98)
# Revised projections (Nov 98) ** Mid-1998

According to the United Nations’ World Investment Report, Hong Kong ranked as the fourth largest source of outward foreign direct investment in the world in 1997. Apart from the Chinese Mainland, other Southeast Asia developing countries are receiving an increasing amount of capital from Hong Kong. In terms of cumulative amount on approval basis, Hong Kong is the largest investor in the Chinese Mainland, and is among the leading investors in Indonesia, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines.

Hong Kong has long been the Chinese Mainland’s window to the world. It is a strategic gateway to foreign business contacts, modern technology and investment. Over 800 sailings, 100 flights, 35 trains and 26,000 vehicles move across the Hong Kong-Mainland border everyday.

Hong Kong is also the most important entreport for the Chinese Mainland as about half of the mainland’s exports are handled by Hong Kong. Out of Hong Kong’s total re-exports were either originated from or destined for the Chinese Mainland. According to China’s Customs statistics, Hong Kong ranked the third largest trading partner of the Chinese Mainland, accounted for 15% of the country’s total trade in the first nine months of 1998.

Hong Kong has been used by multinational companies as a regional base to manage their businesses in the Asia Pacific, particularly in the Chinese Mainland. Based on a government survey covering 11,819 overseas companies known to be operating in Hong Kong in 1997, of the 4,275 responses, 924 companies identified themselves as regional headquarters and another 1,606 identified themselves as regional offices. Japan has the largest number of regional headquarters and offices in Hong Kong with 499 companies, followed by the US (481), the Chinese Mainland (245) and the UK (216).
Hong Kong remains a favourable business centre for overseas investors despite its short term economic weakness.

Hong Kong: Gateway to China
Hong Kong is the premier gateway for trade and investment moving into and out of the Chinese mainland. The SAR is also increasingly a source of expertise and funding for China’s efforts to modernise its economy.
Hong Kong continues to handle about half of all exports to the mainland, and accounts for about half of foreign direct investment in China.

There are many more reasons for a company to settle in Hong Kong. At last a scoreboard for the economic success of Hong Kong point by point:

The world’s most liberal economy.
The world’s most service-oriented economy.
The world’s 2nd most competitive economy.
Asia’s highest concentration of fund managers.
The world’s first major city to have fully digitised telephone network.
The world’s busiest container port.
The world’s busiest airport in terms of international cargoes.
The world’s 3rd busiest airport in terms of international passengers.

President's Speech Issue 17

Dear readers,

Although I have been board member of Aerius since November 1st 1997, this is my first president’s speech. In the past I have assisted Ronald and Jeroen writing theirs, but this is one of those moments that I realize that criticising someone else’s work is easier than doing it right yourself.

One of the nice things of getting certain projects done, is that you can do it in a team: of course working alone gives you more certainty on the way how things are done, but the dynamism that can arise within a group of people can be very stimulating. The last couple of months, the group of active Aerius members has extended in two new committees: besides the unchanged Aerlines- and financial committees, we now have an activities committee and one for the studytrip to Hong Kong. Including the board, which now consists of five people, this adds up to 25 (!) part time participating Aerius enthousiasts!!

I failed to introduce to you our fifth boardmember: Henriëtte Huisman. She has replaced Marcel as secretary, and he took up the post of external affairs: with his flambouyant style, this should be just his cup of tea. And for Henriëtte: she seems to be a very dedicated student with other extracurricular activities, but my impression is that especially busy people are great managers of time and can often arrange to do even more, which is a good thing, because there is a lot to do within the Aerius organization.

For over a year now, the Aerius board – stimulated by the Advisory board – has been planning and acting on the changed circumstances of Aerius. This has resulted in a ‘Business plan’ on which you can read more in the next issue of ‘Aerlines.’ As is common in strategic marketing, a SWOT analysis was the basis of the exercise: it showed there is a good market for what Aerius is, and there is also demand from the aviation-industry to become more: something like a knowledge-centre.

Keeping in mind that Aerius is (an association, so) a not-for-profit organization, the Aerius board now follows the policy rules, that when our benefits do exceed our costs, these will be invested in the further development of Aerius as a multi-disciplinary knowledge centre. Not only is this a further commitment to the statutes of Aerius and the goals she persues, this is also one of the best ways to ensure her future, because we can then count on the support from the aviation industry.

In the short term, this means that the board will actively seek more sponsoring from companies and will try to forge alliances with parties that will bring Aerius closer to its new identity. This does not mean that we will develop profoundly different kind of activities for our members and sponsors: the internships, the evening-lectures, the excursions and study-trips together with research assignments, and of course the ‘Aerlines,’ will continue to be engaged, only with similar acceleration as in ‘the old days.’ As an economist (to be) I am quite aware of the concept ‘decreasing returns to scale,’ but I hope to omit the decreasing part by setting a new (grander) scale… ?

Yours truly,

René M. Graafland

Aerius in Dubai

By Alex Klein

The EVA Air jumbo left Amsterdam Schiphol one hour late due to ‘Air Traffic Control-problems.’ The plane landed 45 minutes late though and was still loading cargo at departure time. Anyway it gave the group more time to get to know eachother. At 12.45 the 747-400 Combi took off, on board 15 Aerius members and a few other passengers for a 6,5 hour flight to Dubai International Airport (DXB). The plane was half-empty and that gave us enough opportunity to wander around. The in-flight entertainment was OK, getting better depending on the class. The meals tasted good, although the amount was fitted more to the size of our fellow passengers, almost all being from Taiwan and thereabout. We Europeans were still hungry. Service on board was great, the cabin crew being all Taiwanese and very kind and helpful. The captain was a genuine Englishman.

At 08.50 PM local time (the difference with Holland is 2 hours), we landed at DXB and after entering the airport terminal we were immediately confronted with the Arabian culture. Men walking around in their white ‘gowns,’ women dressed in black from head to toe, leaving only a small window for them to see the world. The Arab national dresses are adapted to the high temperatures and religious beliefs in the region. Men wear an ankle-length, loose fitting garment known as a kandoura or dishdasha. This is usually made of white cotton. On the head men wear a small white crocheted cap, the gahfia or tagia. This is covered by the gutra, a long cloth of white cotton, which is kept in place by the igal, a double black woollen braid around the top of the head. Women usually wear a long sleeved, full-length dress which is also called a kandoura. This is often elaborately embroidered in gold, silver or coloured threads. The hair must be covered and the face may also be covered by a thin veil, gishwa.

Robert-Paul had instructed us to go to the passport control to announce our arrival. ‘They’ would know we were coming. Except that the person we encountered didn’t know. And with his posture and formal clothing arguing probably wouldn’t help. We had to fill in the necessary immigration forms first. For people living in a borderless Europe this had slipped our minds. With 15 passports and 15 immigration forms Ronald, our chairman, left the group. We sure hoped he would come back to preside the Aerius meetings… There were no problems, so after going through customs we entered the Arabian night, and a warm one it was. Robert-Paul was awaiting us with his video camera. He had travelled to Dubai before us to make the last arrangements. As he had been in Dubai more often, even passing a longer period of time on an internship with KLM, he knew his way around and had met plenty of interesting people on these previous visits.

Outside the airport terminal we found ourselves in the middle of a 24-hour transport market. Our hotel bus hadn’t arrived yet, but the representative was already there. This was quickly detected and Arabians, Pakistanis and Indians flocked around us offering taxis, buses and even limousines. This appealed to us so we gave our representative a hard time bargaining low prices. Of course he never gave in.

At about ten PM we arrived at The Imperial Suites, our hotel for the next ten days. The rooms were large although we somewhat missed the luxury of the four stars they had. The airco worked fine though, keeping the place at about fifteen degrees Celsius. The large temperature changes between inside and outside was something we had to get used to. It left a few people with a cold. We divided ourselves in groups of three and looked for our rooms. Since the last meal we had was in the plane we decided to get something to eat. Turning fifteen noses in the same direction, as the Dutch saying goes, is hard and cheap local meals are not available at every streetcorner so we ended up at the end of our own street in a genuine McDonalds restaurant; the burgers tasted as we knew they would. Local food would have to wait until the next day.

Shopping malls and souks

The next day, Saturday, was reserved for a day in town. ‘Culturewise’ there is plenty to see in the city and Robert-Paul had prepared an excursion, so he showed us around. We took the hotel bus to the City Centre Shopping Mall, a huge construction, beautifully built two stories high packed with shops. Going up the escalator we were awing at the luxury around us, passing by jewellery, leather and clothing shops, IKEA, a hypermarket and a foodcourt, a large space with small take-away restaurants at the sides and tables in the centre, all of it in the surroundings of a small amusement park. We walked back to a smaller mall just for a second impression and then started our actual city-tour. It also started to get hot at that point, this being about eleven AM. We would have to get used to that as well.

Our first visit was to the souks. The souks are marketplaces situated on both sides of the Dubai Creek and attractive for their bargains and sightseeing. Walking through a huddle of narrow alleys one can find attractive traditional Middle Eastern gifts such as coffeepots, rugs, silverware, jewellery, brass, inlaid rosewood, furniture, etc. In the textile souk with its narrow streets and small shops with the merchandise stacked into it one can find shops selling veils with decorated edges made from silk in a variety of designs, patterns and sizes, pantalons with embroided anklets, kandouras and dishdashas.

We followed our way to the Dubai Creek, the historic focal pont of Dubai life, a natural sea-water inlet which cuts through the centre of the city. We had to cross the Creek to get to the other side. Since there are only two bridges, most people cross the Creek by small wooden boats, abra’s. So did we, ‘saving’ us taxi costs…, the whole ride not costing us more than 25 ct. This price, of course, is negotiable. It is a most beautiful way of crossing the water bringing back the charm of the old days. One is captivated by the colour and bustle of the loading and unloading of dhows which still ply ancient trade routes to places as distant as India and East Africa. The surroundings are state-of-the-art skyscrapers, hiding what is left of the old city, which isn’t that much.

Walking along the other side, we first passed the spice souk. Entering these tiny alleys the thick scent and atmosphere of the past can be savoured. Street after street you will find bags of all kinds of spices, ginger, incense, rose petals and traditional medicinal products stacked outside each stall.
The gold souk is made up of larger streets, with shop windows sparkling towards you as you pass by the windows crammed with gold necklaces, rings, bangels, earrings and brooches made from 18 carat fine gold to 21 carat red gold. If you want to take a more detailed look at the masterful craftsmanship of some of the jewels it is advisable to go into the shops. A large amount of the sparkles is due to the large lamps lighting the windows, making you end up sweating, even during the evenings.

When buying at the souks it is considered normal to bargain. The vendors will attack you with fairly high prices, typing them viciously on their calculators. Just take your time and don’t pay much attention to them. Besides, there is a fixed gold price at the airports, if you find those out you will have a clue what is reasonable.

Even taxi fares are negotiable in certain taxis. It’s great fun to do. Same goes for the boats crossing the Creek. Although the fares are humiliating in our eyes, I guess it’s the principle that counts; it is never nice to get the feeling you are cheated, so don’t pay that much attention to sad faces when you pay the actual price. Beware of language tricks when negotiating prices like thirteen or fifteen dirhams. They can easily be mistaken for thirty or fifty…

Hospitality is among the most highly prized virtues of the Arab world. The kindness of the people is real. It is a genuine friendliness and much appreciated. Sometimes though it can go too far. When relying on a taxi driver, of all people, to know his way around town, one may end up completely wrong. They have a tendency to say: “yes, I know where that is”, and afterwards drive in the opposite direction. It probably never occurred to them that we wouldn’t mind if they didn’t know.

Dubai Cargo Village

Whereas it is weekend on Sundays in Europe, it is a labour day in the Emirates and our first day of a series of visits to interesting aviation related companies. We started the day with a visit to the Dubai Cargo Village, which is the cargo terminal of Dubai International Airport, where we were addressed by the Assistant Director. DCV was opened midst of 1991 and emerged as the cargo hub of the Middle East, not only serving the traditional Arab world, but also Africa, the Indian Subcontinent and increasing new markets further away. Europe is usually a final destination.

Located adjacent to the international airport the Cargo Village comprises a gigantic purpose-built complex, thanking its success to a perfect co-ordination with other cargo related institutions such as Customs, DNATA (the local handling agent) and the Dubai Ports Authority. The international airport serves over 80 airlines, flying in passengers and cargo from every corner of the world. In addition Dubai harbours two large ports, Port Rashid and Jebel Ali, which are regular ports of call for the world’s major shipping lines. Thus, the Cargo Village is the place where East meets West. As such its motto goes: ‘from dhows to 747 freighters.’

We were led around by the Customer Service Assistant, who, being new at his job, had a good opportunity to practice. He showed us the import/export side of the building telling us about the logistics and showing us some smart technical equipment to move the goods around. We walked through the guarded safehouses for (semi-) valuable and dangerous goods and, since the hot outside air could enter the building freely, he even showed us the freezing cells for perishable goods, a kind gesture which we welcomed with open arms and … suit-jackets.

Emirates flying school

The afternoon was spent visiting the Emirates flying school, a remarkable building housing the training centre for cabin crew and pilots of Emirates, Dubai’s national carrier. Entering through the rear one can walk through the ‘wings’, housing the technical/ engineering workshops and simulators and through the ‘fuselage’, where the offices are located, to the ‘cockpit’, the General Manager’s office.

A humorous Englishman looking like Sean Connery led us around. We started out with a session on the simulator, a part of a fuselage used for cabin crew and pilot training. There is a swimming pool on one side of the simulator to practice ‘wet landings’; the other side is plain concrete, obviously used for hard surface landings. It is a masterpiece of technique capable of doing almost anything from simulating bad weather conditions, turbulence and technical faults to the reproduction of real accidents. These programmes are used to find out the cause of accidents and training pilots for the worst.

We boarded the simulator, sat down, buckled up and awaited our fate. The simulator started to taxi on different runways, smooth examples and rough ones, before taking off. Outside it turned night with the change of a switch and not very long after one of the engines caught fire, the windows turning orange. This was followed by turbulence and cabin decompression due to a door being blown out. The cabin filled with smoke and a roaring sound followed, accompanied by the taped screams of people in distress. The fuselage creaked frightfully. Bouncing around in our chairs we chose the emergency position and got ready for the finale, a crash landing on a hard surface. In reality it all happened at approximately six metres above the ground. Not surprisingly we all left the plane alive. We were assured though that the experience could be much worse with the example of an Airbus employee who came out deathly pale and hoped never to experience this in real life. Emirates’ philosophy is that experience is the best way to learn…

A less thrilling part followed. Next was a visit to the engineering department, a series of workshops teaching the ins and outs of aircraft engineering, from securing nuts and bolts to overhauling complete engines. Seeing all these parts (totalling over a million) leaves quite a good impression of the magnitude of an aeroplane and the sensitivity with which it works.

The group had planned spending the rest of the evening at the beach club connected to the hotel, though we never reached it. The reception had sent us to a club with a similar name where we found out this happened more often. Unluckily admittance was for members only. So we had to spend the rest of the time at the beach next door. The sand and the sea were the same so we didn’t end up that bad; the surroundings though were less luxurious. We had a great time and ended the day with a good local meal (mostly Lebanese) at a nice restaurant.

Free Zones and other local incentives

The next morning we departed early to Jebel Ali Free Zone, the first of a visit to three Free Zones in the Emirates. The half thirty minute drive took us through the Dubai suburbs and along the Jumeira Beach hotel, a 25-story building, built in the shape of a dhows’ sail, triangular and slightly curved. This beautiful building looks like a midget though compared to its neighbour, the half finished Chicago Beach hotel, a building about four times as high and peeking into the sky with its futuristic skittle shape. It is named to be one of the world’s highest hotels and you can see its shape along the coastline going North or South.

At Jebel Ali we were invited into a large conference room and received a large amount of information and a general story on their activities. The Free Zone is part of the Jebel Ali port complex, which sprung out of the visionary mind of the sheikhs, and was set up in 1985 to encourage investment in industry. The zone is also ideally situated for trading and warehousing. Investors are offered a host of incentives such as a tax-free regime, full foreign ownership, and full rights to repatriate capital and profit and a superb infrastructure.
This information was followed by a tour over the quays looking at rows of high stapled containers (not leaving much sightseeing) ready to be shipped, and the occasional large cargo freighter. We could ask our questions at the Marketing Department. We were introduced to a man in his late twenties. He turned out to be of great help and was very much interested in our activities in Dubai. He himself had studied in San Francisco and had been abroad elsewhere on several occasions promoting the Jebel Ali Free Zone activities. During our stay we met him more often and he was pleased to lead us around Dubai on several occasions.

These same Free Zone activities are conducted at Sharjah Free Zone, about 30 km South of Dubai in the Emirate of the same name (Sharjah) and the second largest hub of Lufthansa. We went here on Tuesday while visiting Sharjah International Airport, primarily used by the former Russian countries for passengers and cargo. As it happened more often we were not expected, although the arrangements were confirmed the day before. So the programme was made up just there and then. Apart from the building itself we also visited the meteo department, the tower and Air Traffic Control. We were given clear and interesting information on the activities, most of them carried out by foreigners, some living in the Emirates, some only there for a season and coming back each year. Nice summer job!!

On our way to the cargo handling centre and the Free Zone we came along a crossing with an aeroplane coming from the right, so we had to give way. I guess we would have done this all the same if it had come from the left. Besides, our traffic light jumped to red. It was a Lufthansa Cargo B747 Jumbo crossing our path. It was quite an exciting experience letting the plane roll by so close and feeling the heat from the exhaust. We were allowed to take pictures outside the bus, so we didn’t let the opportunity pass.

The Free Zone activities are fairly the same compared to Jebel Ali. There is a certain competition although slight. Jebel Ali emphasises its longer experience and ready to use infrastructure, office buildings and housing facilities whereas Sharjah tries more to give a cheaper service thus attracting interested parties through a cost advantage rather than experience.

Adapting to the Dubai life is rather easy with the slow, heavy evenings. Most shops in the large malls as well as in the sultry warmth of the souks are open till ten PM so the streets are quite full of locals and tourists, giving it an awkward look. These nights are nice for boatrides along the shores of the creek, with its cool breeze.

Dubai Airport

We were expected at the CAA-offices in the head terminal and led, again, to a beautiful, large conference room. A large part of the story concerned the future plans of the Airport. A major building operation has already started and will completely change the infrastructure, and place the airport well into the next century. Near the end of the presentation the Director General of the CAA entered and gave us the opportunity to ask questions. We followed our indoor tour to ATC and the tower, both staffed once again by many foreigners. At Abu Dhabi Airport one will see the same situation. Since we had had a large explanation at Sharjah, it was even more interesting seeing the tower and ATC again. The sky above Dubai, however, is busier than at Sharjah, especially during nighttime, so we witnessed more approaches and landings. In the daytime hours it can even be boring though… The tower controllers always bring books with them just in case.

The outside part of the tour brought us along the building sites towards the Emirates hangars with… no plane inside, to the recently opened new Terminal 2. On the way we experienced the equivocal problems of the multicultural society. The Vietnamese busdriver apparently didn’t quite understand the direction our Arab escort asked him to go to, shouting over a roaring airconditioner. Finally the driver gave him the thumbs up, but drove completely in the wrong direction though. When we arrived we had a look at the tax-free shops and were allowed to buy goodies. We entered the first class lounge with the smell of leather and fresh paint still hanging inside. The terminal will mainly be used for charter flights and isn’t busy yet. There is still plenty of slot-time available.

Back at the car park we experienced the ever recurring problem of driving away, or not, in a car that had been standing in the sun for a couple of hours. Usually it is the driver who ends up entering the car, turning on the ignition and the airco and making a quick exit to await cooler moments. Awaiting cooler moments under a blistering sun still isn’t relaxing.

Thursday morning we got up early to get ready for a two-hour car ride to Abu Dhabi, the Emirate north of Dubai. The road went along the desert all the way, until a few kilometres before the airport where the dry land was grown over with thick green grass and colourful plants and flowers, all of it artificially cultivated and irrigated.

Abu Dhabi is a more conservative and strict Emirate compared to Dubai and more the oil-exporting centre of the UAE. At the airport we weren’t allowed to take photographs and an armed guard escorted us all the way. Nevertheless, we were shown the whole building, including the very colourful tax-free area and VIP-lounges. A visit to the tower and ATC was also included.

Before going to the city centre we also visited a company named GAMCO (Gulf Air Maintenance COmpany), a company dedicated to the maintenance of aircraft. Many airlines come here for maintenance and they also conduct workshops on engineering and maintenance of new aeroplane types. It is actually a large hangar made to fit several wide-body planes, with large storage facilities, not only for spare parts but also for the extensive literature accompanying those parts. Moreover, it contains several smaller areas for maintenance and testing. This maintenance includes overhauling different parts, extensive cleaning, painting, metalwork and refurbishing of the inside. It was a long tour and although not every item was understandable due to the lack of our technical knowledge, it was interesting to realize the magnitude of the construction of an aeroplane, sometimes with over a million parts, and the sensitiveness with which it must be handled.

Halfway the evening we drove to the city of Abu Dhabi, at least to get an idea of the sights. It probably has more high-rise buildings than Dubai and since they block most of the view we decided to drive into no particular direction and see where it would get us.

Processing information at the poolside

The day before we went to visit FedEx, we remained at the poolside working on our assignments, arranging papers and thoughts, making phonecalls for more information or even taking interviews, processing the information we had already gathered during our previous company visits. During the evenings we went into the city centre to buy souvenirs for home and get some more taste of the local food. It was time well spent.


The last company visit we did as whole group (we also had individual meetings set up that were needed for our individual research papers) was on Saturday, visiting FedEx. This American com-pany, the world’s largest parcel and postal service, has one of its main hubs in Du-bai. During our visit in May, FedEx was still situated in the Dubai Cargo Village in a rather small space, but a new and much larger complex was being built at the other side of the airport (should be ready by now…).

We were greeted by the Vice President Middle East and Indian Subcontinent, Mr Hamdi A. Osman and the hub and ramp manager Mr Vivek Ashoka in the board-room of the Cargo Village, a well-known place to us by now. We were told how FedEx started its business and how it has expanded its activities in a qualitative and quantitative growing global network with several large hubs or distribution points around the world. The story was supported by an all-American sales promotion video. The information though was very clear and complete.

This was followed by a visit to the Cargo Village site. There we were lead around and shown the process of the conveying of packages. Since Dubai is a hub many packages only pass through and have to be routed to their next destination. This re-quires a smart logistics system and that was exactly the shortcoming of this place. The decision was taken to build a new and larger com-plex nearby that could easier cope with the larger supply of packages and at the same time would have a more modern distribution system working faster and more efficiently. To accommodate the people working at FedEx larger offices are built. The design of the new complex was made by the managing director who, having spent quite some time with FedEx in Dubai, had a good idea of how it needed to be. It was an impressive and sophisti-cated building and Mr Os-man was proud to show it to us.

After the ‘tour’ the hub and ramp manager took us to a Mexican restaurant on the tenth floor of a Dubai hotel. There we enjoyed the abundant meal – offered to us by FedEx of genuine Mexican food and we talked about our trip and the acquired impres-sions of the last nine days. We talked with Mr Ashoka about career possibilities in the United Arab Emirates, living abroad in general, life and work in Dubai and the experiences we had during our time there.

We returned to the Nether-lands in a full aeroplane, although most of us didn’t care and slept the larger part of the trip, only to wake up for the meal and movie, and landed safely in the evening. Almost a month later we all gathered at the University and enjoyed the pictures and the video Robert Paul had made. Hopefully Aerius will organize a similar trip next year. It was a great experi-ence, and I can advise it to everyone!

Organizing a study trip, a 40 hours per week job?

By: Mark van Harlingen

December 1996, having been a member of Aerius for more than a year I decided I wanted to become an active member. Several activi-ties and project were ready to be launched and it was hard for me to choose. Jeroen, our president had an idea for the next study trip. After his internship with TMI he had established some good contacts in the Miami region and nowadays Miami is developing into a hub for the Americas. Cargo (Freight and mail) and passengers from Europe and the United States to Latin and South America have now another hub option namely Miami. So Miami became a very interesting place to visit I decided to become a member of the Florida study trip committee.

Read PDF: 14 – Organizing a study trip

President’s speech Issue 14

It’s ten o’clock a.m. on Tuesday the 20th. of January when I arrive at the Aerius office. As usual, I check the email, the answering machine and my mailbox. In my mailbox I find a facsimile from Miss. I. Graafland, the English corrector for all the articles in the Aerlines. I wonder what she has to say: Dear Ronald, if you can’t find any inspiration for your President’s speech you can … “Oh no, Presidents speech, of course, I am the President now, I have to write a speech for Aerlines number 14. There is no Jeroen to fall back on, I cannot ask him if he wants to write an other one. It’s up to me, lets get started then.

So here I am, sitting in a train writing my first President’s speech and what do I have to say. Well, first of all, I wish all the readers of the Aerlines an healthy and prosperous 1998. It’s already 1998 for a few weeks now but better late than never. 1998 will be an important year for Aerius. Not only will we continue with our activities like visits to companies and excursions but we have, as a result of the successful study trip to Florida, a new sponsored study trip planned in May to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. An important topic will also be the expansion of our library and to plan the future for Aerius.

We are now three and a half years on the way and its time to secure the continuity of Aerius. The people that were involved from the first hour have now all left the building and a new team has taken on the challenge to keep Aerius flying. We are busy forming a concrete plan for the next three years. Not the interest from the companies will be a problem for the coming years nor finding students who want to become a member of Aerius, but finding students who want to run Aerius as active members. Sure, we have a board of five students now, but not everybody is staying with Aerius as a boardmember in September 1998. That means that a clear structure and a solid plan will have to be formed by September 1998 so that coming board members know what they have to do to keep Aerius flying and don’t need half a year to get familiar with procedures that keep Aerius alive. The problem is finding those students who want to get actively involved.

There are a couple of students who showed some interest in an function in Aerius but they all have to deal with their study and of course their 21 studycredits, and usually a job to get some bread on the shelve. Since the introduction of the obligatory 21 studycredits system, students want to do something next to their study and train their social skills and meet interesting people from the aviation industry but on the other hand they barely have the time for it and want to finish their study as soon as possible. We are receiving support from the University in form of a scholarship, so that one board member can lengthen his study by one year without having to earn 21 studycredits. But one board member is not enough to run Aerius.

Still, it must be possible to do at least one year as an active student member. It may not give you extra credits but it sure will help you develop your social skills and it will certainly look good on you curriculum vitae for your job search after your study. After all it is not a completely coincidence that almost every former board member found a job in the aviation industry. With this in your mind I urge every studentmember to let us know if you have any interest in becoming active. Trust me, it will be a time worth wile spent.

Ronald van Neerijnen

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