Conference Report: World Low Cost Airlines Conference

Aerlines attended the European edition of the the “World Low Cost Airlines Congress”, held in a far from ‘no-frills’ venue in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

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Conference Report: “Flexibility in flight”

By Ing. Robert-Paul van Tol

The 26th of June 1998 dawned with an eventful day ahead of me. I was to face the last of my exams and later on participate in a symposium organised by the Netherlands Aviation College (NLC). This college not only trains her students to become Stewards/Stewardesses, but it also offers the training for Technicians.

I woke up early in the morning and took a last glance through my books before leaving home. Although I was quite confident that I would pass the exam with no problem I was still a bit nervous. As soon as I finished my exam I sneaked into the teachers’ toilet and changed into the suite I had brought along. I had still one hour to reach the symposium. I made my way to the train station only to find out that the train had left. Since I had never travelled out of this station I was not familiar with the timetable. I noticed an express train passing through this station heading to Hoofddorp but did not stop. Thus I had to take the next train.

I was not the only board member who was attending this symposium and I assumed they were on the express train that passed through. I went through my train to see if any of the other board members were on the train. Unfortunately, I did not see anyone. I looked at my watch and saw that I would be just in time for the opening.  On disembarking the train in Hoofddorp I noticed to my surprise another board member also disembark the same train. We walked for a good fifteen minutes to the venue. On reaching the venue we were escorted by some hostesses to the entrance, which turned out to be the hanger.

At the entrance to the hanger two red carpets were laid out to form a ‘V’. A hostess told us to walk on the red carpet that led into the hanger. On entering the hanger we noticed many students standing along the carpet surrounding an announcer who stood in the centre. We were asked for our names and on announcing our names a student came and escorted each of us through to a table. While walking through, I noticed many aircraft in the hanger that were used for the studies. The tables were set in the centre of these aircraft. Most of the invitees had already arrived. Looking around I saw yet another board member amongst the people. We joined him and five minutes later, we were joined by yet another board member. Once seated our student escort asked us what we would like to eat and drink, at the same time we received a folder that included the program, note paper, brochures and the tie of the college.

Finishing our lunch we were called for the official opening. After the introduction the show made by the students was given based on the different styles of music. Flexibility in Flight was the theme of the day. A panel consisting of Mrs. Boezelman – a KLM stewardess, Mr Vreede – head ATC Eurocontrol, Mr Vrieswijk from Transavia and several videopresentations introduced the topic of the day. The conclusion was that flexibility is very important in the aviation industry, but not always possible.

The next item of the agenda was the merry-go-round. There were about twelve subjects and every participant could participate in only three subjects. Each subject had a colour and a corner. The whole school had been used to host this workshop. My colleagues and I selected the same subjects. The first was about Kenya and Tanzania; this was a short discussion on the education system in both countries. We changed colour (i.e. we changed subjects) and went to the next one that was held in a cabin. We were invited to listen to a live conversation about limitations of flexibility by three ‘travel-guides’ (one guiding his airline through the world of business, one air traffic controller and a spiritual guide, a clergyman). We then selected our last choice that was the workshop of DHL. Basically they demonstrated how Internet could be used to get pictures globally and use the system for overseas conference calls, as well as their tracking system. They had also a competition. The question was ‘How long would DHL take to ship a package from Japan to Hoofddorp?’ The question was clear, they said it had been shipped out only the day before and it was arriving ‘today’. They only wanted to know what time it would arrive. I said 09.00hrs. This was the best shot of the day! Unfortunately they said I had not put the date. The answer was 09.20 hrs. The next closest answer (10.45 hrs) won. The prize a Sony jacket was not really what I was looking forward to. It was after all not a disappointment.

We went for our coffee break followed by an hour discussion on how to improve educational programs. All this was followed by a buffet where everybody, mainly people connected with the aviation industry and the NLC were invited. We were thanked for our participation. And when it was time for refreshments we attacked the food.

This interesting day came to a conclusion at 20.00 hrs.

Antwerp 1998: 8th World Conference on Transport Research

By Guillaume Burghouwt

Nowadays, deregulation of air transport is a hot item. A lot of discussion has risen about the results of the American ‘Airline Deregulation Act’ of 1978 and similar liberalising policies in Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Some are speaking about the failure of airline deregulation, others measure the process as a positive experience.

Recently, the European Union has become member of the ‘open skies’-family. In three ‘packages’ of liberalisation measures in 1987, 1990 and 1992, the restrictions on the European air transport market were gradually fased out. In April 1997, the last barriers to competition were lifted. No more fixed prices, no more capacity agreements and designation restrictions would hinder airlines to enter routemarkets. The results of the liberalisation process are already visible. There are some new start-up-carriers creating price competition. There is more alliance-activity. ‘Peanut airlines’ like EasyJet and Virgin Express are emerging.
But whereas a huge amount of literature exists about the effects of deregulation policies in Canada, Australia and especially the United States, most of the discussion about the results of liberalising Europe has been limited to prospects about the possible impacts of the ‘packages’ compared to the US. Only a few detailed and available empirical studies have been published recently (e.g. Civil Aviation Authority (1998), The single European aviation market: the first five years; Commission of the European Communities (1996), Impact of the third package of air transport liberalisation measures).

So I was delighted when my supervisor at the university gave me the permission to visit the ‘8th World Conference on Transport Research’ to find out about the latest facts on Europe’s aviation market. It would possibly help doing my final thesis about the effects of European deregulation.

The 12th of July, I went to Antwerp where the Conference would be held. The WCTR is one of world’s most important conferences on transport research and is being held every three years. It intends to provide an overview of the latest developments in research on a wide range of transport topics. Besides, the Conference offers the host-city an opportunity for city and region marketing. So I was regaled with the taste of a lot of excellent Flemish beers, a nightly visit to the flamingo-quarter in the Antwerp Zoo and a interesting tour through the port of Antwerp.

More then thousand participants from all over the world attended this 8th WCTR in Antwerp. A similar number of papers were presented in 44 topic areas. One of the topic areas was the special-interest group ATRG. ATRG stands for Air Transport Research Group and is headed by the well-known Tae Oum from the University of British Columbia. About 50 papers on aviation-related topics were presented during five congress-days by quite famous names like Kenneth Button and William Swann. Some interesting things were put in advance during the ATRG-sessions.

Firstly, deregulation remains one of the most important subjects in aviation research but the crisis in Asia is now making a mess of things. It is not clear at the moment which kind of effect the crisis is going to have on the process of liberalisation of the bilaterals between, e.g., the United States and Malaysia. Will the crisis lead to more protection of the national economies and re-regulation of some liberalised bilateral agreements? Or will the crisis bring high priests of deregulation like the US in a better position in negotiating the liberalisation of bilaterals?

Neither the effects of the crisis on the industry as a whole are entirely clear. The airline industry faces a new kind of problem due to the existence of big regional alliances and global galaxies like Star Alliance and Global Excellence.
Most major airlines are strongly related to one or more airlines on the other side of the world. Economic recessions and other prob-lems can have a serious ef-fect on the alliance-partners. The strike of the Northwest Air-lines’ pilots and the effect on KLM’s results is just an ex-ample of this interrelation-ship between alliance-partners.
Although the Asian (and per-haps Latin-American) crisis might turn out as a disaster for some airlines, the crisis and the emergence of global galaxies and other types of alliances have brought about some fresh items for aviation research.

Secondly, especially in Europe a lack of data on aviation exists. Whereas in the United States every year a ten percent ticket-sample is held, in Europe such a sam-ple doesn’t exist. As a result, research about the effects from liberalisation or other processes on changes in tar-iffs is extremely difficult. Exact, differentiated prices and passenger types per flight aren’t easily available. There-fore, it was not sur-prising that William Swann, professor of economics and working for Boeing, said: ‘It’s going to be difficult for researchers’. He mentioned that the lack of exact data might be one of the factors that have determined the relatively poor results of European liberalisation in respect to the US. In Europe, new entrants aren’t always able to get sufficient market information to form a strat-egy and compete with the incum-bents. In the US such a bar-rier doesn’t exist and entering a market is perhaps less diffi-cult. More market-informa-tion about prices, passenger types and transfer passengers is essential for researcher and might be es-sential for the success of a liberalised Euro-pean air transport market.

Thirdly, the Air Transport Research Group wants to extend its activities and be-come the global organisation for aviation researchers. Re-cently, the ATRG has pub-lished its first two newslet-ters where one can find ref-erences of new publications and an-nouncements of re-gional and world congresses. The news-letter will be pub-lished on a regular basis. ATRG also has the purpose to function as a platform where researchers, policy-makers and managers can contact each other. A next ATRG-congress will be held in Hong-Kong in 1999

ATRG has already made a good start. Three of the avia-tion papers were selected out of 900 papers, to be awarded top paper prizes, by the Con-ference’s Prize Committee. Amongst others, a Dutch paper from Youdi Schipper, Peter Nijkamp and Piet Riet-veld was awarded, called ‘Frequency equilibria and external costs in duopoly airline markets’.

The 8th WCTR has been a useful experience. Not only because of the interesting results and the enrichment of my paper-collection. Maybe even more important was the possibility to get in contact with aviation-people from all over the world. When I was drinking a beer with a Greek and Japanese researcher in the Antwerp Zoo, evaluating the results of the Conference, I thought for a moment of the words from Albert Plesman. He was right: Aviation does connect nations. I am already saving money for Seoul 2001, 9th WCTR.

W A T S ' 98 U P?

By Hans Adriaanse

The first World Air Transport Training conference and trade show (WATS) was organized by Spiderman in aviation training, Mr. Trevor Nash from Andover, England, more importantly Editor-in-Chief of the Civil Aviation Training journal (CAT).

WATS is the result of a first attempt to bring the aviation training community into a productive discussion about the challenges ahead and exchange of information about important players in the CAT-field. It is the merit of Mr. Nash, who has been the driving force behind the team that has brought about this conference at the Queen Elisabeth II Conference Center, at the Thames banks in London. Trevor had a pivotal role in running the conference, both on the podium and behind the scenes. He used his networking partners extensively under the benign auspices of Mr Andrew Smith, publisher and owner of Halldale Publishing Company, patron of the conference.

Both the airlines, regulators as well as the trainers were well represented among the presenters and in audience. The focus of this first WATS was on pilot training: there may be a lot of discussion, about the crew who is running the aeroplane in shared responsibility, about the irreplaceable role of airport management, about controller-pilot interaction, this first WATS had to be dedicated to pilot training, because the PILOT is the most important actor in aviation.

Sponsored by United Airlines, Lufthansa and the Royal Aeronautical Society, Trevor Nash and his team have succeeded in putting up a first class event, in which over 500 decisionmakers from all walks of life in the aviation training industry participated. Mr. Nash is a sturdily built, eloquently formulating thousand-eyed organizer, who is at the center of a unique network, liasing the majority of the aviation training experts in the world. A prolific writer and an investigative journalist, Mr Nash has managed to develop CAT into a widely read training magazine with a circulation of well over 12,000 and a readership of approximately 70,000.

The choice of pilot training as the focus of the first WATS was no more than logical. Nevertheless, the next WATS, to be held in Denver in May 1999, will also zoom in on training issues in adjacent professions. Given the expected growth of aviation in the upcoming decade, the stakes in sound training, are higher than ever.  There should be attention for the whole cast however, not only for the prima Donnas.

A few months ago, I had the privilege of visiting Trevor in his homestead in Andover, a village at 2 hours train-time from Waterloo station, in the green rolling hills south-east of London. In Bendle’s Cottage, an old farmhouse where Trevor takes me after a speedy ride, I meet with his partner in business Sarah Jane Prew. She is an aviation researcher, teaches at Cranfield University. After we have agreed on some article topics, I reported about my experiences at the Montreal Trainair Conference, which I had visited last July. I then suggested there might be a market for an Aviation Training Conference, not knowing by then that Trevor had everything in place already for the first WATS to roll in May this year. Some are faster than others, and hopefully I can contribute to the 2nd WATS in 1999, in Denver.

Smoothly, we go over from the cottage to the pub next door where we have chips, meat and pints. Trevor has reiterated his interest in a report on the CAT-upgrading efforts of the Netherlands Aviation College in East-Africa. Returning to London, I can see lots of work ahead, but this is really inspiring!

Half a year later after the closing session in the bar, with the Fokker Control people, the publisher, Trevor himself and many representatives of aviation training agencies from around the world: we have discussed the future of pilot training, the shortage that is envisaged in this sensitive industry.

I have learned from Swissair’s brilliant duo Captain Werner Naeff and his purser Patrizia, who embody Crew Resource Management (CRM); from Lufthansa’s Captain Dieter Hass, reporting about the rapid internationalization of pilot training at Lufthansa’s Arizona campus. The FAA people have shown us again, in which country half of the world’s experience in aviation lies.

We have enjoyed the British humour, but also the South African:

The WATS Conference was a very stimulating event, flowing smoothly as if it were the 10th edition, with a high-ranking field of participants. The focus of the second WATS will be on Flight Crew and Maintenance training: join WATS ’99 a the Adams Mark Hotel, May 4 to 6 in Denver Colorado.

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