Thursday, February 25, 2010

Ethiopia, Lebanon dispute aircraft accident probe


An international dispute Wednesday started brewing between Ethiopia and Lebanon over the handling of an investigation into the crash of an Ethiopian Airlines plane, which killed all the 90 people on board short l y after take-off from Beirut on 25 January.

Ethiopian Airlines Chief Executive Girma Wake said the handling of the investigation into the cause of the air accident appeared to lean on a single idea that pilot error was solely to blame for the crash.

It is hardly one cause that can lead to an accident. There are a lot of thing s that can lead to an accident. I do not know of any single case where only one side causes an accident, Wake said.

Wake, a reputed pilot, said Beirut air traffic instructions for the airline pilot to change direction could not be the sole reason for the crash of the airline' s Boeing 737 jetliner.

Lebanese authorities have repeatedly accused the Ethiopian airline of flying into the wrong direction after receiving orders to change direction

 Wake told a news conference Wednesday.

Speaking hours before Lebanese authorities were due to release an interim report into the cause of the accident, one of the worst in the airlines 60 years of safe flying, Wake said the high-level political interference with the investigations were designed to purposely mislead.

The Ethiopian airline's chief said the neutrality of the investigating team was critical, if the exact reasons behind the jet's crash were to be arrived at.

I am not happy with the way the investigations are going. They (investigators ) have not been forthcoming in many ways. But my concern is not the investigator s , they are free to do what they want to do, what disturbs me is the Lebanese authorities, who contradict each other ¦this is not what officials who want the truth to come out does.

Are we out for a big war? I hope investigators will come up with a proper system of analyzing information, to avoid a war, ¦we are not ready to accept conclusions without a proper analysis, he said, underlining the growing dispute over the causes of the crash.

We are asking questions that should lead to the truth, Wake said, when asked about the involvement of the French investigators in the analysis of information so far obtained from the aircraft wreckage.

Lebanese Transport Minister Ghazi Aridi ruled out sabotage as a possible cause of the air accident, while the Ethiopian Airlines insisted that the investigating team could not rule out any possible causes.

The blame game over the possible causes of the 25 January crash has intensified lately after a series of media reports, quoting government and French investigators blamed pilot error for the crash.

Wake said the Ethiopian Airlines and the government were not only concerned about the purposely misleading reports, but were concerned these were likely to mislead the investigating team.

Until now, we have learnt of nothing to indicate pilot error as a possible reason behind the crash. The investigating team has never come up with pilot error because the analysis of the information has not even started, Wake said, warni ng of political manipulation of the investigations.

Lebanon handed out the aircraft's Flight Data Recorder, known as the Black Box , to the French authorities and later retrieved the Cockpit Voice Recorder, another part of the Black Box, which records the conversations between the pilot and the air traffic controllers at the airport control tower.

The Ethiopian Airlines said the initially misleading reports from Lebanon that the Voice Data recorder was found, was later reversed after the airline sent its representative to listen to the recorder.

Wake said the Ethiopian Authorities were allowed to see the other missing components of the Voice Data Recorder only after it had been retrieved from the sea and sealed.

We were told some parts of the black box had suffered damage but the sound quality is good and it is more or less intact. Wake said, adding that the voice recorder had one component, a chip, missing.

We cannot accuse the Lebanese of removing the missing chip, it may have come off due to the impact of the crash but we still do not know about the exact level of the impact, Wake said.

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (PANA)

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Brussels Airlines to launch 4 new destinations in Africa



Belgian airline company, Brussels Airlines, will launch four new destinations in Africa, including Accra (Ghana), Cotonou (Benin), Lo m e (Togo) and Ouagadougou (Burkina Faso), from 1 July, official sources in Brussels told PANA Tuesday.

In a statement, made available to the media, Brussels Airlines declared that the four new destinations would bring to 18 the number of African capitals served b y the Belgian airline company.

The statement added that Brussels Airlines would also increase from four to six per week the number of its flights to Abidjan (Cote d'voire).

With the new destinations, Brussels Airlines expects to increase by 100,000 the number of passengers it carries to Africa per year and air freight to 4,000 tonnes.

In addition, the new destinations will create 110 new jobs, including 39 in various African capitals, the statement said.

Source : Brussels, Belgium (PANA)

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

One-day strike at Lufthansa to affect schedules for days

Lufthansa airline will fly a bit over half of its normal flight schedule Tuesday, a day after pilots suspended their strike.

"It will obviously take a few days until we are back to normal," spokeswoman Claudia Lange said. The airline is planning to fly about 1,000 of its normal complement of 1,800 flights, "plus, where we can, single, additional flights," she said.

The airline is hoping to return to its full flight schedule by Friday.

The announcement came shortly after both sides in a pilots strike against German-based Lufthansa, one of of the world's largest airlines, agreed to suspend the standoff beginning at midnight (6 p.m. ET) Monday.

The suspension will expire March 8, barring an agreement before then, both sides said in a Frankfurt labor court.

"The judge was very clear," Lufthansa spokesman Klaus Walther said. "He recommended the union to stop the strike action and to return to the negotiation table."

Walther predicted the two sides would reach a final agreement "pretty fast."

The pilots' union previously had said resuming a normal schedule would take time, because the union had to inform striking pilots of the agreement before they could return to work. In addition, passengers whose flights have been canceled will have to be rebooked. Hundreds of flights were canceled Monday.

The walkout by more than 4,000 members of Vereinigung Cockpit, the pilots' union, began at midnight Sunday after a last-ditch effort at negotiations over pay and job security failed, the company said.

The strike threatened to disrupt travel on more than two dozen partner airlines, including United, US Airways and Continental.

In 2008, Lufthansa was the No. 2 international carrier, with 42.2 million passengers, according to the International Air Transport Association.

The industrial action was the largest in German aviation history, Lufthansa said, and it signaled growing labor unrest across Europe.

Hours after it started, the union representing most of British Airways cabin staff voted to strike, but did not set a date. On Wednesday in Greece, a mass public and private sector strike is planned to protest the government's austerity plan.

British Airways cabin crews vote to strike

In addition, French civil aircraft staff, including air traffic controllers, said Monday they plan to strike Tuesday through Saturday. Four unions called for the strike, denouncing a government project to merge air traffic control operations with those of five other European countries -- Germany, Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg and Switzerland, according to Eric Heraud, spokesman for France's civil aviation authority, DGAC, or Direction Generale de l'Aviation Civile.

The unions are afraid of dismantling DGAC, Heraud said.

Under the new proposal, "nothing will change geographically," he said. "The control towers will stay where they are." Only the "map of the sky" will change, or the sphere of the controllers' concern, Heraud said.

Half of Tuesday's flights at Paris, France's, Orly airport were to be canceled because of the action, he said. Twenty-five percent of the flights at Charles de Gaulle Airport were to be canceled.

The labor unrest comes as the airline industry is digging out of the worst one-year drop-off in business, according to International Air Transport Association.

"It is the kind of death throes, I guess, of the very strong legacy airline unions," said Simon Calder, a travel expert. "Now, all the old airlines like BA, like Lufthansa, are struggling" to cut costs, he said.

In 2009, air carrier revenues dropped nearly 15 percent worldwide after a record $535 billion the previous year. Passenger travel fell a record 3.5 percent and freight fell more than 10 percent, according to International Air Transport Association figures.

Many of Lufthansa's pilots have been working without a contract since March and more than 90 percent of the union's members had voted to strike, a union representative said.

The union, which is seeking a 6.4 percent pay increase, is also concerned with the airline's recent buying spree of small regional carriers, such as BMI and Austrian Airlines, a practice that it said cannibalizes flights from union-flown routes.

Lufthansa is one of the largest carriers on the Star Alliance, a network of 26 airlines that share ticketing and routes for international travel.

Other Star Alliance member airlines are: Adria, Air Canada, Air China, Air New Zealand, ANA, Asiana Airlines, Austrian, Blue 1, BMI, Brussels Airlines, Continental Airlines, Croatia Airlines, Egypt Air, Lot Polish Airlines, Scandinavian Airlines, Shanghai Airlines, Singapore Airlines, South African Airways, Spanair, Swiss, Tap Portugal, Thai Airlines, Turkish Airlines, United Airlines and US Airways.


Source: CNN

Monday, February 22, 2010

Lufthansa pilots suspend strike

 A strike by about 4,000 pilots at German airline Lufthansa has been suspended - with union officials agreeing to resume negotiations.

The action - which had been scheduled to run for four days - was called off after less than 24 hours of delays and cancellations for passengers.

The pilots had walked out at Lufthansa, Lufthansa Cargo and Germanwings over job security and pay issues.

There will be no further action until at least March 9, the union said.

A spokesman for the Cockpit union added the two sides had reached an agreement after a two-hour long hearing at a Frankfurt industrial court.

'Disproportionate'

However the strike has already disrupted an estimated 10,000 passengers around the world, with the carrier trying to arrange alternative travel for them.

It had been offering train journeys to domestic air travellers, and attempting to rebook international passengers on other airlines.

The airline normally offers about 1,800 flights daily - of which 160 are long-haul trips.

A Lufthansa spokeswoman said that about 960 flights had managed to go ahead.

The strike will be officially lifted at midnight on Monday (2300GMT) - but it is not clear when services will return to normal.

Lufthansa's earlier offer of negotiations with the pilots was not initially taken up on Sunday before the strike began.

Frankfurt airport passengers

'If we crash, the whole company goes down'

Earlier a Lufthansa spokeswoman told the Associated Press that an injunction had been filed in Frankfurt, saying the action was "disproportionate".

'Unfounded'

German Transport Minister Peter Ramsauer had warned that the strike would hurt the country's economy as well as Lufthansa's reputation.

The airline - one of the world's largest - feared the action could cost it about 25m euros (£21.9m; $34m) per day.

The Cockpit union had arranged the action amid concerns the airline was increasingly relying on foreign pilots who fly for less pay.

It is worried that the company could try to cut staff costs by shifting jobs to foreign subsidiaries such as Austrian Airlines or Lufthansa Italia, where wages are lower.

The starting salary for a first officer in a Lufthansa cockpit is 62,000 euros, and 115,000 euros for a captain, according to the company's recruiting website.

Media reports say pilots' salaries can rise up to about 325,000 euros.

Cockpit has called for a 6.4% pay rise for pilots, more say in company decisions and commitments that pilots would keep their jobs when Lufthansa moves passengers to cheaper foreign affiliates.

But Andreas Bartels from the airline told the BBC the pilots' fear that their jobs would be outsourced was unfounded.

"That's what they fear but that's not reality. If you look to the reality, it's nothing like replacing or transferring jobs to other companies or other airlines [in] the Lufthansa airline system," he said.

Like most other global airlines, Lufthansa has struggled in the downturn. Sales slumped 13% in the first nine months of 2009.

As well as suffering from the more recent drop in consumer demand, the airline has also been facing the long-running threats posed by low-cost airlines and high fuel costs.

The UK's flagship carrier British Airways has also been locked in a dispute with cabin crew over pay and changes to working conditions.

Members of the Unite union voted overwhelmingly on Monday to take action - but did not immediately announce strike dates saying they hoped to negotiate with BA

In France, air traffic controllers are planning a four-day strike at Paris' Charles de Gaulle and Orly airports.

Unions have called for the strike from Tuesday to Friday in protest at plans to integrate European air traffic control, fearing it would lead to a loss of French jobs and civil servant benefits.

Source: BBC


        LUFTHANSA
  • Founded 1926
  • Passengers: 76.5 million in 2009
  • Flights: 893,200 in 2009
  • Net loss: 32m euros in Jan-Sep 2009
  • Employees: 118,945 as of Sep 2009
 Source: Lufthansa

Ghanaians travelling to US to fill visa application online

Come April 1, 2010, Ghanaians travelling to the US will fill their visa application forms online. They will not have to buy paper forms anymore.

And with this new system, an applicant will get an appointment for an interview in five to six weeks after submission of the form.

At a brief interactive ceremony at the US Embassy in Accra Monday February 22, 2010, Mike Evans, head of the Consular Section of the Embassy introduced the new web-based application process to journalists.

The system exists in over 20 US posts globally, he said, and Ghana is the latest addition.

Evans said filling the form is easier and an applicant, who is unable to complete the filling of the form, can save it onto a disk or pen drive and continue another time.

Applicants can upload photos directly onto the system, but if the photos do not meet the system’s specifications, the photo will be rejected.

According to Evans, if an applicant is unable to upload a photo during the initial filling of the form, the applicant can take along a photo to the Embassy during appointment and Embassy staff will upload it.

He however warned the public to desist from using brokers who claim they have special links with the Embassy. He said “No one has special relations with Embassy.” In other words no individual or group of people have a special relations with the Embassy to assist applicants to acquire visas.

He also warned applicants to take note of the websites on which they fill in the forms. All US government websites that are legitimate must have the .gov extension.

The link to the application form will be available on the US Embassy’s Ghana website by middle of March and the system will come into operation on April 1, 2010.

Source: Ghana Business News

Lufthansa asks court to halt pilot strike AP - 22 February 2010 02:40:48


German airline Lufthansa is asking a court to halt a strike by more than 4,000 of its pilots.

Deutsche Lufthansa AG spokeswoman Claudia Lange told The Associated Press the company hoped for a decision by Tuesday.

She said the company filed the legal action in a bid to avoid more harm to its passengers, customers and shareholders.

Nearly half of Lufthansa's 1,800 flights on Monday were canceled and 10,000 passengers affected worldwide.

The pilots' union says it plans a four-day walkout.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

BERLIN (AP) -- German airline Lufthansa is asking a court to halt a strike by more than 4,000 of its pilots.

Deutsche Lufthansa AG spokeswoman Claudia Lange told The Associated Press the company hoped for a decision by Tuesday.

She said the company filed the legal action in a bid to avoid more harm to its passengers, customers and shareholders.

Nearly half of Lufthansa's 1,800 flights on Monday were canceled and 10,000 passengers affected worldwide.

The pilots' union says it plans a four-day walkout.

Lufthansa pilots begin 4-day strike after talks fail






The pilots' union of Lufthansa began a strike Monday after a last-ditch effort at negotiations over pay and job security failed, a spokeswoman for the airline told CNN.

The four-day work stoppage by the pilots' union of one of the world's largest airlines threatened to disrupt travel on more than two dozen partner airlines later on Monday.

Lufthansa and the pilot's union, Vereinigung Cockpit, met over the weekend as a last-ditch effort to avoid the strike. More than 4,000 pilots walked off the job at midnight Monday (6 p.m. Sunday ET) through Thursday over protracted contract negotiations centering around pay and job security.

"Vereinigung Cockpit attempted two times (over the weekend) to get the Lufthansa management to continue negotiations but in the end it showed clearly that Lufthansa is not interested and looks for the confrontation," said Joerg Handwerk, a pilot and representative for the union. "Now they've got it."

Lufthansa is considering taking legal action to halt the industrial action, the largest in German aviation history.

The action by Lufthansa pilots signaled growing labor unrest across Europe. The industrial action by the pilots started the same day that British Airways cabin staff were expected to announce the outcome of its strike vote. On Wednesday in Greece, a mass public and private sector strike is being planned to protest the government's austerity plan.

Lufthansa had already canceled two-thirds of its scheduled flights Monday to Thursday ahead of the strike.

The bulk of the disruptions are expected to begin later Monday since most German airports prohibit flights overnight. Two-thirds of the cancelled flights are short-haul flights within Europe, said Frank Puettman, a spokesman for Lufthansa in Singapore.

One third of the cancelled flights are international flights. Still, passengers at Frankfurt Airport on Sunday were already feeling inconvenienced.
"It makes me angry because for me, normally I would (leave) on Monday morning," said one passenger. "Now I have to go Sunday evening and my family's at home and I have to (return) tomorrow night with the train. So it's uncomfortable." "It's inconvenient and it's not justified at all," another passenger said.

Company officials admitted it would have a "heavy influence" on its international operations, which includes flights to 80 countries worldwide.

In 2008, Lufthansa was the number two international carrier by passengers with 42.2 million, according to the International Air Transport Association.

The threatened walkout came as the airline industry is digging out of the worst one-year drop-off in flights, according to IATA.

In 2009, revenues dropped nearly 15 percent worldwide after generating a record $535 billion the previous year. Passenger travel fell a record 3.5 percent and freight fell more than 10 percent, according to IATA figures.

Lufthansa officials said at a news conference last Thursday it would cost the airline about $33 million a day.

Many of Lufthansa's pilots have been working without a contract since March and more than 90 percent of the union's members voted to strike, said Jorg Handwerg, a pilot and representative for the union.

The union sought a 6.4 percent pay increase. The union is also concerned with the airline's recent buying spree of small regional carriers, such as BMI and Austrian Airlines which, it says, is cannibalizing flights away from union-flown routes.

"We fly less hours and have less potential for (performance-related bonuses)," Handwerg said. "We want to have the opportunity to grow, but instead it shrinks."

In a statement, Lufthansa said: "In addition to demands on job security, however, the union also insisted on a greater say on fundamental entrepreneurial issues, equating to intervention in business management at the airline. That demand cannot be accepted."

The airline is allowing passengers to rebook flights for tickets purchased before February 18 and plans to give German domestic passengers rail vouchers.

But one Lufthansa passenger said she is having trouble reaching a compromise with the airline.

"I spent several hours on the phone with Lufthansa to try and figure out what I can do, but now I've been told that I can't even get a refund," said Ruth Winblad, who is supposed to fly Monday from Gothenburg, Sweden, to Rome, Italy.

Lufthansa is one of the largest carriers on Star Alliance, a network of 26 airlines that share ticketing and routes for international travel.

Travelers on Star Alliance flights are advised to check their tickets for Lufthansa flights and contact their carrier about any potential changes, said Markus Ruediger, Star Alliance spokesman.

Star Alliance member airlines are: Adria, Air Canada, Air China, Air New Zealand, ANA, Asiana Airlines, Austrian, Blue 1, BMI, Brussels
Airlines, Continental Airlines, Croatia Airlines, Egypt Air, Lot Polish Airlines, Lufthansa, Scandinavian Airlines, Shanghai Airlines, Singapore Airlines, South African Airways, Spanair, Swiss, Tap Portugal, Thai Airlines, Turkish Airlines, United Airlines and U.S. Airways.

Partner airlines were preparing for the strike.

"Some of our codeshare flights with Lufthansa may be affected during the period of the strike. We are in contact with Lufthansa and will be informed of the affected flights as soon as details are made available," said Nicholas Ionides, Singapore Airlines spokesman.

"Should there be customers traveling on affected Lufthansa-operated codeshare flights, they will be contacted and re-accommodated on the best next available schedule."

A spokeswoman for Continental Airlines told CNN on Sunday that the airline will offer passengers refunds or rebook their travel if they are affected.

Japan's All Nippon Airways has cancelled a total of eight flights to Frankfurt during the strike period, the airline said.

Source: CNN

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Facts and Figures - 2008/2009 Aircraft accident rate comparison

2.3  billion people flew safely on 35 million flights (27 million jet, 8 million turboprop)

19   accidents involving western built jet aircraft compared to 22 in 2008


90   accidents (all aircraft types, Eastern and Western built) compared to 109 in 2008


18    fatal accidents (all aircraft types) compared to 23 in 2008


685  fatalities compared to 502 in 2008

Source: IATA Corporate Communications

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Analysis: 2009 year-end traffic- By Graham Dunn

Full-year traffic data for the three largest regions show just how deep the economic crisis hit airlines in 2009. Figures for selected leading carriers over the last 12 months show passenger traffic as measured by RPKs down 1% for Asia-Pacific carriers; 3% in the Americas and 4% for European operators. This contrasts with growth, albeit at modest levels, in 2008 when the crisis began, and growth in the range of 5-8% in the happier days of 2007. Indeed year-on-year traffic declines are something of a rarity. For example a look through the Airline Business Top 200 airline traffic rankings shows negative figures recorded just once in the last 25 years, in 2001.

Small wonder then that IATA reports 2009 as showing the largest ever post-war decline in scheduled air traffic. Its figures show a 3.5% fall in overall passenger demand in 2009 and an even heavier 10% fall in cargo. "We have permanently lost two and a half years of growth in passenger markets and three and a half years of growth in the freight business," says IATA director general Giovanni Bisignani.

Certainly there are similarities in the year-end numbers for carriers with those of two years ago. For Asia-Pacific the overall RPK numbers are roughly comparable with the 2007 and 2008 figures. But each year tells a very different story. In 2007, Asia-Pacific traffic was on the crest of a wave, growing 8% and airlines increasing traffic pretty much across the board. Traffic growth stalled in 2008 for the region, but this was largely driven by issues relating to China, including airspace restrictions imposed in Beijing around the Olympic Games.

For 2009, growth among Chinese carriers returned; China Eastern, Air China and China Southern all enjoying double-digit rises. But while there was a relative improvement for Chinese carriers, it was different picture for many of Asia's other network carriers. Japan Airlines, Malaysia Airlines and Singapore Airlines, for example, all seeing double-digit falls in traffic levels.

Asia Recovering

But Asia-Pacific is fast emerging from the economic crisis which prompted such sharps falls in demand. Comparisons with interim traffic figures shows passenger numbers picked up in the second half. December IATA traffic figures for Asia-Pacific carriers were some 8% higher than for December 2008, though this is set against heavy falls the previous year. The December 2008 figure was nearly 10% down on the corresponding 2007 number.

"Asia-Pacific's prospects are improving faster than other regions," says Bisignani. "Just look at industrial production. Globally, developed countries' economies are down 10% compared to 2009 but Asia, excluding Japan, is up 13%. We expect the region's $3.4 billion loss in 2009 to shrink to $700 million this year." A further sign of Asia's importance is IATA figures now show the intra-Asia-Pacific market overhauled North America as the largest passenger market in 2009 at around 647 million passengers.

It was a more uniform picture in 2009 for Europe, at least for network carriers. All but one from 22 selected network carriers saw passenger traffic fall in 2009. The one network carrier exception was Turkish Airlines. It continued its rapid growth by increasing passenger traffic almost a fifth in 2009, though this fell short of the near 25% capacity it added over the year. THY further underlined its ambitions in February by signing up as the second customer for Panasonic's broadband in-flight connectivity service and ordering another20 Boeing 737-800/900ERs. The latter order follows 20 more Airbus A320s ordered in January and almost completes its long-term fleet plans covering the purchase of up to 105 aircraft.

Low-cost carriers in Europe continued to grow, evidenced by Norwegian boosting traffic almost 15% across the year and Ryanair increasing passengers numbers 13% to 65 million in 2009.


In North America, where capacity cuts took hold earlier, there was a slower rate in traffic decline in 2009. But still only one mainline carrier, Hawaiian Airlines, increased traffic in 2009, while low-cost carrier Allegiant Air was the stand-out growth performer. Its passenger traffic rose 22% in 2009, boosting load factor more than a point in the process.

Load factors are generally one of the few brighter spots in 2009, largely remaining steady as capacity has been cut in line with reduced demand. For European carriers it is fractionally down, in Asia-Pacific and the Americas it is fractionally up.

But the key question remains at what cost have airlines been filling their aircraft? Yields, and thus revenues, are taking longer to recover. IATA already estimates that while the scale of losses will be mitigated this year, profitability will remain elusive for most regions and for the industry as a whole.

Upward Trend

Several recent business travel or corporate bookers surveys, such as those by Travel Leaders in the US and the UK's Business and Travel Meetings Show, have indicated hope of increased business travel for 2010. Even in Europe, where economies have been slower to recover, there are some brighter signs. British Airways chief executive Willie Walsh notes that as the carrier's seat factors in its premium cabins have increased in recent months, it has seen the trend towards more restricted fares starting to reverse. "We have still not got back to the mix [between fully-flexible and restricted fares] we would have had during the peak, but we have seen it reverse where more people are now buying the fully flexible fare than it would have been six months ago," he says.

Source: Airline Business

British Airways to convert waste into aviation fuel

British Airways, in partnership with the Solena Group, is to establish Europe's first sustainable jet-fuel plant and plans to use the low-carbon fuel to power part of its fleet from 2014.

The new fuel will be derived from waste biomass and manufactured in a state-of-the-art facility that can convert a variety of waste materials, destined for landfill, into aviation fuel.

The self-contained plant, likely to be sited in east London, will convert 500,000 tonnes of waste per year into 16 million gallons of green jet fuel through a process that offers lifecycle greenhouse gas savings of up to 95 per cent compared to fossil-fuel derived jet kerosene.

This volume of fuel would be more than twice the amount required to make all British Airways’ flights at nearby London City Airport carbon-neutral.

A statement issued by British Airways in Accra Tuesday said the project would make further major savings in greenhouse emissions by reducing the volume of waste sent to landfill, thus avoiding production of the powerful global warming agent, methane, and generating 20MW of electricity a year from renewable sources.

British Airways, it said had signed a letter of intent to purchase all the fuel produced by the plant, which will be built by the Solena Group Inc., an advanced bio energy and bio fuels company based in Washington DC.

"Four sites in the east of London are among those under consideration for the construction of the bio-jet fuel plant. The scheme will lead to the creation of up to 1,200 jobs in the area and could reduce significantly local authority landfill tax bills," it said.

Willie Walsh, British Airways chief executive, said: "This unique partnership with Solena will pave the way for realising our ambitious goal of reducing net carbon emissions by 50 per cent by 2050. We believe it will lead to the production of a real sustainable alternative to jet kerosene."

Dr Robert Do, chairman and chief executive of the Solena Group said: "The Solena-British Airways Bio Jet Fuel project will efficiently convert biomass into clean renewable fuels and electricity and is completely carbon neutral. The plant will be a state-of-the-art renewable fuel manufacturing facility, distinct from a standard waste to energy incinerator facility. It will not produce any polluting emissions or undesirable by-products."

Source: The Ghanaian Times 

Monday, February 15, 2010

Aviation expert petitions gov`t for probe -STORM OVER SALE OF G.A AIRCRAFT -Sale raises more questions than answers -Mike Hammah


The report of the official liquidators of Ghana Airways (GA) to the Chairman of the Ghana Airways Assets Disposal Committee of 2007, rescinding its earlier decision to lease one of its aircraft 9G-ANB to the lowest bidder, has sparked a heated controversy in government circles.

This follows a petition sent to the Minister of Transport, Mr. Mike Hammah, by one Duke Odiasempa, an Aviation expert who has an insight into the activities and operations of the defunct national airline, Ghana Airways. He is asking for a thorough investigation, and review into the circumstances that led to the virtual sale of the aircraft to Messrs. Thameside of the United Kingdom, rather than CSDS Aviation of the United States, which bid the highest.

The sector Minister, Mike Hammah, has duly acknowledged receipt of Mr. Odiasempa’s petition, a copy of which is in the possession of The Chronicle. He has however declined to make any categorical statement on it, except to say that it was under serious consideration, since “it raises more questions than answers.”

In his petition, Mr. Odiasempa raises questions about the property valuers of the aircraft - Price Waterhouse Coopers (PWC) - and how such a consultant was selected among others to evaluate the bids/bidders.
Officials of Price Waterhouse Coopers are however tight-lipped about their role in the entire liquidation of the airline. An official of the company, Richard Hodasi, yesterday told The Chronicle that the company does not disclose its dealings with their clients to third parties, and for that matter they cannot make any substantive input to the paper’s enquiries.

In the sales agreement of both Thameside and CSDS Aviation, Mr Odiasempa noted that Price Waterhouse Coopers (PWC) deliberately put different clauses in the various agreements to frustrate the highest bidder - CSDS.

According to him, the sales agreement itself was drawn by one of the most expensive legal firms in the UK, Beaumont and Sons Limited, which incidentally were solicitors for Ghana Airways. To him, the contentious clause that was in the sales agreement for Thameside was the aspect which stated: “the buyer of the Ghanaian aircraft shall indemnify the Ghanaian government for 2 years in a sum of $50 million,” asking whether this was done to make it easy for a supposed friend of the seat of government, the Castle, to get purchase the aircraft.

Mr Odiasempa indicated that CSDS Aviation petitioned the then President on the bad business practice on the sale of the aircraft.
He therefore could not comprehend why Price Waterhouse Coopers advised the official liquidator (Registrar General) to cut and ship the aircraft in boxes as scrap metal, when it was bought.

Meanwhile, he said CSDS had arranged for a heavy maintenance programme of the subject aircraft at an engineering base in Belgium to the tune of $4 million.
When the negotiations stalled, he noted, the Minister of Aviation at the time told Parliament that it would be solved in a month, in favour of CSDS Aviation.

Though Ghana Airways was said to be owing Agence pour la Securite de la Navigation Arienne (ASECNA) and Esblissement National de la Navigation Arienna (ENNA) at the time of the liquidation, both companies were said to have not chased Ghana Airways out of business, since according to Mr. Odiasempa, “they only made a claim when they knew Ghana Airways was not going to be in existence anymore.”

He therefore accused Price Waterhouse Coopers, its network, and Ghana missions abroad, of aiding the official liquidator to close the 12 Ghana Airways overseas offices that were still open at the commencement of the liquidation.

“Staff were not notified before the closure of various offices, and any payments made to the staff would amount to deliberately causing financial loss to Ghana as a whole,” he stressed, insisting, “It requires looking into by competent professionals, to ascertain if Price Waterhouse Coopers handled that aspect of issues properly.”

According to the expert, there should not have been any legal suit by the leasing company against the Ghana government and Ghana Airways, noting: “The suit came about as a result of Ghana Airways’ improper husbanding of resources to pay the BCI aircraft.”

Furthermore, Mr. Odiasempa stated that the overall financial summary of Ghana Airways would have to be properly interpreted to get qualified accountants, with the support from some commissioned people by the Minister, to better understand the figures and sale of its assets, saying, “one does not understand why the Ghana Forex Bureau Limited and Ghana Distribution System Limited yielded zero amounts during the liquidation process.”

Also, he indicated: “Price Waterhouse Coopers continued to tell a pack of lies to Ghanaians, and to frighten them that the Italian government was after the blood of Ghana Airways at the time the two DC 10 and others were strangely scrapped, according to the PWC report.”

Up till date, he says, older DC 10s still fly across the globe, including a freighter that flies in and out of Ghana.

“PWC had in effect indicted Ghana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA), who are the regulatory authorities in Ghana representing ICAO, so to speak,” and that “Ghana Airways had a poor maintenance record, thus casting a heavy slur on the regulatory body.”According him, this was ordinarily not true, stressing: “otherwise, GCAA inspectors would let any Ghana Airways aircraft fly.”

He noted that the scrapping of the equipment, especially the DC 10 aircraft, was doubtful, and was therefore calling for proper investigations to unravel the mystery surrounding the whole sale. More anon!

Story by Charles Takyi - Boadu
Source: The Ghanaian Chronicle

TULLOW DROPS CITYLINK FOR FOREIGN AIRLINE ...As government t pursues indigenization agenda in oil and gas sector


Tullow Oil Plc, operators of the jubilee oil field in Ghana, has dropped the Ghanaian-owned Citylink airline company in favour of Noordzee Helikopters Vlaanderen (NHV) of Belgium for the transportation of personnel and cargo of the oil company to the offshore jubilee platform.

Public Agenda's checks indicate that NHV's contract took effect after December 15, 2009 when City Link's contract with Tullow expired. This was after NHV had won an international bid opened by Tullow in the course of 2009.
It is understood that Tullow's decision to engage a foreign airline did not sit well with government officials, especially those of the Ministry of Energy, when the matter came to their attention because government is fervently pursuing an indigenization agenda in the oil and gas sector.
City Link's officials have confirmed their disengagement but have declined to speak further on the matter.
Independent sources have, however, said Citylink appeared dissatisfied at the manner in which it was treated and was consulting with its lawyers on the next line of action. According to the independent sources, Tullow had opened the bid without informing Citylink which was its substantive client. The local airline operator was said to have put in a bid upon learning about the process and eventually lost out to the Belgian operator.
Citylink had a renewable contract arrangement with Tullow which was to run out on December 15 2009.
Unconfirmed reports suggest that, factors such as reliability and safety influenced the selection of NHV.
Gayheart Mensah, Communications Manager of Tullow Ghana Limited, could only confirm the disengagement of Citylink when contacted by phone.

Observers of the emerging oil and gas industry believe Tullow's decision jolts the vision of government to entrench local content and participation principles in the oil and gas sector. Local content and participation refers to the level of use of Ghanaian local expertise, goods and services, people, businesses and financing in oil and gas activities.
A yet-to-be-finalised 'Local Content and Local Participation in Petroleum Activities - Policy Framework', which cannot be enforced presently, conveys the desire of government to ensure the control, as well as, the benefits in the oil and gas discovery and production will remain with Ghanaians.
According to the document, the vision of government is to achieve "full local participation in all aspects of the oil and gas value chain of at least 90% by 2020."

An objective of the policy is to increase capabilities and international competitiveness of domestic business and industrial sectors. Apparently, CityLink was muscled out due to its comparative disadvantage to compete. But government could have avoided this situation had it hastened the development of institutional and regulatory frameworks that will govern the oil and gas sector.


NHV was established on 16th of May 1997 at Kortrijk, Belgium. The company indicates on its website that it is specialised in all kinds of helicopter transport and helicopter work in Belgium and surrounding countries. It provides flights for the Belgian and Dutch Shipping Pilot Service, VIPs, hospitals, oil and gas, etc. NHV has a Belgian Helicopter Transport Certificate issued by the Belgian CAA.
According to the company, it has "several contracts with the Oil and Gas Industry to transfer personnel and/or cargo from land to offshore platforms or to transport personnel and cargo between the platforms. Such operations take place from Norwich (UK) and Takoradi (Ghana). Helicopters used for this operation are the Eurocopter EC155 and the AS365N3 Dauphin."

Source: Public Agenda
Author: Frederick Asiamah

Friday, February 12, 2010

PRESS RELEASE :Local women pilot attempt to set worldwide flying record and launch a flying Doctor service.

Kpong, Eastern Region, Ghana— Aviation Celebrations at Kpong airfield are part of an international effort to set a new worldwide flying record.


On March 8, 2010 to celebrate the Centennial of Licensed Women Pilots and Women’s Day, women pilots from around the world will attempt to set a new worldwide flying record: the most women pilots introducing a woman to flying in one single day - and Ghana is participating!

Raymonde De Laroche, an experienced French balloonist, was the first woman to earn a pilot license worldwide on March 8, 1910. She was the first but certainly not the last. One century later, the woman pilot population has grown tremendously and women pilots are making breakthroughs each and every day.

However, women pilots still represent less than 7% of the total pilot population in most countries. One of the challenges for the next century is to encourage more women to join the pilot population. “Flying is the best possible thing for women.” said Raymonde De Laroche upon receiving her pilot license. Nothing can inspire a woman to learn to fly more than meeting a woman who became a pilot.
During each flight, the women pilots demonstrate how airplanes fly and the proper preparations for a safe flight. After a short introductory airplane ride, each woman pilot and each woman passenger flown by a woman will receive a certificate of participation to the world record setting event.

1,000 girls and women are being invited to witness the activities at this event which will include an engineering competition that will stretch the minds and creativity of the ladies. Speakers and live entertainment will be part of the event that will ensure that the dream of Raymonde De Laroche to fly above the rest is propagated in sub-saharen Africa.

In addition to contributing to the 'women flying women' record the men folk will assist in order enable a total of 100 girls and women to be at the controls of an aircraft in the day.
Furthermore the first Medicine on the Move CH701 medical aircraft will be released to service and take to the skies to enhance health support to rural Ghanaians. The aircraft will be 'launched' by Dr Zee, she is probably the only Ghanaian medical doctor who can fly a plane and sing like a lark, with a heart for rural aviation medicine and all the people of Ghana.

For more information on the event, contact Patricia Mawuli Nyekodzi on +233 (0)28 5075254 or visit www.waasps.com/100yearsofwomen.htm or www.centennialofwomenpilots.com

Thursday, February 11, 2010

ETHIOPIAN ACCIDENT UPDATE: Sabotage possibly behind Beirut plane crash

Ethiopian authorities and the Lebanese government officials exchanged blame on Wednesday, over the possible cause of the 25 January crash of an Ethiopian Airlines jetliner taking off from Beirut.

"The accident is still under investigation. We cannot say anything until the investigations are complete," a spokesman for the Ethiopian Airlines (ET), told P A NA in a telephone interview, refuting reports that a pilot error could have caused he jetliner to crash.

The Ethiopian Airlines dismissed as speculative, remarks attributed to Lebanese officials, suggesting the pilot error may have caused the jet, a 737-800, to crash.

The investigation is still in its early stage and the CVR (Cockpit Voice Reco rder) and the aircraft wreckage are not yet retrieved for analysis; it is therefore, too early to conclude the cause of the accident, the Airlines said in a statement.

Ethiopian Airlines does not rule out all possible causes, including the possibility of sabotage until the final outcome of the investigation is known, is affirmed.

Lebanese authorities have suggested time and again that the Ethiopian Airlines Pilot flew to the wrong direction and made a sudden swing before the aircraft, with 90 people on board, suddenly disappeared from the radar.

The explanation contrasts with witness reports, which suggest the jetliner crashed into the Mediterranean Sea, in a flush flame, killing all on board.

The aircraft was captained by a career flight professional, who had flown various aircraft for over 20 years, ET said.

Airlines executives reiterated it was still premature to jump to conclusions on the possible causes of the crash.

The Ethiopian Airlines would like to express its position on the latest speculative reports released on the cause of the accident on ET-409, 25 January, said the statement posted on Ethiopian website Wednesday.

As a member of the investigation team, Ethiopian Airlines strictly adheres to the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) annex 13 regulation, in which it is mandated to refrain from any inconclusive comments on the process of investigation.

Ethiopian Airlines would continue to cooperate with the investigation team to complete the process in accordance with the ICAO regulation and reveal the truth, the Airline said.

"We share the pain and sorrow of the families of our crew and dear passengers who have lost their lives in the accident, the airline said.

Sourced from Panapress Ethiopia

PERSONALITY PROFILE : Mrs. Doreen Owusu-Fianko, Managing Director - Ghana Airports Company Limited.

Mrs. Doreen Owusu-Fianko is the Managing Director of Ghana Airports Company Limited. Mrs. Owusu-Fianko is an aviation and tourism expert with over 30 years of industry experience. In addition to her role as the Managing Director, she also serves as a member of the Board of Directors of the Ghana Airports Company.

Mrs. Owusu-Fianko as Managing Director of Ghana Airports Company manages the Kotoka International Airport (KIA) and the regional airports namely Kumasi, Tamale, Sunyani as well as various airstrips across the country.


In her capacity as the Managing Director of GACL, she is responsible for the formulation and implementation of strategic policy for airports development in Ghana.

Mrs. Owusu-Fianko is also responsible for ensuring the technical and operational activities are in accordance with ICAO stipulations. Her responsibility is to ascertain also the delivery of programmes for effective safety and security, to ensure management of airports on sound commercial basis, as well as reviewing financial and operational performance and implementing remedial action. She also engages in developing an effective management team to deliver company vision, maintaining good communications with all stakeholders and ensuring Ghana Airports achieve corporate social responsibility objectives. Kotoka International Airport is being positioned to become the hub of West Africa in direct competition with other key West African airports.

The airports management company is providing a face lift to the airport and following this up with strong marketing strategies and on-line resources. Ghana?s airports are being positioned to grow in line with the growth in Ghana?s economy. Mrs. Owusu-Fianko has a task of ensuring the placement of Ghana airports among the leading airports in Africa. She has served diligently at Ghana Airways holding various positions including Director of Corporate Planning as well as Marketing.

During this period she was attached to the Corporate Planning Department of the Ghana Civil Aviation Authority for a period of six months under a World Bank restructuring program. Thereafter she was assigned on secondment to the tourism sector as one of the first Directors at the newly created Ministry of Tourism after which she became the Chief Executive of the Ghana Tourist Board. Mrs. Owusu-Fianko went back to Ghana Airways for about five years till the liquidation of the airline.

She was educated at the Wesley Girls High School, one of Ghana?s most prestigious colleges. Mrs. Owusu-Fianko studied Economics at the University of Ghana in Legon. Mrs. Owusu-Fianko is driven by a personal desire to continue to use her immense experience and expertise for the development of the Aviation and Tourism industries in Ghana and Africa as a whole.

SOURCE:  Aviation and Allied Business Journal Online.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

UPdate-GIA passengers arrive in London

All 115 passengers aboard the Ghana International Airlines flight that made an emergency landing in Algeria Saturday have arrived safely in Gatwick, London.

Airline officials tell Joy News the pilot had to make a precautionary landing after he detected a "fault in the hydraulic system" following a loud explosion. The passengers finally touched down at their destination at a little past 9pm last night.

One of the passengers, Stephanie Ayerh in an interview with Joy News accused the crew members for creating panic situation when they ought to be calming the nerves of the passengers.

"Everybody was panicking. Whoever will call Jesus, called Jesus. Whoever will call Allah, called Allah. We were all panicking. We realized that even the cabin crew didn?t know what to do. They had to reassure us but they were more nervous than we the passengers,? she narrated

She also blamed management of the Airline for not being proactive in resolving the problem once the fault was detected before the flight took off.

Source: myjoyonline.com/news

GhanaAviationNews: Ethiopia Airlines jet 'black box' retrieved in Lebanon

GhanaAviationNews: Ethiopia Airlines jet 'black box' retrieved in Lebanon

GhanaAviationNews: Ethiopia Airlines jet 'black box' retrieved in Lebanon

GhanaAviationNews: Ethiopia Airlines jet 'black box' retrieved in Lebanon

Ethiopia Airlines jet 'black box' retrieved in Lebanon

Lebanese search teams have retrieved a flight recorder from the Ethiopian Airlines jet that crashed in the Mediterranean, officials say.

The Boeing 737 crashed on 25 January, moments after take-off from Beirut airport during a fierce thunderstorm, killing all 90 people on board.

An army official said the recorder was taken to a naval base in Beirut to be handed over to crash investigators.

The search continues for the other recorder, and for bodies at the site.

Difficult search

Passenger jets carry two recorders - a flight data recorder and a cockpit voice recorder - commonly referred to as "black boxes".

Lebanon's Transport Minister, Ghazi Aridi, announced on Saturday that searchers had located the recorders at a depth of 150ft (45m) off the coastal village of Naameh, just south of Beirut airport.

Since then, searchers had also located the plane's rear wings and cockpit, and work was continuing to bring them to the surface, the army officer said.

The cause of the crash is not yet known, however Lebanese officials have said the jet did not fly in the direction instructed by the Beirut control tower.

The recorder could shed light on why the pilot failed to respond to the control tower's request, even though he acknowledged their commands.

Seven crew and 83 passengers were on board the Boeing 737-800. Most were Lebanese or Ethiopian.

At least 15 bodies have been recovered since the crash, but stormy weather has hampered searchers several times in the last two weeks.


Source: BBC

GIA flight makes emergency landing


Joy News has learnt that a UK-bound Ghana International Airlines flight has had to make an emergency landing in Algeria.

The GIA flight GO101 is said to have landed at a town after the pilot reportedly identified a technical fault in the hydraulic system of the flight.

Passengers said they heard a loud explosion.

The 115 passengers are said to be in a state of shock but authorities say there were no casualties.

The incident happened early Saturday morning and the passengers have since been airlifted to Libya where they are awaiting another aircraft to fly them to London, their final destination.

The flight from Libya should touch down at Gatwick by 7:30pm, GIA boss Gifty Annan-Myers told Joy News in an interview.

Mrs Anna-Myers described the flight's landing as rather 'precautionary.'

Source: Joy News/Myjoyonline.com/Ghana

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Nigerian Eagle seeks funds after Virgin rebrand


Nigerian Eagle Airlines, freshly rebranded from its previous existence as Virgin Nigeria, is planning to raise at least $185 million over the next six months.

A restructuring of Nigerian Eagle's ownership is under way following Virgin Atlantic Airways' decision to distance itself from the Lagos-based carrier. Virgin is seeking a buyer for its 49% stake in Nigerian Eagle. The remaining 51% is held by Nigerian institutional investors.
A $185 million private placement memorandum has been issued through Nigerian bank UBA Capital. The bank is itself a shareholder in the airline, but intends to reduce its holding.
"They want to be lead banker for the airline. They are in for the long term, but they have got to reduce their exposure to a sensible level," explained Nigerian Eagle chief executive Dapo Olumide at the recent African Airlines Association meeting in Maputo, Mozambique.
Consultancy Ernst & Young has meanwhile been brought in to seek out potential equity partners. There has been "a lot of interest" from the Middle East, says Olumide, but the airline is also targeting potential African investors.

Olumide expects that a private buyer would want a controlling stake of 51% or more, comprising Virgin's 49% and some of the shares held by Nigerian institutional investors.
He says the airline will ultimately choose "one or the other" between the UBA private placement, which is a debt solution, and the "straightforward equity" option through Ernst & Young.

If Nigerian Eagle goes down the equity path, it would look to raise a minimum of $200 million. Around $50 million would be used to pay back part of a $100 million convertible bond held by UBA. The remainder would be used for capital projects, such as the airline's order for seven Embraer 170s and three 190s.
Ideally Olumide is looking to convert the order to a lease arrangement, and if unsuccessful may tap rock-bottom prices to grow its Boeing 737-300 fleet. Nigerian Eagle is looking to operate a fleet of around 20 aircraft by 2011, he says, adding: "If the talks with Embraer fall apart, we will go with 20 geriatric 737-300s.

By Victoria Moores
Airline Business Magazine

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Japan Airlines files for bankruptcy protection

OKYO (AP) - Japan Airlines filed for one of the country's largest bankruptcies ever Tuesday, entering a restructuring that will shrink Asia's top carrier and its presence around the world.

Staggering under a $25.6 billion debt mountain, the carrier applied for protection from creditors under the Corporate Rehabilitation Law - Japan's version of Chapter 11 - with the Tokyo District Court.

Japan's flagship airline will slash nearly 16,000 jobs, reduce pensions for retired staff, cut routes and shift to more fuel-efficient aircraft as part of its restructuring.

Some $10 billion of government cash will keep JAL's planes in the air during the reorganization. Lenders will forgive $8 billion in debt, and JAL shares will be removed from the Tokyo Stock Exchange on Feb. 20, wiping out investors.

There was no word on the outcome of a fierce tug-of-war between Delta Air Lines and American Airlines for a slice of JAL's business. Despite its woes, the airline's access to Asia is a mouthwatering prize for foreign airlines.

A state-backed turnaround agency pledged 900 billion yen ($10 billion) in financial support for JAL - 600 billion yen in credit lines and a 300 billion yen cash infusion. The bankruptcy is the fourth-largest in Japan, according to figures from Teikoku Databank, which tracks corporate failures.

"This is not the end of JAL," transport minister Seiji Maehara told reporters. "Today is the beginning of a process to keep JAL alive."

JAL President Haruka Nishimatsu resigned, bowing deeply as he apologized for the company's troubles. Kazuo Inamori, a Buddhist monk and founder of Kyocera Corp. and Japan's No. 2 mobile carrier KDDI Corp., has been tapped as its next leader.

"This is our last chance," Nishimatsu said. "I believe we can be reborn as an airline that can represent Japan again."

JAL said flights will continue uninterrupted and that frequent fliers would not lose their miles. Tokyo asked foreign governments for cooperation to keep JAL flying around the world.

The day's events culminate a process that began in October when JAL - saddled with debts of 2.32 trillion yen ($25.6 billion) - first turned to the Enterprise Turnaround Initiative Corp. of Japan for help. Under the prepackaged reorganization, it will embark on a massive overhaul to shed the fat and inefficiency that hobbled its finances.

Maehara said the turnaround would involve 15,661 job cuts - a third of JAL's payroll - by March 2013.

The carrier will retire all 37 of its Boeing 747 jumbo aircraft and 16 MD-90s, which will be replaced by 50 small and regional jets. As of March, JAL's fleet consisted of 279 aircraft, mainly from Boeing Co. It served 220 airports in 35 countries and territories, including 59 domestic airports.

JAL shares, which have lost more than 90 percent of their value over the last week, tumbled another 40 percent Tuesday to 3 yen before finishing flat at 5 yen. The company is now essentially worthless, with a market capitalization of about 13.7 billion yen ($150 million) - the price of one Boeing 787 jet.

Nevertheless, American and Delta have continued to battle over JAL.

Delta and its SkyTeam partners have offered $1 billion, including $500 million in cash to lure JAL away from American's oneworld alliance. American Airlines and its partners say they would inject $1.4 billion cash into the Japanese airline.

"Delta and SkyTeam fully support Japan airlines and stand ready to provide assistance and support in any way possible," the Atlanta-based airline said in a statement following JAL's bankruptcy filing.

Maehara declined to comment on which U.S. carrier the government preferred and said it is "not in a position to force any partners on JAL."

The bankruptcy represents a humbling outcome for Japan's once-proud flagship carrier which was founded in 1951 and came to symbolize the country's rapid economic growth. The state-owned airline expanded quickly in the decades after World War II and was privatized in 1987.

But it soon became the victim of its own ambitions.

When Japan's property and stock bubble of the 1980s burst, risky investments in foreign resorts and hotels undermined its bottom line. JAL also shouldered growing pension and payroll costs, as well as a network of unprofitable domestic routes it was politically obligated to maintain.

More recently, JAL's passenger traffic has slowed amid the global economic downturn, swine flu fears, competition from Japanese rival All Nippon Airways Co. and a spate of safety lapses that tarnished its image. It lost 131.2 billion yen ($1.4 billion) in the six months through September.

Geoffrey Tudor, a principal analyst at Japan Aviation Management Research and former JAL employee, said the airline needs to be leaner and meaner.

"It wasn't commercially brutal enough in dealing with the facts of economic life," said Tudor, who spent 38 years at the Japanese carrier and now watches its collapse with a mixture of sadness and frustration.

Its four government bailouts since 2001 only exacerbated JAL's problems, officials now say.

Passengers seemed to agree as much.

"I guess they did not work in earnest and so fell into this situation," said Isao Sasaki, 72, who waited in line Tuesday at a JAL check-in counter at Tokyo's Haneda Airport. "Weren't they spoiled as they always had protection from the government?"

- Associated Press