26 March 2008

Screw the environment! Let's fly!

President SarkozyWhat! I nearly choked on my cornflakes this morning when I heard on the news that President Sarkozy's much publicised state visit to Britain starts this morning when he FLIES INTO HEATHROW!!!!!

It simply never occured to me that the only head of state in the world who can travel directly* to this country by rail, would not do so.

(*Even King Albert of Belgium would have to momentarily pass through France with any diplomatic/security/protocol issues that might raise)

The environment is THE number one policy issue for both the transport industry and the world of politics (and everyone else). So why wouldn't President Sarkozy get on Eurostar, travel through the greatest - if not latest - symbol of Anglo-French co-operation and arrive at our shiny new St Pancras International via our new high-speed track?

What kind of message is that?

Maybe he'll travel back by train.....but who cares? How many newspapers, here, in France, and around the world, will carrying pictures and stories of him leaving, compared to those covering his arrival?

Just what exactly goes on in that space between the ears of palace officials, royal aides and government protocol droids?? What were they thinking when they planned this?

"Zut alors! Let them eat carbon!"

20 March 2008

Popularity might not be a good thing

Here's an interesting press release...

According to HolidayCheck, the Mövenpick Hotel Berlin is one of the 99 most popular hotels in the world, and is in the Top 3 within Germany. The travel industry's prestigious public award was presented on 5 March 2008 on the occasion of the International Tourism Trade Fair (ITB) in Berlin.

If it is so popular, why would I want to stay there?

It will always be full of guests and never need to discount! :P

06 March 2008

Embargoed for a month....?

Yesterday (5th March) I received an emailed press release which I thought looked interesting.

Then I saw the dreaded 'embargoed' word... always disapointing because if I had done something with it, I probably would have started, and published, in a matter of hours.

Then I saw the embargo date/time...

"Embargoed until 31 March 2008" That's almost a month away!!

I suppose if you are a magazine, a one month lead time is quite reasonable/useful. Hell, my business travel column is written two months in advance of publication!

So why the fuss? Well, it's just that in 20 years as a journalist I can't remember ever seeing such a long embargo.

Am I wrong? Have I just been lucky, or just not noticed before?

Have any of you journos or PRs received/sent a press release with a month's embargo?

... Anyway, I've asked the PR to remind me at the end of the month.

03 March 2008

Is there a problem with the B777?

A while ago I was concerned about the lack of progress the Air Accident Investigation Board (AAIB) seemed to be making on the cause of the British Airways B777 crash at Heathrow on 17 Jan.

Read what I said (in a rather self-indulgently long post) at the time.

But then, finally, on 17 Feb the AAIB bulletin report came out saying there were "no anomalies" with the digital engine control system and that the investigation was focusing on the fuel supply.

Now read this - American Airlines have pulled a B777 out of the fleet to investigate why one of its engines stopped responding to throttle controls for 15 secs on approach to LA on 28 Feb. (Different source for same story here)


It think 'duck theory' applies to this one. If it looks like a duck, floats like a duck and quacks like a duck.... it's usually a duck.

I think this is serious for Boeing. There seems to be an intermittent problem (possibly with fuel supply...personally, I still think it's with the digital engine control system) with B777s coming in to land. Unlike un-official expert forums the aviation industry seems strangely slow to acknowledge the problem or come up with an explanation.