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Germanwings tragedy raises questions on Lufthansa’s impeccable safety record

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By Newsgram Staff Writer

It is most traumatic for the families who have lost their loved ones in the recent crash in the French Apes. But it is very difficult to comprehend that how a large European passenger jet, at cruising level on a routine flight across the safest skies in the world, would crash.

A lot of questions still remain unanswered by the investigators from Airbus in Toulouse and Germanwings’ parent airline Lufthansa, like: how did a tragedy like this happen in the 21st century?

European airlines – both traditional carriers such as Lufthansa, Air France or British Airways, and no-frills operators such as EasyJet or Ryanair – are never low on safety. Rigorous safety standards are imposed and are checked regularly keeping in mind safety of its passengers. Germanwings has exactly the same high standards as its parent, Lufthansa, whose safety record is impeccable.Lufthansa is Europe’s biggest airline. The last incident, it suffered was on the runway at Warsaw airport in 1993, in which a crew member and a passenger died. Among the other very large European airlines, only British Airways, EasyJet and Ryanair have better safety records than the German carrier. The last two have never suffered a fatal crash.

Germanwings a no-frills operator, even after being a low cost airline is very safe. The plane that crashed was a 24-year-old A320 aircraft which had gone through rigorous checks.

Airbus A320’s record

A320 entered service in 1988, the  aircraft has flown 80 million flights, carrying one billion passengers. The type has suffered 11 fatal accidents. That is an average of one calamity every two-and-a-half years. Six have happened in the past nine years, a rate of one every one-and-a-half years. This is the second Airbus A320 crash in two months. The circumstances of the loss of the AirAsia jet flying between Surabaya and Singapore in December are still unknown. But according to researches there is an inappropriate reaction by the pilots to challenging weather in the shape of a fierce tropical storm.

According to the leading aviation safety expert, the two big airline manufacturers have broadly similar accident rates for their respective short-haul workhorses: the Airbus A320 and the Boeing 737.

The fair comparison to make is with later models of the Boeing 737, starting with the 300 series which was launched in the mid-1980s; the earlier versions had much higher accident rates. The accident rates relative to the number of planes flying are very similar for both manufacturers.

Failure of Data-Streaming technique

Data streaming is a technique which has been considered an option to avert the crashes has been in much news after the MH370 crash. It is to duplicate the information collected on board by the flight data recorders: conversations in the cockpit, and details of the pilots’ commands and aircraft performance. Data streaming was not of any help in this particular crash.

This year around 3.5 billion passenger journeys will be made. If the death rate of the previous year’s continues in 2015, about 1,000 people will die – most of them, on airlines in the developing world where safety standards are less rigorous.

In 2015 it is likely that 1.2 million people will die on the roads worldwide. And the number of victims in this plane crash corresponds to the average death toll in three weeks in crashes on German roads. The risk of life in air travel remains extraordinarily low.

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British Airways’ Costly IT Collapse makes it Rethink the Strategy

The company was left counting the cost of the disruption, both in terms of a one-off impact to its profit and the longer term damage to its reputation

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People wait with their luggage at a rebooking zone at Heathrow Terminal 5 in London, Britain May 29, 2017. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth

– by Alistair Smout

LONDON, May 29, 2017: British Airways (BA) said it would take steps to ensure there was no repeat of a computer system failure that stranded 75,000 passengers over a holiday weekend and turned into a public relations disaster.

BA had been forced to cancel all its flights from Heathrow, Europe’s busiest airport, and Gatwick on Saturday after a power supply problem disrupted its operations worldwide and also hit its call centers and website.

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The airline was returning to normal on Monday, planning to run more than 95 percent of flights from London Heathrow and Gatwick, with only a handful of short-haul flights canceled.

BA Chief Executive Alex Cruz said the root of the problem, which also affected passengers trying to fly into Britain, had been a power surge on Saturday morning which hit BA’s flight, baggage and communication systems. It was so strong it also rendered the back-up systems ineffective, he said.

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“Once the disruption is over, we will carry out an exhaustive investigation into what caused this incident, and take measures to ensure it never happens again,” Cruz said.

Over the weekend, some stranded passengers curled up under blankets on the floor or slumped on luggage trolleys, images that played prominently online and in newspapers.

“Apologizes all well and good but not enough. BA has lost another loyal customer #disgraceful,” tweeted Tom Callway, who had been due to fly to Budapest.

The company was left counting the cost of the disruption, both in terms of a one-off impact to its profit and the longer term damage to its reputation.

Check-in information boards are displayed at Heathrow Terminal 5 in London, Britain May 29, 2017. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth

Spanish-listed shares of parent company IAG <ICAG.L>, which also owns carriers Iberia, Aer Lingus and Vueling, dropped 2.8 percent on Monday after the outage. The London-listed shares did not trade because of a public holiday.

Flight compensation website Flightright.com said that with around 800 flights canceled at Gatwick and Heathrow on Saturday and Sunday, BA was looking at having to pay around 61 million euros ($68 million) in compensation under EU rules. That does not include the cost of reimbursing customers for hotel stays.

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BA would fully honor its compensation obligations, Cruz said. Of the 75,000 passengers who missed out on flights, around two-thirds would have been flown to their destinations by the end of Monday, he added.

COST CUTTING

BA has been cutting costs to respond to competition on short-haul routes from Ryanair <RYA.I> and easyJet <EZJ.L> and recently faced criticism for starting to charge passengers for their in-flight snacks.

Ireland’s Ryanair was quick to seize on the marketing opportunity, tweeting “Should have flown Ryanair” with a picture of the ‘Computer says no’ sketch from the TV series “Little Britain” to poke fun at BA.

Ryanair said it had seen a spike in bookings over the weekend but gave no further details.

The GMB union said that BA’s IT systems had shortcomings after they made a number of staff redundant and shifted their work to India in 2016.

“This could have all been avoided. BA in 2016 made hundreds of dedicated and loyal IT staff redundant and outsourced the work to India,” Mick Rix, GMB National Officer for Aviation, said.

Cruz rejected the union criticism.

“They’ve all been local issues around a local data center, which has been managed and fixed by local resources,” he told Sky News.

Several passengers complained about a lack of information from BA staff at the airport. Others said their luggage had been lost.

The airline said it was working to get reunite passengers with their luggage after many items were left at Heathrow over the weekend, although staff on Twitter warned this “could take some time”.

While other airlines have been hit by computer problems, the scale and length of BA’s troubles were unusual.

Delta Air Lines Inc <DAL.N> canceled thousands of flights and delayed many others last August after an outage hit its computer systems.

Last month, Germany’s Lufthansa <LHAG.DE> and Air France <AIRF.PA> suffered a global system outage which briefly prevented them from boarding passengers. (Reuters)

(Reporting by Alistair Smout; Additional reporting by Victoria Bryan in Berlin, Costas Pitas in London and Ismail Shakil in Bengaluru; Editing by Keith Weir)

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British Airways releases commercial on Indian culture

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New Delhi: British Airways made a commercial having India and its culture as the central theme. The advertisement is based on a true event in which the story is about a new air hostess, Helena and her first visit to India.

The video shows that the nerves and frame of mind she goes through and how she meets an old lady on the flight. Both help each other.

The old lady who was missing her son was taken care of by Helena and as a result of this, she invites her to Hyderabad. Helena goes to her home and witnesses the Indian culture and this experience leaves her mesmerized.

Through the ad, British Airways is trying to woo Indians commuters. It says, ‘Loving India for 125 years’’. While the video is a nice attempt to show the warmth of relationships and culture but it is a way to attract Indians which will directly be beneficial to the business. The advertisement, however, was received positively so far by the public.

Earlier this week British band Coldplay was under fire for the stereotypical representation of Indian culture. (inputs from agencies)

The video of commercial can be seen here

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Surf Internet while travelling in air, WiFi facility for airlines passengers coming soon

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OmanAirWiFi

By Newsgram Staff Writer

The government is finally going to announce WiFi based Internet connections on flights, meeting a longstanding demand of both airlines and passengers, reported an English newspaper today.

A senior civil aviation ministry official said his ministry has approached the department of telecommunications (DoT) with the proposal and will make a formal announcement soon. “The DoT has already said (informally) the proposal is  possible to implement,” quoted Economic Times.

DoT allots spectrum, or airwaves, capacity to operators to provide telecom and broadband services. In India, only foreign airlines such as Emirates, Lufthansa and Turkish Airlines offer Internet connectivity on international flights.

Like the use of mobile phones onboard even in flight mode, Wi-Fi and other technologies require regulatory clearances. Airlines typically provide Wi-Fi services by installing on board planes a server that hooks up with a ground-based mobile broadband network or links to satellites.

The number of commercial airplanes globally with Wi-Fi, cell service or both is expected to more than triple over the next 10 years to 14,000, with Asia spawning most of the growth, according to IHS, a research firm.

For airlines, desperate for new sources of revenue because of their wafer-thin margins, Wi-Fi will be a possibly lucrative service to sell. But globally, the service hasn’t been a huge money spinner for airlines because equipping fleets with Wi-Fi, especially via satellites, is costly and few carriers have found a profitable way to cover costs.