Monday, February 19, 2007
Postcard from Singapore

I am on vacation in Singapore, but thought I would just take a moment or two to keep you up to date with my travels.

I am still trying to decide if I think the A380 will be a success. I have read the views of the distinguished travel writer Malcolm Ginsberg in the last ABTN newsletter (if you don’t subscribe, you really should – it’s free).

Malcolm is as uncertain as the rest of us about whether the A380 will be a commercial success and if it is, when. The truth is none of us want to come off the fence on this one. We know the airlines like Singapore Airlines will need them as aviation travel grows faster than infrastructure can support. But will it grow fast enough to justify this cost? OK, OK, I am going round in circles again. Let me just use that horrible, miserable, cowardly journalistic get out clause “only time will tell.”

Having been through a whirlwind in the first two months of the year (far more travel than I ever intended) I didn’t realise how tired I was until I got to Singapore. Ironically, I’m here at the start of Chinese New Year, when the place is buzzing like a traditional firecracker. I know the criticisms of the place – many believing it is a little antiseptic, a little too regulated for its own good. But that has never been my experience of the place. There are marvellous restaurants here, good bars and clubs, and yes, even a bit of an underground culture. I always find this a splendid place to stop over, especially after a busy trip elsewhere. Anyway, it’s certainly a place you have to visit yourself to make up your own mind.

One final thought before I get back to my vacation. Never underestimate the ability of Airbus to shoot itself in the foot. The decision to do the first U.S. test flight of the A380 into New York JFK instead of Los Angeles International airport (which, so the story goes, had been promised the first visit).

Oh dear. LAX, which has spent so much money on construction ramping up preparations for the plane, will - truth be told - be the natural destination of the A380 because so many Pacific carriers have purchased the plane. Even European carriers like Lufhansa and Air France are more likely to use them to LA where they need capacity, rather than East Coast routes where they need frequency.

Now LAX is miffed. Strong words have been written. And Airbus has got itself into a totally unnecessary spat with a major airport.

“Oh,” I hear you say, “ you are writing this because you are in Singapore, which is first to fly the plane.” Nope! Singapore Airlines is intending to fly the plane to Sydney and London Heathrow not LAX. So there. I just feel sorry for LAX which seems to have been shafted.

Now excuse me, I must get back to my vacation.
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