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Analysis and Comment (45)

It should be possible to enjoy your holiday and give the planet a break. It should be possible to enjoy your holiday and give the planet a break. lazyllama/Shutterstock

Can you be a sustainable tourist without giving up flying?

Australians love to travel. About 9 million Australians travelled overseas last year, 60% of them on holiday. For most tourists, sustainable development and climate change were probably not high on their…
Questions are being asked of the Qantas board over fleet decisions made years ago. Questions are being asked of the Qantas board over fleet decisions made years ago. Halans/Flickr

Did Qantas bet the house on the wrong planes?

When Qantas posted a A$2.8 billion loss - the highest in the airline’s history - last week, one critical point was that $2.6 billion came from a write-down of the value of the aircraft in the Qantas international…
Planes and airports both have big carbon footprints – and the sector is still growing. Planes and airports both have big carbon footprints – and the sector is still growing. ssguy/Shutterstock

Airline emissions are set to rise – and people are threatening to sue

No matter what the aviation industry does to reduce emissions, it will be outweighed by growth in air travel, according to a new analysis. Growth will trump emissions cuts even if significant (and contentious…
A coffin bearing the remains of a victim from flight MH17 arrives in the Netherlands. In determining compensation, the onus is on the airline to prove it wasn’t at fault or negligent. A coffin bearing the remains of a victim from flight MH17 arrives in the Netherlands. In determining compensation, the onus is on the airline to prove it wasn’t at fault or negligent. EPA/Bas Czerwinski

The loss of flight MH17: how much compensation – and who pays?

On July 17, 2014, Malaysia Airlines flight 17 (MH17) – an international passenger flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur – crashed in eastern Ukraine. All 298 passengers and crew were killed. It appears…
A separatist soldier hands an MH17 black box to a Malaysian delegation. A separatist soldier hands an MH17 black box to a Malaysian delegation. EPA/Robert Ghement

Explainer: what will MH17’s black boxes reveal?

The news that the black boxes from Malaysia Airlines flight M17 has been handed over to Malaysian authorities, will lead to many questions about what information they have to offer. The two recorders have…
Like Icarus, passengers on aircraft during solar flares can cop the effects of flying close to the sun. Like Icarus, passengers on aircraft during solar flares can cop the effects of flying close to the sun. HK.Colin/Flickr

Are you a frequent flyer? Solar storm radiation can be harmful

Space weather impacts many modern-day technologies. But one of the most concerning – and least reported – space weather effects is the increased radiation exposure to passengers on commercial long-distance…
With clear international agreements families of passengers lost to air disasters could be granted some certainty. With clear international agreements families of passengers lost to air disasters could be granted some certainty. Azhar Rahim/EPA/AAP

MH370 cost sharing agreement a chance to avoid future mistakes

More than 100 days on from the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, the search for the plane continues at a mounting cost for all involved, including the Australian government. Last month senior…
Safety matters: a review into aviation safety regulation is due to report this month. Safety matters: a review into aviation safety regulation is due to report this month. Contemplative imaging/Flickr

We’re flying into an aviation skills crisis, with safety under the radar

At a recent Senate Committee inquiry into the future of Qantas, both major airlines deflected concerns about the quality and safety of offshored maintenance with assurances that the facilities are safe…
Malaysia Airlines is still in business, but is rethinking its business model. Malaysia Airlines is still in business, but is rethinking its business model. ailing_/Flickr

A season on from MH370, how is Malaysia Airlines doing?

Malaysia Airlines flight 370 disappeared on March 8, 2014, almost three months ago. Despite comprehensive, almost unprecedented search operations involving dozens of states, the aircraft, or what remains…
Putting old airliners out to pasture early and replacing them would fill fields, but clean the skies. Putting old airliners out to pasture early and replacing them would fill fields, but clean the skies. Benny Davis/USAF

Aircraft scrappage scheme could clean up dirty airlines

Although aviation emissions contribute only 3-5% of the total impact on the planet’s climate, this is steadily growing and is a surprisingly intractable problem to solve. As prosperity around the world…
Qantas is investing in a loss-making strategy, and there’s no easy way out. Qantas is investing in a loss-making strategy, and there’s no easy way out. Dave Hunt/AAP

Qantas can bleed now or later, but capacity war must end

Tony Abbott has thrown a curve ball at Qantas in refusing to offer up the debt guarantee it wanted, but seeking to abolish Part 3 of the Qantas Sale Act in its entirety. This opens the door to foreign…
Qantas: out of options? Qantas: out of options? Neuwieser/Flickr

Nothing short of a debt guarantee will save Qantas

Imagine that Virgin Australia was majority owned by a Chinese state-owned enterprise (SOE). Then, if the owners of Virgin tipped A$350 million of new equity into the company to sustain Virgin through a…
Qantas doesn’t just have a cost management problem: its strategy is failing. Qantas doesn’t just have a cost management problem: its strategy is failing. AAP

The 5000 Qantas job losses should include Alan Joyce

As was widely expected, Qantas this morning announced a major restructure of its operations. Included in that announcement are: 5000 job losses. A fleet restructure. Salary freezes. Route restructures…
Qantas CEO Alan Joyce: “An unacceptable result”. Qantas CEO Alan Joyce: “An unacceptable result”. Paul Miller/AAPImage

Qantas to slash 5000 jobs in bid to save $2bn: experts react

Qantas will cut 5000 jobs, freeze wages of all staff, and sell or defer buying more than 50 aircraft in a bid to cut A$2 billion in costs. The airline said the roles to be lost include 1500 management…
Qantas is heading into difficult times, but is it still a good investment? Qantas is heading into difficult times, but is it still a good investment? Mick Tsikas/AAP

Qantas needs tough love, not corporate welfare

So it begins – a company running to Canberra with a good story and in need of some or other political favour. To be fair, these companies tend to have very good stories – consumer safety, national security…
Qantas is poised to receive some form of government assistance, but will it act in the national interest? Qantas is poised to receive some form of government assistance, but will it act in the national interest? griffs0000/Flickr

Qantas can’t have it both ways on foreign ownership

The Federal Government appears ready to “throw a lifeline” to Qantas, which has been seeking a government-backed debt guarantee and a lifting of the 49% foreign ownership limit in the Qantas Sale Act…
One out, one in: better high speed rail services could dampen flight demand. One out, one in: better high speed rail services could dampen flight demand. Gareth Fuller/PA

With planning, high speed rail could reduce flight demand

The expansion of UK airports could mean breaching climate targets, Climate Change Committee head David Kennedy has said. Ahead of a full report next summer that would examine the airport expansion plans…
Coming down to earth - just like house prices near airports. Coming down to earth - just like house prices near airports. Steve Parsons/PA

New runways to support leisure even as transport at home is cut

The interim report of the Davies Airports Commission published this week presents an in-depth analysis of aviation’s value to the UK economy and suggests the country will need a new runway by 2030, and…
Jetstar Hong Kong remains grounded, as it awaits government approval. Jetstar Hong Kong remains grounded, as it awaits government approval. danzden/Flickr

Asia should shine brighter for blinkered Qantas

The downgrade of Qantas' credit rating to junk status by Standard & Poor’s has sparked serious concern for the future of the airline. But the fact is the airline industry has largely been unprofitable…
Qantas management are weighing up available options to bring the troubled airline back to profitability. Qantas management are weighing up available options to bring the troubled airline back to profitability.

Cost-heavy Qantas must look beyond government bailout

Yesterday’s Qantas guidance of a first-half loss of up to A$300 million is a continuation of poor financial performance which began in 2009. It’s not since then that Qantas has delivered a return on equity…
A plane struggles to keep its course in stormy weather at Amsterdam airport last month. A plane struggles to keep its course in stormy weather at Amsterdam airport last month. EPA/OLAF KRAAK

Flying blind: global climate talks are getting us nowhere

If global aviation was a country, its emissions would be ranked about seventh in the world, between Germany and South Korea on CO2 emissions alone. Yet despite flying being a growing global contributor…
You’ll still have to put your tray table up, though. You’ll still have to put your tray table up, though. simone.brunozzi

Good news, flyers: ‘flight mode’ is safe during take-off and landing

Earlier this year, the US Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) put together a panel of aviation experts to look at whether personal electronic devices (PEDs) could be used on planes without compromising safety…
Not everyone heeds the advice to turn their phones off during take-off – but should they? Not everyone heeds the advice to turn their phones off during take-off – but should they? Jetstar Airways

What a turn-off: why your phone must be powered down on flights

It’s a fact of life for anyone boarding a plane: all electronic devices need to be turned off during take-off and landing. Most airlines have had this rule in place for more than a decade now, even though…
Is it a bird? Is it a plane? Is it a bird? Is it a plane? flickr: South Eastern Star ★

Bird strikes could ground Boris Isle of Grain airport plan

The London mayor’s recent decision to endorse the Thames Estuary’s Isle of Grain as the site for a new major hub airport has already raised concerns about threats to local birds, but perhaps it is threats…
CEO Rob Sharp will preside over a leaner Tigerair, now under the wing of Virgin Australia. CEO Rob Sharp will preside over a leaner Tigerair, now under the wing of Virgin Australia. AAP

Virgin’s takeover ensures Tiger is no longer toothless

The corporate regulator’s approval of Virgin Australia’s 60% stake in fledgling low-cost carrier Tigerair (formerly known as Tiger Airways) marks the Australian aviation industry’s return to an effective…
It’s important to understand what went wrong with Asiana 214 to avoid further tragedy. It’s important to understand what went wrong with Asiana 214 to avoid further tragedy. NTSBgov

Explainer: how to land a plane

It is still far too early in the investigation into the accident involving Asiana flight 214 at San Francisco airport to draw any conclusions about the events leading up to the accident. However, some…
Although tightly linked to each other, airlines and the aircraft manufacturing industry don’t generally seem to be heading in the same direction. Although tightly linked to each other, airlines and the aircraft manufacturing industry don’t generally seem to be heading in the same direction. Flickr/FreeFoto

One flies planes, the other makes money: the two sides of aviation

A few months ago I was invited to a small gathering organised by executives from a large international airline (one you most certainly have heard of). About a dozen of us were there and the mix was varied…
Every which way but forward. Are biofuels an answer to aviation emissions we can agree on? Every which way but forward. Are biofuels an answer to aviation emissions we can agree on? pearsongraphics/Flickr

Not even Nobel prize winners can fix aviation emissions

Aviation is a growing source of greenhouse gas emissions. In other industries emissions are declining, or at least are better regulated. Airline emissions, however, continue to soar. How viable are laws…
US regulators have grounded all 787 Dreamliners until a battery fire risk is fully assessed and fixed. US regulators have grounded all 787 Dreamliners until a battery fire risk is fully assessed and fixed. Flickr: Drewski2112

Grounded: looking at the 787 Dreamliner recent troubles

This week, US civil aviation safety regulator, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) took the massive step of grounding all US Boeing 787 Dreamliners. Its equivalent European counterpart, the European…
More and more people are flying. International emissions regulation isn’t keeping up. More and more people are flying. International emissions regulation isn’t keeping up. Dave Sag

The not so friendly skies: the EU, aviation and climate change

Aviation has – and has had for some time – an emissions problem. That problem was illustrated in dramatic fashion last week when it was announced that the European Union (EU) would freeze until late next…
Virgin Australia has announced a series of deals that will see it take a controlling stake in low cost carrier Tiger Airways. Virgin Australia has announced a series of deals that will see it take a controlling stake in low cost carrier Tiger Airways.

Virgin Australia gains low-cost and regional foothold

Virgin Australia has announced a series of deals which will see it sell a 10% stake to Singapore Airlines, gain a 60% share in low-cost carrier Tiger Airways Australia and challenge the dominance of Qantas…
Qantas will split its international and domestic operations. Qantas will split its international and domestic operations. AAP

Qantas splits operations, but break up speculation premature

Qantas has announced it is splitting its loss-making international business from domestic operations, as part of a five year turn-around plan announced last August. The two companies will have separate…
Chinese airlines are on the rise. Chinese airlines are on the rise. AAP/James Morgan

Taming the tigers: tourism in Asia to become a two-way street

AUSTRALIA IN THE ASIAN CENTURY – A series examining Australia’s role in the rapidly transforming Asian region. Delivered in partnership with the Australian government. Here, Professor Brian King crunches…
Flight Centre versus the ACCC: commonplace travel industry practices are under the spotlight. Flight Centre versus the ACCC: commonplace travel industry practices are under the spotlight. AAP

Are lowest airfares really guaranteed? Travel industry practices under scrutiny in Flight Centre case

Australia’s biggest travel agency chain Flight Centre has been accused by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) of illegal price fixing for attempting to collude with Singapore Airlines…
Low-cost carrier Southwest Airlines is renowned for its high levels of employee and aircraft productivity. Low-cost carrier Southwest Airlines is renowned for its high levels of employee and aircraft productivity. AAP

A tale of two airlines: Can low-cost carriers be sustainable and good places to work?

The recent collapses of Air Australia, Malev and Spanair raise questions about airline strategies and business models. With rising fuel prices and continuing economic turmoil in Europe and elsewhere, what…
Senator Xenophon’s proposals for the Qantas Sale Act won’t fly with Qantas CEO Alan Joyce, who says the effects could be detrimental for the beleaguered airline. Senator Xenophon’s proposals for the Qantas Sale Act won’t fly with Qantas CEO Alan Joyce, who says the effects could be detrimental for the beleaguered airline. AAP

Fight for flight: are there grounds for Senator Xenophon’s changes to the Qantas Sale Act?

Senator Nick Xenophon’s call for change to the Qantas Sale Act has made headlines across the world this week. He has challenged the Senate committee to support amendments to the Act that would require…
Some jurisdictions are pushing for aviation emissions controls, but an international agreement seems far away. Some jurisdictions are pushing for aviation emissions controls, but an international agreement seems far away. Cardiff Friends of the Earth

See you in court: solving aviation emissions is an international mess

Aviation is a growing source of emissions. Emissions from aviation are increasing against a background of decreasing emissions from many other industry sectors. Airlines - with their international reach…
Qantas has cited the carbon price and high oil costs for a price hike - but aviation pricing isn’t straightforward. Qantas has cited the carbon price and high oil costs for a price hike - but aviation pricing isn’t straightforward. AAP

The upside to Qantas and Jetstar’s price hikes

Qantas and its low cost carrier division Jetstar have announced they will increase domestic and international airfares in stages from February through to July 1. The justification is a combination of increasing…
It’s time to slice through the chit-chat and reach an agreement on aviation emissions. It’s time to slice through the chit-chat and reach an agreement on aviation emissions. donbuciak

Is anyone tough enough to push through an aviation emissions agreement?

DURBAN CLIMATE CHANGE CONFERENCE: Whatever fruits ripen out of the United Nation’s Climate Change Conference in Durban, a global aviation emissions agreement is unlikely to be among them. Thus far, Durban…
Tiger’s low-cost model just hasn’t worked in Australia. Tiger’s low-cost model just hasn’t worked in Australia. AAP

We’ll pay more, even if Tiger returns to the skies

The grounding of Tiger Airways over the weekend underlines the difficulties of the airline business. The global airline industry has consistently failed to generate an adequate return on capital, even…
Tiger Airways needs to better understand the maturity of the Australian aviation market. Tiger Airways needs to better understand the maturity of the Australian aviation market. AAP

Why Tiger Airways' future in Australia is under a cloud

Tiger Airways chief Tony Davis' decision to sell 1 million of his own shares in the company last week didn’t send the best message about his prognosis for the budget airline’s future in Australia. While…

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