Weekend view: models and reality

Will they ever turn up?

After a few days in Paris this week, there was no time to edit photographs, so instead, lets take a look at something else…

I keep a list (no surprise there), using the ToDo app for iOS/OSX. That list contains every outstanding order and review to come. Currently there are 24 items on the list, which is about 7-10 weeks worth of material at any one time.

On that list are three models. One the Cargolux ‘Cutaway’ 748F on order since October last year. Nobody seems to have any idea if it will see the light of day and the manufacturers aren’t saying. The only UK retailer I could find taking orders has removed it from their list.

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LX-VCM 1:400 on order since 15 October 2015
In January they announced the SAS A330 and A343 LN-RKF. I ordered the later, and now, that too, along with the A330 has never seen the light of day. Nobody knows what’s going on again. Retailers are as much in the dark as we are. And now you can add to that the ANA Cargo 767-300BCF JA8362.

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LN-RKF SAS A343, 1:400 order on order since early January 2016
The manufacturer seems to feel it’s perfectly alright to dither about and make these models – and many others – as and when they feel like it. Then of course they like to announce things like the Bombardier CS100 in test livery and allegedly let the vast majority of it’s production go to a corporate buyer, with but a handful reaching the people who’d paid up front for it to their retailers.  I suspect this is what happened to the Cargolux cutaway. Either that or the Chinese HNCA group who bought a big share in Cargolux decided to stamp on unauthorised production. And we know it happens, look at Star Wars ANA 789. Somebody was overly keen to point out to me that even when that was killed off, the manufacturer never actually said it had been publically.

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1:400 on order since February
Now I know this particular manufacturer has always been a little bit random, but these days it seems to be verging on haphazard. I wont be making any more orders for their product until things change, simply on principle. They won’t care, why should they? Afterall, I’m just a customer.

Monarch and easyJet? Two very different British icons and why one buying the other makes almost too much sense….

In the real world, no aviation fan of any type wants to loose Monarch. They have survived against all the odds and have what appears to be a decent future ahead of them. You can thank investors Greybull for that. You can also blame them for it’s potential sale to easyJet. Greybull are turnaround specialists and their only real motivation is getting a nice fat profit on their investment. They probably don’t care who buys it, no matter what they may say publically, no money men ever do. They’ve also not always been succssful in making turnrounds, so when one makes it worth it their while, what did anyone expect?

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Flying over my house just after the new livery roll out last year
The cynic in me says that easyJet were always the target buyer. The synergies are enormous.

  • Both fly Airbus A320’s – Monarch also has A321’s but they could be lived with until swapped out. The monarch order for 738Max’s can easily be cancelled.
  • Both are technically headquatered at London Luton Airport – crew and management retention won’t be such an issue.
  • Training and technical support would gel easily.

Monarch operates the majority of it’s routes from BHX and this is a market that while easyJet has access to, is deeply competitive. The airport is awash with low cost scehduled airlines.

  • Monarch
  • easyJet
  • Ryan Air
  • Norwegian
  • Vueling
  • Flybe
  • Iberia Express

Add to that the big package holiday companies, mostly Tui/Thomson, then Thomas Cook/Condor who also offer tickets without packaged holiday deals, and you have a huge and yet still chronically underserved major city in the middle of the UK with a vast catchment area. On top of them you have the now highly competive Lufthansa, KLM, Swiss, Air France, Turkish and Brusells Airlines, all vying for your business.

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Is it the end of the road for Monarch’s reign?
easyJet have not found it easy to crack the BHX maket and neither have any of the other low-cost airlines, largely because Monarch and Flybe have such a loyal base and the benefit of being undisputedly British airlines (in the public’s eyes, though for most of its life Monarch was owned by a Swiss family), most people grew up with. easyJet taking out Monarch, whose aim is to compete as an easyJet-style airline on the same business model, would give it a huge shove to the top of the BHX airlines rankings, a sought after and profitable set of routes, along with a major new service base only completed by Monarch a couple of years ago.  What is there to loose?

Sadly it will be Monarch we loose, and another airport will be infected with the tedious orange and white as it’s major airline. It hasn’t happened yet, but I strongly suspect it will. Global consolidation at every level just keeps marching on relentlessly.

Malaysia Airlines, about to turn a corner and Christoph Mueller walks away…

Malaysia Airlines has seen enough tragedy and gone through enough subsequent pain that you would think it deserved a break.

Christoph Mueller, who so successfully turned round Aer Lingus to the point where IAG just had to buy it, was given a three year contract to turn the shattered Malaysian carrier around. Yesterday, citing personal reasons, he resigned and his resignation was promptly accepted. He says it was for personal reasons and I suspect they were, the phrase can have so many double meanings.

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©unknown  Phoenix announced they were going to produce one of their wing-dragging 744 models of this livery ‘soon’. I’ll give it a miss.
If I had been given a job like this and asked to do what he was doing, including laying off 6,000 staff and slashing the fleet, effectively aiming to start again, I would have said, “I do this my way, no interference from anyone, in three years, it will all be well on the road to full recovery”.  The Malaysian government paid him to do just that.

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744 refurbishing work
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And then, so the grapevine is now reporting, they interfered, slowly undermining his authority. Decisions were over-ruled without his knowledge I’ve heard. Projects under way were suddenly cancelled, again without his input. They started to over-rule his decisions. This is Malaysia, where a bizarre  and in my opinion, corrupt pseudo-democratic government that uses threats and intimidation against the opposition and is used to getting it’s own way, just expects people to tow the line. Clearly they haven’t all met Christoph Mueller.

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Think about recent news of how the A380’s were for sale one minute and not the next. Think about how they were to be withdrawn form Paris and Frankfurt, then they weren’t then they were. It’s said he wanted all of them gone, but the government, always concerned with prestige just couldn’t face being seen to be minimized in that way. Once again we see how state airlines are key to how governments feel they are portrayed abroad. If the entire Malay Federation couldn’t manage to fly six while tiny city state Singapore manages 19, it would look a bit pathetic. Economic realities are always trumped by matters of prestige.

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Ultra-rare sighting in these parts! Manchester-Kuala Lumpur. Had been diverted to MAN on 27th March due to storms over LHR,  ferried back to Malaysia without passengers. 100th A380 built.Flying over RLS, 16 Miles range, 24kft, 212x zoom
The Malaysian unions are furious at his departure and are making a big noise about it – probably because they want the truth to come out, and they’ve accused him of cowardice. I suspect they think they might get a response. The reality I would  suggest, is that he found it impossible to do the job he was being paid to do and enough was enough.

The unions were quick to add that he was the best in the world and how would they find anyone even half as capable who would do the job? They won’t, and that’s why they are so shocked and annoyed. Malaysia Airlines is once again in danger because an interfering government doesn’t know when to leave things alone.

Next question: when, if ever will we see the new corporate identity and livery? I’d bet a dollar that that was another issue that the government just couldn’t let go of.

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