Tag Archives: flight

Frozen Britain: the Country in Chaos…Again

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先週金曜日から北ヨーロッパを襲った大寒波により、またもやイギリスの交通網はパニックに陥った(参考記事/過去のブログ)。クリスマスを間近に控え、一年で最も混雑するこの時期にあたったのも最悪のタイミング。ロンドンでも最低クリスマスまでは最高気温は1度を超えず、しばらく降り積もった雪が解けそうな気配もない。国際線利用者数世界一を誇るヒースロー空港は、ほとんど麻痺状態。キャンセルが相次ぎ、途方に暮れた乗客は、いつ来るとも分からない吉報を待つしかない。

UK’s traffic has been paralyzed since Friday, due to the big freeze affecting Northern Europe (related article/past entry of my blog). It’s the busiest time of the year just before Christmas and the cold front came at the worst timing. The highest temperature in London has been just 1º, and there is no sign that the snow piled up on the street would melt away, at least until Christmas. London’s Heathrow airport, one of the busiest airport in the world, has been experiencing numerous flight cancellations and severe delays, and has been barely functioning. Thousands of desperate passengers have to bare with never-ending waiting on the floor of the airport, with a slightest hope of good news, that may not come for at least few more days.

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航空便だけじゃない。鉄道も遅れやキャンセルが目立ち、ユーロスターの発着駅であるセント・パンクラス駅は、行列を作る客約6,000人が構内に入りきらず駅をぐるっと半周、その長さは何と約2km。この寒空の中7時間待ちだとか(以下ビデオ/参考記事)。それでも、その日に運良く電車に乗れるという保証はない。そんな人たちを不憫に思ってか、Salvation Army(救世軍)のバンが駅にきて、紅茶やコーヒーの暖かい飲み物を人々に振る舞った(記事)。

Not only the air traffic, but rail networks have had severe disturbances such as delays and cancellations. Today at St Pancras International station, around 6,000 passengers of Eurostar have been waiting on a queue, stretching 1.2 miles/2km around the station, for seven hours under this freezing sky (video below/related article). There is no guarantee that they could get on the board today, though. For these poor passengers, Salvation Army‘s mobile canteen came on site, handing out hot tea and coffee for a little warmth (article).

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この混乱に巻き込まれた方々には、本当にお気の毒と言う他ない。政府は、これは何十年も経験した事のない異常事態というが、厳しい寒波もこれで3年目。昨日のニュースに出ていた気候学者によると、厳冬傾向は今後も続くかもしれないそうだ。寒いのは苦手なんだけどなあ。。。

There is nothing I can say but sorry to these people in the chaos. The government insists that this is the extreme weather that country hadn’t experienced for decades, but UK has encountered this severe cold winter three years in a row. According to a meteorologist on BBC news yesterday, this trend may continue despite the global warming… I hate cold!!

↑トラックの横転により、混雑する高速道路/An overturned lorry caused traffic jam on the M25

↓ 金曜までのロンドンの天気予報/5-day weather forecast in London

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“Brutish Airways” Advertisement by Unite

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今日、ガーディアン紙を読んでいて見つけた、ブリティッシュ・エアウェイズ(BA)を糾弾する労働組合Unite(ユナイト)の新聞広告(写真下)。今、BAと、90%ものBA客室乗務員の加入するイギリス最大の労組・Uniteとの争いが泥沼化している(過去のエントリー参照)。18日から6月上旬にかけて組合が計画していた計20日間に渡るストが、前回に続き、またもや高等法院によって、スト実施に向けた手続きに問題があったとのBA側の主張を受け、ストの差し止め命令が出された。これを受け、組合側は即時抗告。今週木曜日に裁定が下される予定だ。スト回避にも関わらず、BAはヒースロー空港発着の10%の長距離便、約半数の短距離便がキャンセルされた。

Uniteは、「British」と「Brutish(残忍な)」をかけた、www.brutish-Airways.comというウェブサイトまで作って、BAを非難している。Uniteの言い分は、「組合側は善意でかなりの妥協をしているのに、会社側は依然として組合員へのいじめを続け、この労働争議にからみ、50人の組合員を停職処分、7人をクビにし、何千人もの客室乗務員とその家族が無料フライトの恩恵を失った。会社は組合に耳を貸さず、組合員は報復を恐れて、何も言えない」というもの。一方、BA側は、「一部の強硬派組合員が、時代は変わったという現実を受け入れないことが、合意を阻む障害となっている」と引かない。

火山灰に続き、客室乗務員のスト騒ぎ。ストが実施されると1億4千万ポンドもの損失が見込まれ、赤字続きのBAにはかなりの痛手になる。この労使対決、それぞれ言い分があるだろうけれど、内輪喧嘩に巻き込まれた乗客はたまったものではない。

*本日、ユナイトの主張が認められ、もし労使間合意がなされなければ、一連の5日間のストが来週月曜日から始まりそうです。


The  photo below is a newspaper ad by a labor union Unite on the Guardian, accusing British Airways (BA) management. Now a battle between BA and Unite, the largest British labor union of which 90% of BA cabin attendants are members, has become uglier (see my past entry). The total of astonishing 20 days strike from May 18 to early June planed by Unite, had been due to start yesterday, but the court blocked the strike on 17th, claiming that Unite had not followed the correct procedure – again, like the last time. Unite immediately challenged the decision, and the appeal court will give a decision on Thursday. Despite the ruling, BA cancelled one in ten long-haul flights and almost half of its short-haul flights from the airport today.

Unite even made a website, http://www.brutish-Airways.com, to accuse BA of ‘bullying’ crew members. According to Unite, “BA carried on a campaign of bullying and victimisation against cabin crew, while Unite negotiated in ‘good faith’ to come to an agreement that both sides could live with.” ” BA is taking disciplinary action against more than 50 crew members who have been suspended on spurious charges arising from the dispute, and seven crew have been dismissed. Thousands of cabin crew and their families have had long-established travel arrangements removed.” “BA won’t listen to their cabin crew staff or to their Unite representatives in order to settle this dispute, and staff are unable to speak out for fear of being victimized or sacked if they do.” On the opposite, BA claims that “the obstacle to the resolution of this dispute is the refusal of this small group of Bassa (British Airlines Stewards and Stewardesses Association) hardliners to accept that the world has changed.”

After Icelandic ash cloud, now the possible big strike – it is another big blow to loss-making BA. It is said that BA would lose £140 million from the strike. For sure there are both sides of the story, but who cares! Take care of your own garbages, without annoying their customers!

* UPDATE: Unite won the appeal and a ban on industrial action was overturned. A series of 5-days strikes is supposed to start next Monday, unless an agreement can be made…

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London Eye: Happy 10th Anniversary!

今日3月9日はLondon Eye(ロンドン・アイ)の10回目の誕生日。ミレニアム記念事業として2000年に一般客に開放された、直径135mの世界最大規模の観覧車のロンドン・アイは、年間380万人が訪れるロンドンの新しいシンボルとなった。この10年間の間に3600万人もの人々がここからロンドンの眺めを楽しみ、計433組のカップルがここで結婚式を挙げた。今年のバレンタイン・デーには、34ものプロポーズがなされたという。

10周年を記念し、今日7時以降にロンドン・アイを利用すると、Pommery(ポメリー)のシャンパン1杯が無料で振る舞われ、ロンドン・アイがライトアップされるなどの記念イベントが行われる。また、3月8日から17日までの10日間、lastminutes.comでは通常£18するチケットが£10(大人料金。5〜15歳の子供は10%の£8.55)で買えるほか、ロンドン・アイを経営するMerlin Entertainmentも、3月中は朝10時の搭乗に限り、大人£10・子供£5の10周年記念チケットを販売している。

ロンドン・アイの上からの眺めはまあまあ綺麗でも、£18という値段を考えると、これまで2度乗ったことあるし、30分のFlight(以前はブリティッシュ・エアウェイズがオーナーだったせいか、「フライト」と呼ぶ)はちょっと長すぎるので、今は外から見ているだけで充分かな。特に夜のライトアップされた様子や新年の花火は、とてもきれいで幻想的です。

Today on March 9th is the 10th birthday for London Eye. Built as a part of Tony Blair’s millenium projects, London Eye is one of the largest Ferris wheel at height of 135m (443 ft) , and has been a new symbol of London that welcomes 3.8 million visitors a year. During the 10 years, total of more than 36 million people have visited the site, and 433 weddings have taken place. On this Valentine’s Day, 34 proposals had been made in the capsules.

To celebrate the 10-year anniversary, the visitors are treated to a free glass of Pommery champagne from 7pm and onwwards today, as well as a light show and onsite entertainment. The lastminutes.com offers an adult ticket for a bargain price of £10 (normally £18 per adult. 10% discounted price of £8.55 for a child from 5 to 15 years), between March 8th and 17th. Merlin Entertainment, the owner of London Eye, also has the 10th Birthday offer for the 10am Standard Flight for £10 for an adult and £5 for a child, during this March.

I took the London Eye twice so far: the view from the wheel is nice (but not breathtaking), but considering usual adult fare of £18 and lengthy 30 minutes ‘flight’ (it is called probably because British Airways was the previous owner?), I can enjoy just looking at it from the ground or from the boat on the Thames river. Especially London Eye looks spectacular at night when it is lighten up, and on the new year’s celebration with fireworks.

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Severe Cold Weather and Traffic Chaos in UK

最近のロンドンは寒い。気温は毎日0度前後。それでも週末は晴れたから良かったけれど、今日は午後に大雪が降り、ロンドンの街並みも雪に覆われた。利用していたバスが、事故か何かの影響でその先が通行止めになったからと途中で止まってしまい、残りは歩いて帰るはめに。4駅程だったけれど、ベチャベチャの雪の上を30分強歩くのは辛い。それに、そこかしこに悪ガキが隠れていて、ぼーっとしていると、雪の玉がどこからか飛んでくる。

イギリスだけでなく、今はヨーロッパ中が大寒波に見舞われており、交通機関は大混乱。クリスマス帰省・旅行客の足に支障をきたしている。チューブ(地下鉄)や鉄道、航空便は遅延・欠航が相次ぎ、路面凍結や雪で交通事故も多数報告されている(BBC News)。先ほどのニュースでは、ルートン空港が悪天候のため閉鎖されたという。フランス・ベルギーとイギリスを結ぶユーロスターは、今日でもう3日間運休しており、100,000人もの乗客が足止めを食らっている。19日には英仏海峡トンネルで、ユーロスターいわく「fulffy French snow(フランスでのふわふわした雪)」が原因の故障で、列車5台が立ち往生。何台かの客は救出されたそうだが、2,000人以上が数時間から最長16時間もの間、車内に閉じ込められた。以下のビデオは車内で15時間を過ごした怒れる家族。ユーロスター側から何の説明もなく、乗組員のフランス人は英語が喋れず(喋らず?)。その間飲み物も食べ物もなし。トイレは2つだけで、水が流れないので、排泄物が8cm以上も溜まっていたそう。電気もつかず、暗闇の中夜を過ごしたそう。ひどい話だ。

ユーロスターは明日から部分的に復旧する予定だそうだが、この運休中の予約客を優先、その後は老人やどうしても利用が必要な人を優先に割り当てていくので、明日以降の予約客は本当に必要な場合以外は利用しないよう、忠告している(下は、新聞に掲載された、ユーロスターからのお知らせ)。この1件でユーロスター、そしてイギリス人のフランス人に対する評判もガタ落ちしてしまった。

It’s been freezing cold in London recently. The temperature is around 0°. It was OK on weekend as it was sunny as well, but today there was heavy snow in the afternoon, covering the city in white. The bus I took suddenly stopped and didn’t travel further, due to the accident or something ahead and it was forced to wait. Though it was only 4 stops away from home and 30 minutes walk, it was hard to walk on the slippery wet and melted snow, going through a thread of random snowball attacks by obnoxious kids hiding behind walls or in a park in front of my apartment.

Not only UK but Europe is suffering with severe winter weather and traffic chaos, which affects tens of thousands of people who travel during the holiday season. In the UK, delays and cancellations are reported for many flights, trains, and tube lines, and Luton airport — closed due to snow. On the road, traffic jams have been seen due to the snow and accidents and AA has been busy rescuing people on the road (BBC News). Eurostar, which connects UK and France / Belgium, has suspended all the services for 3 days and has disrupted 100,000 people’s travel plan, after “fulffy French snow” in France created excessive condensation in the channel tunnel between England and France, causing electrics to fail and 5 trains to become stuck on December 19. More than 2,000 people were trapped inside the tunnel – some trains were evacuated, but other passengers were forced to remain on board, for hours up to 16 hours, without food and water supply! Below is the video of a furious family, stuck in the train for 15 hours; they complained that the passengers were treated like animals and with no explanation, no food, water, oxygen, electricity and light, no medics, with only 2 available toilets with no flushing water and 3 inches of excrement (or poo) and urine piled up… They were really mad at French attendants, for being rude and ignorant, and ‘those French even didn’t speak English’ (or acted that they didn’t??).

Eurostar is expected to resume partial service tomorrow on Tuesday, but the priority will be given to the elderly and the vulnerable, and passengers that should have travelled on Friday and Saturday. Eurostar advises to customers holding booking in the next few days from tomorrow is to only travel if it is absolutely necessary (as in the ‘notice’ published on the newspaper). With the incident, the way Eurostar handle of the accident, Eurostar’s reputation has gone down the drain, as well as the British image of French people…

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Increases in UK Air Passenger Duty from Today – Air fares to rise!!

Air Tax Increase: Ad by Easyjet

今日11月1日より、イギリスの航空旅客税(出国税、Air Passenger Duty)が値上げになった。2段階式値上げで、来年11月1日はさらに値上げとなる(以下の表参照)。エコノミーでヨーロッパ内ならたった£1の違いだが、長距離、例えば日本(Band C)なら、元の£40から25%増の£10値上がりの£50になる(来年はなんと£75!)。イギリスの航空券は、チケットの額面価格に加え、航空旅客税/出国税、各空港使用料、各航空会社規定のセキュリティーチャージ、燃料費等、その他諸々の費用が£200以上(ブリティッシュ・エアウェイズの例)になることもあり、£10でもばかにならない。2004年に税が導入された時は、短距離£5、長距離£20だったのが、どんどん上がっている。

今回の増税は、アンフェアだという声もある(デイリー・テレグラフ記事参照)。上記のeasyJetの新聞広告にもあるように、富裕層や企業向けのプライベート・ジェット(自家用機)や貨物便は無税だ。また、エコノミーよりもちょっと広いだけのプレミアム・エコノミークラスが、エコノミークラスではなく、ビジネスやファーストクラスと同等だというのも不公平だ。また、最初は環境税として導入された航空旅客税が、1ペニーも環境保護政策に使われていないと言う。結局政府の税収増加のための言い訳なんだろう。またテレグラフ紙は、航空旅客税撤回キャンペーンも行っている。増税反対の人は、是非署名を!

The first of two increases in UK Air Passenger Duty (APD) comes into effect today on November 1 (see the tables below). Tiny fraction of £1 increase for a European flight, but long-haul, for example APD for a flight to Japan (Band C) is now £50, £10 (25%) increase from £40 (next year will be astonishing increase to £75 – almost double!!). £10 increase may not sound a big deal, but airport tax, fuel surcharges, and other fees and charges in addition to APD are added to a ticket price (for British Airways casefor a flight to Japan is over £200!! ), therefore, £10 is another blow to already expensive charges. In 2004 the Government imposed APD at £5 for short-haul flights and £20 for long-haul flights, but it has gone up and up since then!

The Daily Telegraph accuses this APD increase as unfair for the ordinary British holidaymaker. As in the easyJet newspaper ad above, private jet customers and cargo plane don’t have to pay APD. Also Premium Economy class with slightly bigger leg-rooms than Economy is hit the hardest – it is categorized in “Premium Cabins”, instead of “Economy Cabin,” together with Business and First Class which are much spacious than Premium Economy. Furthermore, originally APD was introduced to the public as a “green” tax, but not a penny has been spent on environmental causes. I guess another excuse for the government to rip us off to increase tax revenues. The Daily Telegraph starts a campaign to stop this tax on travel – please sign the petition!!

Band A: 0 – 2000 miles from London

Economy Premium Economy, Business, First Class
before November 2009 £10 £20
November 2009 £11 £22
November 2010 £12 £24

Includes: Europe, Algeria, Greenland, Libya, Morocco, Tunisia

Band B: 2001-4000 miles

Economy Premium Economy, Business, First Class
before November 2009 £40 £80
November 2009 £45 £90
November 2010 £60 £120

Includes: Bermuda, Canada, Egypt, Gambia, Jordan, Oman, Russia (east of Urals), Syria, UAE, US

Band C: 4001-6000 miles

Economy Premium Economy, Business, First Class
before November 2009 £40 £80
November 2009 £50 £100
November 2010 £75 £150

Includes: Botswana, Brazil, Caribbean, China, India, Japan, Kenya, Maldives, Mauritius, Mexico, Seychelles, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Thailand

Band D: more than 6000 miles

Economy Premium Economy, Business, First Class
before November 2009 £40 £80
November 2009 £55 £110
November 2010 £85 £170

Includes: Argentina, Australia, Chile, Fiji, Indonesia, Malaysia, Peru, Singapore

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