Tag Archives: passengers

Frozen Britain: the Country in Chaos…Again

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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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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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British Airways’ 12 Days Strike Blocked | Flyglobespan Gone Bust

flickr photo taken by bribriTO






2 big news related to an Airline industry struck the media headlines in UK today.

First news is a good one: High Court blocks a planned 12-day strike (Dec 22 to Jan 2) by British Airways (BA) cabin crew, after ruling that the strike ballot was illegal, and saves more than a million people’s travel plans during this busy period. We are so pleased to hear this news, as we are planning to visit M’s family in Italy for Christmas with British Airlines.

Due to the harsh competition with no-frills airlines and foreign airlines from the countries with cheaper wages, BA suffers daily loss of £1.6 million and £3.7 billions pension fund deficit, and reported a record pre-tax loss of £292m during April to September, traditionally its most profitable trading period. Struggling BA have taken cost cutting measures such as 1700 job cuts (total of 4900 to 2010), a slash of the number of crews on board, and a two-year pay freeze for cabin crew. But Unite, the largest labor union in UK, is upset as these measures have been taken without a negotiation with them, and announced the strike on Dec 14, backed with 92% of ‘yes’ votes of the members in the ballot. If strike would have taken place, it would have cost BA £10 to £30 millions a day and would have affected the merger with Spanish Iberia Airlines in a bid to survive. BA took the issue to the High Court on Dec 15, to halt the strike as illegal, because the ballot included 1,000 workers who have been made redundant.

The strike was planned in the busiest period of the year, and it is reported that the decision of the strike grounded in internal politics – these made majority of the people angry and be the company’s side. And 12 days? No way!  BA cabin crews earn average of £29,900, twice as much as the wage of Virgin Atlantic’s £14,400 and 50% higher than easyJet’s average crew wage of £20,200, and it is the highest pay in UK – who would feel sorry for them with their ‘worsening’ condition in the recession?? I don’t think the quality of service by BA crews and workers are better than their rivals either. How do union members believe that their company can win the competition against the rivals with cheaper price and/or better service, without cutting cost?? As other failing former national flagship airlines such as Japan Airlines and Alitalia, BA workers seems to cling to the good old time treatment without existence of its rivals, and may believe that the government will help the airline in the worst case. But time has changed. I don’t think the government with mounting debt can get taxpayer’s support to help them, if BA is not capable of implementing the survival plan because of the union’s stubborn “old militant” tactics. Maybe the best option is to make BA fail and to restart from scratch.

The second is the bad news. The biggest Scottish airline Flyglobespan failed after its parent company collapsed yesterday and all flights were cancelled. About 4,500 passengers were stranded, mostly in Spain, Portugal, Cyprus and Egypt. It is expected tnearly 800 jobs would be lost and over 100,000 passengers will loose their reserved flights. I’d never heard or seen this Edinborough-based airline, until I heard this news today. Many new discount airlines were born in the years of good economy, but quite many of them are not doing well due to the economic decline, and probably some will disappear in the future – we customers will loose convenience and freedom of  choice in airlines and destination, and probably it will be the end of ultra-cheap flights as competition lessens.

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