Monday, February 28, 2011

Bangkok Air Catering cooking up Phuket airport plan

Catering unit would challenge TG venture

Bangkok Air Catering (BAC) has set its sights on opening a second major facility at Phuket Airport to cash in on growing demand from carriers.
BAC’s Suvarnabhumi facility employs 500 staff who produce 17,500 inflight meals a day, with a full capacity of 25,000.
The flight catering unit of Bangkok Airways is in talks with Airports of Thailand Plc (AoT), the operator of Thailand's six main airports, about setting up a flight kitchen that could produce up to 8,000 meals a day.
The nearly one-billion-baht facility would break the monopoly of the existing sole caterer at Phuket airport _ a joint venture between Thai Airways International, AoT and a business group led by the hotel tycoon Vichit na Ranong.
Thavatvong Thanasumitra, Bangkok Airways' executive vice-president for finance, said the proposed Phuket facility formed part of the expansion plan of BAC, which has successfully operated a multi-billion-baht facility at Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi Airport for the past four years.
Linus Knobel, BAC's managing director, said the facility would not only offer inflight meals to airlines making Phuket their port of call but also serve as a platform for BAC to serve other sectors as well.
The Swiss executive said BAC also hoped to provide food and beverage services to the planned sports and convention centre expected to be up and running in three years along with more hotels and restaurants on the southern resort island.
Rising demand for airline meals on flights from Phuket is in line with growing passenger traffic as carriers raise frequencies and startup airlines descend on Phuket, said Mr Thavatvong.
"We're seeing 4-5 million passengers a year go through Phuket airport, and with annual growth of 7-9% that number could easily soar to 7-10 million annually in the next three years," he said, adding that the spike in demand for inflight meals justifies additional caterers.
Mr Knobel said BAC wanted to be part of the 5.79-billion-baht expansion of Phuket Airport, Thailand's second busiest in terms of passenger numbers, which is now under way.
When completed in 2014, the airport will be able to handle 12.5 million passengers a year, almost double the current capacity of 6.5 million.
BAC is currently looking into the feasibility of building the catering facility at the airport and obtaining the rights to serve operators there.
The facility was first proposed in response to requests from its existing airline customers including Qatar Airlines and China Southern, as well as Bangkok Airways, said Mr Knobel.
Mr Thavatvong said BAC hoped to begin its new meal service about the middle of next year.
At the Suvarnabhumi facility, 500 staff produce 17,500 inflight meals a day against a full capacity of 25,000 meals.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Strategic flies new Brisbane to Phuket service

Brisbane-based international carrier, Strategic Airlines, will make its first ever flight from Brisbane to Phuket today, giving South-East Queenslanders new options to travel to Thailand from $299.

Flight VC246 will be at capacity when it departs Brisbane Airport at 12:05pm, with passengers, family and special guests of Strategic Airlines owner Michael James.

Launch festivities at Brisbane Airport will include performances by Thai dancers, a cake cutting ceremony and representatives of Brisbane Airport Corporation joining airline founder and executive director Michael James to personally greet inaugural passengers.

"Phuket has been one of the most sought-after leisure destinations for local holidaymakers for many years," he said. "With our new flights from Brisbane, South-East Queenslanders now have more options for easy and affordable ways to travel there," said James. "We're looking forward to further expanding our international services out of Brisbane in the near future."

Brisbane-Phuket fares start at $299 one-way ($598 return) inclusive of taxes and are on sale online at

Strategic is operating the service on an Airbus A330 aircraft, offering 274 seats in both business and economy class. The flights will depart Brisbane Airport every Thursday and Sunday afternoon at 12:05pm, arriving in Phuket at 4:50pm local time. The return flights will depart Phuket International Airport every Tuesday and Thursday at 5:50pm, arriving in Melbourne at 6:50am the following day.

Earlier this week Strategic Airlines also launched its new twice-weekly Melbourne to Phuket service, flying out of Tullamarine for the first time ever and giving Melbourne Airport a new international airline.

Phuket is the latest international destination to be serviced by the airline, which launched its Brisbane to Townsville to Denpasar (Bali) service in December last year and will offer direct flights between Brisbane and Bali from next month. Strategic also flies direct to Bali from Perth.

Yuma's Avengers embark on 13th MEU

Story by Lance Cpl. Laura Cardoso

Photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Trevor Walsh
Marines aboard the USS Boxer man the rails in the hangar bay of the ship Feb. 22, 2011. Approximately half of the Marine Attack Squadron 211 joined the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit aboard the USS Boxer Feb. 21, 2011. The MEU is underway for a scheduled deployment to the western Pacific region. The other half of the Wake Island Avengers are currently deployed with the 31st MEU and participating in exercise Cobra Gold 2011, an annual multinational exercise between the U.S. and Thailand.
Marine Attack Squadron 211 and Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 13 Marines embarked on the USS Boxer Feb. 22, 2011, from San Diego for a seven-month deployment with the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit.

Approximately 100 Marines and six AV-8B Harriers will be providing close-air support for the MEU's infantry units as well as reconnaissance capabilities throughout the MEU's diverse variety of missions.

"Our mission out there is to provide support to the 13th MEU in any way they need," said Capt. Colin Newbold, VMA-211 pilot. "I'm confident my men will get the job done."

An unusual number of Marines within the detachment have never deployed, which caused a small concern amongst the command while preparing.

"When we first realized that a large amount of our Marines had no deployment experience, we were skeptical as to how smoothly our operations would go," said Gunnery Sgt. James Grace, VMA-211 avionics technician. "However, once workups started up and their training progressed, we were very confident in their skills. I don't believe we will run into any problems in the future, and I look forward to seeing these Marines show their stuff on the deployment."

The squadron began preparing for the deployment in October 2010. Training included standard ground preparation and on-ship training aboard the Boxer, as well as the station's Auxiliary Airfield 2, which simulates the deck of a ship, offering pilots an area to practice their landings and gain required training hours.

Throughout that time many of the inexperienced Marines got a chance to preview what their lives will be like aboard the Boxer.

"Working on a ship was a new experience," said Cpl. Renard Williams, VMA-211 airframes mechanic. "We learned a lot about what it takes to live on a ship and how our jobs are going to be at sea. I know this is going to be a good experience because we will have the opportunity to experience new cultures along the way."

The rest of the squadron is currently deployed with the 31st MEU and is slated to return in early June 2011.

Thailand’s domestic network improves

February 23, 2011 by Rapeepat Mantanarat  
Filed under Aviation, News
BANGKOK 23 February 2011 – Thailand’s aviation industry is undergoing changes that will deliver improvements to the domestic network and open up secondary destinations in the country.
In less than a year new airline services to secondary destinations, that were previously linked only by road, are offering more options for overseas tour operators.
Thailand’s delegation to the ITB in Berlin hopes to convince European tour operators that there are now options for travellers to explore destinations in the North and Northeast using a combination of tour buses and commuter airline services.
A community airline, Solar Air started operations in August 2010 and currently serves seven destinations from Bangkok’s Don Mueang Airport to secondary cities and also between provinces.
From Bangkok it operates services to: Roi Et, Nan, Mae Sot (four weekly); Phetchaboon, Loei (threee weekly), Phrae (weekly) and Chumporn (six weekly). Travel between Phetchaboon and Loei is also possible.
The airline will connect Mae Sot, the border town on the west with Chiang Mai, the major city in the north this March with three-weekly services, using a 19-seat Dornier 228.
Last month, Nok Air increased services on seven domestic routes lifting daily services across its network from 30 a day to 39.
The Bangkok-Chiang Mai route is being served by six daily services, up from four meaning  the airline has a flight departing every two hours from morning until late evening.
Frequency on routes to Udon Thani and Nakhon Si Thammarat has increased from three to four; Hat Yai, from four to five; Trang, from one to two; Phuket from two to four and Surat Thani from two to three.
Services on other routes from Bangkok remain the same: Three daily to Ubon Ratchathani; twice daily to Phitsanulok; daily to Sakhon Nakhon and Nakhon Phanom and twice weekly to Buriram. Chiang Mai-Mae Hong Son is served by two flights daily.
Currently, Nok Air has 10 B737-400 aircraft in the fleet. Nok Air should take delivery of a larger B737-800s later this year. It intends to fly to Narathiwat in the Deep South where Thai AirAsia enjoys a monopoly.
Happy Air started services during the second half of 2009 as a Phuket based airline and has expanded services while making Nakhon Ratchasima, a town in Northeast Thailand, its main base.
Using a 34-seats Saab 340, it has flights between Nakhon Ratchasima and Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport, Phitsanulok and Chiang Mai (twice week); between Chiang Mai and Phitsanulok (twice week); between Suvanabhumi and Loei (four weekly), Mae Sot (three weekly) and Nan (six weekly); also between Phuket and Hat Yai and Ranong (three weekly).
Kan Air, the newest domestic airline starting operations in February, operates flights out of Chiang Mai International Airport. Initially it flies from Chiang Mai to Pai, Chiang Rai and Nan using a 12-seat Cessna turbo-prop 208 Grand Caravan with daily services.
In its business plan it says it will consider other short hops in the North from its Chiang Mai base to Mae Sarieng and Mae Hong Son.
Orient Thai Airlines is not expanding, but it will modernise its fleet this year. The airline confirmed it will take delivery of 12 Superjet 100s, with an option of 12 more Superjet 100s from the Russian aircraft manufacturer Sukhoi. Deliveries will begin in the third quarter of this year allowing the company to phase out its MD82s.
The new aircraft have 98 seats in a single configuration. It will reduce seat capacity by 37% when compared to the 155-seat MD-82s.
Current destinations from Bangkok are: Chiang Mai (twice daily), Chiang Rai (twice daily), Trang (daily), Phuket (twice daily) and Hat Yai(twice daily).
Earlier this year, Thai Asia established its third hub in Chiang Mai after Bangkok and Phuket. Domestically, it now only operates on route linking Chiang Mai with Hat Yai (daily), a commercial centre in South Thailand. Inter-provincial flights from Phuket serve Ubon Ratchathani (three weekly), Udon Thani (daily), Chiang Mai (twice daily) and Bangkok (eight daily).
However, a couple routes in the north operated by Nok Mini are currently suspended — Chiang Mai-Pai and Chiang Mai-Nan due to a change of aircraft. The airline retired its Cessa Grand Caravan fleet and is replacing it with two 34-seat Saab 340s. With just one Saab aircraft it commenced, 1 February, a Chiang Mai-Udon Thani service, with one daily flight. Three flights will be added from 28 February, lifting frequency to 10 flights a week.

Gripen aircraft first flight with Royal Thai Air Force, Sweden

Thailand's new Swedish built Gripen fighters

STOCKHOLM, Sweden, Feb. 24 (UPI) -- The Swedish Defense Materiel Administration announced delivery this week of six SAAB Gripen fighter aircraft to the Thai air force.
The arrival of the fighters follows the delivery of the first parts of the air defense systems Sweden and Thailand agreed on in 2008.
"We have now successfully delivered a complete air defense system," said Arne Heden, head of Gripen Thailand at the Swedish agency. "Swedish pilots and technicians will now help Thailand to start using the system."
Under a 2008 agreement, six Gripens with associated equipment and services, a Saab 340 aircraft with airborne radar surveillance system, a Saab 340 for transport and education and an integrated command-and-control system with data links was to be delivered to Thailand.
The agreement contained provisions for extensive logistical support, training for pilots and technicians and flight simulators.
Last November the Swedish agency said signed an agreement with Thailand for six more Gripens, another 340 with Erieye radar and Swedish RB 15F missiles.
Delivery will take place in 2012 and 2013.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Cebu Pacific offers P999 seat sale to 10 Mindanao destinations

Tuesday, 22 February 2011 16:46
The Philippines’ largest national flag carrier, Cebu Pacific promotes its routes from Manila to 10 destinations in Mindanao in a P999 ‘Go Lite’ seat sale from February 22-24, 2011 or until seats last.

For travel this May 1 to June 30, 2011, passengers can avail of P999 ‘Go Lite’ seats from Manila to Butuan, Cagayan de Oro, Cotabato, Davao, Dipolog, General Santos, Ozamiz, Pagadian, Surigao or Zamboanga.

CEB is also offering P1,499 ‘Go Lite’ seats from Manila to Brunei and Ho Chi Minh, for travel this April 1 to June 30, 2011. Those with check-in luggage will just add P100 upon booking.

The airline flies from Manila to Cotabato, Dipolog and Ozamiz daily, to Butuan twice daily, to Surigao thrice weekly, to Davao 45 times weekly, to General Santos 18 times weekly, and to Pagadian five times weekly.

Starting March 28, 2011, CEB will increase flight frequencies to its Cagayan de Oro and Zamboanga operations. It will operate 46 times weekly flights from Manila to Cagayan de Oro, and thrice daily flights to Zamboanga.

“This seat sale is up to 44% less than our lowest year-round fares to Mindanao, so guests are encouraged to plan their business and leisure trips in advance. We offer the most number of destinations and flight frequencies between Manila and Mindanao, positively stimulating tourism and trade,” said CEB VP for Marketing and Distribution Candice Iyog.

“Guests can also take advantage of this seat sale to take connecting flights from Mindanao to Brunei and Vietnam (Ho Chi Minh). Bandar Seri Begawan in Brunei is home to beautiful mosques and is the country’s commerce, finance and government center. Meanwhile, guests can also make Ho Chi Minh as a jump-off point to Angkor Wat in Cambodia, after visiting the city’s Cu Chi tunnels,” she added.

For bookings and inquiries, guests can go to or (for Fun Tours packages), or call the reservation hotlines (02) 7020-888 or (032) 230-8888. The latest seat sales and promos can also be found on CEB’s official Twitter and Facebook pages.

Iyog also encouraged guests without credit cards to book online and pay through CEB partner banks and payment centers. “Travelers can also select seats in advance and avail of CEB’s web check-in service for their travel convenience,” Iyog said.

CEB currently operates the youngest aircraft fleet in the Philippines with 10 Airbus A319, 15 Airbus A320 and 8 ATR-72 500 aircraft. By the end of 2011, CEB will be operating a fleet of 37 aircraft – with an average age of less than 2.5 years – one of the most modern aircraft fleets in the world. Between 2012 and 2014, Cebu Pacific will take an additional 16 Airbus A320 aircraft.

Thailand's Air Force first six Swedish Gripens arrive in Asia

Thailand has received its first six of 12 Saab Gripen C/D fighters, following the delivery of the aircraft to an airbase in the southern Surat Thani province. It is the first Asian country to operate the Swedish type.

According to the Royal Thai Air Force's website the aircraft arrived with the service's 7 Wing late on 22 February.
Thailand's initial six-aircraft deal includes two single-seat Gripen Cs and four twin-seat Gripen Ds.

Bangkok's eventual 12-strong fleet was purchased in two separate deals of six aircraft each; the first was signed in early 2008, while the second, which covers six single-seat examples, was signed in late 2010.

Delivery of first Gripens to Thai Air Force 
 © Royal Thai Air Force

Both orders also include one Saab 340 regional airliner equipped with a Saab Microwave Systems Erieye airborne early warning and control radar. The first deal also included an additional Saab 340 to be used for aircrew training and transport activities.

Last year's order also includes the provision of Saab's RB15F anti-ship missile: a subsonic, sea-skimming design with a maximum range of over 108nm (200km).

The second batch of Gripens is due to arrive in 2013. The aircraft will replace some of Thailand's Northrop F-5s.

According to Thai media, the aircraft will be officially handed over to the Royal Thai Air Force next month after completing testing.
Because the first batch of aircraft are technically the property of Sweden until the official handover, Swedish pilots delivered the aircraft. They were flown to Thailand via stops in Hungary, Greece, Egypt and India. However, Thai pilots have already been trained on the aircraft in Sweden.

Thailand joins the Czech Republic, Hungary, South Africa and Sweden in operating the Gripen. The type is also used by the UK Empire Test Pilots' School.

A new generation version dubbed the Gripen NG is also involved in fighter competitions in nations including Brazil, India and Switzerland.

Thanks to Flight Global

Friday, February 18, 2011

Thailand's Angels of the Air - Dreams of being a Flight Attendant

Good looks and a sweet smile are not always enough for a spot as a cabin crew member in the highly competitive airline industry. Now hopefuls have the option of attending flight attendant school. Perfect Angels hopes to give applicants the edge they need to land the land the job, but the course is far from cheap. Video by Chumporn Sangvilert.

Nok Air Wants MRO Operation In Thailand

Feb 16, 2011
Thai carrier Nok Air is pushing maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) companies to set up shop in Thailand.
“We’re now working on getting a MRO provider for the Boeing 737-800s” and are encouraging those short-listed to do the work in Thailand, says Nok CEO, Patee Sarasin, referring to the airline’s future fleet of jet aircraft. The short-listed companies are: Air France Industries, Lufthansa Technik and Boeing, says Patee.
He says some of those short-listed firms have suggested doing the work in Malaysia or China. But having the MRO work done in Thailand will provide 15-20% cost savings, says Patee.
Nok has a fleet of 10 Boeing 737-400s and two ATR 72-200s and handles line maintenance in-house. For heavy maintenance, it has been relying on Thai Airways International’s technical arm and on Air France Industries.
Patee says Nok is now speaking to GE Capital Aviation Services about securing operating leases on 737-800s. There are very few 737-800s available for lease so it appears likely Nok will have to wait until November 2012 before adding the first aircraft, says Patee.
Nok is also in the market to lease ATR 72-500s and is hopeful it can secure leases on two to three before year-end, he says. Nok had earlier said it wanted ATR 72-200s to ensure commonality with its first two aircraft. But he says it has since decided on ATR 72-500s, because these newer model aircraft are more technologically advanced and quieter.
Thai Airways International owns 39% of Nok and is currently trying to buy Krung Thai Bank’s 10% stake in Nok so it can have more management control. Patee has been operating the business independent of Thai.

Mohonu via Wikipedia

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade Marines, sailors take on Cobra Gold 2011

III Marine Expeditionary Force Public Affairs

Air operations during Cobra Gold 2011 Photo by Lance Cpl. J Nava An F-18 Hornet from Marine All Weather Fighter Attack Squadron 242, Marine Aircraft Group 12, 1st Marine Air Wing, III Marine Expeditionary Force, taxis back through the runway as an F-16 from the Royal Thai Air Force takes off at Korat Royal Thai Air Force Base, Feb. 11 during Exercise Cobra Gold 2011. Cobra Gold is an regularly scheduled annual multinational training exercise. It is the latest in the continuing series of U.S. - Thai military exercises designed to ensure regional peace and stability.
SAMESAN, Thailand - The 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade has begun Exercise Cobra Gold 2011 which will be conducted from Feb. 7 to Feb. 18.

This year marks the 30th anniversary of Cobra Gold, which is the largest United States Pacific Command level exercise conducted each year, continuing to build upon the partnerships of all seven countries that take part. This is also the first year that the 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade Forward, III Marine Expeditionary Force, has taken the lead during the exercise.

The MEB is the midsized Marine Air-Ground Task Force, serving as a hybrid and maximizing the capabilities between the forward deployed Marine Expeditionary Unit and the principal fighting force – the Marine Expeditionary Force. For 30 days the MEB is self-sufficient. It is composed of a reinforced infantry regiment, a composite Marine Aircraft Group, and a brigade service support group.

“Cobra Gold offers us the great opportunity to train alongside the soldiers and Marines of seven other countries within the Asia-Pacific region. The multinational training that we conduct will directly support any future operation or contingency that may occur in the region; ranging from humanitarian assistance to disaster relief,” said U.S. Marine Brig. Gen. Mark A. Brilakis, 3rd MEB commanding general. “With this being the 30th iteration of Cobra Gold, the foundation of support and security that we have built between countries grows stronger every year.”

Cobra Gold 2011 began with the end of Exercise Freedom Banner. Freedom Banner was designed to test the ability to conduct a maritime prepositioning force operation. Equipment and supplies were offloaded from two military sealift command ships and then transitioned the equipment and supplies for Cobra Gold 2011.

The offload staged equipment and supplies utilized for the field training exercise and for the medical and dental civil action programs. These programs are designed to support the local population, allowing them to receive the necessary treatment which normally they will not be able to obtain.

“The Maritime Preposition Force ‘in-stream’ offload conducted during Freedom Banner ’11 off the coast of Thailand was a tremendous opportunity to showcase the Navy and Marine Corps team’s ability to project combat power ashore without the use of a port facility,” said U.S. Marine Col. Jim Rubino, commanding officer, Combat Logistics Regiment 35, 3rd Marine Logistics Group, III Marine Expeditionary Force, and commander, Freedom Banner 2011, Arrival and Assembly Operations Group.

Marines and sailors are positioned at various camps throughout Thailand that includes 3rd MEB's Logistical Combat Element at Lop Buri, the Air Combat Element at Korat, and the Ground Combat Element at Ban Chan Krem.

More than 4,000 Marines and sailors will participate in everything from multilateral field training exercises to engineering projects.

While at Ban Chan Krem, Marines from Thailand, Republic of Korea and the United States are conduct live fire training. This training will go over the duration of several days and utilizes weapon systems used by each country. Live fire training like this is conducted to allow the Marines to learn tactics utilized by their counterparts and how to work cooperatively with them.

“It’s great to be in Thailand participating in the 30th Anniversary of Cobra Gold,” said U.S. Marine Col. Stephen M. Neary, commanding officer of the GCE, 3rd MEB FWD. “Here at Ban Chan Krem, the [GCE] is honored to be in the Kingdom of Thailand with (one of the) U.S.’ oldest ally dating back to 1833. “We will accomplish this [training] by conducting live fire training, executing a combat life saving package, urban operations training and a staff planning exercise for a humanitarian assistance, disaster relief problem. Our live fire training will consist of enhanced marksmanship training, a machine gun shoot and the employment of Marine air.”

Numerous engineering civic action programs sites throughout the region have also begun. Projects include additions and repairs to eight schools and orphanages throughout the country.

“The 3rd MEB [FWD] Logistics Combat Element, made up of elements from the 3rd Marine Logistics Group, appreciates the opportunity to train in the Kingdom of Thailand alongside our Thai counterparts during Exercise Cobra Gold 2011. The LCE supports all of the 3rd MEB [FWD] units participating in multiple [engineering cicic assistance projects] across Thailand. In addition, we are conducting a bi-lateral field training exercise that allows our Marines and sailors the opportunity to become familiar with Thai tactical training procedures. We have learned a great deal during this training, and we look forward to building upon the success of Cobra Gold 2011 for many years into the futures,” said U.S. Marine Lt. Col. Forrest C. Poole, executive officer of the LCE, 3rd MEB (FWD).

The ACE, comprised of air assets from Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, and MCAS Futenma Okinawa, Japan, conducts air operations from a Royal Thai air Force base, located in central Thailand.

"As always, our Royal Thailand Air Force counterparts from Wing 1 at Korat Airbase are wonderful hosts. Each year, we build upon previous training and the integration between [Marine Aircraft Group 36] and Wing 1 could not be better. There is immense trust and respect between our two country's pilots and Marines performing both command and control and aviation ground support. Cobra Gold is also a wonderful opportunity for our young Marines and sailors to build schools hand in hand with Royal Thai and ROK Marines. These humanitarian efforts bring all countries closer together,” said U.S. Marine Lt. Col. Benjamin Z. Woodworth, executive officer of MAG-36 and the ACE, 3rd MEB (FWD).

Exercise Cobra Gold 2011 is a regularly scheduled multinational training exercise designed to improve partner nation interoperability.

For more information about Cobra Gold 2011, visit or

Thai Air force: crashed fighters on regular air patrol

The two fighter planes that flew close to the Cambodian border on Thursday were Thai F16s on a regular patrol, and had nothing to do with the Cobra Gold 2011 exercise, air force spokesman Air Marshal Monthon Satchukorn said on Friday.

AM Monthon said there was an misunderstanding,  that the planes were taking part in the Cobra Gold 2011 exercise being held in the 2nd and 3rd Army Regions.

In fact, the two F16 fighters which flew to within two or three kilometres of the Cambodian border yesterday belong to the Thai air force.

They were flying a regular air patrol from Wing 1 in Nakhon Ratchasima and not carrying any weapons, AM Monthon said.

Finnair did well in Asia

by Jarkko on February 10, 2011
Finnair’s Asian traffic, measured in passenger kilometres, grew by just over 7% in January compared with January the previous year. Scheduled traffic grew by just over 5% and traffic overall by more than 3%.
Demand is on a growth track, but we are still suffering to some extent from the after-effects of the cabin staff strike. We increased capacity in anticipation of growth, but the passenger kilometre growth figures remained relatively modest due to the after-effects of the strike. As a result, passenger load factors declined,” says Finnair’s Chief Financial Officer Erno Hildén.
In Asian traffic, capacity was increased by more than 20%, thereby reducing the load factor by nearly nine percentage points to 73%. Scheduled traffic capacity was increased by more than 16% and the load factor declined by just over seven percentage points to 67%.
North American traffic grew by just over 7%, European traffic grew by nearly 10% and domestic traffic by more than 9% in January, measured in passenger kilometres. Load factors declined in all scheduled traffic segments.
Leisure traffic declined by slightly more than 2% compared with January last year. In leisure traffic, capacity was also reduced by more than 2%, so the load factor rose to just over 93%.
The amount of cargo carried by Finnair grew by 41% in January compared with the previous year. A pick-up in demand, particularly in traffic between Europe and Asia, and the impact of cargo aircraft traffic launched in May last year are evident in cargo growth.
The arrival punctuality of Finnair flights in January was 71%, which is more than 12 percentage points better than last year. The arrival punctuality of scheduled flights was 73%, which is also more than 12 percentage points better than in January the previous year.

Thai air force to examine cause of two crashed F16s

Air Vice Marshal Monton Satchukorn, spokesman of Royal Thai Air Force, said Tuesday that two committees were formed to investigate the cause of two crashed F16s.

One committee was assigned to examine the scene and collect evidence while another to interrogate two pilots. The committees will need some time for the investigation, according to Air Vice Marshal Monton.

As for the speculation that two F16 jet fighters might collided to each other, the spokesman said the committees would be responsible for fact finding.

One of the pilots said the engine malfunctioned for unknown reason.

Four F16s left a military base in northern Nakhon Ratchasima province for the annual Cobra Gold military exercise but at about 10:20 a.m. local time on Monday two of them disappeared from the radar system. Two jet fighters were found crashed in northeastern Chaiyaphum province at around 12:00 a.m. local time on Monday.

Two pilots were able to eject themselves safely and slightly injured.

Thailand acquired these warplanes in 2000 from the United States, which had decommissioned them. However, they should remain in usable condition for at least 15 years with proper maintenance.

Source: Xinhua

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Cobra Gold 2011 Marines, sailors provide help to local Thai women's center

2/9/2011  By Lance Cpl. Miranda Blackburn  , III MEF 

KORAT, Kingdom of Thailand  — 
Marines and sailors participating in Exercise Cobra Gold 2011 visited Narisawat Wefare Protection and Vocational Training Centre for Women Feb. 5, 2011, as part of a community relations project.

Approximately 20 Marines and sailors went to the center to particpate in the this, the second community relations project coordinated by 1st Marine Aircraft, III Marine Exepeditionary Force chaplains.

Cobra Gold 2011 is a regularly scheduled joint and combined exercise in the continuing series of U.S.-Thai military exercises designed to ensure regional peace bY strengthening the bonds between the seven particpating nations: Thailand, Republic of Singapore, Japan, Republic of Indonesia, Republic of Korea, Malaysia and the U.S. Community relations projects are just one part of the exercise which includes a staff exercise, field training exercise events and humanitarian civic assistance projects.

The center was established in 1966 to support disadvantaged women who have been taken out of human trafficing and prostitution.

The center provides young women with a sense of independence by giving them spiritual rehabilitation, vocational training and non-formal education to reintegrate them into society.

Approximately 150 young women between the ages of 8-18 had the chance to interact with Marines and sailors by getting to know one another, playing games, dancing and singing.

"Just being able to make them laugh was the best part," said Lance Cpl. David Odle, a Marine Air Support Squadron 2, Marine Air Control Group 18, 1st MAW, air support operations operator.

Once the activities began, the smiles were neverending. 

"These (community relations projects) show the humanitarian side of the military," said Lance Cpl. Chalisa Thomas, a field wireman with MASS-2. "They have a less fortunate life than we do, and they should have a chance to at least have fun or be happy."

Thomas said she got so involved with the girls because she could tell that even her small actions were making a difference.

"Not only does it help the people, but you feel good too," she added. "Helping someone else, knowing that they're happy, makes me happy too." 

Even though many of the girls couldn't speak English and only one service member in the group spoke Thai, the two groups still managed to communicate.

"Love isn't about giving things to people," said Comdr. Dean Hoelz, chaplain of Marine Aircraft Group 12, 1st MAW. "It isn't so much about what you say but what you do. Love really is like an action verb, and that's what our Marines and sailors demonstrated. They showed love to these kids, and everyone knew what it was." 

By spending just a couple hours with these young women and donating some needed feminine hygiene products to the Narisawat Welfare Protection and Vocational Training Centre for Women, service members built relationships and provided help and welfare to those who needed it most.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

U.S, Thai forces join to improve multinational interoperability

2/3/2011  By Lance Cpl. Miranda Blackburn  , Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni 

KORAT ROYAL THAI AIR FORCE BASE, Thailand  — Marines and sailors participating in Cobra Gold 2011 arrived at Korat Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand, Jan. 27.
Marine Attack Squadron 211, Marine Aircraft Group 12, Marine Aviation logistics Squadron 12, Marine Air Control Squadron 4 and Marine All-Weather Fighter Attack Squadron 242 are all taking part in the monthlong exercise.
The exercise is scheduled to begin Monday, but Marines and sailors arrived early to prepare for the mission.
As they arrived, they began setting up equipment, scheduling flight plans, situating missions and organizing units.
Cobra Gold is an annual exercise that demonstrates joint and multinational capabilities and improves interoperability between the United States and Thailand.
The joint/combined exercise is designed to ensure regional peace and strengthen the Royal Thai Armed Forces defensive tactics and response measures.
While VMA-211 and VMFA(AW)-242 are performing flight operations, MAG-12, MALS-12 and MACS-4 will be supporting them from the ground.
Units from Okinawa, Japan, are joining the exercise to provide the ground combat element of the exercise as well.
“We’re like one big working machine,” said Lance Cpl. Samuel Roberto, an air traffic controller for MACS-4. “We all have to work together to make sure the mission gets accomplished.”
The purpose of the training is to show the U.S. forces’ support to the pacific region by working with the Thai military in order to maintain peace and stability in the region.
“We’ve had a long, good relationship with the Thai military, and every year it’s great to come and work with the Thai to keep those friendships up and have the opportunity to work side-by-side with a foreign country and their military,” said Lt. Col. Richard E. Petersen, VMFA(AW)-242 commanding officer.
Cobra Gold will focus on building operational readiness in tactics, equipment and logistical support for both U.S. and Thai forces.
“It is always good to be able to work with Marines,” said Thai Air Force Sgt. Akkarat Paek, a logistical support specialist. “By working together, both the U.S. and Thai militaries learn from each other.”
During the exercise, both countries plan to conduct close-air support and strike missions, as well as perform preflight planning, briefing and debriefing to produce joint after-action reports.
The Marines should gain a better understanding of the Thai culture by working in a combined atmosphere with a foreign country and coordinating flight operations of two different countries, Petersen said.

General Vang Pao legacy

February 03, 2011
His body is riddled with bullet scars suffered from his many years of warfare. Having survived through multiple assassination attempts, airplane crashes and even a carpet bombing, many observers make the claim that this man may have been divinely indestructible.

But on January 6, 2011, General Vang Pao, beloved leader of the Hmong people, lost his final battle to pneumonia, and ultimately a heart finally expired.

After a ten-day stay at a Fresno area hospital, Nais Phoos Vaj Pov took his last breath and shared his last heart-beat with loved ones huddled closely by his bedside.

His death, much like the rest of his life, seemed to play out like a Hollywood script. For one thing, the timing of his death coincides with the 50th year anniversary of the famous first meeting between the General and Col. James "Bill" Lair, the CIA operative whose alliance with the General would seal the fate of the Hmong thereafter.

Also, to die just days after appearing one last time at his favorite public event, the Hmong International New Year in Fresno, would also seem to be a great coincidence suitable for a movie script.

Observers on that day, December 26, recall that only minutes after delivering his annual Hmong New Year blessing at the Fresno County Fair Grounds, the General was rushed to the hospital after family members noticed his health deteriorate before their eyes.

They say the General's steps were a bit more timid and his breath a bit more short-winded that morning. He was in obvious pain all day. During his last public speech, his voice cracked with emotions as he seemed to know this would be his last opportunity to be in front of his people [this speech is transcribed on page 3].

"Immediately after we got into the van, the General asked us to send to his home in Southern California-a five hour drive," recalled Ge Vang, a nephew who was with the General that day. "But we told him he would need to check into a nearby hospital. He never made it back home."

Ten days later, including a short reprise where he sat conscious and communicable for a few more hours, doctors would say that the General's frail 81-year-old heart had finally come to a stop.

Those who know him best, however, say that the General's heart never stopped. On the contrary, they say that although the General's body may have died, his heart and his spirit will live forever for the Hmong.




Dedicated engineer for a TAG Aviation Asia client with Bombardier Challenger 605 and Global Express Aircraft.
Location: Hong Kong

  • Carry out all aspects of B1 or B2 maintenance (as applicable to license coverage), preimarly line maintenance.
  • Outstation support of the aircraft as required.
  • Maintenance control responsibility for the aircraft
  • Coordination and supervision of the required maintenance with our vendors.
  • Financial oversight and monitoring with respect to the maintenance of the aircraft.
  • Additional duties are directed by the TAG Aviation Asia Director of Maintenance and CEO.

Education and experience:
  • B1 or B2 Hong Kong, EASA, or an equivalent license (i.e. A license acceptable to the Hong Kong CAD for a direct conversion) is essential. Hong Kong licensing would be an advantage.  ( Please note that FAA A&P and equivalent certificates are not acceptable)
  • Previous experience in corporate aviation maintenance environment is a prerequisite.
  • Maintenance type training or licensing on at least one of the following aircraft types is a pre-requisite: Bombardier Challenger 605, Bombardier Global.

Should for consideration, forward your CV to our Director of Maintenance, TAG Aviation Asia

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Intelligence Guidance: The Situation in Egypt

Posted: 04 Feb 2011 02:47 AM PST
When protests started in Egypt last week, mainstream news outlets cried “democracy!” and compared the situation in Egypt to the Berlin Wall and Tienanmen Square. Meanwhile, STRATFOR (an intelligence company I’ve followed for years) spoke of a different possibility.  At the time it may have been counter-intuitive for most institutions to draw parallels to 1979 Iran, but my friend and the company’s founder George Friedman produced an internal document that raised that possibility.   Days later, news outlets began asking questions about groups like the Muslim Brotherhood, and realizing there could be other forces behind the unrest than simple calls for Western-style democracy.
While the jury is still out on the Egypt situation, I have always found STRATFOR’s analyses to be thought-provoking, unconventional and more often than not, spot on in the end.  Included here is that first Intelligence Guidance on the budding unrest in Egypt. Originally meant as an internal guideline for their analysts to understand and evaluate events, it was made available to STRATFOR subscribers – and now you. It’s an excellent example of how folks at this intelligence company begin thinking about a new event. I highly recommend <<joining their free mailing list>> to keep up on all things relevant in global affairs.
By the way, congrats to those of you who ordered George’s new book The Next Decade.  George tells me it will debut at #3 on the New York Times Bestseller list next week. Nice forward-thinking on your part!
John Mauldin

Intelligence Guidance: The Situation in EgyptJanuary 27, 2011
Editor’s Note: The following is an internal STRATFOR document produced to provide high-level guidance to our analysts. This document is not a forecast, but rather a series of guidelines for understanding and evaluating events, as well as suggestions on areas for focus.
Let’s use the Iranian rising of 1979 as a model. It had many elements involved, from Communists, to liberals to moderate Muslims, and of course the radicals. All of them were united in hating the Shah, but not in anything else.
The Western press did not understand the mixture and had its closest ties with the liberals, for the simple reason that they were the most Western and spoke English. For a very long time they thought these liberals were in control of the revolution.
For its part, the intelligence community did not have good sources among the revolutionaries but relied on SAVAK, the Shah’s security service, for intelligence. SAVAK neither understood what was happening, nor was it prepared to tell the CIA. The CIA suspected the major agent was the small Communist Party, because that was the great fear at that time — namely, that the Soviets were engineering a plot to seize Iran and control the Persian Gulf.
Meanwhile, Western human rights groups painted the Shah as a monster and saw this as a popular democratic rising. Western human rights and democracy groups, funded by the U.S. government and others, were standing by to teach people like Bani Sadr to create a representative democracy.
Bani Sadr was the first post-Shah president. He was a moderate Islamist and democrat; he also had no power whatsoever. The people who were controlling the revolution were those around Ayatollah Khomeini, who were used by the liberals as a screen to keep the United States quiet until the final moment came and they seized control.
It is important to understand that the demonstrations were seen as spontaneous, but were actually being carefully orchestrated. It is also important to understand that the real power behind the movement remained opaque to the media and the CIA, because they didn’t speak English and the crowds they organized didn’t speak English, and none of the reporters spoke Farsi (nor did a lot of the intelligence agency people). So when the demonstrations surged, the interviews were with the liberals who were already their sources, and who made themselves appear far more powerful than they were — and who were encouraged to do so by Khomeini’s people.
It was only at the end that Khomeini ran up the Jolly Roger to the West.
Nothing is identical to the past, but Iran taught me never to trust a revolutionary who spoke English; they will tend to be pro-Western. When the masses poured into the streets — and that hasn’t happened in Egypt yet — they were Khomeini supporters who spoke not a word of English. The media kept interviewing their English-speaking sources and the CIA kept up daily liaison meetings with SAVAK — until the day they all grabbed a plane and met up with their money in Europe and the United States. The liberals, those who weren’t executed, also wound up in the United States, teaching at Harvard or driving cabs.
Let’s be very careful on the taxonomy of this rising. The Western human rights groups will do what they can to emphasize its importance, and to build up their contacts with what they will claim are the real leaders of the revolution. The only language these groups share with the identified leaders is English, and the funding for these groups depends on producing these people. And these people really want to turn Egypt into Wisconsin. The one thing I can guarantee is that is not what is going on.
What we have to find out is who is behind this. It could be the military wanting to stage a coup to keep Gamal Mubarak out of power. They would be doing this to preserve the regime, not to overthrow it. They could be using the demonstrations to push their demands and perhaps pressure Hosni Mubarak to leave voluntarily.
The danger is that they would be playing with fire. The demonstrations open the door for the Muslim Brotherhood, which is stronger than others may believe. They might keep the demonstrations going after Hosni leaves, and radicalize the streets to force regime change. It could also be the Muslim Brotherhood organizing quietly. Whoever it is, they are lying low, trying to make themselves look weaker than they are — while letting the liberals undermine the regime, generate anti-Mubarak feeling in the West, and pave the way for whatever it is they are planning.
Our job now is to sort through all the claimants and wannabees of this revolution, and find out who the main powers are. These aren’t spontaneous risings and the ideology of the people in the streets has nothing to do with who will wind up in power. The one thing to be confident of is that liberal reformers are the stalking horse for something else, and that they are being used as always to take the heat and pave the way.
Now, figure out who is really behind the demonstrations and we have a game.