Monday, February 5, 2007

Pakistani people need explanation for Bajaur air strike: NYT

By Khalid Hasan

WASHINGTON: The people of Pakistan deserve a “good explanation” for the Bajaur air strike, which they have not received from their leaders and it was, therefore, for President George Bush to have provided it, the New York Times writes in its lead editorial on Saturday.

Headlined ‘Straight talk needs’, the editorial says that Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz came to the White House and “pretended” that the people of Pakistan highly value their country’s current close military relationship with the United States, while President Bush reciprocated by “pretending” in his public comments that the American air strike that killed 18 Pakistani civilians earlier this month was not “Topic A” in that relationship. “Even diplomacy requires more direct talk than this,” NYT added.

Arguing that the Bajaur airtrikes were “legitimately aimed at top fugitive leaders of Al Qaeda, but hit innocent women and children,” the leading article stresses that the people of Pakistan deserve a good explanation, and since they haven’t heard one from their leaders, President Bush should have given them one. “Washington needs a strong and healthy partnership with Pakistan if it is to have any chance of eliminating Qaeda’s leaders, defeating a resurgent Taliban and turning back nuclear weapons proliferation. But strong and healthy partnerships are not built around political charades. And that is the only way to describe the events in Washington last week,” the editorial added.

Calling Aziz a “decent, intelligent man,” the newspaper points out that “real” prime ministers, including the ones Pakistan had in the 1990s, come out of democratically elected parliaments, while Aziz was “appointed by a military dictator, Gen Pervez Musharraf, who has yet to permit the democratic elections he has repeatedly promised since his coup more than six years ago”. It was thus “awkward” for Aziz to “deliver messages about how highly the Pakistani people value their ties with Washington, particularly when just about every poll and street demonstration suggest just how unpopular those ties have become”.

The newspaper observes that “one crucial reason General Musharraf gets so little pressure from the Bush administration about restoring democracy is the almost universal assumption in Washington that only a dictator can deliver Pakistani military cooperation. That had better not be true because Washington will need support from Pakistan for a long time, and General Musharraf, who has already survived several assassination attempts and again faces serious challenges, cannot stay in power indefinitely. He has also proved to be unable, or unwilling, to close down the sanctuaries that three different groups of terrorists - Qaeda, Taliban and Kashmiri - have established along three Pakistani borders.”

According to the NYT, the most important of these sanctuaries to the United States are the “safe zones” that fugitive Qaeda leaders established after fleeing the Tora Bora caves in Afghanistan four years ago. “It is inexcusable that a Pentagon already looking ahead to Iraq did not pour in enough American troops to block the escape of Osama Bin Laden and his top deputies, the masterminds of the 9/11 attacks. Attacking them in wartime Afghanistan would have been far simpler, militarily and politically, than trying to catch up with them in tribal areas that even the Pakistan Army can’t control. But that is where they are now, and where America’s war against them must be fought. It is not enough for Mr Bush to exchange periodic pleasantries with General Musharraf and Mr Aziz. He needs to address the concerns of the Pakistani people as well. A franker public discussion of the air strikes would have been a good place to start,” concludes the editorial.

Tuesday, December 5, 2006

Air Canada

Trans-Canada Airlines
Trans-Canada Airlines (TCA) was created as a subsidiary of Canadian National Railway (CNR) on April 10, 1937. Passenger operations began on September 1, with a Lockheed 10A carrying two passengers and mail from Vancouver to Seattle. The company was headquartered in Winnipeg which was also the site of the national maintenance base. In 1949 federal policy dictated the headquarters move to Montréal. Later the maintenance base also moved east which was a significant blow to western Canada. In the 1950s Air Canada did pioneering work in the use of computer reservation systems with the development of the ReserVec system. By 1964 TCA had grown to become Canada's national airline and in 1964 Jean Chrétien submitted a private member's bill to change the name of the airline from Trans-Canada Airlines to Air Canada. This bill failed but it was resubmitted and passed, with the name change taking effect on January 1, 1965. In a late 1970s reorganization at CNR, Air Canada became an independent Crown corporation.

Air Canada in the 80's and 90's
In 1987, Air Canada became the first airline in the world to have a fleet-wide non-smoking policy, and in 1989 became completely privatised. Air Canada sold the enRoute card business to Diners Club in 1992. Air Canada is a founding member of the Star Alliance, which was launched in May 1997. The airline continues to code-share with Star Alliance members.

On September 2, 1998 pilots for Air Canada launched the company's first pilots' strike. At the end of 1999 the Canadian government relaxed some of the aviation regulations, aimed at creating a consolidation of the Canadian airline industry.

2000 and Beyond
In January 2000 Air Canada acquired Canada's second largest air carrier, Canadian Airlines, subsequently merging the latter's operations into its own. As a result Air Canada became the world's twelfth-largest commercial airline.

On April 1, 2003, Air Canada filed for bankruptcy protection, emerging from this protection on September 30, 2004, 19 months later. ACE Aviation Holdings is the new parent company under which the reorganized Air Canada is held. As of January 2005, Air Canada employed 29,198 staff.

2004-present Air Canada colour scheme on an Airbus A330-300 1990-2004 Air Canada colour scheme on an Airbus A330-300 1964-1996 Air Canada colour scheme on an Boeing 747In October 2004, the airline hired Celine Dion as part of the new promotional campaign as the airline unveiled new in-flight service products and new aircraft livery. "You And I" was written by an advertising executive working for Air Canada. The endorsement was not without controversy, however. At the time of the new branding, the airline had come out of bankruptcy protection just 18 months prior and thousands of workers were laid off in the restructuring. Union workers criticized that the airline could have spent money elsewhere to improve service and on employees. Management defended the celebrity endorsement and personal appearances as money well spent to boost corporate morale. Air Canada has done extremely well lately and offers the same fares as Westjet on many routes.

On October 31, 2004, the last Air Canada Boeing 747 flights landed in Toronto and in Montréal, ending more than 30 years of 747 service with the airline. The other planes were then shipped to Montréal to remove the paint. The remaining Boeing 747-400s which were previously in service have been superseded by the A340-500, which themselves are due for replacement. The A340-500 will be replaced by Boeing 777-200LR, which will begin deliveries in 2007. These will be used primarily on extra-long haul routes such as Toronto to Hong Kong.

On November 9, 2005, Air Canada announced that it would renew its widebody fleet over several years by purchasing a mixture of Boeing 777 and 787 Dreamliner aircraft. The order included a firm order for 32 airframes(18 777s and 14 787s) plus options for 64 more (18 777s and 46 787s), totalling 96 airframes. The first 777s are to begin arriving in 2006 and the first 787s in 2010. Among the 777s to be delivered to Air Canada are freighter versions, making Air Canada one of the launch customers of the 777 Freighter along with Air France-KLM. All of Air Canada's 777 aircraft (both -200LR and -300ER) will be powered by the GE90-115B engine, the world's most powerful jet engine. Their 787 aircraft will be powered by the GEnx engine. The order is a mixture of 777-200LRs and 777-300ERs, and 787-8s and 787-9s.

With the purchase of 777s, Air Canada will gradually phase out all A340s, including the older A340-300s and the new A340-500s. In addition, the Boeing 787 will gradually replace the Boeing 767 and A330-300. Air Canada has also begun to take delivery of Embraer 175 and 190 aircraft which will be used to expand their domestic and transborder routes. Older Airbus A319//A320 will be replaced with some of these new aircraft as delivery permits (Mostly Embraer 190).

In November 2005 Air Canada stopped serving hot meals to all economy class seats for flights within Canada and the United States (except for certain Vancouver-Toronto flights inbound/outbound to Asia as well as Toronto-Los Angeles flights and other nonstop flights within North America longer than 5 hours, where hot meals are still served in economy). A selection of cold foods has been made available for purchase on those flights via the pay-as-you-go service "Onboard Cafe/Café en vol".

Air Canada has recently made several efforts to decrease fuel burn by reducing aircraft weight:

In November 2005, the paint and primer were removed from C-GDSP (a Boeing 767-233ER, tailfin no 613). However, the result was not considered aesthetically pleasing and the aircraft was repainted in late May/early June 2006. Also, the cost of the aluminum skin polishing and treatments to prevent corrosion (due to lack of paint and primer) outweighed the weight and fuel burn savings from removal of paint and primer.
Traditional blankets and pillows have been replaced by inflatable plastic pillow and blanket kits on domestic short and medium haul routes.
In 2006, the airline began offering customers a modest rebate (termed the "GO Discount") in exchange for foregoing their checked baggage allowance.