Weekly Roundup, Friday 8 May 2020

See item below for comments on these results of last week’s reader survey.


Good morning

Happy VE Day to you, it being the 75th anniversary of that event today.  I guess most Americans consider VJ to be the more important celebration, but for the British Commonwealth and European countries, VE Day, almost six years after France and Britain declared war on Germany on 3 September 1939 (although to be fair, this event was precipitated by Germany’s invasion of Poland two days earlier), was the date of greatest relief and celebration.

I expect some readers may even dimly remember that day (I’m thinking more of VE Day than the start of the war!).  We have plenty of readers in their 80s.

It is almost impossible not to mention that we are celebrating the end of one war while in the middle of a very different war.  Let’s hope it doesn’t take as long (or as many casualties) to reach VV day.

Everyone in every type of business and walk of life is saying this virus will change our lives completely.  They’re probably correct, especially when you consider there are dozens more potential infectious respiratory viruses also out there, all only one or two mutations away from posing similar threats.  With hygiene and distancing likely to become ever-present factors (to a varying extent) in our lives into the future, many things will change – in particular, how we travel to and enjoy/experience vacations.

As part of my extensive daily research into the Covid-19 disease, I’ve put together several different strands of thinking and have come up with what I believe will be a new form of vacation/lifestyle experience for the future.  I’m looking for a few investors who’d like to go into this with me.  Let me know if you’d like to know more.

Reader Survey Results – Where Will You First Travel?

Last week I asked you where you would travel to, first, once the coronavirus closings have abated and it is prudent to travel again.  I had fewer responses than normal – perhaps many of us aren’t yet quite at the point of thinking of traveling again, and/or find it hard to think to a new future after the virus has gone.

As you can see in the image at the top of the newsletter, there was a very clear preference for traveling somewhere close to home.  I was not using this survey to research my new travel concept mentioned immediately above, but I was pleased to see that result because it confirms part of my plan.

You also were offered a chance to send a “write in” response.  Some people did, and Hawaii was the most mentioned write-in, then Iceland.  Outliers included North Korea and Ethiopia (one person each).

In comparison, a survey was recently done in China, asking Chinese people where they most want to travel now the country is easing its travel restrictions.  The most population place for Chinese people?  Wuhan.  Is that a bit like Chernobyl tours, we wonder?

Reader Survey – When Will it End?

Just over a month ago, I asked you when you thought the current problems will fade away, social distancing rules cease, with life (and travel) returning back to normal.

I’d be curious to ask that question again now and see if there’s been any change in opinion.  Of course, you probably don’t exactly know when things will return to normal (I don’t think anyone truly does) but it would be helpful to get a sense of what people are guessing at and expecting and how that may have changed over the last month.

As always, please click the link that best describes your thinking.  This will create an email to be sent to me with your answer coded into the subject line.

Also as always, I’ll tabulate the answers and present the results next week.  Thank you.

Virus Articles

There have been another seven daily Covid-19 diary entries published this last week.  I’ll attach the most recent one to this morning’s newsletter plus feature links to the others.  If you’d like to get these every day simply add yourself to the Express or Daily Full Text emails on this page.

I have also added a new reference/resource page with links to some of the most helpful sites and pages out there on the coronavirus topic.

Thursday 7 May (attached – has quite a lot of travel type content in it too)

Wednesday 6 May

Tuesday 5 May

Monday 4 May

Sunday 3 May

Saturday 2 May

Friday 1 May

(earlier entries from this page)

Buffett vs the Airlines

Warren Buffett was, for many years, very opposed to investing in airlines.  Then he started slowly buying into airline stocks, and eventually ended up with holdings in all four major US carriers (AA DL UA WN).  He sold all his holdings in April, fearing that a recovery of air travel would be slow and drawn out.

This week, Southwest CEO Gary Kelly says he disagrees with Buffett’s analysis.  But he would, wouldn’t he!  Of the two, we think the more dispassionate and open-minded view of the future is probably that of Warren Buffett.

JetBlue Delays its London Service

This is not exactly an astonishing report.  JetBlue announced it would be delaying its plans to fly to London from Boston and New York.  It didn’t give any clear timeline, but reading between the lines, it seems 2022 might be the earliest and 2023 more likely.  They had originally been targeting 2021 after receiving new A321LR planes to operate on the route.

Apparently they have yet to contract for slots at either Heathrow or Gatwick – the silver lining to this cloud being the probable massive collapse in the cost of buying slots at Heathrow, due to airline closures and fewer flights.

We wish them well, and hope they’ll start service in 2022 rather than 2023 (or later).  Details here.

It would be even nicer if they’d add flights from other cities too, but range can be an issue.  It is 3451 miles between JFK and LHR.  Boston is of course a bit closer.  Dulles is 3677, Chicago is 3953, Miami is 4425, Seattle is 4800 miles and Los Angeles is 5456.  The A321LR has a range of about 4600 miles.

JetBlue also ordered some A321XLR planes in 2019, and they have a longer 5400 mile range, although it seems JetBlue is looking at this extra range not to provide flights from further away points in the US, but rather to operate to further away points in Europe.

The 747 Still Flying Strong

It is a little appreciated aspect of the 747 that it still excels at carrying freight, even though its passenger days are seeming to be increasingly numbered.  Indeed, two thirds of the orders for the latest 747-8 model plane are for the freighter version rather than passenger version, with the largest single order being 28 planes to UPS.

This article describes the plane’s role in continuing to carry air cargo and emergency medical supplies at present.

And this article describes the 747 as an iconic (and now being retired) symbol of Virgin Atlantic – in the sense that their first ever plane was a 747-200, we guess that is probably a fair comment.  The airline is now doing what it describes as an early retirement of its seven remaining 747-400 airplanes – planes that are already up to 26 years old, so we’re not sure just how early their retirement truly is.

That leaves them with only 787-9 planes from Boeing, and a mix of A330 and A350 planes from Airbus.  They had also signed up for A380 planes, but kept delaying when they would accept them and eventually cancelled entirely.

Why Does Seattle Miss Out?

The Seattle area was the original virus hot-spot in the US.  Fortunately, and with not nearly as much media fuss as other states and their headline-seeking governors, we quietly got things under control mainly by ourselves.  We also have a strong military presence here, with one of the two nuclear missile sub bases in the country, two of the country’s eleven carriers homeported here, a major joint base, and other facilities too.

So, for all reasons, it is disappointing that the airshow events the Air Force Thunderbirds and Navy Blue Angels are doing in other cities around the nation are not being staged in Puget Sound too – a location that the Blue Angels claim is their favorite location for putting on spectacular shows.

Instead – and no, I’m not making this up – we’re getting two C-17 freight planes to fly around the area today.

“An Airport that Shows Empathy”

I can’t even start to guess what LAX means when it describes itself as an airport that shows empathy and humility.  And I don’t believe for an instant their claim that the airport and its management cares at all about people while they are at home and not traveling.

But clearly some expensive PR agency has separated them from some of their many millions of government support money to send out bizarre press releases such as this.

The World’s Busiest Airport (for a day only)

There are strange and anomalous things happening at present with so many cancellations and changes to airline schedules.  We’d mentioned, a couple of weeks ago, how a small airport in Montana was processing more daily flights than JFK.

Another example of this happened on 25 April, when the busiest airport in the world, on that day, was Anchorage.

More Airport Stories

Pittsburgh’s Airport also proudly has a claim to be famous.  It believes it may be the airport with the cleanest floors; at least for a few fleeting seconds between when a new high-tech UV-light beaming robot cleaner passes along the floor and a few people’s footsteps contaminate it again.

While it is true that floors are one of the most contaminated places for the virus to gather (most of those aerosolized droplets eventually end up on the floor), probably for most of us, we’d be happier if parts of the airport we touch (like hand rails and walls and doors) were given the super-clean experience first, and floors second.

As the saying goes, Kai gyvenimas tau duos citrinos, pasidaryk limonadą.  Or, if your Lithuanian isn’t quite up to that phrase, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade”.  This concept was taken to heart in Vilnius where the air-side of the airport has been transformed into a drive-in movie theater.

And Lastly This Week….

This pilot clearly had a strong opinion about Michigan governor Whitmer and her stay at home order.

Until next week, please enjoy your continued time at home (and happy Mothers’ Day on Sunday for all mothers and all who have/had mothers)





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