Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Air Canada comes to town, part II

In case you were ever wondering why the airline industry always seems hopelessly confused and run by people who were kicked out of the keystone cops, a couple of stories for your consideration.

The first
showed up last Friday on the CBC. In it an aviation expert essentially blames Canadian North and First Air of price gouging. That they were simply making so much money off this route that it became inevitable than an airline like Air Canada would come in because the profit margins are irresistible.

This will not exactly come as a surprise to anyone following the little fiasco from last year over massive bonuses given to the airlines board of directors. That's kind of when most people up here got an inkling just how much money the airline is making. No one up here is going all socialist and expecting the airline to operate as a non-profit, but when you hand out that much money in bonuses, people tend to notice. And not be very happy. Plus, it seems, you get companies much bigger than yourselves noticing how much money you're making and deciding they want a cut. All of which could have been avoided if only Canadian North and First Air had cut prices.

So that's why you see some of the cackling over Air Canada's arrival in this part of the north. Because more competition is good, right?

Yes, but if only Air Canada wasn't apparently run by idiots. A couple of reasons for this. First, there is this lovely line in the CBC story. It's paraphrased, so I don't feel comfortable assuming Manon Stuart actually said it. However, the airline is operating under the assumption that since it rarely gets colder than -40C it's perfectly all right to run Bombardier CRJ-705 up here.

Now, there's a couple of delicious bits of vagueness in this statement. First, what's -40C? Is it straight air temperature or is that windchill? If it's straight temperature, they're probably right. If it's with windchill, well, they might want to redefine their idea of "rarely". Because that's the difference between maybe a dozen flights a year and a couple of dozen flights a year.

But if you want a full bore dose of stupidity on Air Canada's part, then this story will certainly leaving you gasping in awe. Air Canada hasn't actually called the airport yet. That's right, they've announced when they're starting flights and what time they're landing and taking off, but they haven't run those little details past the airport's manager.
“I have no idea at this point in time what Air Canada even wants,” (John) Graham said.

I swear to God, if the people running this airline aren't the stupidest sons of bitches on the planet then I want a list of who tops them. But confidentially. If it gets out in the open Air Canada might hire them for senior management.

I used to think the worst public relations job in the world would have to be working for the tobacco companies. Because you're trying to make a company that sells an addictive, sure-to-kill you product look good. You're trying to make evil look good. However, PR has found a way to spin that....they make evil look cool.

But with Air Canada you have to make incompetence and a genuine loathing by the general public into something likable. So far it hasn't happened. And lord knows Air Canada's upper management doesn't seem to be making things any easier for the public relations division.

I really don't think this move to Iqaluit is going to work well for Air Canada. They're doing it far too half-assed. They making a lunge for some quick money without thinking through what they're doing. Short term gain, long term stupidity; that ought to be on the cover of Air Canada's business plan. Like charging $15 for a seats next to the escape doors. Yes, you make a few extra dollars, but it's that kind if nickel and diming that causes such a black, poisonous cloud to hang over them.

It could work, but I wouldn't bet money on it.

Last Five
1. A boy and his machine gun - Matthew Good Band
2. Big Indian - The Dandy Warhols
3. Telling stories - Tracy Chapman
4. Got to be more careful - Jon Cleary and the Absolute Monster
5. Some days are better than others - U2


The Perfect Storm said...

I wouldn't go believing everything I read, or hear, or read that someone's heard, or hear that someone's says they've read it, or heard.

You get the point.

Folks say a lot of things for reasons other than to inform, or misinform, or just to avoid the information part of the message-making altogether.


Simon said...

-40c . . That must be straight temperature because wind chill doesn't apply to machinery. Wind chill is a measure related to skin cooling - human not aircraft.

Might not be so bad after all.

towniebastard said...

Hmmm,yes. That does makes sense. Still, I think you're going to find a lot of people won't fly Air Canada during the winter because they don't want to take a chance of hitting one of those magic -40C days when they won't fly.

tanker belle said...

I'm wondering how the charging for exit seat doors is going to gel with safety regulations. I've seen enough obviously unable-bodied people in exit seats already - I loved the dude with the broken arm, my safety in an emergency is *him*? Of course, the airlines I fly on tend to be much worse for that anyway as class and race are the primary considerations for who gets what seat they want. Just wondering how transport canada is reacting.

Simon said...

Agreed on that. . . those -40c days pop up too regularly.

I've sat in the emergency seat. More responsibility (do this or that if we head down) and less freedom (no music buds on takeoff and landing) should mean a discount, not a premium.