Hello folks, another day dawns and another week of reporting looms. What a horrible weekend all that wind and rain was awful in the South and snow in the North. I hardly went out, what with the weather and the threat of World War 3 I preferred to stay warm, comfy and safe in my basket. That was until the Brat and the Mutt arrived home and all hell broke loose!
British Airways has a problem, with the return of many scheduled services, its CityFlyer subsidiary predicting record summer bookings and the start of the new Gatwick based Euroflyer subsidiary launching, they are short of 4,000 cabin crew. So what are they doing to sort out the problem? Well, they have offered pilots the opportunity to take a six-week course to train as temporary cabin crew. If they take up the offer they will retain their £100,000 per annum salary. BA let 10,000 staff go when Covid hit and foreign travel slumped, they are also trying to get some of them back but unsurprisingly many of them have found different jobs. You will not be surprised to hear that pilots are not flocking to take up the posts, they think the scheme is a joke.
I read that once again the “experts” are predicting that the cost of electric vehicles is going to fall. At COP 26 we were all told that EV prices were about to fall but it didn’t happen, instead the government cut its EV subsidy. But now I hear that EVs are definitely going to be cheaper because the cost of manufacturing them is coming down. The story is that the latest battery developments have made them cheaper and that increased sales is making production cheaper. The latest prediction is that they will be the same price as an ICE car by 2027 and that we would be silly not to buy one as the cost of running one is £700 a year less. Of course this will only be the case until the government slaps a road usage charge on EVs.
I have been hearing lots of complaints from people whose planes landed at Heathrow on Friday and Saturday. It seems that while the pilots did a great job in getting their planes down safely many passengers were left waiting hours for their luggage and some were even sent home without their luggage being told it would follow on later. The reasons given were intriguing, for example the high winds made it dangerous to open the cargo hold doors and to operate the machines needed to unload baggage. But it wasn’t only arrivals that suffered, departures also had problems. The high-sided scissor lifts, lorries used to load catering carts and in some cases wheelchair passengers, were unstable to operate.
I have written before on the row between Qatar Airways and Airbus over the A350 aircraft delivered to Qatar that they are not happy with. Qatar claimed the aircraft bodies were rotting while Airbus say it is “surface degradation” and “non-structural”. Qatar were so unhappy that they refused to accept any further A350 deliveries. Airbus took this as breach of contract and cancelled an order for 50 A321neo. In court, a judge has now ruled that Airbus can not reuse the delivery slots until a full ruling in a few weeks. This gives time for the two parties to reach an agreement. Qatar has placed a preliminary order for 50 Boeing 737 Max as a replacement, but they would clearly prefer the A321neo as it is said to be a much better fit in the Qatar fleet with longer range, capacity, passenger comfort and customer satisfaction. This court case clearly shows Qatar prefer the A321neo. Is there room for an out of court settlement and the orders reinstatement?
Transport for London and the government remain at loggerheads over funding. However, the temporary deal has been extended to Friday. TfL has already received £4.5 billion in emergency funding and I understand the government has given Sad Dick until Friday to accept the latest deal on the table. The problem, I believe, is the length of the deal. Sad Dick wants a 3-year deal while the government doesn’t want that long a deal. Who is going to blink first?
Savid Jabbed has announced that those aged over 75, care home residents and the clinically vulnerable are to be offered a 4th Covid jab in the spring. This will be a total of about 7 million people. But I wonder if that will be all. As it is said that the effects of the jab wear off with time I wouldn’t mind betting that the rollout will be extended to other groups, just like has happened in the past. Then along came Bozzie’s with his announcement that he was scrapping all the remaining Covid restrictions.
So the Russians have finally started to move their troops into the Ukraine. Well only into bits that they have just recognised as being independent nations, but they are the only ones to have recognised them and have apparently done so illegally. I get the idea that Putin had been trying to get the Ukrainians to attack so that he had an excuse to send troops over the border and he has failed in his plan. Hence he has pushed his troops about as far as he can while being able to pretend he was within the law.
I hear that Emily Friendless and Jon Soapy are leaving the BBC and joining Global where they will do a podcast together and host an LBC program together. Friendless has been the lead presenter on BBC2’s Newsnight and Soapy has recently returned from the USA where he was the North America editor. Together they presented the Americast podcast. Friendless has been in trouble a couple of times recently over pushing her own political opinions on Newsnight against the BBC rules. While Soapy has also given the BBC a problem in finding him a suitable job now he is back from the States. Somehow I think the BBC will be delighted to be free of them while the two Trump and Bozzie haters will think they are onto a winner at LBC where presenters are allowed to voice their opinions.
Wendy’s, the US burger chain, who are having a second go at cracking the UK market, are nearly ready to open their sixth restaurant of this attempt. They are certainly not rushing things as they opened the first in June last year. I suppose that having had their fingers burnt and withdrawing back to the states 20 years ago it was only natural to be careful this time around. At this rate it is going to take a heck of a long time to build up to the 400 outlets they say they are going to open in the UK.
The US ladies football team have finally settled an equal pay dispute that has been going on for the last six years. They have been asking for equal pay with the men’s team and it seems they have achieved it. I hear that they will get a $22 million payout to divide between players who have represented the US over the past 6 years and another $2 million to establish a fund to support plays who have retired from the game.
The Chinese are still not playing ball on their coal promises at COP26. Yesterday the Chinese mining authority approved 3 new open cast mines which will require over £3 billion to develop and are expected to produce a total of 19 million tons of coal a year. Over 60% of Chinese electricity is still generated from coal.
Bozzie, the EU and Sniffer Joe haven’t wasted much time in slapping sanctions on Russia and Russians. Bozzie has sanctioned several Russian banks and 3 Russian billionaires who have had all their UK assets seized and have been banned from entering the UK and has said this is just the start. The Jerries have said they will not allow the Nord Stream 2 pipeline to start up meaning that Russia can’t sell a load of natural gas it was planning to sell. Both the EU and Sniffer Joe say they are imposing sanctions but I can’t find out what they are yet!
The new Formula One season is nearly upon us. There are two spells of testing before the first race. The first 3-day spell starts in Barcelona tomorrow with all 10 teams testing their new 2022 specification cars. There is another 3-day test starting in Bahrain on 10th March before the first race of the season starts on 20th March also in Bahrain. I expect all you lot will be moaning as from what I see from reading GP that a lot of you hate it.
It’s another one of those days that looks lovely out of the window, clear blue sky and sun streaming in and then when you go outside your paws are frozen by the frost on the ground. Bozzie had the radio on at breakfast and I heard people complaining about the Moggy. My ears pricked up as I racked my brain to try to remember what I could have done wrong. But apparently it is Jacob Rees Moggy who has upset woke by saying that Civil Serpents are wrong expressing their support of BLM in correspondence. Surely Civil Serpents sign an agreement not to make political statements and BLM is nothing if not political?
Odd things happening at Air Canada. Back in November 2020 they cancelled 12 of their order for Airbus A220-300 aircraft. Yesterday it emerged that they had reversed the cancellation and will now be receiving 45 of the planes by 2025. It seems that the airline business in Canada is improving quickly and Air Canada have been evaluating the A220s they have already received and found that there is a strong economic case to take the planes. Mind, it does pose the question were the planes ever really cancelled or were they just paused?
In the USA it seems that a row has broken out between Elon Musks SpaceX and NASA. SpaceX want to move on to the second generation of their Starlink communications satellites and launch 30,000 more low earth orbit satellites. NASA have written a 5-page letter that suggests that many satellites in orbit could offer a threat to manned launches and to people on the ground. SpaceX say their satellites have a collision-avoidance system built in so they are safe but NASA say that this is not 100% guaranteed. SpaceX also has a history of refusing to move.
Sad Dick has finally accepted what is actually happening on the London tube and buses and is to change the TfL face mask rules from tomorrow. The wearing of masks was made optional nationally a couple of weeks ago, but TfL had written the need to wear masks into their rules of carriage and didn’t remove it. Consequently, people could still be banned from TfL services and property if they didn’t wear a mask. However, if you travelled on the tube or buses recently you would have found most people were unmasked and London Transport staff were doing nothing at all. This morning Sad Dick has accepted reality and is changing the rules of carriage.
Now that Norwegian Air has come out of bankruptcy it has started to consider its future fleet requirements. The airline currently operates an all Boeing fleet so you might think that Boeing would be in the box seat. However, that doesn’t seem to be the case. When Norwegian went into bankruptcy they had orders outstanding with both Boeing and Airbus which they had to cancel. An agreement with Airbus was quickly reached where Airbus were allowed to keep the deposits and were paid an additional £600,000 to cancel the order. However, the order with Boeing is still subject to litigation. Consequently, relations with Boeing are at rock bottom while relations with Airbus are quite amiable. I wonder who Norwegian will turn to for any new aircraft?
I hear that Cyprus is in trouble with the EU. All electricity in Cyprus comes from just 3 power stations and one of these, heavy fuel oil burning Dhekelia, is so old and polluting that it is in breach of the relevant EU directive. The EU is currently turning a blind eye to the pollution being created, but has given the Electricity Authority of Cyprus until the end of 2023 to either fix the pollution or close down the power station. The problem is that there is no way to make Dhekelia clean and the EAoC has run out of time to build a new clean power plant to replace Dhekelia’s 460 Mw. Looks like power cuts are on the way for Cyprus.
It looks like British Airways is in for a bad start to March. The Unison union has called a strike of catering truck drivers on the 4th and 5th of the Month over pay and conditions. Around 100 HGV drivers working for catering company DO & CO voted for action by 94%. The problem is likely to hit long haul flights hardest where food is often an essential part of the flight while short-haul flights are easier to operate without refreshments.
Gosh it’s been an awful night, so much noise and confusion with people rushing in and out of the flat and phones ringing. Bozzie had tried to go to bed but I don’t think he got much sleep. Then all the racket woke up the Brat and he joined in yelling and crying. The Little Otter shouted at Bozzie and he stomped off down to his office muttering about her not caring about WW3. Things then got a bit more quiet and I dropped off. Bozzie woke me up about six o’clock bashing around in the kitchen. He whispered to me he was making his breakfast as he had called an early COBRA meeting. But he is useless and noisy in the kitchen and woke up the Little Otter and shoved him out of the way and made him a fried egg sandwich and a mug of tea which he took down to his office. I got an early bowlful of Felix.
I have been reading a report on marine corruption around the world. I was amazed how many ports and the like, were staffed by people who demanded bribes to carry out their paid jobs. Two things stood out, the number of ship’s pilots who were demanding bribes and that all the top demands were for cigarettes! The top area in the world for demanding bribes is the Suez Canal and of course the top demands are for cigarettes and come from Suez Canal pilots. Maybe I’m putting two and two together and getting five but I wonder if the captain of the ship that got stuck in the Suez Canal last year, while under control of a pilot, was a non-smoker?
GlaxoSmithKline and their French partner Sanofi had real problems developing their Covid 19 vaccine and had to go back to square one when their version proved to be pretty poor. I understand that they have been testing a new version and they claim that in those tests it has proved 100% effective against severe disease and hospitalisation from Covid 19. In a second study they say that the vaccine has increased antibodies in recipients by between 18 and 30 fold. This is a conventional 2 dose vaccine, unlike the Pfizer one, and the results of testing is being submitted to authorities to get approval. They believe that they are perhaps a bit to late for the vaccine to be used for initial vaccination but it would make an ideal booster jab.
Sniffer Joe has a potential problem looming over his climate change plans. In what was a bit of a surprise the US Supreme Court agreed to hear a case brought by West Virginia, and 19 other states, against the Environmental Protection Agency. The surprising thing is that the case is against a regulation that doesn’t yet exist. Sniffer has made it clear that he want to close down coal-fired power stations and the expectation is that he will instruct the EPA to introduce pollution regulations that will make the use of coal-fired power stations impossible, hence the court case. Sniffer’s green plans are currently bogged down in Congress and it was thought that he might try to use the EPA as a backdoor route to introduce controls hence this blocking move.
I told you last week about the car transporter ship that had caught fire and was adrift in the Atlantic. The problem is it is very hard to put out the lithium-ion batteries used in the EV on board. They need to be either covered in specialist chemicals or drowned under water. To this end it may be necessary to sink the ship to put the fire out. However, Lamborghini have a big problem as they have a number of models on board, quite a few of these are reported to be Aventador models. This car is due to go out of production later this year and every last model has been sold so it is going to be very hard to offer replacements. With the cheapest Aventador model starting at £271,000 there are going to be some very upset rich people. I wonder if they are already preparing court cases.
In the last few years, HMRC employees have somehow lost 88 phones, 570 tablet computers and 40 laptops of which 308 devices are listed as stolen. Apparently much of it has been lost “because of working from home”. Is this because people are much more careless with company devices at home rather than when in the office? But thinking about it, I guess a lot of people would be working on a desktop PC in the office and it’s much harder to lose one of those. The HRMC says that it has been rolling out an “equipment refresh” over the last 9 months and a lot of the devices have gone missing while in the hands of couriers. Do you think they have been using Hermes?
There is a big appeal going on in Brighton at the moment for a lost penguin. A nine-year-old girl from Croydon lost her beloved stuffed penguin while on a trip to the city. Apparently she mislaid it while playing on the arcade machines on the pier on 30th January.
Unfortunately, despite a massive social media search, the toy has not yet been found. The girl was given the penguin on her first birthday and is reported to be missing it badly. Can puffins help her?
Well, it’s not very good news from the Ukraine on the radio this morning, apparently the Russians are on the edge of Kyiv but are not getting it all their own way, with the Ukrainian forces fighting off the Russian special forces at an airport close to the city. Bozzie has been rushing around making and taking phone calls from all over the world and holding meetings. I don’t think he got a lot of sleep again last night.
They had BBC Parliament on in the office and I was walking through there was a discussion on about a stalking bill and I heard a female voice saying she knew what it was like to be stalked. I had a look at the screen and what did I see, a massively fat woman. She must have been 25 stone. I stopped in my tracks wondering who would want to stalk that fat lump.
Do you remember the ‘Boris bike’ hire scheme that Bozzie brought in some 12 years ago when he was mayor of London? Well I have been reading the answer to a Freedom of Information request that asked about missing bikes. It seems that hundreds of the 14,000 fleet go missing every year and have been found is various parts of Britain like Brighton, Southend and Cornwall. But that is nothing compared to some of the travels that some bikes manage, they have been found in Ireland, Jamaica and even Australia. I can just about riding a bike to Southend or Brighton, but Australia!
Sport has today become involved in the war in Ukraine. Firstly the Russians have had the Champions League final stripped away from them and it will now be played in Paris. Then the FIA cancelled the Russian F1 Grand Prix. Whether a replacement race will be added to the calendar is yet to emerge. Manchester United, unsurprisingly, have split with their official travel partners Aeroflot. I wonder what is going to happen with Chelsea’s Russian ownership? Unsurprisingly all future Ukrainian football teams will be allowed to play their home games on neutral ground. I also hear that men’s and women’s international teams involved in European and World Cup qualification matches are reluctant to play Russia and the position is being considered. They have even been chucked out of the European Song Contest. I note that RB Leipzig have today been drawn to play Spartak Moscow in the European Champions League, I wonder if that tie will go ahead?
I know it is very hard to believe any of the propaganda that crops up during a war, but I did see one thing that surprised me today. It seems that the Russians don’t want to have the prospect of pictures of body bags arriving back in mother Russia. So what are going to do to handle that? Well it seems that they have mobile cremation trucks that will follow the troops into the Ukraine. The trucks are designed to cremate soldiers killed in biological or chemical attacks so that contaminated bodies are dealt with but will serve to hide the numbers killed in this conflict.
With the news that all Covid restrictions ended yesterday, I read that a town in Sussex has been named the Covid centre of the country. Horsham has a Covid rate of 960 cases per 100,000 people, higher than anywhere else in England, Scottishland and Northern Ireland. Although neighbouring areas of Crawley and Midsussex have lower rates they are still quite high. Is this Britain’s Covid corner?
The Type 83 destroyer is currently intended to follow on from the Type 45 in about 2030. It is being designed as a guided-missile destroyer, but the worry is that it might be vulnerable to hypersonic missiles. Consequently, the idea is that it will be equipped with anti-hypersonic missiles. It always amuses me that we don’t yet have a hypersonic missile in our armaments, let alone an anti-hypersonic Missile. Our armament designers need to get their fingers out.
A little bit of a frost this morning but it disappeared quickly in the bright sunshine. The duty feeder put the radio on so I heard all the overnight news from Ukraine. It said the Russians were not doing as well as they hoped and had suffered a lot of losses. Whether you can believe it or not is the question. I also hear that the Russian resupply of the front lines is suffering from being attacked and the advanced mechanised units are running out of fuel. Clearly they have not taken Kyiv (or whatever it is called today) as the reporters were all still in the city. But was it the day one target the BBC would have us believe? It’s like the claim by the Ukrainians that they have brought down two Russian Il-76s loaded with troops, I don’t know who to believe.
Today the French have grabbed a Russian cargo ship in the English Channel. The ‘Baltic Leader’ is said to be suspected of being in breach of the EU’s trade sanctions. The ship was heading to St Petersburg from the French port of Rouen and has been taken to Boulogne. It is said to belong to one of the 100 Russian companies sanctioned by the EU.
Apparently the EU, under pressure from conservationists, is planning to ban all bottom trawling on the grounds that does a huge amount of damage to the seabed. However the fishing industry are not happy as 32% of EU fish is caught in this way. The conservationists claim that the huge nets used scrape up 41% of all invertebrates and do grave damage to cold-water coral reefs and seagrass. I hear the Greens have joined in claiming that bottom fishing releases vast amounts of CO2.
Network Rail have awarded a 3-year contract to a company called Journeycall to run their customer support canter. The company is currently based in Scottishland but are going to open a new office to support the new contract. I fully expected to read that the new office would be in somewhere like India or Egypt, but no, they are moving to Hull. I wonder how Network Rail customers will deal with the Hull version of the Yorkshire accent?
Are cracks opening up in the relationship between Russia and China? Yesterday China abstained in the UN vote on the Russian invasion of Ukraine when you would normally expect them to vote to support Russia. Now today I hear that some big Chinese banks have stopped offering letters of credit to Russian commodity exporters. The Chinese do a lot of business with the Russians but they do vastly more with the West. I guess this is the Chinese being pragmatic.
It seems that the changes made to the Formula One construction regulations this year have had an unfortunate result in that this year’s cars are ‘porpoising’ or bouncing on the straights. The FIA were anxious to introduce more overtaking and to help do this decided to allow increased ‘ground effect’ in this year’s designs. Last year’s cars had a flat bottom but this year they are allowed to have a venturi in the car’s bottom either side of the driver. The venturi makes the air move more quickly under the car and the effect is it is sucked down and goes faster. An unexpected side effect is that the faster the car goes the lower it is sucked until it gets so low the airflow is broken, the car pops up only for the effect to start all over again and the car bounces up and down. After this week’s testing the manufacturers are going away to have a rethink.
It is spring in Pakistan and with it comes the annual Basant kite-flying festival. But for some years now it has been illegal to participate and flyers are likely to be arrested. The problem it seems is that hundreds of people fly kites from the roofs of their houses in the big cities and people have been killed in kite battles. The police complain that instead of strings people are using wires and this is dangerous. But perhaps worse is trying to shoot down other people’s kites with firearms. I wonder when this will be coming to Bradford?
That’s me done again. I will keep my ears open for any interesting stories tomorrow but I’m off for an afternoon catnap. Have a lovely Sunday and I’ll speak to you all next week.
© WorthingGooner 2022