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Editorial: Crises Pile Up

We are afflicted with multiple crises these days, and the aviation/aerospace sectors are hit by all of them.


October 2, 2007
By Richard Purser

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We are afflicted with multiple crises these days, and the
aviation/aerospace sectors are hit by all of them. A prime example in
this country is Air Canada, which as if it didn’t already have enough
troubles, was caught up in the aftermath of 9/11/01, then the Iraq war,
and now the SARS scare.

This worldwide triple-whammy leaves no one unscathed. Hong Kong’s
successful (and superb) international airline, Cathay Pacific, has been
devastated and has even talked about grounding its fleet if things get
too much worse. Other southeast Asian airlines have been harmed, along
with their regional economies, and in China itself a potential disaster
looms. The World Health Organization put out an advisory (rescinded
after one week) against travel to Toronto, the only North American city
with a significant oubreak of SARS. It’s ironic that this happened in
Toronto rather than Vancouver, where the overwhelming majority of
Canada-bound passengers from Asia land.

Whether the WHO’s
judgment was right or not, the reaction of Canadian officialdom in
general and Toronto’s fatuous mayor in particular gave the rest of the
world a demonstration that Canada was once again doing what it does
best: whining. First we had Jean Chrétien and the Canadian
establishment telling our friend, neighbour, ally and major trading
partner to get lost, and now we have this.

To the problems
created by international crises, Air Canada adds its own mismanagement.
It still seems to concentrate on destroying competition rather than on
operating profitably. Air Canada’s sudden entry into the Calgary-
Abbotsford market, after the route had been successfully pioneered by
WestJet, is a case in point. This exercise in sheer predation showed
that Robert Milton was taking lessons from his predecessor and mentor,
Hollis Harris, who used a gentlemanly southern exterior from gracious
Atlanta to mask a vicious effort to destroy Canadian Airlines by miring
it in legal and regulatory procedures when Canadian tried to save its
declining fortunes by forming an alliance with American Airlines.

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