COVID-19: Overview of the current situation

Civil aviation is a primary engine of the world travel and tourism sector.

This sector of the economy supports millions of jobs, generates major income, and makes a very significant contribution to the gross national product of many nations.

Because of its impact on the economy, and its importance to overall employment, there is much pressure from the various participants of this industry, firms, individual businesses, etc. to return as rapidly as possible to its previous level of activity.

But in order to achieve some level of return of this economic sector, many issues need to be overcome.  This coronavirus is lethal and no vaccine or medication currently exist.

Governments are rightly concerned about the economic impact.  People are scared and reluctant to travel – which could increase their exposure and possibility of getting COVID 19.

There is presently a lack of strong leadership internationally.  The various parties are acting in their own interests which is potentially disastrous for an international industry that requires overall understanding and cooperation between all countries.

Various governments have established – individually – constraints such as quarantine which requires people to self-isolate for 14 days in order to identify whether or not they have  been contaminated by this virus.

Other measures generally required include social distancing – two meters separating people to avoid contamination – and the wearing of face masks which are useful to prevent contaminating other people and, to a lesser extent to prevent an individual from becoming contaminated

Various tests are being used at airports to detect the presence of the virus.  The most common test, but probably not the most effective, is to test the temperature of potential travellers upon arrival at the airport.

For the limited travel taking place currently, many countries also require that the potential traveller be interviewed prior to travel and asked to confirm that he/she has had no symptoms of COVID-19 during the last few days and often to swear a declaration as to the reason for travel.

All of that dissuades people from flying.

The major problem we are facing is that there is no coordination at this time between the various nations.  There is no overall leadership.  The basic air travel related agencies have made proposals, i.e. IATA, ACI, ICAO.  The latter will always have difficulty to move quickly because of the need to achieve a consensus of 180 countries which is almost impossible to do in the short term.

However, some agencies have made suggestions designed to assist nations to re-start travelling in a reasonably safe and acceptable way.  Various models that have been proposed to increase safety at the airport such as social distancing at check-in and gates, various tests such as temperature checks or requiring a simple declaration concerning one’s own health, and the mandatory wearing of masks.  In aircraft cabins, proposed measures include avoiding movement, limiting on-board service to an absolute minimum (either no service or drinks, or something pre-packaged and just handed out), eliminating line ups for washrooms, etc.

Such measures are being proposed by certain airlines in order to reassure governments that there are a number of safety related measures being carried out by the operators designed to guarantee a minimum amount of safety and thereby minimise the potential propagation of the viruses.

Maintaining the current seat density on board violates the usual social distancing rule (2 meters apart), and is therefore considered insufficient by safety agencies.

For any airline, the elimination of the centre seat in a row of three drastically changes the economics of a flight, even with a load factor of 80-90% of the remaining seats.  It would make the flight uneconomical whether it is a full service or low-cost airline.

This is one of the major issues being pushed by the carriers and will be a serious stumbling block until such time as alterative, and acceptable, precautions can be agreed on any flight to permit high density seating to continue.

To enable the present seating of an airplane to continue, it has been suggested that cabin air filtering be fully effective and that on-board baggage be eliminated or at the very least, minimized.   Other suggestions include limiting the handling by passengers of their own baggage at destination and that baggage be handled in a way that is totally safe for the people working.

There is also be a need for extensively disinfecting the airplane after every use which delays substantially the turnaround time and is likely reduce connections.  Low cost carriers need to optimise use of their equipment, and sanitising the airplane at the start and at the end of a flight increases turnaround time.

Boarding and deplaning passengers in order to maintain social distancing will impose additional ground and turnaround time for the airplane.

All airlines are attempting to maximise use of their assets and such conditions may force airlines once again to increase fares in order to better than breakeven.

There is obviously a need for something more sophisticated than a temperature test at the airport prior to departure.  Some airports today claim that they can carry out a test in three hours.  Three hours is too much to add to the required 2 hours before departure required by the multitude of other tests that need to be undertaken at the airport.

Until an effective vaccine has been developed, there is a need to develop fairly rapidly a reliable, quick test which can be taken on departure and perhaps also on arrival.  Of course, this does not remove the risk that one may be subjected to quarantine on his or her return in the event the virus has been contracted a virus during the trip.

Given the usual difficulty to achieve an international agreement, perhaps we should start by establishing a common standard within the Schengen countries, then extend it to the surrounding nations if they wish to join. This could re-start the rules for leisure travel acceptance within Europe, basically.  Once they have been established, they could perhaps be extended to other like-minded nations.

Of course, all the other partners in leisure travel such as resorts, hotels, car rental agencies, museums, shows etc. need to be able to demonstrate that they are perfectly safe so as not to discourage travellers.

In short, the customer needs to be completely reassured that in taking that trip he or she can be guaranteed to leave, to meet the requirements, and be accepted at destination.  He or she also needs reassurance that the activities to be undertake in that country have been examined and are considered safe from the point of view of the virus, and that the precautions taken in order to protect the customer from the virus are minimally invasive.

Finally, the passenger needs reassurance that he or she will be reaccepted on return to the country of origin.

All this will require a lot of coordination and discussion between the various elements involved in the process but these, in my view, are the basic conditions that need to be met in order to ensure that travel and tourism return to a level where people feel comfortable that taking a vacation or a leisure trip does not represent a risky challenge.

Boeing Logo

What is going on at Boeing?

The B737-MAX saga illustrates a most unusual – and unfortunate – series of mishaps within the Boeing company which seems to affect many different dimensions of this important company.

It questions the wisdom of extending one more time the B737 line, which was the last airplane designed by Boeing before the advent of the electronically controlled airplane and the fly by wire concept. It is surprising to see that the important safety-related MCAS software designed to prevent low speed stall relied uniquely on one sole sensor, contrary to the usual practice that such a safety-related system must rely on at least two sensors. It is difficult to understand that a second sensor was optional, and offered at a price!

The seemingly excessively confident position of the commercial team in convincing clients of the easy introduction of this model compared to the previous B.737 line, coupled with insufficient training, more particularly on the MAX version, has resulted in over-confidence by airlines in the ease of introducing the new model in their fleet.

The apparent reaction of management to the first crash of the B737-MAX of Lion Air appeared to minimise the importance of that first accident. The company failed to recognize the importance of the circumstances that led to that crash and as a result appeared to show a lack of concern. Some observers could conclude that this was an attempt by management to minimise the importance of that first accident.
The highly questionable mishandling of the communications crisis following the second crash further indicated the inability of management to react appropriately. Some observers felt that the company was reluctant to accept the responsibility.

The shoddy work and poor morale which was reported to be surfacing at the more recently established Boeing plant in the southern part of the US.A. also suggests questionable management capabilities.

It is most disappointing that the FAA has only recently discovered some difficulties with a mini processor on the new airplane, and this appears to have been overseen during the initial approval. This is a further indication of the lack of rigor by management in introducing the new model. But it also points to questionable oversight by the FAA.

This string of incidents appears to be indicative of a lack of professionalism, discipline and rigor throughout the management of the company. It is unusual in today’s company oversight practices to have the CEO of a large corporation also allowed to be the Chairman of the Board.

The role of the Board is to oversee management and to ensure that it is held accountable at all times.
When the Chairman is the same as the CEO, it is difficult to see how this process of oversight can be carried out efficiently. This also calls into question the role of the Board of that company.

Pierre J Jeanniot, O.C., C.Q.
Montreal, 31 July 2019

Some comments concerning the B.737-MAX current issue

We know that the cause of the two crashes … has been attributed to a failed sensor of the angle of attack … and the questionable behaviour of some the Manoeuvring Characteristic Augmentation System (MCAS).

The LionAir accident resulted in 189 fatalities.  The Ethiopian crash caused 157 fatalities.

The M.C.A.S. is the part of the Flight Management System … which senses a loss of speed … and automatically compensates by ordering the nose downwards … to diminish the risk of stalling.

Boeing admits that the M.C.A.S. was designed … to make the MAX feel and handle like a NG … when it is flown manually at low speed with flaps retracted.

The system is intended to switch on automatically … when it senses a risk for the aircraft to stall.

The system relied on a sole sensor of the angle of attack (on the Captain’s side of the aircraft) rather than the two sensors on board.

The system is unique to the B.737 MAX … because the MAX no longer has the docile pitch characteristics … of the B.737 NG at high angle of attack.

This is caused by the larger engine nacelle covering the higher bypass engines (Leap 1.B).

The drawback of the larger nacelle is that it displaces the center of gravity of the airplane … and contributes to destabilizing the aircraft pitch.

And thus … to counter the MAX lower stability margin at a high angle of attack … Boeing introduced M.C.A.S. … a software loop in the flight control computer. … It seems to have been Boeing`s intention … to make the handling feel of the MAX identical to the handling of the NG.

All this to make the introduction of the B.737 MAX type … very easy … to any airline already operating the B.737 NG.

In the spotlight is the training requirement for ensuring that a pilot`s existing type rating … for the B.737 NG … would cover the new B.737 MAX series.

If the license is type rated for both the B.737 NG and the B.737 MAX … a pilot can fly any one of these aircraft … at any time.

Training seems to have been deficient … and it may not have been recommended by the manufacturer to adequately train the pilots for the changes in system in the simulator.

The reputations of both the FAA … and the Boeing company … has been somewhat damaged as a result of these two crashes … as there seems to have been a reluctance to take seriously the LionAir crash … and its impact on the new Boeing model.

It appears that the FAA may had delegated approval authority to Boeing for this particular area … and that Boeing may have attempted to minimise the impact … and the seriousness of the first crash.

The absence of an adequate reaction … to analyse the problem seriously by the FAA and Boeing … and the impression that the first crash may not have been taken as seriously as it should … may have been compounded … by their inadequate handling with the media … and the industry in general.

There seems to be an indication … that the senior management of Boeing … may have attempted to minimise the impact of the first crash … and to deny responsibility for the accident.  …

Some observers feel that the Boeing Company was late … in accepting its responsibilities … and in taking appropriate action … to ensure that the deficiency could be quickly corrected.

Some concluded that crisis management was inadequate … and that the resulting damage to the reputation of the industry as well as to the FAA may be serious … and their respective reputations may take time to recover.  …

Boeing has now taken many steps to ensure that the systems issue has been satisfactorily resolved … and is trying to have it demonstrated in simulators.  …

It is reported that Boeing has made appropriate modifications … and carried out a number of test flights.


Bloomberg has estimated … that the sum of the disruption cost resulting from the grounding of the fleets … would be approximately 1.4 billion USD … assuming that the B.737 MAX would be in operation by October.

Some 360 airplanes have been delivered and another 4,600 are on order.  This estimate assumes that no airline cancels any orders as a result of a lack of confidence and public opinion.  This number does not take into consideration the compensation … that will take place resulting from the two crashes – at least 346 casualties.

Litigation to obtain compensation for each one of those victims could go on for many years.

On that basis … it would not be surprising if the total cost to Boeing could be in the region of 2 billion USD.  … This also assumes that the value of Boeing stock will recover quickly … and that no significant cancellation of orders for the B.737 takes place.

This situation is likely to lead to a serious re-examination of the role of the FAA … and the need to take action to restore its credibility.   … It also raises a serious question mark on the leadership of Boeing … and its performance in handling the crisis.


Pierre J Jeanniot, O.C., C.Q., FRAeS

10 June 2019

Boeing 787 Dreamliner

The Boeing 787: Hopefully Blue Skies Ahead!

The Boeing 787: Hopefully Blue Skies Ahead!
April 30, 2013  >>

The FAA has now approved the redesign of the B.787 battery system after weeks of extensive testing.

The redesign keeps the battery design and chemistry essentially unchanged, but improves the separation between the cells. The redesign also improves the containment to prevent a fire from spreading, and provides venting to prevent toxic smoke from entering into the passenger cabin.

Safety investigators in the U.S. and Japan still do not know why the 787’s Lithium-ion batteries malfunctioned in two instances, but understand why these malfunctions triggered a “thermal runaway” chain reaction.

Boeing’s insistence on a “lithium-ion only” strategy will hopefully prove successful and not result in more costs and delays than already encountered.

A simpler and more commercially reassuring path would have been to launch an alternative certification program with a nickel-cadnium battery while continuing to pursue re-certification of an improved system based on the lithium-ion battery.

The Boeing company is sending teams of specialists worldwide to assist 787 operators with the task of installing the redesigned battery system.

The FAA will monitor all modifications to the aircraft in the U.S. registry, with teams of investigators at modification locations. All modified 787’s must be approved by the Agency before returning to service.

Commercial flights have started to resume as aircraft are modified. We expect that Boeing will be scrambling to incorporate the modifications on the assembly lines to minimize delays in the delivery of new aircraft.

Boeing 787 Dreamliner

The Boeing 787 Problem Remains Unresolved

The Boeing 787 Problem Remains Unresolved
February 15, 2013  >>

It is nearly a month since the Boeing B787 Dreamliner was grounded by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), and at this time there is as yet no final solution in sight that would permit the airplane to fly again.

This was recently reaffirmed by the Chairman of the NTSB, Debra Hershman, who stated that “we now know what is wrong – but we do not know why”.

The source of the problems and how to fix them have remained elusive and the NTSB has been working its way through, evaluating every battery element, the electrical system including the charging system and auxiliary power unit controller. The root cause could derive from manufacturing flaws in individual units, or problems with the system designed to prevent the battery from over-charging.

Despite the outward display of support, some B787 operators are understood to be asking Boeing for compensation, and Boeing has now admitted that the battery mishap could have material effect on its financial position.

Airbus is for that matter also confronted with similar claims for the length of time required to implement a permanent A-380 wing repair that had become a major issue for airlines earlier this year.

Analysts believe the outcome will most likely be that Boeing will identify and fix the problem over the next several weeks or a month at most – but there is yet to be light at the end of the tunnel.

The current investigation also affects the FAA and a US Senate Committee has called for a hearing on the B787 battery issues. The Committee says it will look into the FAA’s decision to certify the B787 with lithium-ion batteries as part of its previously planned examination of the U.S. aviation oversight.

The FAA Administrator, Richard Huerta, is asking the aerospace industry for ideas on how to solve the technical challenges of an increasingly complex aviation industry, a move which could signal the need to retool the agency approach to aircraft certification based on the issues emerging on the B787.

The question of how the B787 lithium-ion battery passed a comprehensive list of FAA approved special conditions as part of the aircraft certification continues to be at the heart of what has become a public relations issue for the FAA.

The joint strike fighter – the F35 – which had been under review by the Canadian Air Force as a replacement of their ageing fighters, may be affected.

The F35’s electrical system, which incorporates a lithium-ion battery that is larger and of higher voltage than that of the B787, is said to require to be replaced on a once per sortie cycle. It is the fighter integrated power pack which starts the engine and also provides a second back up source of electrical power to flight control avionics in the event that the engine electrical power generator fails.

This could be just one more problem facing the F35 program which has been under development for eleven years, and has thus far consumed 50 billion dollars or so.

Opinion piece by Pierre Jeanniot in La Presse

L’entretien des avions est devenu une industrie en elle-même:
Au-delà de la main-d’œuvre, il faut des investisseurs, de bons gestionnaires et des équipements modernes
La Presse – Opinion Piece
Montréal, June 1, 2012  >>

Le monde de l’aviation civile vit depuis une vingtaine d’années une transformation peu commune. La volatilité des coûts du carburant, les pressions environnementales, les préoccupations envers la sécurité, les redevances et taxes excessives ainsi que l’apparition des transporteurs à rabais, ont forcé les compagnies aériennes à se restructurer et à repenser leur fonctionnement pour tout simplement assurer leur survie.

Et encore une fois, malheureusement, un bon nombre de lignes aériennes se voient dans l’obligation de demander des concessions majeures à leur personnel.

Parmi les tendances observées depuis plusieurs années, une des plus significatives fut sans contredit la décision, par un grand nombre de compagnies aériennes, de confier l’entretien majeur de leurs appareils à des firmes spécialisées, de manière à diminuer leurs coûts. Ainsi d’importants centres de maintenance, réparation et révision d’aéronefs (M.R.R.) ont été créés un peu partout à travers le monde. On peut penser à Lufthansa Technik ou à HAECO (Honk Kong Aircraft Engineering Company) qui figurent parmi les plus importants. L’entretien des avions est devenu une industrie en elle-même.

Il y a plusieurs années, les centres de services techniques d’Air Canada de Montréal et de Winnipeg s’étaient forgé une réputation fort enviable sur le marché, suffisamment pour attirer des contrats provenant de l’extérieur. L’avenir s’annonçait suffisamment bien pour cette division pour entrevoir la création d’une unité distincte et rentable.

Mais en 2004, Air Canada était dans une impasse financière majeure et, dans le cadre d’une restructuration sanctionnée par les tribunaux, ses créanciers ont imposé, pour la survie de l’entreprise, des conditions strictes. Air Canada est devenue une filiale en propriété exclusive de Gestion ACE Aviation Inc. (ACE) et certaines de ses activités ont été regroupées en entités distinctes pour être revendues, de façon à générer les fonds requis pour la relance du service aérien. C’est ainsi que furent vendus Aéroplan et Air Canada Jazz de même qu’éventuellement une partie de la division des services techniques d’Air Canada (appelée ACTS). En fait, l’ancienne division de la maintenance d’Air Canada a été scindée en deux : la maintenance des cellules, des moteurs et des composants ont été confiées à ACTS tandis qu’Air Canada a conservé les activités quotidiennes de maintenance des appareils (la « maintenance en ligne ») ainsi que d’autres fonctions – les syndicats concernés ayant approuvé cette restructuration.

En 2007, ACE a ainsi vendu ACTS à un groupe d’investisseurs qui se proposaient de la faire croître en diversifiant sa clientèle. Un an plus tard, l’entreprise adoptait le nom Aveos Performance aéronautique. Mais déjà en 2010, les actionnaires initiaux baissaient les bras et radiaient leur investissement de 800 millions $ dans Aveos. Air Canada, qui ne voulait pas être prise au dépourvu, aida Aveos à se recapitaliser et lui accorda ses contrats de maintenance à long terme à des tarifs qui auraient dû lui assurer une stabilité financière — le temps qu’elle puisse mettre en œuvre son nouveau modèle commercial. Malheureusement, Aveos n’a pas réussi à fonctionner de façon rentable et à élargir suffisamment sa clientèle, et elle a fermé abruptement ses portes le 19 mars dernier, laissant derrière elle 2 600 employés sans emploi dans diverses villes canadiennes, principalement à Montréal. Il serait inexact d’affirmer qu’ Air Canada ait précipité la chute d’Aveos, bien au contraire.
dotted line
Sans la restructuration de 2004, il est probable qu’Air Canada n’existerait plus aujourd’hui. Les 2,2 milliards $ obtenus par ACE de la vente de ses trois divisions (Aéroplan, Jazz et ACTS) ont notamment permis à Air Canada de récompenser les investisseurs qui avaient rendu possible la relance de la compagnie, mais également d’acquérir de nouveaux appareils, de rafraîchir les appareils existants et ainsi d’être plus compétitif dans le marché mondial de l’aviation.

Depuis la fermeture d’Aveos, Air Canada a confié l’entretien de certains de ses appareils à différentes entreprises. Elle privilégie, dans la mesure du possible, celles oeuvrant au Québec et répondant à ses standards, et permettant ainsi à certains ex-employés d’Aveos de se trouver un emploi. Mais le gros du bassin de talents demeure en disponibilité et il y a là une opportunité pour Montréal et le Québec.

Un marché de la M.R.R. existe en Amérique du Nord et celui-ci va bien au-delà des simples besoins d’Air Canada. Des études récentes démontrent qu’il existe une pénurie de centres d’entretien pour gros porteurs en Amérique du Nord et que plus de 25% du travail doit être effectué en Asie. Considérant que l’aller-retour d’un appareil en Asie prend au minimum deux jours et que les coûts de deux vols au-dessus du Pacifique sont substantiels, force est d’admettre que les compagnies aériennes trouveraient leur compte si l’offre de service en M.R.R. en Amérique du Nord était augmentée.

Si nous possédons toute la main d’œuvre nécessaire ici même, un défi demeure toutefois et c’est la modernisation des équipements et outils nécessaires à l’entretien des appareils modernes. Les nouvelles techniques largement dépendantes de logiciels sophistiqués et de supports informatiques avancés permettent un gain de productivité important, éliminant ainsi le temps perdu et réduisant les larges inventaires. Combinés à une équipe de gestionnaires chevronnés, ces nouvelles techniques pourraient contribuer à l’essor d’une industrie plus prospère et plus concurrentielle.

Air Canada a affirmé son intention de collaborer pleinement avec des exploitants potentiels aptes à offrir au Canada des services répondant à ses besoins de façon concurrentielle. Il n’est cependant plus possible de compter uniquement sur Air Canada qui, comme bien d’autres lignes aériennes, ne conçoit plus son rôle d’exploiter de telles installations, sans parler des ressources financières requises. Il faut voir plus loin.

Il s’agit ici d’une industrie dont Montréal pourrait continuer de s’enorgueillir. À mon humble avis, un débat devant les tribunaux ne me semble pas constructif et ne ramènera pas les emplois perdus – au pire, il aura peut-être comme conséquence d’éloigner des investisseurs potentiels.

Nos énergies et nos efforts doivent plutôt se concentrer sur la recherche d’investisseurs qui contribueront à la poursuite du développement et de la croissance de cette industrie qui a le potentiel d’être un maillon important de la grappe aéronautique de Montréal. Le temps presse!

Facing up to Air India

Facing up to Air India
May 12, 2011  >>

The Air India saga which is unfolding is beginning to look more and more like what happened to Sabena and possibly Alitalia. (To some extent, the Varig demise in Brazil has some similarities.)

In Belgium and Italy, the governments mismanaged the airline for the longest time.

In both cases, the government pressured by unions and clinging to the out-dated concept of retaining a national flag carrier, was reluctant to carry out the difficult task of restructuring the carrier to operate as a business and not as a government department.

The Indian government made the right decision, several years ago, to liberalize totally the domestic market allowing many new airlines to emerge, actively compete and stimulate the market.

It made the right decision to engage in a number of “Open Skies” Agreements and many liberalized air bilaterals.

But it made the wrong decision not to pursue in parallel with that action, the privatization of Air India.

To continue to support a government-owned airline to compete with private enterprise using the tax-payers’ deep pockets, makes no business sense.

The “Economic Times” reported a few months ago that Air India was accumulating losses of 13,000 crore, and total debts of 40,000 crore. Having infused 2000 crore in the past two years, it is reported that another 1200 crore have been earmarked for Air India for the next financial year (which is unlikely to be sufficient in any case).

Despite announcements of several restructuring plans no one, obviously, is willing to face up to the tough decisions. This is like continuing go give alcohol to an alcoholic!

The government does not have the competence nor the time to manage the airlines – yet it cannot refrain from meddling on every occasion.

The “Mail Today” reported recently that on August 2, 2004, four months after he took over as civil aviation Minister, the then Minister of Transport chaired a meeting that decided to inflate Air India’s purchase order from the original proposal of 28 aircraft to 68 at a stupendous cost of 50,000 crore. Worse, the inflated purchase order, the paper reports, was not backed by either a viable revenue plan or expansion of routes.

The Ministry of Civil Aviation had to step in to end a four month dispute between the Board and the COO. The Minister is then reported to have held a two-day discussion with the representatives of twelve unions. (The Hindu Business Line)

And then the Union Leaders made allegations that Air India had withdrawn its flights on thirty-two profitable routes over the last two years to benefit private carriers! (Why would anyone in their right mind close down thoroughly profitable routes?)

More recently, the Pilots’ Union went on strike. With accumulated losses amounting to nearly $3 billion, the 10-day crippling strike of Air India pilots may have come at the worst possible time for the flag carrier – but it has also raised the pitch for privatization like never before.

The most ridiculous proposal advanced recently by Air India’s management is to increase the fleet from 145 aircraft to 400, to make the ratio of employees to airplanes look efficient! As long as the government provides the funds, this is a lot easier than the action required to reduce the staff by one half to two-thirds.

Announcing plans to become operationally profitable in four years is further evidence of its desire to avoid painful but necessary decisions from being made today. Having privatized Air Canada some years ago, I have some experience on the subject.

The “Hindu Business Line” appropriately asks “who is really running Air India”? The Board and the management appear to be in disarray and not in control.

In typical government fashion, rather than act on the management problem, the government has commissioned two external agencies to carry out a study on the impact of having started to open domestic skies to foreign airlines back in 2004!

As if it was not already obvious that the restrictions imposed on the private Indian airlines, and the inability of Air India to compete, had resulted in the Indian carriers’ shares of the country’s international traffic coming down from 35% to 25% in the past five years. (KPMG analysis)

Clearly, the government is fiddling while Rome is burning!

What is likely to happen to Air India?

Unless the government is able to wipe out the huge debts burden, put in some professional management, walk away from direct negotiations with the Unions, and resolutely abstain from interfering in the management of the airline, Air India is not privatizable and is doomed.

But unfortunately, before it is allowed to disappear, it will likely cost the Indian tax-payer a lot of money. There are in my view only two likely scenarios:

The Sabena outcome where eventually the airline reaches bankruptcy and simply dissolves;

Or the Alitalia scenario where restructuring is allowed, the airline is split and eventually various functions are re-sized and merged with a private enterprise. In this last case, there is some face-saving value, as the prestigious name of Alitalia was preserved.

The government and tax payers of India must face up to the fact that Air India is no longer essential ,and that it should now be privatized – or left to die!

Bringing about a conclusion to the Air India Saga is to be hoped – for the sake of the Indian tax-payer and India’s private airlines – and the sooner the better!

The Montreal Economic Institute’s Flashpoint

The Montreal Economic Institute’s Flashpoint
Canada and the liberalization of air transport markets over the Atlantic  >>

> English version (PDF: 316 KB)
> French version (PDF: 324 KB)

Questions d’identité

Questions d’identité  >>

Etre Canadien et citoyen du monde

Au moment où l’Europe prend officiellement connaissance du projet de sa Constitution et que le Canada vient de commémorer la sienne, le 1er juillet, le moment est opportun de réfléchir, non seulement sur les rapports que le Canada entretient avec l’Europe, mais aussi sur l’évolution de l’identité canadienne dans un monde en mutation. Le récent sommet UE – Canada, qui s’est déroulé à Athènes le 28 mai dernier, en a déjà pris la mesure en concluant sur la nécessité d’intensifier et de réaménager nos relations bilatérales avec l’Europe. «Le moment est venu, a affirmé le commissaire européen Pascal Lamy, de franchir une étape dans la longue et fructueuse relation en matière de commerce et d’investissement entre l’UE et le Canada et de préparer un nouveau type d’accord bilatéral dans ces domaines, qui devrait être la réponse aux nouveaux défis du XXIe siècle en matière de commerce et d’investissement entre deux économies ouvertes et développées, et être le reflet d’un engagement sincère à promouvoir nos valeurs communes.»

Ces valeurs communes quelles sont-elles? Elles se fondent d’abord sur la prospérité: nos échanges et de nos investissements directs quoiqu’encore modeste par rapport au volume avec les Etats-Unis, est en progression croissante depuis une décennie. Elles se fondent sur l’attachement mutuel aux institutions multilatérales fortes et le respect de l’État de droit à l’échelle internationale. En effet, c’est en garantissant et aménageant leur stabilité que nous pourrons résorber les crises institutionnelles ouvertes depuis le 11 septembre et mises en lumière par la seconde guerre en Irak.

Le Canada, on le sait, a toujours été, grâce notamment à l’initiative de Lester B.Person, un partisan inconditionnel du multilatéralisme. Il a eu l’occasion de le prouver dans le gestion de plusieurs dossiers sensibles. Que ce soit au niveau de la Sécurité internationale, de l’environnement, du désarmement nucléaire, du maintien de la paix, de la défense de la diversité culturelle, la diplomatie, canadienne a toujours su trouver une voie médiane pour tenter de rétablir la justice sociale dans un monde multipolaire. Il convient désormais d’aller plus loin en inventant de nouveaux dispositifs d’action.

Une société civile mondialisée

Pourquoi? Parce que depuis que la planète s’est mondialisée, la manière d’agir sur les affaires du monde s’est transformée. Elle ne doit plus être désormais le monopole des seuls états ou des grands acteurs institutionnels. Il importe de proposer un nouveau type d’association ouverte au dialogue des cultures et aux défis sociétaux, technologiques économiques de ce nouveau siècle.

A cet égard les Canadiens sont particulièrement bien placés pour y répondre. L’ennui, c’est qu’il ne le savant pas ou du moins pas suffisamment. C’est notamment pour pallier à cette carence que le groupe les Canadiens en Europe a été crée voici quatre ans. Sa finalité essentielle: mettre en lumière les initiatives et les points de vue singuliers de la société civile canadienne dans le vaste débat enclenchée par la mondialisation. C’est au sein de cette société civile, croyons-nous, que résident les réponses aux défis de notre temps. Encore faut-il que cette société civile prenne conscience de sa singularité, de sa complexité, et accepte de la partager avec le reste du monde. Voilà pourquoi des relais comme les nôtre sont aujourd’hui utiles, voire indispensables.

Si les Canadiens expatriés étaient, hier encore, peu nombreux presqu’exclusivement membres du corps diplomatique et des sociétés multinationales, tel désormais n’est plus le cas. Plus cosmopolite, bien adapté aux exigences du marché mondial, cette nouvelle génération de Canadiens en Europe associe les qualités de pragmatisme nord-américain allié à une sophistication européenne. Interface naturel entre l’Europe et le Canada, les Canadiens européens contribuent à créer un réseau d’influence accrue, aptes à mieux mailler l’espace des relations bilatérales. La conjoncture qui prévaut aujourd’hui est propice pour un tel redéploiement.

Car, s’il y a un phénomène que la mondialisation a mis en lumière c’est bien la mondialisation accélérée des sociétés civiles nationales. En clair, cela veut dire que le relais étatique n’est plus en mesure d’encadrer comme naguère les relations avec le reste du monde. Aujourd’hui un individu avec un ordinateur branché sur le grande toile participe directement au nouvel espace public mondial en train de se constituer. Or ce «nouveau pays» dont il est le représentant incertain, n’est plus une entité territoriale mais bel et bien une configuration d’intérêts individuels et sociaux qui agit au-delà des ensembles nationaux. En conséquence : la taille et le poids démographique, la position géopolitique d’un pays, n’est plus aussi déterminant comme par le passé . Les identités nationales seront appelées désormais à intégrer la mobilité et la diversité comme des facteurs importants de leur affirmation nationale.

L’identité canadienne, fruit d’une longue maturation et de dialogues éclairés et constants, se prête particulièrement bien à cette nouvelle donne. Héritiers de deux grandes civilisations, riches de plus de 80 communautés immigrantes et d’une longue tradition autochtone en pleine renaissance, le Canada participe plus que jamais à cette pluralité du monde Avec la moitié de sa population d’origine immigrante dont 18% nés hors au pays, le taux le plus élevée depuis 70 ans, le Canada expérimente les conditions inédite d’une citoyenneté d’un autre type . Si la réflexion menée sur le multiculturalisme depuis trente ans a permis d’y intégrer l’héritage des autres cultures, la mondialisation aujourd’hui nous suggère de la projeter dans le monde. De sorte qu’être Canadien n’est plus l’apanage de celui qui y est né ou y habite mais relève, des affinités crées par le partage des valeurs communes.

Quelles sont ses valeurs? Ce sont les valeurs fondamentales que sont l’attachement à liberté, à l’initiative individuelle, à la justice sociale, à la paix dans le monde, au respect de l’environnement et de la diversité culturelle. Nul n’est besoin d’être né dans le pays pour y adhérer. C’est ainsi que l’on peut être «Canadien en Europe», en Asie, en Afrique ou aux Amériques. La Canadianité devient donc un état d’esprit et une manière de vivre commune à tous ceux qui ont choisi de partager ces valeurs.

Pierre Jeanniot, O.C.
Président des Canadiens en Europe