Re: Fracturing the Pacific

Date:         20 Aug 97 02:38:36 
From:         kls@ohare.Chicago.COM (Karl Swartz)
Organization: Chicago Software Works, Menlo Park, California
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>> Considering the benefits of twins, would investing in a bit of concrete
>> not be advantagious by the airlines with large Asia-America traffic?

>If we were in the early "facilitation" age of aviation, a la Pan Am
>Clippers paving the way across the Pacific, I'd say yes, but with the
>economics of today's industry, no.  Given the expected low utilization
>rates of these facilities, there is no non-safety related return on the
>investment, by either airline or public entity.

I disagree.  I know various countries, including Russia and China,
charge for flying over their airspace.  Tomorrow's Wall St. Journal
(Wednesday, August 20) just happens to have an article on p. A16 (in
the Western Edition) titled "Air Santa? Siberians Are Seeking Pie in
the Sky By Marketing Routes to Asia Via the North Pole" which has some
real numbers.

That article says "the Russians charge an estimated $1,800 a flight
for the limited flights they allow in an effort to get hard currency"
plus extra "royalties."  The article quotes an estimation that it's
necessary to save at least 18 minutes of flying time to make the
shortcuts pay off.

On the other hand, a flight like United's ORD-HKG -- and Northwest's
recently approved MSP-HKG -- probably couldn't operate at all without
access to Russian (and Chinese) airspace.

Going a step further, if paying an added fee to the Russians in return
for their guarantee of a suitable enroute alternate (absent unusually
bad weather) means you can use a 777 or A330-200 instead of a 747-400
that's considerably more expensive to operate becase it's too large
for the market and has more engines, then paying that fee might not
seem to bad.  If the airlines want the economies of twins on routes
like JFK-SIN and don't want to incur *major* detours, the Russians
have a captive audience.  Both sides get a return on their investment.

BTW, one of the two airports in Northern Siberia noted on the map in
the WSJ article is Dikson, which I had suggested would make a good
alternate.  (The other is Khatanga.)

--
Karl Swartz	|Home	kls@chicago.com
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Moderator of sci.aeronautics.airliners -- Unix/network work pays the bills