The world’s biggest international airline, Emirates, is about to embark on the biggest changes in its 31-year history: the introduction of a fourth travel class and low-cost-carrier-style a la carte price to pay for extras that are now free.The airline is scrambling to find new sources of cash as price competition from other airlines hits not only yield – average fares paid – but also total revenue, which has dipped even though the number of passengers the airline is carrying continues to grow strongly.However, Emirates isn’t rushing: it says the announcement of what form its new premium economy service will take could still be up to 18 months away.In fact, it may even decide to launch two different forms of premium economy at once – an economy-plus seat-only deal similar to “economy comfort” offerings popular among US airlines priced at 20-30 per cent above best economy discount fares; and a fully-fledged premium economy similar to that offering by its joint-venture partner, Qantas, which usually sells at double the economy discount rate or more.The new class of seating would offer more “pitch” per seat row – typically 36-38 inches (91-95 centimetres) – with a wider seat (19 inches – 48 cms — across) at eight-abreast per seat row, instead of the squeezy 10-abreast standard economy seat in the airline’s Boeing 777-300ERs, which are just 17 inches (43 cms) wide.At 10-abreast – also used by American Airlines, but not by many other carriers, who’ve stayed with nine-abreast — Emirates’ 777-300ER have one of the world’s highest seat counts for the type at up to 427.By contrast, airlines that have stuck with nine-abreast have as few as 244 seats (Japan Airlines). Emirates also offers 10-abreast economy in its A380 superjumbos, but the seats are 18 inches (46 cms) wide.Emirates has been forced to make changes to its business model after the latest half-year, reported in November 2016, saw a 75 per cent collapse in profit to $US212 million and a contraction in overall revenue, down one per cent to $US11.3 billion, even though the number of passengers carried by the airline grew nine per cent to 28 million.“The bleak global economic outlook appears to be the new norm, with no immediate resolution in sight,” Emirates’ chairman and chief executive, Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, lamented.But the airline had seen in coming. “I see a change in the way corporate business is going to develop which of course will affect our yields because the high end stuff isn’t going to come through as it was in the good old days,” Emirates president, Sir Tim Clark, told the annual meeting of the International Air Transport Association in June 2016.He said passenger volumes would still grow despite a weak global economy, but air fares were expected to fall 7% this year and would remain depressed.“We are going to be there for a long time on these fare levels,” he said, warning that competition would intensify as new low-cost, long-haul carriers like Norwegian Air Shuttle pushed further into intercontinental routes.That’s great news for travellers, but it means Emirates must now re-evaluate how it generates revenue and profit. Being the only carrier that offered in-flight entertainment in every seat, which Emirates was once alone in doing, is no longer enough.“The trick is to (price) match and deliver more,” Clark told one interviewer. “That is becoming more difficult these days, because in the old days, we were the only kid on the block doing what we’re doing. Now, there are others who are emulating us.“Because certain segments of our markets have become deeply discounted, we’re having to look and see whether we can extract more value through the ancillary revenue stream.“It’s somewhere we’ve never traditionally gone, but the digital world tells us that that’s the way people are thinking. Where the value is clear to them, and is delivered to them in a manner that they expect, they will pay for (extras).”That’s backed by an Ipsos survey of 3000 flyers last year for the US airline lobby, Airlines for America, which found that two-thirds liked the new world of optional extras on top of the basic fare.In fact, Emirates began surcharging for advance seat selection in October 2016 – as little as $US10 on short routes and as much as $US40 on long-haul routes for passengers who want to sit together and not be separated by the booking engines’ random seat allocation.Clark forecast that other optional fees were on the way for items like second checked bags, special food and wine requests, premium check-in or expedited security clearance.Premium economy has also become a money-spinner for airlines like Emirates partner Qantas, which resisted the trend towards the new class for a decade before jumping on board in 2007.According to some airline analysts, for full-service carriers, premium economy is now the most profitable offering per square centimetre of the floorspace it requires, given the cost of the higher service levels afforded to business and first class passengers.Qantas typically charges double its best discount economy fare for premium economy, but on the long intercontinental routes between Australia and the US, a host of carriers including Virgin Australia, Delta, American and United have been successful with less expensive economy-plus offerings providing slightly less legroom than premium economy, but still substantially more than standard economy.Clark has said the long lead time before the change is partly to allow time for a large number of Emirates’ 230 aircraft to be refitted before premium economy is officially offered to travellers.
Christopher Peck’s original post, The Big Rewards of a Deep Energy Retrofit, was published here on March 15, 2016. That blog and this one both originally appeared at The Resilient Investor. Remodel Project: Deep Energy RetrofitRetrofit versus ReductionsWindow Installation Tips for a Deep Energy RetrofitDeep Energy Retrofits Are Often MisguidedThe High Cost of Deep Energy Retrofits Making an Old Tract House Sunnier and More Efficient RELATED ARTICLES BLOGS BY CHRISTOPHER PECK The Big Rewards of a Deep Energy Retrofit My article on deep energy retrofits generated several questions about how these types of retrofit add value to a house over time. How does a deep energy retrofit compare to something like a kitchen remodel? Is it worth the cost of doing the retrofit? If I spend $50,000 on a deep retrofit, will it add $50,000 to the value of my house?Probably not. Or, it depends. Maybe. Possibly. It’s a tricky question, with some complex answers.Let’s start with whether you plan to sell your house soon or not. If you are planning to sell in the next few years, or are forced to sell, the return-on-investment picture is probably pretty bleak. We can draw some clues from other big remodel projects. Looking at the numbers might scare you.At mid-range national averages for 2015, adding a steel door is the only remodel project that adds value. That is, you’ll recoup a little more than you spent to buy and install it. (Move quickly before a toddler dings up that new door!) All of the other remodel projects are a losing proposition. It’s even worse for upscale projects, where the best ROI is upgrading to fiber-cement siding, and it doesn’t recoup even 85% of the $15,000 average cost of the project. Look at the long-term returnsOK, enough of the negative perspective. If you are not planning to sell in the next five years or so, and assuming you live somewhere that’s not about to become a ghost town, then it matters less what the improvements have done for your home’s immediate resale value. I think a good argument could be made for the long-term realization of return, if we look beyond just the resale value of the home. After all, when looking at a long-term stock investment, we include both the eventual selling price and the annual dividends received along the way in our assessment of the returns.Reducing ongoing and future maintenance costs is a big deal. The previously mentioned fiber-cement siding is a good example. If properly installed it should last 50 years and require paint perhaps only once a decade. That’s a substantial savings, one that follows directly from the initial investment.I discussed using less energy in last quarter’s article, but remember that value will compound over the years as well: every hundred dollars saved each year is a hundred more you can save or invest toward other goals, either of which will pay their own returns over time. Reducing the energy demand of a house can also make it much easier to afford a complete photovoltaic system, or even to add more solar panels to fuel an electric car.With careful attention and enough insulation you can “tunnel through the cost barrier” (an Amory Lovins phrase) and eliminate the need for a furnace or air conditioner at all; now you’re talking some substantial annual financial benefit! Or perhaps you’ll only need a $1,000 ductless minisplit heat pump to efficiently heat, cool, and dehumidify your house.What is comfort worth? How do you value the improvement in quality of life that comes from living in a more comfortable, functional, and well-tuned home? What value do we place on reducing carbon emissions related to our own life choices? My answers to these last few questions float somewhere in the region of a lot, priceless, incalculable, and vast. How would you value these? But anyone spending $100,000 on a deluxe kitchen upgrade isn’t doing it to make money when they sell – they’re doing it to improve their quality of life while living in the house. A temporary reduction in full value because of a quick sale isn’t anyone’s best financial plan. I think this will be true for deep retrofits as well. CONSTRUCTION DETAILS Some new features pay off, but probably not energy upgradesSome remodels do add value even when a house is sold soon after, particularly in hot real estate markets. Sometimes specific projects are in high demand from buyers or make a big difference in how buyers perceive a property.As the folks at Remodeling put it, “If a remodeling project helps a house meet buyers’ expectations — adding a second bathroom in an area where every other home already has two — the homeowner can expect a good return either in the form of a higher selling price, a quick sale, or both (assuming everything else about the house is up to standard).” Unfortunately, this is unlikely to apply to deep retrofits, thanks to the current low cost of home heating fuel and the pitiful status of energy efficiency on most buyer’s checklists (10 of 10?).There are other problems in realizing the full financial value of a deep retrofit. A 2012 paper by Cynthia Adams, “Valuing Energy Efficiency in the Real Estate Community,” highlights the complexity of the real estate market and the many stakeholders in residential home transactions who are ignorant of energy efficiency and its contribution to home value or the long-term costs of ownership. Add in the lack of a standardized home energy rating system, and it’s no surprise that change is happening slowly.There’s one more factor in realizing full value in a deep retrofit, and it’s a big one: the number one factor in real estate value. You’ve heard this before: location. If you’re in a substandard location, such as right next to a busy interstate highway, it’s very difficult to envision a scenario where you could realize the full value of your investment.Location problems can be specific to a house but can also be regional. We’ve probably all visited ghost towns in the West that were once bustling outposts but are now just a scattering of foundation stones. Or perhaps you’ve heard about mansions in Detroit selling for $1,000. It’s very difficult to realize value on your home improvement investments when the entire region is going through an economic depression. Conversely, there are some markets in which those grim payback numbers look much better than the national averages. Building Details for a Deep-Energy Retrofit
Residential solar slow to catch onBluegrass Solar is about eight months old, and if the city of Benham has embraced solar energy with its planned municipal system, Sexton is still trying to get his residential business up to its full potential.“We started trying to focus on residential,” he said, “and we’ve had a lot of interest but not a lot of execution.”Bluegrass joined forces with a partner, Star Solar, and began offering leases and financing and now the company’s focus is on municipal installations. Its alliance with Star Solar has allowed the company to begin offering leasing, financing, and partnership agreements.“That should make it easier for homeowners to get on board,” he said. RELATED ARTICLES A Cloudy Future for CoalCoal Production Hits 35-Year LowWill Taxpayers Get Stuck With Coal’s Cleanup Tab?Can Solar Solve the Coal Problem?‘Clean Coal’ Plant Looks More Like a Boondoggle Sexton told GBA that the project may have raised a few eyebrows in town, but has generally been accepted by city residents.“Everybody sort of smiles and has a little laugh about it,” he told GBA. “But we’ve not been greeted with any animosity or anything. They just get a chuckle out of it. It’s a pretty good headline.”Even though the region has a long history of coal mining, the industry is not as powerful as it once was, Sexton said.“We’re just now kind of getting over that grief and starting to let go,” he said. “It’s certainly still in the roots and everything.”Even in its heyday, he added, coal mined in the area was mostly used in steel production, not coal-burning power plants. “We’re pretty big on metallurgical coal,” he said. “We weren’t really an energy producer anyway.” The exhibits inside are all about the glory days of coal, but it will be the solar panels on the roof that knock as much as $10,000 off the power bills for the Kentucky Coal Mining Museum.Housed in a former International Harvester commissary, the museum features exhibits detailing the history of coal mining in the city of Benham and surrounding parts of Harlan County, a bastion of mining in eastern Kentucky. The museum, which opened in 1994, is owned by Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College.The 60 kW solar array now being installed on the museum’s roof by Bluegrass Solar is part of a 250 kW system that will serve Benham’s municipal power grid. Bluegrass owner Tre Sexton said the project is being underwritten by “assorted philanthropic sources.” The 80-panel array is roughly half complete, Sexton told GBA, and could be wrapped up in another week or so.At a time when renewable energy advocates are squaring off against a president who has pledged to “put our miners back to work,” seeing solar come to the rescue of a coal museum is rich with irony. But money is money, and the college estimates energy bills now average about $2,100 a month, according to USA Today.
Video clips of policemen dragging and assaulting a 15-year-old boy and his father, a tempo driver, in broad daylight in north-west Delhi’s Mukherjee Nagar drew the ire of the Delhi High Court, which described them as evidence of “police brutality”.“Why was the boy dragged along the street in broad daylight,” asked a Bench of Justices Jayant Nath and Najmi Waziri after watching video footage of the Sunday incident, which has since snowballed into a political issue.“How can you [Delhi police counsel] standing for the State justify the action of the five police officers who ran after a 15-year-old boy who had been trying to take his father away,” the Bench asked.“If this is not evidence of police brutality then what more do you need? This is a case of extensive disquiet in society. How can any uniformed force do this? This would scare the citizens,” the Bench added. Independent report The court also called for an independent report on the incident from an officer of the rank of Joint Commissioner of Police within a week.The Delhi police’s counsel submitted that cross FIRs have been lodged on the complaints of the two sides and the case transferred to the Crime Branch for a detailed investigation. The counsel further said that three officers involved in the incident have been suspended. To this, the Bench said, “There are eight to nine police personnel who can be clearly seen [in the videos]… Identify the five officers who dragged the boy along the street, all the while pelting him with sticks, and those who assaulted the father.”The High Court also issued notices to the police, the Centre and the city government on a petition filed in public interest seeking a CBI probe into the incident. It posted the matter for further hearing on July 2.One of the petitioners, advocate Seema Singhal, has sought framing of appropriate guidelines for police reforms to prevent such “violent acts of police brutality and excessive force”.“A service gun was pointed towards the minor boy by these policemen threatening him with dire consequences,” her petition stated, adding that “the atrocities committed by the police amount to violation of Section 4 of the Model Code of Conduct for the police”.
NDRF rescues people in Vadodara following flash floods due to heavy rainfall NDRF rescues people in Vadodara following flash floods due to heavy rainfallVolume 90%Press shift question mark to access a list of keyboard shortcutsKeyboard ShortcutsPlay/PauseSPACEIncrease Volume↑Decrease Volume↓Seek Forward→Seek Backward←Captions On/OffcFullscreen/Exit FullscreenfMute/UnmutemSeek %0-9Live00:0001:4101:41 Incessant rainfall has caused the death of four people in a wall collapse in Vadodara, besides causing floods and affecting life in the city. Nearly 5,000 people from over two dozen low-lying areas were shifted by the NDRF (National Disaster Response Force). Most of the roads were completely inundated.The government has deployed nine teams of the NDRF, besides the Army and the State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) to evacuate people from areas along the Vishwamitri river that is flowing to the danger level mark. According to the State Emergency Operation Center (SEOC), a total of five NDRF and four SDRF teams have been involved in rescue operations in addition to two columns of the Army and as many companies of the State Reserve Police (SRP).Additionally, district police and teams of fire brigade of Vadodara and Surat Municipal Corporations have been deployed for a major rescue operation in the city which had seen an extremely heavy downpour of 499 mm on Wednesday.The district authorities ordered the closure of all schools and colleges on Friday. The operations at the city airport were shut on Thursday.Waterlogging of tracksFlooding has disrupted traffic movement as the authorities shut down all eight bridges in the city. The Western Railway has cancelled over a dozen trains due to waterlogging of tracks.“Five teams of the NDRF have been airlifted from Pune to join the evacuation works in Vadodara. CM has deputed a team of senior bureaucrats from Gandhinagar to oversee rescue and relief works,” a Gujarat government release stated.More than one lakh food packets were distributed by the NDRF and police in localities submerged in knee-deep waters.According to Vadodara Collector Shalini Agrawal, water was not receding because of the opening of sluice gates of the Ajwa dam and inflow of more water due to rains in the catchment area of the Vishwamitri.Floodwaters have entered the Sayajibaug zoo and government-run SSG hospital, besides local markets.On Thursday evening, the State energy division restored power in some of the areas where supply was stopped after four dozen feeders were submerged. “We have restored power in some areas but still several areas are in dark,” a government official said.“Four labourers were killed in a wall collapse due to heavy rain in Chhani area of Vadodara,” Chief Minister Vijay Rupani said after holding a review meeting in capital Gandhinagar.