Data & Analysis

AirAsia Claims Top Spot In Annual Airline Rankings


airasia logoAirAsia achieved the highest score in Aviation Week’s latest Top-Performing Airlines (TPA) study, underlining the dominance of smaller and niche carriers in this year’s rankings.

Of the top 10 carriers overall, only one – Singapore Airlines in ninth position – comes from the category of airlines with annual revenues greater than $6 billion. Three are from the mid-size tier with revenues between $2 billion and $6 billion, and six have revenues of less than $2 billion. In every region, the smaller airlines are upstaging the giants.

Scores were generally down in this year’s study, with only 15 of the 71 ranked airlines achieving a year-on-year improvement. This was particularly evident in the large airline category, where just one of the 21 carriers – All Nippon Airways – registered a score increase.

Financial and operational data were analyzed to rate airlines in five different performance categories, from which the total score was derived. Wherever possible, data from the latest full fiscal year were used. Only publicly-traded airlines are included in the TPA study, which rules out the large Gulf carriers.

A common scoring system allows airlines to be categorized by size or region. Singapore Airlines (SIA), with 70 points, was the top-scorer in the large category for the seventh time in eight years. Ryanair was the leading airline in the mid-size tier with 78 points, and AirAsia was the best in the small segment as well as the top-scorer overall with 81.

The Asia-Pacific region saw the greatest contrast in fortunes between the majors and the smaller carriers. While it was the strongest large airline, SIA’s score plummeted by 23.8 points compared to the previous year’s study. Cathay Pacific has also traditionally been one of the best performers, but it declined by 20.4 points and fell to seventh in the large segment.

Remarkably, Malaysia accounted for both the overall top-scoring carrier, AirAsia, and the lowest-scoring, Malaysia Airlines. Garuda Indonesia was the biggest improver amongst all airlines, as its expansion plan gathers momentum.

Copa was the highest-ranked of the Latin American airlines by a wide margin. In Europe, Ryanair was first, 18 points above the best of the major carriers, Lufthansa.

The dominance of the smaller carriers was again evident in North America. Allegiant was highest-rated in the region, followed by WestJet, Alaska Airlines, and Spirit Airlines. Southwest was sixth in North America, and United was the best of the U.S. legacies at ninth.

The top 10 scores overall were: AirAsia, 81; Air Arabia, 78; Ryanair; 78; Hainan Airlines, 77; Allegiant Air, 77; TransAsia Airways, 72; Vueling Airlines, 72; Copa Airlines, 71; Singapore Airlines, 70; and WestJet Airlines, 69. The highest possible score is 99.


Source: Adrian Schofield, Aviation Week


Source Date: July 2, 2012

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Warhead Elimination: A Roadmap

nuclear missile
ANNAPOLIS, USA (IDN) - A nuclear ban (abolition) treaty, often called a Nuclear Weapons Convention, will need to include a timetable for phased reductions of warheads until a final day when states simultaneously reach zero. The following is a plan for warhead elimination, with the aim of acceptability to today's nuclear weapon states – and framed on the reality that the USA and Russia have far more nuclear warheads than the other possessors (Britain, France, China, Israel, India, Pakistan, North Korea).

Duration of the nuclear ban warhead elimination period is proposed to be either three or four years, depending on the higher number of either Russian or U.S. nuclear warheads remaining when the worldwide, unanimously joined nuclear ban treaty enters into force. If that quantity is less than 5,000, the elimination period would be 3 years, and 4 years if over 5,000. (The USA, reportedly, is approximately at 5,000 already.)

"Warheads" in this discussion includes strategic and sub-strategic or "tactical," deployed and those in reserve, and those already slated for dismantling. Assuming for illustration that Russia has 4,500 total warheads and the USA 4,000 when a nuclear ban enters into force, meaning a three-year elimination period (because neither has more than 5,000), Russia would have to decrease to the USA level of 4,000 before the USA begins reducing – or vice versa if quantities were reversed.

From the date Russia (in this example) has decreased to the USA level and the USA then joins with Russia in parallel further reductions, the other nuclear weapon states commence a 90-day period of dismantling 25 percent of their warheads; but thereafter the latter states can "wait" until Russia and the USA, reducing in tandem and following the elimination timetable, reduce to the other states' varying [25 percent-reduced] levels, at which successive points those states join the USA and Russia in the final phases, on a month-by-month and then week-by-week basis, of the progress to zero.

It may be noted – and objected – that in anticipation of the 25 percent required decrease, pertinent states could counteract this by increasing their arsenals, i.e., before (impending) nuclear ban entry into force. However, even if some states did so, which would be liable to world criticism with a nuclear ban on the immediate horizon, under the enacted ban such a state must promptly and transparently eliminate 25 percent of its arsenal – which in any case would be much smaller than those of Russia and the USA. It would not be fair, though, to the USA and Russia to instead exempt, until U.S./Russian warhead levels are all the way down to those of the other nuclear weapon states, the latter states from the transparency, cooperation, and good-faith demonstrations attendant upon prompt (90-day) and internationally-monitored dismantling of a significant percentage (such as 25) of a state’s nuclear arsenal.

Russia and the USA, for their part, would be dismantling from their starting points many more warheads than the other nuclear weapon states; but due to arsenal size the USA and Russia would still, as today, be possessors of a large (though diminishing) majority of the world's nuclear weapons through most of the weapons elimination period. Nearing the end, however, such as final six or nine months, the USA and Russia together would reach the varying levels of the other nuclear weapons states, and as noted be (re)joined by them in further reductions as the elimination timetable fixes ever-lower permissible ceilings on warhead possession.

To summarize: proposed duration of the weapons elimination period is 3 or 4 years, depending on whether the USA or Russia has over 5,000 total warheads (including inactive and those already slated for dismantling). Of the two countries, the greater-possessor undertakes reductions in accordance with the 3-4 year nuclear ban timetable, and is joined by the other when initial reductions by the former bring the two countries even. From that day also, the other nuclear weapon states must within 90 days eliminate 25 percent of their warheads. Thereafter, though, those states are not required to reduce further until Russia and the USA, following the treaty's timetable, reduce to the other states' varying but much lower levels, whereupon the latter states join the final phases of warhead elimination – on month-by-month and then week-by-week basis – leading to day of total elimination.

The above schema would please the USA and Russia, on the one hand, because of the 25 percent, transparent warhead reduction over just 90 days by the other nuclear weapon states (whose arsenals in any case are much smaller than U.S.-Russian). On the other hand, it would please the other (currently seven) nuclear weapon states because ultimately, over the final and thus most-important six or nine months of weapons elimination, the USA and Russia would reduce to the other states’ varying lower levels before the latter states must rejoin the warhead elimination process in final reductions to zero.

"Mass-De-Alerted" Warheads During Elimination Period?

On a critical issue of warhead elimination, it is here recommended that today's nuclear weapon states not be prohibited by the treaty from maintaining their remaining, diminishing warheads as "active" during the elimination period – with the alternative being to require their overall, mass inactivation or extreme de-alerting at some early or middle phase of the elimination period (here posited as 3-4 years). The reason is because today’s nuclear weapon states probably would prefer, and may insist upon, having a "ready arsenal" (although shrinking) as a hedge against a conceived nuclear ban "break-out" – until all weapons are eliminated and the nuclear weapons-free world is a reality, underlain by the unprecedented geopolitical and other force of a unanimously joined treaty that regards states equally and relieves all of today's nuclear threats. (With that said, countries such as the USA and Russia or others could certainly choose to negotiate and establish de-alerting measures beyond present ones – but outside of nuclear ban auspices.)

Report on Warhead Movement?

After nuclear ban baseline accountancy and recordation of nuclear warheads, conducted by the nuclear ban Technical Secretariat (inspectorate), states also – on the viewpoint here – would not be required to maintain remaining [diminishing] warheads in the "same place(s)," nor to report movement of warheads – until each state's necessary consolidation of its final several or so warheads in the final few days or day of weapons elimination. Why? Because a state with a relatively small nuclear arsenal, if instead required by treaty to keep its weapons in a "declared" location or locations during the period of warhead elimination, could be afraid of being an easy target for liquidation of its (small) nuclear arsenal by another state's military resources.

Of course, all dismantling of warheads under the nuclear ban timetable would be conducted under full monitoring of the nuclear ban regime, resulting in ongoing and public accountancy of exact quantities and respective owners of the world’s shrinking number of nuclear warheads. To emphasize, though: as incentive for today's nuclear weapon states to actually join the nuclear ban, it is here recommended as not having a requirement for states to reveal location(s) of still-extant warheads during the progress to zero of the warhead elimination period.

Deterrents to Treaty Violation

What, then, would prevent a state from attempting to hide some warheads and not initially declare and then eliminate them as required by treaty elimination timetable – or, for that matter, to attempt secret development of nuclear weapons after their worldwide elimination under a fully enacted nuclear ban treaty?

Response: the unprecedented geopolitical, legal, psychological, and moral force of unanimous accession by states to the treaty (Nuclear Weapons Convention) before it takes effect; the absence of assured or easy success in cheating due to the worldwide verification regime, plus presumable workings of "societal verification" with a worldwide treaty; the treaty's equal applicability and thus fairness to states (removing any putative, psychological "justification" for treaty violation); the treaty's main benefit to states (removal of current nuclear weapons-related threats, including possible terrorist acquisition from a state’s arsenal); and the certitude of worldwide opposition to a pernicious violator of the worldwide treaty.


Source: IDN - Indepth News

Author: Frederick N. Mattis, author of “Banning Weapons of Mass Destruction”


Source Date: June 9, 2012

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IEA sets out the "Golden Rules" needed to usher in a Golden Age of Gas

Taken From Original Press Release, WEO-2012 special report "Golden Rules for a Golden Age of Gas" © OECD/IEA, 2012


Exploiting the world’s vast resources of unconventional natural gas holds the key to a golden age of gas, but for that to happen governments, industry and other stakeholders must work together to address legitimate public concerns about the associated environmental and social impacts. A special World Energy Outlook report on unconventional gas, Golden Rules for a Golden Age of Gas, released today in London by the International Energy Agency, presents a set of “Golden Rules” to meet those concerns.

“The technology and the know-how already exist for unconventional gas to be produced in an environmentally acceptable way,” said IEA Executive Director Maria van der Hoeven. “But if the social and environmental impacts are not addressed properly, there is a very real possibility that public opposition to drilling for shale gas and other types of unconventional gas will halt the unconventional gas revolution in its tracks. The industry must win public confidence by demonstrating exemplary performance; governments must ensure that appropriate policies and regulatory regimes are in place.”

The Golden Rules underline the importance of full transparency, measuring and monitoring of environmental impacts and engagement with local communities; careful choice of drilling sites and measures to prevent any leaks from wells into nearby aquifers; rigorous assessment and monitoring of water requirements and of waste water; measures to target zero venting and minimal flaring of gas; and improved project planning and regulatory control.

At their recent Camp David summit, G8 leaders welcomed and agreed to review this IEA work on potential best practices for natural gas development. “To build on the Golden Rules, we are establishing a high-level platform so that governments can share insights on the policy and regulatory action that can accompany an expansion in unconventional gas production, shale gas in particular,” said Maria van der Hoeven. “This platform will be open to IEA members and non-members alike”.

“If this new industry is to prosper, it needs to earn and maintain its social license to operate,” said IEA Chief Economist Fatih Birol, the report’s chief author. “This comes with a financial cost, but in our estimation the additional costs are likely to be limited.” Applying the Golden Rules could increase the cost of a typical shale-gas well by around 7%, but, for a larger development project with multiple wells, investment in measures to reduce environmental impacts may in many cases be offset by lower operating costs.

The report argues that there is a critical link between the way governments and industry respond to these social and environmental challenges and the prospects for unconventional gas production. Accordingly, the report sets out two possible future trajectories for unconventional gas:

In a Golden Rules Case, the application of these rules helps to underpin a brisk expansion of unconventional gas supply, which has far-reaching consequences:

  • World production of unconventional gas, primarily shale gas, more than triples between 2010 and 2035 to 1.6 trillion cubic metres.

  • The United States becomes a significant player in international gas markets, and China emerges as a major producer.

  • New sources of supply help to keep prices down, stimulate investment and job creation in unconventional resource-rich countries, and generate faster growth in global gas demand, which rises by more than 50% between 2010 and 2035.


By contrast, in a Low Unconventional Case where no Golden Rules are in place, a lack of public acceptance means that unconventional gas production rises only slightly above current levels by 2035. Among the results:

  • The competitive position of gas in the global fuel mix deteriorates amidst lower availability and higher prices, and the share of gas in energy use barely increases.

  • Energy-related CO2 emissions are higher by 1.3% compared with the Golden Rules Case but, in both cases, emissions are well above the trajectory required to reach the globally agreed goal of limiting the temperature rise to 2°C.



Source: International Energy Agency (© 2012 OECD/IEA)




Source Date: May 29, 2012


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