It is 100 years since World War One.

One means of commemoration is the opening of a  550-kilometre (323 mile) trans-national walkway through 6 European countries. The EPW will start in Vienna, the walk moves into Bratislava.  It then proceeds along the Danube into Hungary, then Croatia and into  Slovenia‘s famous wine region before heading downhill to end at the Mediterranean Sea at Trieste, Italy.

On the morning of Monday 28th of July 2014, a group of 50 walkers will set about walking the full trail.   it will take them 23 days to arrive in Trieste in Italy.   Every day for 2 weeks, 50 new PeaceWalkers will leave Vienna for the walk. This year’s walking season will end on 1th August 2014. 

It will then be open to more people  in 2015 and organisers are expecting 30,000 people will walk it annually. The EPW will be free to hike. A mixture of  budget accommodations, campsites and hotels will be available across the entire length of the walk.

In this time of tensions, it seems like the concept of peace is as elusive as it was a century ago.
EPW_Route_Final

Connect with EPW at peacewalk.eu/ on Facebook or  Twitter

What a weird week.

I have just heard of the reports that Air Algerie flight ‪#‎AH5017 with 116 people onboard has crashed in Niger.

The aircraft reportedly lost contact 50 minutes after take-off and is likely to be carrying many French passengers.

The MD83 was  flying  from Ouagadougou,Burkina Faso, to AlgiersAlgeria and was operated by SwiftairS A . Swiftair is a Spanish airline which operates scheduled and charter, passenger and cargo flights in Europe, North Africa and the Middle East. 

This adds to a horror week in Europe with MH17, Asia with TransAsia 222 and now Africa. More people have died in plane crashes this week than died in the whole of 2013 (265 deaths).

rt.com

rt.com

Not a good week for air travel.

It has been reported that up to 51 people have died  and seven injured when TransAsia Airways GE222 made an emergency landing in post-typhoon weather conditions, ploughing into two homes in the village of Xixi, not far from Magong Airport on Penghu Island.

The twin-engine turboprop ATR 72 was en-route from from Kaohsiung, a city in the south of Tawain to Penghu, an island archipelago off the western coast of Taiwan. There was heavy rain at the airport, the remnants of Typhoon Matmo which had earlier hit the island nation.

There were 54 passengers and four crew members on board. Apparently, the pilot abandoned the first landing and performed a go around. The crash occurred on the second landing.

TransAsia is a privately owned airline based in Taipei, the capital of Taiwan. It has 33 destinations in Tawian Southeast and Northeast Asia. This is apparently their eighth incident in the last 12 years of flying. According to Skytrax, TransAsia Airways is not a Star ranked airline. Its customers give it six out of ten. The airline has ten ATRs.

I have wanted to go to Penghu for some time. From all accounts, it is a beautiful place. Today, it is marred by tragedy. As a regular traveller to Asia and as someone who has many Taiwanese friends, I am quite touched. My thoughts to all on board, their families and loved ones.

 

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For those of who have been to Dubai, you will have seen the gleaming towers, spotless streets, stunning shopping malls and clean hotels. Behind all of this are an  estimated 7.8 million immigrant workers- 75 percent of whom are from India, Bangladesh and Pakistan. There has been significant criticism of the working conditions of these workers.

Migrant Workers in Dubai

Migrant Workers in Dubai

A charity that works with these workers is Smartlife Foundation, has a mission to “uplift the non privileged members of our community“. I  was taken by a video of the people they work with dancing to Pharrell ‘s – Happy. It really humanises the people who live “behind the scenes” in that country.

 

In a film  that debuted in Dubai’s International Film Festival in December 2013,  directed by Lebanese born Mahmoud KaabourChamp of the Camp  new documentary seeks to everyday camp life is portrayed. The documentary looks at the singing competitions that take place in the labor camps which are organised by workers in the camp to express themselves. The competition now has 7,000 people participating.

These films give a very different view of the gleaming towers of Dubai.

For more information and ways you can help: Adopt a camp Charity  and Smartlife Foundation.
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The Farnborugh airshow is held in mid-July in even-numbered years at Farnborough AirportEngland. The airport is 35 kilometres (22 miles) from Londom.

This year’s show celebrated 100 years of commercial Aviation.

One impressive display was the 787-9, shown here practising for its routine:

The other show stopper was the acrobatic antics of the 380. In this vidoe, you can catch a glimpse of the new A350 taking off at five minutes 45seconds just before the A380 lands at six minutes 12 seconds

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P

Malaysia Airlines has revised its passengers list after verifying a further 21 of the 41 passengers whose nationality could not initially be verified.

These passengers were previously unidentified as they were in transit, and had not entered passport control in Amsterdam.
The new breakdown on passengers is:

 

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Malaysia Airlines have announced that they are waiving all fees for changes to travel from today until further notice to all MH destinations.

Apparently spooked by the second incident involving a Malaysia Airlines jet in four months, customers are calling travel agents to cancel bookings with the carrier. As I said, earlier today, the airline is already struggling financially. Further cancellations will really put pressure on the carrier and accelerate the need to re-structure the carrier.

All MH flights are operating as per normal schedule.

 

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I was very moved by a post today by Ben Schlappig (aka Lucky) over at One Mile at a Time. He spoke to a guy in a queue at Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport. The guy was flying on MH 17 which came down whilst flying over the Ukraine.

Its a very powerful post.

It made me reflect how close we come sometimes to the edge of life? How many contacts do we have with people who we never know their futures?  I was releived to get a text back from one of my friends who is a cabin crew memeber of Malaysia Airlines to say he is okay. We observed this is the second time this year, he has had to reassure friends and family that he is okay.

Lets treat each other with care today. We never know whats in store.

 

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Malaysia Airlines have released the nationalities of the passengers aboard MH 17, the plane lost over the Ukraine on July 17:

  • Australia: 27
  • Belgium: 4
  • Canada: 1
  • Germany: 4
  • Indonesia: 12 (including 1 infant)
  • Malaysia:  43 (including 15 crew & 2 infants)
  • Netherlands: 154
  • Philippines: 3
  • United Kingdom:       9
  • Unverified: 41

The company is currently notifying the next-of-kin of the passengers and crew.

Families of passengers and crew contact:  +603 7884 1234 (Malaysia) or +31 7 0348 7770(Netherlands).

For media queries contact: +603 8777 5698/ +603 8787 1276.

The airline is providing regular updates at: www.malaysiaairlines.com

 

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NB: As with all my posts, thsi is written in my private capacity and does not represent my employer.

 

Shocked to see that a passenger plane has allegedly been shot down. Air traffic controllers lost contact with Malaysia Airlines flight 17 at 1415 GMT ) as it flew over eastern Ukraine towards the Russian border.

The Ukrainian Interior Ministry advisor Anton Herashchenko has claimed that Malaysia Airlines MH17 was allegedly shot down from its 10,000 metres (33,000 ft) height cruise altitude. 

MH17 was en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur. The Boeing 777-200 had 283 passengers (early reports said 282) and 15 crew members. Amsterdam airport CEO says the flight  had  154 Dutch, 27 Australians, 23 Malaysians and six Britons on board. 

mh17 flightpath

/flightaware.com/

 

The Washington Post has a series of pictures of the crash. NB Rather disturbing images.

Tragic situation. And the second tragedy to hit Malaysia Airlines this year after losing MH370.The airline,  which I enjoy flying, is struggling with the financial impact of the earlier loss which compounded its delicate financial situation. It is  weird that MH 17 was lost on 17 July. Strange coincidence which will have conspiracy searchers frothing at the mouth to link to something.

My deepest sympathies to all who have lost loved ones in this situation.

Air France and Lufthansa , British Airways,  Turkish Airlines and Transaero — have both announced they will be avoiding Ukrainian air space, while Virgin said it would reroute some flights. Malaysia Airlines will now also be taking alternative routes avoiding the usual route.

This situation is always something that is bothered me as I have watched the moving maps aboard my planes. How close am I to potential or actual conflict zones? How safe am I as a passenger? Considering how many planes are up in the sky at any one time, the chances of this situation are so remote.  Tragically for 298 people that remoteness vanished today. RIP

MAS’ emergency hotline is +31 70 3487770.

 

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If you are planning on carrying your mobile, laptop or ipad onto a plane to the USA or UK, make sure it is charged.

www.abc.net.au

www.abc.net.au

Under new rules released last week by the US Transport Security Administration (TSA), passengers travelling from Europe, the Middle East and Africa to the US must be able to turn on their electronics at security in order to prove they are the genuine article and not some kind of bomb. The TSA states: During the security examination, officers may also ask that owners power up some devices, including cell phones. Powerless devices will not be permitted onboard the aircraft. The traveler may also undergo additional screening.

The rule was extended to all air passengers flying into or out of British airports last week. There seemed to be some confusion at some airports but the bottom line seems to be, make sure your electronics work when boarding a plane.

The increased security comes after reports that two terror networks are working together on a bomb that could evade existing measures.

phone

I am always running out of juice, so this one is going to be as important to get right as the “no liquids” rules. Some tips to help:

  1. Charge the phone as long as you can at home or office before going to the airport
  2. Every power outlet I see, I use to charge devices
  3. I have learnt not to be too proud to ask shops, cafes and hotels if I can charge my computer, phone or ipad
  4. As soon as a phone approaches 20% battery, switch it off to preserve power
  5. Keep phone in power-saving mode – turn down brightness, switch off 4G, switch off all notifications, bluetooth and GPS
  6. Carry a fully charged mobile charging device
  7. Have a charger/adapter for international destinations
  8. Don’t watch videos, scan lots of photos or take multiple lots of pictures
  9. Remember that even after you have boarded the plane to conserve power. If you have to connect to another flight or if you have to change aircraft for some reason, you want battery left!

 

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