Placeholder Content Image

Horrifying moment wheel falls off plane during take-off

<p>Video footage has captured the horrifying moment a wheel fell off a United Airlines Boeing plane just moments after take off on Monday morning. </p> <p>The video captured by RadarBox shows the tire coming loose from the aircraft's undercarriage and plummeting to the ground seconds after take off. </p> <p>The airline confirmed that a wheel fell off the plane as the flight departed Los Angeles International airport en route to Denver, but it safely touched down around three hours later. </p> <p>None of the 174 passengers or seven crew members on board were injured. </p> <div class="embed" style="box-sizing: inherit; margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-size: 16px; vertical-align: baseline; outline: none !important;"><iframe class="embedly-embed" style="box-sizing: inherit; margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border-width: 0px; border-style: initial; vertical-align: baseline; width: 573px; max-width: 100%; outline: none !important;" title="tiktok embed" src="https://cdn.embedly.com/widgets/media.html?src=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.tiktok.com%2Fembed%2Fv2%2F7389507936625691920&display_name=tiktok&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.tiktok.com%2F%40theprojecttv%2Fvideo%2F7389507936625691920%3Fq%3Dboeing%2520wheel%26t%3D1720568253683&image=https%3A%2F%2Fp16-sign-sg.tiktokcdn.com%2Fobj%2Ftos-alisg-p-0037%2FoEEROKIMm2EpV6DrBgf3FeAUB4EjlBg0BMjmzE%3Flk3s%3Db59d6b55%26nonce%3D85756%26refresh_token%3D9848a1a77a4d011f7ceeb76a41229609%26x-expires%3D1720738800%26x-signature%3DKRkuV5%252BXkjrhdVj9cxtL5oLH5ow%253D%26shp%3Db59d6b55%26shcp%3D-&key=5b465a7e134d4f09b4e6901220de11f0&type=text%2Fhtml&schema=tiktok" width="340" height="700" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></div> <p>  </p> <p> </p> <p>A United spokesperson said that the wheel has been found in Los Angeles and they are investigating the cause. </p> <p>“The wheel has been recovered in Los Angeles, and we are investigating what caused this event,” the statement read. </p> <p>It is not known whether it caused any damage on the ground. </p> <p>The incident comes just four months after a Japan-bound Boeing airlines carrying 249 passengers also lost a wheel not long after take off in San Francisco. </p> <p>The flight, that took place in March. was diverted to LAX where it landed safely. The wheel reportedly damaged some vehicles in an airport parking lot. </p> <p><em>Images: CaliPlanes/ Youtube</em></p> <p> </p>

Travel Trouble

Placeholder Content Image

Emirates takes cheeky swipe at other airlines in new safety video

<p dir="ltr">Emirates have taken a cheeky swipe at Qantas, Air New Zealand and British Airways with their new “no nonsense” in-flight safety video. </p> <p dir="ltr">The Dubai-based airline took a different approach to other major airlines, saying they chose not to include dancers and singers for its in-flight entertainment because they “take your safety seriously”.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Hello and welcome on board your Emirates flight today,” a flight attendant says at the start of the four minute video.</p> <p dir="ltr">“This is your no-nonsense safety video. We do not have dancers breaking into song, characters from movies, or celebrities trying to be funny I’m afraid.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Another cabin crew member then chips in, “But at Emirates, safety always comes first. So it’s important that we take you through some safety features before takeoff. And then you can all get back to our award-winning entertainment system.”</p> <p><iframe title="YouTube video player" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/MCW5kH1G_1Y?si=IgvSjvOEa-n_f01v" width="560" height="315" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></p> <p dir="ltr">The decision to stick to the basics for such an important video has been praised online, with many comparing the video to others by competing airlines. </p> <p dir="ltr">“Excellent video. No fuss, no faff, just informative and not distracting. These videos are about safety first and foremost, not entertainment,” wrote one fan.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Emirates got it right. This is THE safety video, simple and comprehensive which it should be,” agreed another.</p> <p dir="ltr">“This video is sending a message to other airlines,” stated a third.</p> <p dir="ltr">Emirates has gone in the opposite direction to its Aussie partner <a href="https://oversixty.com.au/travel/travel-trouble/disappointing-new-inflight-qantas-video-slammed-for-missing-the-mark">Qantas</a>, as a safety video from the Flying Kangaroo went viral earlier this year for all the wrong reasons. </p> <p dir="ltr">The video was widely panned for being “elitist” and “sexist”, while skimming over vital safety information, as one person on social media wrote, “I’d prefer just focus on, oh I dunno, in flight safety during the in-flight safety video? “Why do we need a long video with all this added stuff?”</p> <p dir="ltr">The video, which replaced an earlier retro video released in 2020 that marked the airline’s 100th birthday, features frequent flyers and Qantas staff delivering the pre-flight safety announcement from their favourite “magic places” around the world. </p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image credits: Emirates</em></p>

International Travel

Placeholder Content Image

World's best airline for 2024 revealed

<p>The world's best airline has been revealed for 2024, with the winning airline being voted above the rest for quality, customer service and overall flying experience. </p> <p>Qatar Airways, the Doha-based airline, reclaimed the title in the annual Skytrax’s World Airline Awards dubbed “the Oscars of the aviation industry”, returning to the top for an unprecedented eighth time.</p> <p>The 2023 winner, Singapore Airlines, fell back a spot to second place, while Emirates came third.</p> <p>Coming in next on the list was  ANA All Nippon Airways, Cathay Pacific Airways, Japan Airlines, Turkish Airlines, EVA Air, Air France and Swiss International Air Lines in 10th spot.</p> <p>Qatar also took home three other awards: World’s Best Business Class, World’s Best Business Class Airline Lounge and Best Airline in the Middle East.</p> <p>It’s also become the first aviation group to win Best Airline, Best Airport and Best Airport Shopping, in the same year in Skytrax history.</p> <p>“This is a proud moment for Qatar Airways. I am honoured to share this award with my dedicated team,” Qatar Airways group chief executive officer, Badr Mohammed Al-Meer, said at the Skytrax event in London on Monday.</p> <p>“This award is a testimony to our relentless commitment to providing unparalleled service and innovation. We look forward to continuing to serve our customers with the highest level of excellence.”</p> <p>The Skytrax awards are based on the votes of travellers across over 100 nationalities, with any airline in the world eligible to be nominated.</p> <p>In terms of Aussie airlines, Qantas plummeted seven spots to be ranked 24 this year, while Virgin Australia fell from 46 to 54 and Jetstar from 69 to 75. </p> <p>However, Australian regional airline REX climbed from spot 56 to 50.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock </em></p>

International Travel

Placeholder Content Image

Singapore Airlines offers huge compensation to turbulence victims

<p>Singapore Airlines has offered compensation to passengers who were on board the SQ321 flight, that encountered deadly turbulence last month. </p> <p>One man died of a heart attack and a dozen others were <a href="https://www.oversixty.com.au/travel/travel-trouble/victim-identified-after-plane-hits-deadly-turbulence" target="_blank" rel="noopener">injured </a>when the flight from London to Singapore experienced sudden and extreme turbulence while flying over Myanmar. </p> <p>The flight carrying 211 passengers and 18 crew members diverted to Bangkok for an emergency landing, where the injured were treated, with some suffering spinal, brain and skull injuries. </p> <p>In a recent statement, the airline said that they will offer anyone injured on the flight from US$10,000 (AU $15,150) in compensation. </p> <p>"For passengers who sustained minor injuries from the incident, we have offered US$10,000 [$15,150] in compensation," they said. </p> <p>"For those who sustained more serious injuries from the incident, we have invited them to discuss a compensation offer."</p> <p>The airline said they sent out the compensation offers on June 10. </p> <p>"Passengers medically assessed as having sustained serious injuries, requiring long-term medical care, and requesting financial assistance are offered an advance payment of US$25,000 to address their immediate needs,"  the compensation offer read. </p> <p>They will also provide full refunds of the air fare to all passengers who were on flight SQ321, regardless of their injuries. </p> <p>All passengers were also provided AU$1,120 for their expenses in Bangkok. </p> <p>"SIA has also been covering the medical expenses of the injured passengers, and arranged for their family members and loved ones to fly up to Bangkok where requested," the airline said. </p> <p>Under international regulations, airlines must offer compensation when passengers are injured or die on a plane. </p> <p>Director of Carter Capner Law, Peter Carter, who is representing passengers on the flight, said all passengers should seek legal advice before signing anything with the airline. </p> <p>"I doubt there is anyone on the aircraft who did not suffer an injury one way or the other. The insurer should clarify that the $10,000 offer covers all passengers including those who endured the terror of the moment but were fortunate to escape physical injury," he told <em>ABC News</em>. </p> <p>"Those with any sort of injury should exercise extreme care and should be evaluated by their own medical specialists to determine how this accident might still affect them."</p> <p><em>Image: Andrew Davies/X</em></p>

Travel Trouble

Placeholder Content Image

Pilot reveals area with worst turbulence

<p>Pilot and former <em>Bachelor Australia</em> star Jimmy Nicholson has revealed which area in the world has the worst turbulence in a viral video. </p> <p>Nicholson, who has over five years of experience, took to TikTok to explain the areas where pilots can expect the worst turbulence and how he believes that the recent Singapore Airlines <a href="https://www.oversixty.co.nz/travel/travel-trouble/victim-identified-after-plane-hits-deadly-turbulence" target="_blank" rel="noopener">horror flight</a> did not actually experience a "sudden drop". </p> <p>In the clip, he explained that pilots can expect the worst turbulence around the equator in what is called the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ). </p> <p>“This is where the winds with the northern hemisphere often converge with the winds of the southern hemisphere often causing bad weather and turbulence,” he said. </p> <p>He added that the ITCZ changes throughout the year, with it affecting different areas between January and July. </p> <p>“As you can see here, this is the approximate location of the convergence zone on the 21st of May,” he explained using a graph that showed an area that was “the exact area of where the [Singapore Airlines] incident happened." </p> <p>“As you can see from flightradar, the flight was tracking from Singapore to London and then made a left turn and ended up diverting into Bangkok," he added. </p> <div class="embed" style="box-sizing: inherit; margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-size: 16px; vertical-align: baseline; color: #323338; font-family: Figtree, Roboto, 'Noto Sans Hebrew', 'Noto Kufi Arabic', 'Noto Sans JP', sans-serif; background-color: #ffffff; outline: none !important;"><iframe class="embedly-embed" style="box-sizing: inherit; margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border-width: 0px; border-style: initial; vertical-align: baseline; width: 573px; max-width: 100%; outline: none !important;" title="tiktok embed" src="https://cdn.embedly.com/widgets/media.html?src=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.tiktok.com%2Fembed%2Fv2%2F7371614320200830226&display_name=tiktok&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.tiktok.com%2F%40jimmy_nicholson%2Fvideo%2F7371614320200830226&image=https%3A%2F%2Fp16-sign-sg.tiktokcdn.com%2Fobj%2Ftos-alisg-p-0037%2FowREoIPwwA1lAs31IifkpzBASmJt4iCODZ0sBN%3Fx-expires%3D1716962400%26x-signature%3D%252BkhZRFhuPeWTiEKTMAFYLK0EcTU%253D&key=5b465a7e134d4f09b4e6901220de11f0&type=text%2Fhtml&schema=tiktok" width="340" height="700" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></div> <p>He said that the 6000 foot drop was not a "sudden" drop as a result of severe turbulence, but a controlled descent. </p> <p>“The plane descended from 37000 feet at six minutes past the hour, down to 31000 feet at 12 minutes past the hour,” he said. </p> <p>“This is not a sudden drop due to turbulence, this is a controlled descent likely because the plane needed to divert into Bangkok, or because they were descending out of the turbulence.</p> <p>“This is a very sad and very rare event,” he continued. “But it is important to remember that these things don’t happen very often." </p> <p>He added that pilots do their best to avoid turbulence, but sometimes it does happen unexpectedly. </p> <p>“This is why pilots always say on the PA when you’re seated make sure you seatbelt is fastened in case we experience an unexpected turbulence.”</p> <p><em>Image: TikTok</em></p>

Travel Tips

Placeholder Content Image

"Absolute carnage": Injured Aussie reveals turbulence horror

<p>An Aussie man who was onboard the Singapore Airlines flight that plunged <a href="https://www.oversixty.com.au/travel/travel-trouble/victim-identified-after-plane-hits-deadly-turbulence" target="_blank" rel="noopener">6000 feet</a>, leaving one dead and dozens injured, has spoken out for the first time. </p> <p>A heavily bandaged Keith Davis told <em>Today </em>that he is still in shock over what happened, and shared graphic detail of what happened straight from his hospital bed in Thailand. </p> <p>"We'd just finished a fantastic holiday in the UK and were one more flight away, nearly home - and this comes along," he said.</p> <p>The flight took off from London Heathrow on Monday night and bound for Singapore with 211 passengers on board. </p> <p>Davis and his wife were among the 56 Australian passengers when the plane was struck by severe turbulence just minutes into the beginning of the breakfast service. </p> <p>"It was absolute carnage, instantly, it was absolutely surreal and there was no warning," he recalled. </p> <p>"When you come into turbulence, there is usually some warning, but this was just a freefall and before we knew it - we were on the ceiling and then bang, we are on the ground."</p> <p>Despite looking battered and bruised, Davis said that his wounds were just superficial, and his wife had an even longer road to recovery ahead. </p> <p>"(My wife) fell into the aisle and she didn't move from then on," he said. </p> <p>"She hit the ground so hard and you know, I leant over her and said, 'hey honey, you're okay', I could see she was breathing and she could speak, but when someone hits the ground, they're going to try and get up and that wasn't happening.</p> <p>"And then I realised I was pouring blood all over her and I thought, wow, we're in a lot of serious trouble here.'</p> <p>Davis said that his wife remained conscious the whole way through, which he said was a blessing as she doesn't have a brain injury. </p> <p>"She's had a severe spinal injury and she has no sensation from her waist down," he said. </p> <p>"She's got all of her wits about her, she's strong and we just just want to get home."</p> <p>Nine Australians remain in the Bangkok hospital, and three are in the ICU with severe injuries. </p> <p>Doctors have also confirmed that a lot of those injured have got spinal issues after hitting their head and landing so hard on the ground, with several of them requiring surgery after showing signs of paralysis. </p> <p><em>Image: Today</em></p>

Travel Trouble

Placeholder Content Image

Singapore airline passenger's emotional text mid-turbulence

<p>A mum has revealed the terrifying text she received from her son while he was on board Singapore Airlines flight that <a href="https://www.oversixty.co.nz/travel/travel-trouble/victim-identified-after-plane-hits-deadly-turbulence" target="_blank" rel="noopener">plunged 6,000 feet</a> in a matter of minutes. </p> <p>As turbulence hit the plane 11 hours into its journey from London to Singapore, Josh Barker sent what he thought would be his final text to his mum at 9.10am on May 21. </p> <p>“I don’t want to scare you, but I’m on a crazy flight. The plane is making an emergency landing… I love you all," his text read. </p> <p>His mother, Alison recalled the most "terrifying" two hours of her life after receiving the text, as she waited to hear from her son who was en route to Bali. </p> <p>“It was terrifying. I didn’t know what was going on,” she told <em>BBC</em>. </p> <p>"We didn't know whether he'd survived, it was so nerve wracking. It was the longest two hours of my life.</p> <p>"It was awful; it was petrifying."</p> <p>She said that while her son was lucky to have survived the incident, he was still in “a lot of pain” having sustained minor injuries to his teeth. </p> <p>The aircraft was hit by "severe turbulence" 11 hours into the 13-hour flight to Singapore and was forced to make an emergency landing in Bangkok, Thailand. </p> <p>71 people were left injured, and one man, British grandfather Geoffrey Kitchen passed away after suffering a heart attack when the turbulence hit. </p> <p>Of the 211 passengers on board, 56 were Australians and 23 were from New Zealand. </p> <p>Singapore Airlines CEO Goh Choon Phong has issued a public apology for the incident in a video message saying that the airline is cooperating with investigations. </p> <p>"We are deeply saddened by this incident. It has resulted in one confirmed fatality, and multiple injuries," he said.</p> <p>"On behalf of Singapore Airlines, I would like to express my deepest condolences to the family and loved ones of the deceased.</p> <p>"We are very sorry for the traumatic experience that everyone on board SQ321 went through... our deepest apologies to everyone affected by this incident."</p> <p>He also said that 143 people who had been on the flight had been taken to Singapore this morning, while the remaining 85 - including six crew members - were still in the Thai capital. </p> <p>"Singapore Airlines swiftly dispatched a team to Bangkok last night, and they have been helping our colleagues with the support on the ground," he said.</p> <p>"A relief flight with 143 of the SQ321 passengers and crew members who were able to travel landed in Singapore this morning at 5.05am.</p> <p>"Another 79 passengers and six crew members are still in Bangkok.</p> <p>"This includes the injured who are receiving medical treatment, as well as their families and loved ones who were on the flight.</p> <p>"Singapore Airlines will continue to extend all possible support to them."</p> <p><em>Images: X/ news.com.au</em></p> <p> </p>

Travel Trouble

Placeholder Content Image

Victim identified after plane hits deadly turbulence

<p>One man has died and dozens have been left injured after a Singapore Airlines plane encountered deadly turbulence, and was forced to make an emergency landing. </p> <p>The flight was travelling from London to Singapore - a route frequently used to continue on to Australia and New Zealand -  when the plane hit an air pocket while flying over Thailand. </p> <p>The unexpected and extreme turbulence caused the plane to drop over 6,000 feet in a matter of minutes, sending passengers and cabin crew flying around the aircraft. </p> <p>While dozens of people sustained injuries during the terrifying ordeal, authorities said that one elderly man had suffered a heart attack when the turbulence hit and had died onboard. </p> <p>British media named the man as Geoffrey Kitchen, a grandfather and amateur dramatics performer who was on his way to Australia with his wife for a six-week holiday.</p> <p>The 211 passengers - including 56 Australians - and 18 crew on board were diverted to make an emergency landing in Bangkok after the turbulence hit, just a few hours away from their destination. </p> <p>Kittipong Kittikachorn, general manager of Thailand's Suvarnabhumi Airport, confirmed in a press conference that seven passengers were severely injured, and 23 passengers and nine crew members had moderate injuries.</p> <p>Sixteen with less serious injuries received hospital treatment and 14 were treated at the airport.</p> <p>One passenger, Jerry, recalled hitting his head on the overhead lockers when the turbulence hit. </p> <p>"My wife did (hit her head too), some poor people were walking around, ended up doing somersaults," he said, adding that his daughter was also injured and would likely stay in hospital for "a few days".</p> <p>"It was absolutely terrible. And then suddenly it stopped, and it was calm again, and the staff did their best to tend to the injured people." </p> <p>"There were a lot of them, and some of the staff were injured themselves."</p> <p>Another passenger recalled the moment the aircraft had begun “tilting up and there was shaking”. </p> <p>“So I started bracing for what was happening, and very suddenly there was a very dramatic drop,” 28-year-old Dzafran Azmir said.</p> <p>“Everyone seated and not wearing seatbelt was launched immediately into the ceiling."</p> <p>“Some people hit their heads on the baggage cabins overhead and dented it, they hit the places where lights and masks are and broke straight through it.”</p> <p>Singapore Airlines said the nationalities of the passengers were 56 Australians, two Canadians, one German, three Indians, two Indonesians, one from Iceland, four from Ireland, one Israeli, 16 Malaysians, two from Myanmar, 23 from New Zealand, five Filipinos, 41 from Singapore, one South Korean, two Spaniards, 47 from the UK and four from the US.</p> <p>In the hours after the traumatic event, Aviation consultant and pilot Tim Atkinson shared his theory on what caused the “very significant” incident.</p> <p>Atkinson told the BBC that in the increase in air turbulence can be linked to climate change, saying “it’s fairly clear” the Singapore Airlines flight “encountered atmospheric turbulence”.</p> <p>He also noted that the area — called the Intertropical Convergence Zone — is “renowned among pilots, and I dare say passengers, for turbulence”.</p> <p>“Despite abundant caution occasionally, there’s turbulence ahead which can’t be identified, and the unfortunate result of an encounter is injury and, very rarely, fatality,” he said.</p> <p>Mr Atkinson also noted that the larger the aircraft, “the worse the atmospheric perturbation, the disruption in the smoothness of the atmosphere, needs to be to cause major problems”. </p> <p><em>Image credits: Facebook / Twitter</em></p>

Travel Trouble

Placeholder Content Image

“The spirit of Australia”: Rival airlines' actions praised after Bonza collapse

<p>Thousands of passengers were left stranded across the country when budget airline Bonza cancelled all their flights and announced that they have entered into voluntary administration. </p> <p>“Bonza has temporarily suspended services due to be operated today, as discussions are currently underway regarding the ongoing viability of the business,” CEO Tim Jordan said. </p> <p>“We apologise to our customers who are impacted by this and we are working as quickly as possible to determine a way forward that ensures there is ongoing competition in the Australian aviation market," he later told news.com.au.</p> <p>Rival airlines, including Jetstar, Qantas and Virgin have all stepped in to help passengers and staff affected by Bonza's sudden collapse. </p> <p>Jetstar and Virgin Australia sprung into action when one passenger, <a href="https://www.oversixty.com.au/travel/travel-trouble/not-good-enough-karl-takes-aim-at-airline-cancellation" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Tracy Hilbert</a>, revealed her devastation after her morning flight to Melbourne got cancelled on the day that she was planning to be with her family following her father's passing on Monday. </p> <p>The two airlines helped her get to her destination without charging her for a ticket.</p> <p>Jetstar, which is owned by Qantas, also released a statement on Tuesday and said:  “We understand today’s news about Bonza will have a significant impact on many people’s travel plans.”</p> <p>“For Bonza customers who are due to travel today or who are stuck away from home, Jetstar and Qantas will assist by providing flights at no cost where there are seats available.”</p> <p>Qantas also released a statement offering employment support to staff affected by the budget airline's collapse. </p> <p>“We extend our thoughts to our aviation industry colleagues and their families – from pilots and cabin crew to flight planners and operations controllers,” it read.</p> <p>“If Bonza employees would like to discuss recruitment opportunities within Jetstar and Qantas, particularly in specialised fields which are unique to aviation, we’ve set up a dedicated page on the Jetstar careers website.</p> <p>“For any customers with a cancelled Bonza flight on a route we operate, to make sure you’re not further out of pocket, you can fly with us at no cost where we have seats available.”</p> <p>Virgin Australia also extended its hand to staff seeking employment, and offered support to any passengers stranded mid-journey with complimentary seats, where available. </p> <p>“When Bonza started in Australia, we welcomed its launch because competition makes us all better and benefits consumers. We are saddened to hear of Bonza’s current situation and the impacts on its people, customers and partners,” the statement read.</p> <p>“We will do what we can to support Bonza’s employees by prioritising them for any current and future roles at Virgin Australia, and encourage them to contact our careers team at recruitmentteam@virginaustralia.com if they wish.”</p> <p>The three airlines' responses have been applauded by the aviation industry and Aussies alike with many branding it “the spirit of Australia”. </p> <p><em>Image: </em><em>Lachie Millard/ news.com.au</em></p>

Domestic Travel

Placeholder Content Image

What just happened to Bonza? Why new budget airlines always struggle in Australia

<div class="theconversation-article-body"> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/ian-douglas-2932">Ian Douglas</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/unsw-sydney-1414">UNSW Sydney</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/seena-sarram-1469656">Seena Sarram</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/unsw-sydney-1414">UNSW Sydney</a></em></p> <p>The history of budget jet airlines in Australia is a long road <a href="https://www.smh.com.au/traveller/travel-news/grounded-five-of-australias-biggest-airline-failures-20221216-h28pzn.html">littered with broken dreams</a>. New entrants have consistently struggled to get a foothold.</p> <p>Low-cost carrier Bonza has just become the industry’s <a href="https://www.afr.com/companies/transport/bonza-flights-cancelled-as-aircraft-repossessed-20240430-p5fnjf">latest casualty</a>, entering voluntary administration on Tuesday after abruptly cancelling all flights.</p> <p>Losing the airline would be heartbreaking for the 24 regional Australian locations that were <a href="https://www.accc.gov.au/system/files/domestic-airline-competition-report-february2024_0.pdf">not connected directly</a> by any other airline. It would also mean even less competition in a heavily concentrated domestic air travel market. Over 85% of routes are operated by just <a href="https://www.accc.gov.au/system/files/domestic-airline-competition-report-february2024_0.pdf">three airline groups</a>.</p> <p>But Bonza hasn’t just fallen into this situation by chance. Strategic missteps likely played a key role from the very beginning.</p> <h2>What went wrong</h2> <p>First, running an airline is an expensive business – any cost savings airlines can find are extremely valuable.</p> <p>Bonza chose to enter the Australian market with a very small fleet of <a href="https://skybrary.aero/aircraft-family/b737-series">Boeing B737</a> jet aircraft. But these had no operating cost advantage over the B737s already flown by Qantas, Virgin and Rex. Bonza’s small fleet also lacked any scale advantage in scheduling aircraft or crew.</p> <p>Second, to sell tickets, Bonza adopted a radically different “<a href="https://flybonza.com/media/bonza-gets-wheels-up#:%7E:text=Bonza%20is%20the%20first%20airline,uniform%20including%20custom%20Bonza%20sneakers.">app first</a>” approach. The only place customers could search for and book tickets directly was the official Bonza app. But this meant potential customers using conventional search tools – such as search engines or booking websites – often couldn’t find Bonza flights.</p> <p>The fact Bonza <a href="https://www.couriermail.com.au/business/qld-business/gold-coast-airport-sweetheart-deals-raise-concern-for-bonza/news-story/5ecdfe749b7c8a636cfe740ee0359ba3">struggled</a> to gain traction on its routes to Gold Coast airport, which handles a sizeable 250,000 domestic passengers each month, underscores this issue with the company’s approach.</p> <p>And third, although it served a unique range of locations, Bonza’s flight schedule across its network was far from optimal. In some cases, routes were flown only <em>once weekly</em>, compared to much more frequent gateway city services on Rex and QantasLink.</p> <p>For European airlines like easyJet or Ryanair, less-than-daily flights to smaller tourist destinations might be viable. But these airlines have the scale and connectivity to offer customers alternative pathways across their networks. Unlike Bonza, small regional routes are not at the core of their business model.</p> <h2>Making an airline succeed</h2> <p>Bonza isn’t the first Australian budget carrier to fail, and likely won’t be the last. Why are so many new entrants doomed to fail?</p> <p>Making a jet airline succeed hinges on optimising three key factors – market scale, airport access, and geography. For would-be budget airlines, Australia offers a brutal starting ground on all three.</p> <p><strong>Market scale</strong></p> <p><a href="https://www.icao.int/sustainability/Pages/Low-Cost-Carriers.aspx">Low-cost carrier</a> and ultra low-cost carrier airlines have successfully gained strong footholds in Europe, the US, and Southeast Asia. But these markets are orders of magnitude larger than Australia.</p> <p>The US, for example, offers airlines a market of <a href="https://www.statista.com/statistics/183600/population-of-metropolitan-areas-in-the-us/">large cities across a large area</a>. New York’s population is approaching 20 million, Chicago 9.6 million, Houston 7.1 million, and Miami 6.1 million.</p> <p>The population of the European Union is close to 450 million. And if you include the UK, there are over 30 cities in Europe with populations over 1 million. Australian carriers have only a handful of cities on that scale.</p> <p>Australia lacks both the population density of Europe, and the range of secondary airports that European low-cost carriers have leveraged to access nearby markets and to drive down operating costs.</p> <p>After more than a year of operation, Bonza had only achieved an overall market share of <a href="https://www.accc.gov.au/system/files/domestic-airline-competition-report-february2024_0.pdf">about 2%</a>.</p> <p><strong>Airport access</strong></p> <p>Airport access is the next key barrier facing low-cost and ultra low-cost market entrants. The main routes between large Australian cities are all in a corridor along the east coast, and the largest flow into Sydney.</p> <p>Use of Sydney airport is heavily constrained, both by the incumbent operators who <a href="https://australianaviation.com.au/2023/07/sydney-slot-system-a-threat-to-bonza-owner-hints/">hold most of the slots</a>, and by regulations that artificially limit the flow of aircraft at peak times to just 80 movements (take-offs or landings) per hour.</p> <p>In contrast, London Heathrow, another constrained two-runway airport, delivers a capacity of <a href="https://www.caa.co.uk/media/dwfgyk53/estimating-the-congestion-premium-at-heathrow.pdf">88 movements per hour</a>.</p> <p>Completion of the new Western Sydney Airport will provide some relief from this capacity constraint. But it will not alter the fact Sydney Airport operates under an imposed constraint on operations.</p> <p><strong>Geography</strong></p> <p>Geography is the third constraint in Australia. Unlike Europe, the US, or Southeast Asia, most of our major cities are in a line on the east coast. There is no hub to connect our major cities with smaller regional points.</p> <p>Towns that are too distant for convenient rail or road links often have populations that are too small to support viable – let alone frequent – flights to the larger centres.</p> <p>Some regional routes are successfully serviced by small “<a href="https://nbaa.org/business-aviation/business-aircraft/turboprop-aircraft/">turboprop</a>” aircraft. Operating these incurs a higher cost per passenger than the passenger jets connecting the major cities. But it makes no sense to fly larger aircraft on these routes if the planes are half empty.</p> <h2>A big loss for regional Australia</h2> <p>The combination of Australia’s small population, the capacity constraints imposed on Sydney Airport, the presence of strong incumbent airlines, and our linear east coast market make new entry difficult.</p> <p>Virgin Blue occupied the space created by the collapse of Ansett. But Impulse, Tiger, Air Australia, Ozjet, and two versions of Compass were unsuccessful market entrants. Even Air New Zealand – which has the fleet, brand strength, and market access to support entering the market – chooses not to operate domestically in Australia.</p> <p>Understanding why new entrants fail offers little consolation to underserved regional towns in Australia. But given Bonza’s small footprint, capital city travellers looking for more competition on the major east coast routes will hardly notice a change.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/228995/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/ian-douglas-2932">Ian Douglas</a>, Honorary Senior Lecturer, UNSW Aviation., <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/unsw-sydney-1414">UNSW Sydney</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/seena-sarram-1469656">Seena Sarram</a>, Lawyer and Casual Academic, UNSW School of Aviation, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/unsw-sydney-1414">UNSW Sydney</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Bonza - PR Image</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/what-just-happened-to-bonza-why-new-budget-airlines-always-struggle-in-australia-228995">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

Travel Trouble

Placeholder Content Image

"Not good enough": Karl takes aim at airline cancellation

<p>Karl Stefanovic has ripped into Aussie airline Bonza, who cancelled all their flights at the last minute and left people stranded all across the country. </p> <p>One of the travellers who were left abandoned was Tracy Hilbert, who was due to fly out of Melbourne on Tuesday morning to see her family after her father suddenly died on Monday night. </p> <p>However, instead of being with her mother and brother, she instead spent the day stuck inside the airport after a fellow passenger informed her their flight had been cancelled with no warning. </p> <p>Tracy spoke to Karl Stefanovic and Sarah Abo on <em>Today</em> to share how let down she felt by the airline, as they failed to communicate the cancellation with their customers. </p> <p>“I text my husband. He said, ‘yes, it’s been cancelled’ and sent me all the details,” Ms Hilbert told <em>Today</em>.</p> <p>“Then the crew came in and about a 5.45am they said that it’s been cancelled.”</p> <p>Ms Hilbert fought back tears as she told Karl and Sarah the heartbreaking reason why she was so desperate to make her flight. </p> <p>“I’ve actually had my father pass away last night, so I needed to get up there because my brother text me and said that he’s not in a good way.”</p> <p>Ms Hilbert’s husband quickly booked her a flight with the budget airline last night, not realising that as of this morning, services will be “temporarily suspended”.</p> <p>“I’ve never had this problem with them before,” Ms Hilbert said. “It’s only a two-hour flight but now it’s going to take me all day to get up there.”</p> <p>Thankfully for Ms Hilbert, along with thousands of other stranded passengers, Virgin and Jetstar said those who were affected by the cancellation would be assisted to get to their destination. </p> <p>“We are aware of the temporary suspension of Bonza flights,” Virgin posted on X.</p> <p>“We will immediately support any passengers stranded mid-journey by offering complimentary seats on Virgin Australia-operated flights to the airport nearest to their final planned Bonza destination.”</p> <p>While wondering if she would receive a refund for her cancelled flight, Ms Hilbert said she was frustrated with the lack of communication with Bonza, saying, "You can’t talk to anybody, it’s all through emails.”</p> <p>Ms Hilbert said it’s all been “very hard” as she should have been with her mother, brother and other family now.</p> <p>“Oh, sweetheart. Hey, Tracy, we’ll let you go,” Karl quickly responded as Ms Hilbert continued to break down in tears.</p> <p>“Obviously there’s going to be a lot of people who are inconvenienced. You’re inconvenienced in a whole lot more emotional away. And it’s such a big thing for you to be handling right now. And we’re so sorry for your loss.”</p> <p>Karl hit out at the airline saying the very least they can do is communicate with travellers who have been left in the lurch. </p> <p>“It’s not good enough just to say something is cancelled. They might be going through the most, you know, horrible business morning of their lives, but that shouldn’t stop you from communicating with people."</p> <p>“It’s just a basic human necessity. And especially for people like Tracy.”</p> <p>On Tuesday, Bonza CEO Tim Jordan said services will be “temporarily suspended” while discussions surrounding the “viability of the business” take place.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Today </em></p>

Travel Trouble

Placeholder Content Image

Why do airlines charge so much for checked bags? This obscure rule helps explain why

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/jay-l-zagorsky-152952">Jay L. Zagorsky</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/boston-university-898">Boston University</a></em></p> <p>Five out of the six <a href="https://www.oag.com/blog/biggest-airlines-in-the-us">biggest U.S. airlines</a> have <a href="https://www.cnbc.com/2024/03/05/delta-is-the-latest-airline-to-raise-its-checked-bag-fee.html">raised their checked bag fees</a> since January 2024.</p> <p>Take American Airlines. In 2023, it cost US$30 to check a standard bag in with the airline; <a href="https://www.usatoday.com/story/travel/airline-news/2024/02/20/american-airlines-bag-fees-mileage-earning/72669245007/">today, as of March 2024, it costs $40</a> at a U.S. airport – a whopping 33% increase.</p> <p>As a <a href="https://www.bu.edu/questrom/">business school</a> <a href="https://www.bu.edu/questrom/profile/jay-zagorsky/">professor who studies travel</a>, I’m often asked why airlines alienate their customers with baggage fees instead of bundling all charges together. <a href="https://www.vox.com/2015/4/16/8431465/airlines-carry-on-bags">There are</a> <a href="https://www.usatoday.com/story/travel/columnist/2023/06/21/bag-fees-will-stay-a-while-cruising-altitude/70338849007/">many reasons</a>, but an important, often overlooked cause is buried in the U.S. tax code.</p> <h2>A tax-law loophole</h2> <p>Airlines pay the federal government <a href="https://www.ecfr.gov/current/title-26/chapter-I/subchapter-D/part-49/subpart-D">7.5% of the ticket price</a> when <a href="https://www.pwc.com/us/en/services/tax/library/aircraft-club-nov-2023-air-transport-excise-tax-rates-for-2024.html">flying people domestically, alongside other fees</a>. The airlines dislike these charges, with their <a href="https://www.airlines.org/dataset/government-imposed-taxes-on-air-transportation/">trade association arguing</a> that they boost the cost to the consumer of a typical air ticket by around one-fifth.</p> <p>However, the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations <a href="https://www.ecfr.gov/current/title-26/chapter-I/subchapter-D/part-49/subpart-D/section-49.4261-8">specifically excludes baggage</a> from the 7.5% transportation tax as long as “the charge is separable from the payment for the transportation of a person and is shown in the exact amount.”</p> <p>This means if an airline charges a combined $300 to fly you and a bag round-trip within the U.S., it owes $22.50 in tax. If the airline charges $220 to fly you plus separately charges $40 each way for the bag, then your total cost is the same — but the airline only owes the government $16.50 in taxes. Splitting out baggage charges saves the airline $6.</p> <p>Now $6 might not seem like much, but it can add up. Last year, passengers took <a href="https://www.transtats.bts.gov/Data_Elements.aspx?Data=1">more than 800 million trips on major airlines</a>. Even if only a fraction of them check their bags, that means large savings for the industry.</p> <p>How large? The government has <a href="https://www.bts.dot.gov/topics/airlines-and-airports/baggage-fees-airline-2023">tracked revenue from bag fees</a> for decades. In 2002, airlines charged passengers a total of $180 million to check bags, which worked out to around 33 cents per passenger.</p> <p>Today, as any flyer can attest, bag fees are a lot higher. Airlines collected over 40 times more money in bag fees last year than they did in 2002.</p> <p>When the full data is in for 2023, <a href="https://www.bts.dot.gov/baggage-fees">total bag fees</a> will likely top $7 billion, which is about $9 for the average domestic passenger. <a href="https://viewfromthewing.com/the-real-reason-airlines-charge-checked-bag-fees-and-its-not-what-you-think">By splitting out the cost of bags</a>, airlines avoided paying about half a billion dollars in taxes just last year.</p> <p>In the two decades since 2002, flyers paid a total of about $70 billion in bag fees. This means separately charging for bags saved airlines about $5 billion in taxes.</p> <p><iframe id="88MYD" class="tc-infographic-datawrapper" style="border: none;" src="https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/88MYD/2/" width="100%" height="400px" frameborder="0"></iframe></p> <p>It seems clear to me that tax savings are one driver of the unbundling of baggage fees because of a quirk in the law.</p> <p>The U.S. government doesn’t apply the 7.5% tax to <a href="https://www.ecfr.gov/current/title-26/chapter-I/subchapter-D/part-49/subpart-D/section-49.4261-3">international flights that go more than 225 miles</a> beyond the nation’s borders. Instead, there are fixed <a href="https://www.airlines.org/dataset/government-imposed-taxes-on-air-transportation">international departure and arrival taxes</a>. This is why major airlines charge $35 to $40 <a href="https://www.aa.com/i18n/travel-info/baggage/checked-baggage-policy.jsp">for bags if you’re flying domestically</a>, but don’t charge a bag fee when you’re flying to Europe or Asia.</p> <h2>Do travelers get anything for that money?</h2> <p>This system raises an interesting question: Do baggage fees force airlines to be more careful with bags, since customers who pay more expect better service? To find out, I checked with the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, which has been <a href="https://www.bts.gov/content/mishandled-baggage-reports-filed-passengers-largest-us-air-carriersa">tracking lost luggage for decades</a>.</p> <p>For many years, it calculated the number of mishandled-baggage reports per thousand airline passengers. The government’s data showed mishandled bags peaked in 2007 with about seven reports of lost or damaged luggage for every thousand passengers. That means you could expect your luggage to go on a different trip than the one you are taking about once every 140 or so flights. By 2018, that estimate had fallen to once every 350 flights.</p> <p>In 2019, the government <a href="https://www.bts.gov/topics/airlines-and-airports/number-30a-technical-directive-mishandled-baggage-amended-effective-jan">changed how it tracks</a> mishandled bags, calculating figures based on the total number of bags checked, rather than the total number of passengers. The new data show about six bags per thousand checked get lost or damaged, which is less than 1% of checked bags. Unfortunately, the data doesn’t show improvement since 2019.</p> <p>Is there anything that you can do about higher bag fees? Complaining to politicians probably won’t help. In 2010, two senators <a href="https://www.nj.com/business/2010/04/us_senators_present_bill_to_ba.html">tried to ban bag fees</a>, and their bill went nowhere.</p> <p>Given that congressional action failed, there’s a simple way to avoid higher bag fees: <a href="https://www.cnn.com/travel/article/packing-expert-travel-world-handbag/index.html">travel light</a> and <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2023/07/08/opinion/carry-on-packing-airlines-lost-luggage.html">don’t check any luggage</a>. It may sound tough not to have all your belongings when traveling, but it might be the best option as bag fees take off.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/225857/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/jay-l-zagorsky-152952">Jay L. Zagorsky</a>, Associate Professor of Markets, Public Policy and Law, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/boston-university-898">Boston University</a></em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/why-do-airlines-charge-so-much-for-checked-bags-this-obscure-rule-helps-explain-why-225857">original article</a>.</em></p>

Travel Trouble

Placeholder Content Image

Airline selling international flights for under $400

<p>Looking to jet off to Europe without breaking the bank? Well, now might be your chance! Budget airline Scoot has just unveiled an irresistible March sale, offering one-way flights to various European and other international destinations for less than $400. With more than 60 destinations on offer, travellers from Sydney, Melbourne and Perth are in for a treat.</p> <p>Scoot, known for its affordable fares and quality service, is the low-fare subsidiary of Singapore Airlines. The airline kicked off its one-week sale on Tuesday March 19, much to the delight of eager globetrotters. From Greece to Japan, and from Singapore to Indonesia, there's a plethora of destinations waiting to be explored.</p> <p>Among the highlights of this enticing offer are flights to Singapore starting from a mere $198, Athens from $355, Osaka from $315, and Denpasar from just $189. With such competitive pricing, it's no wonder travellers are scrambling to secure their seats.</p> <p>However, with great deals often come limited availability. While Scoot has not disclosed the exact number of seats up for grabs, travel experts advise acting fast. Graham Turner, from Flight Centre, <a href="https://7news.com.au/news/scoot-launches-march-sale-with-flights-to-europe-from-395-c-14009924" target="_blank" rel="noopener">cautioned 7News</a> that while the deals are fantastic, they're likely to be snapped up quickly. "There won't be a lot," he warned, while stressing the importance of doing thorough research before making a booking.</p> <p>It's essential for travellers to note that the fares advertised are all one-way and do not include additional charges such as taxes, checked baggage, WiFi, in-flight entertainment, food or flight changes. Despite these add-ons, the base fares remain incredibly competitive, making Scoot's March sale an attractive option for those seeking budget-friendly travel options.</p> <p>If you've been dreaming of am international getaway, now is the time to turn those dreams into reality. But don't delay – Scoot's March sale is set to run only until Monday night March 25, giving travellers just a limited window of opportunity to snag these incredible deals.</p> <p>So, whether you're yearning to wander through the historic streets of Athens, indulge in sushi delights in Osaka, or relax on the pristine beaches of Denpasar, Scoot's March sale has something for every traveller's taste and budget. Don't miss out on this chance to explore Europe without breaking the bank!</p> <p><em>Image: Scoot</em></p>

Travel Tips

Placeholder Content Image

Bold idea sees hotel offer thousands in cash back if it rains

<p>In a move that's making waves in the travel industry, a posh hotel in the heart of Singapore has rolled out a revolutionary offer: rain insurance. Yes, you heard it right – rain insurance!</p> <p>InterContinental Singapore, a sanctuary for jet-setters seeking respite from both the humidity and the occasional tropical deluge, has unleashed a game-changer for travellers. Dubbed the "Rain Resist Bliss Package", this offer promises to keep your spirits high even when the rain gods decide to throw a dampener on your plans.</p> <p>Picture this: you've booked your suite at this 5-star haven, eagerly anticipating your Singapore escapade. But lo and behold, the forecast takes a turn for the soggy, threatening to rain on your parade – quite literally. Fear not, dear traveller, for with the Rain Resist Bliss Package, you can breathe easy knowing that if your plans get drenched, your wallet won't.</p> <p>Now, you might be wondering, how does this rain insurance work? Well, it's as simple as Singapore Sling on a sunny day. If the heavens decide to open up and rain on your parade for a cumulative 120 minutes within any four-hour block of daylight hours (that's 8am to 7pm for those not on island time), you're entitled to a refund equivalent to your single-night room rate. The package is available exclusively for suite room bookings starting from $SGD850 per night – so that’s around $965 rain-soaked dollars back in your pocket, no questions asked. No need to jump through hoops or perform a rain dance – just sit back, relax, and let the rain do its thing.</p> <p>And fret not about having to keep an eye on the sky – the clever folks at InterContinental Singapore have got you covered. They're tapping into the data from the National Environmental Agency Weather Station to automatically trigger those rain refunds. It's like having your own personal meteorologist ensuring that your plans stay as dry as your martini.</p> <p>But hey, if the rain does decide to crash your party, fear not! The hotel has an array of dining options to keep your tastebuds entertained while you wait for the clouds to part. And let's not forget, Singapore isn't just about sunshine and rainbows – there are plenty of indoor activities to keep you occupied, from feasting at Lau Pa Sat for an authentic hawker experience to retail therapy at Takashimaya.</p> <p>And here's a silver lining to those rain clouds: fewer tourists! That's right, while others might be scrambling for cover, you could be enjoying shorter lines, less crowded attractions, and even snagging better deals on accommodations. Plus, let's not overlook the fact that the rain brings a welcome respite from the tropical heat, making outdoor adventures all the more enjoyable once the showers subside.</p> <p>So, pack your umbrella and leave your worries behind. With InterContinental Singapore's Rain Resist Bliss Package, you can embrace the unpredictable and turn even the rainiest of days into a memorable adventure. After all, as they say, when life gives you lemons, make Singapore Slings and dance in the rain!</p> <p><em>Images: InterContinental Singapore / Getty Images</em></p>

International Travel

Placeholder Content Image

Supermarkets, airlines and power companies are charging ‘exploitative’ prices despite reaping record profits

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/sanjoy-paul-1141384">Sanjoy Paul</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-technology-sydney-936">University of Technology Sydney</a></em></p> <p>Australians have been hit by large rises in grocery, energy, transport, child and aged care prices, only adding to other cost of living pressures.</p> <p>While extreme weather and supply delays have contributed to the increases, an inquiry into what’s causing the hikes has confirmed what commentators and consumers suspected - many sectors are resorting to dodgy price practices and confusing pricing.</p> <p>Headed by the former Australian Consumer and Competition Commission (ACCC) boss, Allan Fels, on behalf of the ACTU, the inquiry found inflation, questionable pricing practices, a lack of price transparency and regulations, a lack of market competition, supply chain problems and unrestricted price setting by retailers are to blame for fuelling the increases.</p> <p>The inquiry, which released its <a href="https://www.actu.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2024/02/InquiryIntoPriceGouging_Report_web9-1.pdf">final report</a> on Wednesday, is one of four examining price rises. The other three are being undertaken by a Senate committee, the Queensland government and the ACCC, which has been given extra powers by the government.</p> <h2>Prices vs inflation</h2> <p>The inflation rate in Australia peaked at <a href="https://www.abs.gov.au/statistics/economy/price-indexes-and-inflation/consumer-price-index-australia/latest-release">7.8%</a> in December 2022 and has been gradually dropping since then.</p> <p>While the inquiry found higher prices contributed to inflation, it reported that businesses claimed it was inflation that caused price rises - making it a chicken-or-egg kind of problem.</p> <p>However, many businesses made enormous <a href="https://theconversation.com/amid-allegations-of-price-gouging-its-time-for-big-supermarkets-to-come-clean-on-how-they-price-their-products-219316">profits</a> in 2022-23, which the inquiry said contributed to rising prices and inflation. In most cases, post-pandemic profit margins were much higher than before the pandemic.</p> <h2>How prices are set</h2> <p>Business pricing strategies had a big impact on product prices.</p> <p>In Australia, businesses often provided partial and misleading pricing information which differed from the actual price. For example, supermarkets were “<a href="https://www.afr.com/politics/federal/accc-warns-supermarkets-about-discount-claims-20240114-p5ex1s">discounting</a>” products by raising prices beforehand.</p> <p>These practices helped raise prices and were “exploitative”, the inquiry found.</p> <p>A lack of transparent pricing information caused a poor understanding by consumers of how prices were set. This was significantly worsened by a lack of competition. While market concentration was a major issue, the inquiry found prices in Australia are way higher than in many other less competitive markets.</p> <p>Large price increases occurred across many sectors:</p> <p><strong>AVIATION</strong></p> <p>While it is free to set any price for airfares, Australia’s largest and highest profile aviation company, Qantas, has been <a href="https://www.thenewdaily.com.au/life/2023/12/28/qantas-deceptive-conduct-accc">accused</a> of price gouging since the pandemic.</p> <p>According to the inquiry report, Qantas made a profit of $1.7 billion in 2023 - 208% higher than in 2019. At the same time, its reputation has been badly damaged by unreliable timetables, lost baggage and so-called <a href="https://www.9news.com.au/national/qantas-files-legal-defence-refutes-accc-case-and-ghost-flight-claims/9a6296c9-9238-4053-9f36-cc3cbf1f8a55">“ghost” flights</a> (selling tickets for a flight that’s been cancelled or doesn’t exist).</p> <p>Despite its huge profits and poorer service, Qantas passed on extra expenses to consumers in the form of higher airfares, the inquiry found.</p> <p><strong>BANKING</strong></p> <p>The banking industry has a long history of being tardy in passing on the Reserve Bank’s cash rate cuts to consumers. However, when the reserve raised the cash rates, banks immediately increased their standard variable rates and passed them on to customers. This practice keeps the bank’s profit margin higher.</p> <p>According to the inquiry report, the major banks’ average profit margins have been higher since May 2022 than in the 15 years before the pandemic. For 2022-23, the four big Australian banks’ profit margins were 35.5%, compared to an average of 32.4% from 2005 to 2020.</p> <p><strong>CHILDCARE</strong></p> <p>Australian households spent a good portion of their income on childcare, and for many of them, it was <a href="https://www.vu.edu.au/sites/default/files/mitchell-institute-assessing-childcare-affordability-in-Australia.pdf">unaffordable</a>.</p> <p>In Australia, the lack of availability and difficulty in switching services makes it even harder for working parents to find alternative options. This indicates parents are forced to pay more if the service providers raise prices.</p> <p>The inquiry found the childcare sector increased fees by 20% to 32% from 2018 to 2022. Accordingly, Australian households’ out-of-pocket expenses for childcare increased more than the rate of wage growth. For-profit childcare businesses have higher margins than not-for-profit centres.</p> <p><strong>ELECTRICITY</strong></p> <p>In recent years, electricity price increases have impacted all Australian households. The inquiry found both wholesale and retail electricity pricing strategies were responsible for these increased prices.</p> <p>It reported that wholesale price increases were mainly responsible for an estimated 9% to 20% increase in electricity bills in 2022-23.</p> <p>The report noted the “price bidding system” was largely responsible for increasing wholesale electricity prices.</p> <p>The inquiry was critical of the profit margin of AGL, a leading electricity retailer:</p> <blockquote> <p>It would seem that AGL needs to explain why consumers are paying $60.10/MWh more than seems to be justified by cost differentials. That is, for every consumer bill of $1,000 there is an apparent excess to be explained of $205.61 relative to prices charged to large business customers and not accounted for by genuine cost differences.</p> </blockquote> <p><strong>SUPERMARKETS</strong></p> <p>Supermarket prices have received the most attention recently with the main providers being accused of price gouging.</p> <p>As has occurred in other sectors, profit margins were well above pre-COVID levels. In 2023, the margin was more than 3.5% compared to less than 3% in 2017 and 2018.</p> <p>In Australia, <a href="https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/not-happy-little-vegemites-food-prices-rising-faster-than-inflation-20230522-p5da9w.html">food prices</a> also increased well above the inflation rate.</p> <p>According to the inquiry, the price increases for groceries between March 2021 and September 2023 varied between 19.2% and 27.3% for different categories, including cheese, bread, milk, eggs, dairy products and breakfast cereals.</p> <p>Farmers recently <a href="https://www.news.com.au/finance/business/retail/aussie-farmer-shipping-beautiful-melons-to-japan-rather-than-deal-with-coles-and-woolworths/news-story/bd685cd91f934f31c02c764097f496ae">accused</a> supermarkets of making too much profit from their crops.</p> <p>This was backed by the inquiry, which found the disproportionate market power held by supermarkets and food processors was of significant concern.</p> <p>The report noted that supermarkets increased prices when there was a shortage or cost increase, but the opposite did not happen easily when supplies were plentiful and prices were cheaper.</p> <h2>Issues common to all sectors</h2> <p>Among the issues common to all sectors were weak competition, a lack of price transparency, the difficulty consumers face switching between suppliers and providers, a lack of pricing policies and a lack of consumer awareness.</p> <p>While the price rises imposed by service providers and retailers were <a href="https://www.accc.gov.au/business/pricing/setting-prices-whats-allowed">not unlawful</a>, the increases in all sectors were significant and were hurting everyday Australians.</p> <h2>Fels’ recommendations</h2> <p>Many of the recommendations were sector-specific, but the one that applied to all areas related to the lack of regulation and pricing policies.</p> <p>The ACCC should be empowered to investigate, monitor and regulate prices for the child and aged care, banking, grocery and food sectors, the inquiry found. This was necessary to ensure businesses used fair and transparent pricing.</p> <p>A review of all existing policies was also recommended. For example, the government should use the current aviation review to remove international and domestic restrictions on competition. It was important aviation stakeholders, such as airlines and airports, were involved in the process.</p> <p>The report suggested the grocery <a href="https://www.accc.gov.au/business/industry-codes/food-and-grocery-code-of-conduct">code of conduct</a> should be mandatory for the food and grocery sector, and a price register for farmers should be created. This should be a government priority to protect farmers from unfair pricing by major supermarkets and food processors.</p> <h2>Change is needed</h2> <p>The current pricing practices for all business sectors must improve for greater transparency and to protect Australian consumers from unfair pricing.</p> <p>The inquiry report’s findings and recommendations are helpful in ensuring fair and transparent pricing policies and improving the current regulations for price settings.</p> <p>Implementing the recommendations will improve fair and transparent pricing practices and may help Australians get relief from the cost of living pressure in future.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/222755/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/sanjoy-paul-1141384"><em>Sanjoy Paul</em></a><em>, Associate Professor, UTS Business School, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-technology-sydney-936">University of Technology Sydney</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/supermarkets-airlines-and-power-companies-are-charging-exploitative-prices-despite-reaping-record-profits-222755">original article</a>.</em></p>

Money & Banking

Placeholder Content Image

Backlash after airline starts weighing passengers

<p>Finnair has announced that they will start weighing passengers and their luggage, as part of their latest data collection. </p> <p>The flagship airline for Finland has copped some backlash following this move, which they claim is designed to improve balance calculations which will enhance flight safety, according to the<em> NY Post</em>. </p> <p>“Finnair will collect data by weighing volunteering customers and their carry-on baggage at the departure gate,” according to a statement from the company. </p> <p>“The weighing is voluntary and anonymous, and the data will only be used to optimise Finnair’s current aircraft balance calculations.”</p> <p>The airline said that weighing passengers would help ensure that they wouldn't exceed the set maximum weight that a plane can bear before take off. </p> <p>“We use the weighing data for the average calculations required for the safe operation of flights, and the collected data is not linked in any way to the customer’s personal data,” head of Finnair’s ground processes, Satu Munnukka said. </p> <p>Munnukka also said that the airline won't ask for the passengers name or booking number. </p> <p>Many were left shocked by the move taking to X, formerly known as Twitter, to voice their fury. </p> <p>“#Finair are to start weighing their passengers? Have I read that correctly? I am utterly shocked! And disgusted,” wrote one person. </p> <p>“I will not be travelling via @Finair as I won’t be #fatshamed by a bloody airline. Am I alone? (ie I never weight myself: my choice)" another person tweeted. </p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">What do you make of this one then?</p> <p>An airline has announced it will begin weighing passengers with their carry-on luggage in order to better estimate the plane's weight before take-off.</p> <p>The controversial move comes from Finnish carrier Finnair, who told media they began… <a href="https://t.co/EqEyTQXROG">pic.twitter.com/EqEyTQXROG</a></p> <p>— Darren Grimes (@darrengrimes_) <a href="https://twitter.com/darrengrimes_/status/1755276929853231333?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">February 7, 2024</a></p></blockquote> <p>This comes after Air New Zealand announced that they too will weigh passengers travelling internationally in May last year. </p> <p>“We weigh everything that goes on the aircraft – from the cargo to the meals on-board, to the luggage in the hold,” Alastair James, Air New Zealand load control improvement specialist, said at the time. </p> <p>“For customers, crew and cabin bags, we use average weights, which we get from doing this survey.”</p> <p>Finnair joins Korean Air, Hawaiian Air, Uzbekistan Airways and Air New Zealand in the group of airlines that are weighing their customers. </p> <p><em>Image: Getty/ X</em></p> <p> </p>

Travel Trouble

Placeholder Content Image

The easy way Aussie airfares could be halved in the future

<p>A federal taskforce has found that there is a way for Aussies to pay half the amount on airfares, and that is by simply introducing some competition. </p> <p>Early results from their research found that the "mere threat" of rivalry can be enough to lower airfares. </p> <p>Just last year the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) <a href="https://www.smartcompany.com.au/industries/tourism/accc-blames-qantas-and-virgin-australia-duopoly-for-high-flight-prices-and-poor-service/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">found</a> that the duopoly between Qantas and Virgin Australia was a key contributor to the "high prices and underwhelming customer service." </p> <p>The early findings of the Competition Taskforce, which was set up last year, found that having flights serviced by three carriers instead of one can significantly reduce the cost. </p> <p>When serviced by a sole carrier, airfares average 39.6 cents per kilometre - this drops to 28.2 cents a kilometre with a second rival, and to 19.2 cents a kilometre with a third. </p> <p>Assistant Minister for Competition Andrew Leigh said that competition  exerted "significant" downward pressure on airfares.</p> <p>He added that a lack of competition in the aviation industry was problematic for a country that relies heavily on flying to connect cities to reach other parts of the world. </p> <p>"For a resident of Darwin, it is often cheaper to fly from Darwin to Singapore than it is to fly from Darwin to Sydney, even although the international flight is longer than the domestic one,"  he said. </p> <p>Leigh added that more than a dozen airlines operated in Australia before World War Two, but from the 1950s to the 1980s, a duopoly prevailed which kept prices high. </p> <p>"Only with the deregulation of aviation in the late 1980s did flying become affordable for many middle-class families and small businesspeople," he said. </p> <p>"Australia's aviation history shows the value of competition."</p> <p>Just last year the aviation sector came under fire after the government's decided to block Qatar Airway's from running additional flights in Australia, with accusations that the move was made to protect Qantas from competition.</p> <p>The federal government has since issued a review of the  sector - including its competitiveness - and a white paper is expected to be released mid-year. </p> <p><em>Image: Getty</em></p> <p> </p>

Money & Banking

Placeholder Content Image

"Do better": Baggage handlers captured recklessly throwing wheelchairs

<p>American Airlines has been forced to apologise after two baggage handlers were captured recklessly throwing around wheelchairs. </p> <p>The video of the staffers was captured and posted to TikTok, showing two men in hi-vis at Miami Airport throwing a wheelchair down a slide. </p> <p>The chair hits the bottom with such force that it is catapulted off the chute.</p> <p>In the caption of the video, the poster revealed it was not the first mobility device to suffer such a fate, as she wrote, "Dang, after I saw them do this and laugh with the first two wheelchairs I had to get it on film."</p> <p>She added that it wasn't what she would call "handling with care" for a mobility device.</p> <div class="embed" style="font-size: 16px; box-sizing: inherit; margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; vertical-align: baseline; outline: none !important;"><iframe class="embedly-embed" style="box-sizing: inherit; margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border-width: 0px; vertical-align: baseline; width: 600px; max-width: 100%; outline: none !important;" title="tiktok embed" src="https://cdn.embedly.com/widgets/media.html?src=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.tiktok.com%2Fembed%2Fv2%2F7303306999909960990&display_name=tiktok&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.tiktok.com%2F%40haez93%2Fvideo%2F7303306999909960990%3Flang%3Den&image=https%3A%2F%2Fp16-sign.tiktokcdn-us.com%2Fobj%2Ftos-useast8-p-0068-tx2%2FoIRPINBLSaBIEAVIxqpEaik1LBxVjiEZAq5m5%3Fx-expires%3D1700863200%26x-signature%3DumASXIu6Qa1eNNxX0Jshk1pfrJQ%253D&key=59e3ae3acaa649a5a98672932445e203&type=text%2Fhtml&schema=tiktok" width="340" height="700" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe></div> <p>The video has racked up over 2 million viewers, with many flocking to the comments to share their thoughts.</p> <p>"This makes me rage. That is literally someone's lifeline," one person wrote. </p> <p>"Knowing our healthcare system that basic wheelchair was soooooo f-ing expensive," another added. </p> <p>A commenter clarified, "these chairs cost upwards of $3k plus. They aren't easily replaceable and insurance only covers new chairs every 5 years".</p> <p>Another person wrote, "From a wheelchair user, thank you for posting this and raising awareness," while another angry viewer simply wrote, "Do better American Airlines". </p> <p>After the video quickly went viral on social media, the airline issued a statement on the incident, as American Airlines spokesperson Amy Lawrence told <a href="https://www.usatoday.com/story/travel/airline-news/2023/11/20/american-airlines-wheelchair-miami-mishandling-video/71655649007/" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><em>USA Today</em></a> in a statement: "We recognise how important it is to support the independence of customers with disabilities by ensuring the proper care of mobility devices throughout their journey with us."</p> <p>"This visual is deeply concerning and we are gathering more details so that we can address them with our team. We will continue to work hard to improve our handling of assistive devices across our network."</p> <p><em>Image credits: TikTok</em></p>

Travel Trouble

Placeholder Content Image

How much one man paid to fly First Class forever

<p dir="ltr">One man grabbed the opportunity of a lifetime back in 1990 and is now reaping the benefits of his hard work.</p> <p dir="ltr">69-year-old Tom Stuker who was a car dealership consultant at that time, paid an eye watering $US510,000 — $A770,000 for United Airlines lifetime pass to passengers.</p> <p dir="ltr">The married father of two described this as “the best investment” he’s made and has taken full advantage of his lavish first class travel perks in seat 1B.</p> <p dir="ltr">Stuker has flown a total of 23 million miles according to the <em>Washington Post</em>, with 2019 being his record year where he flew 373 flights covering 1.46 million miles.</p> <p dir="ltr">If converted to cash, those flights would have cost him $2.44 million.</p> <p dir="ltr">Among the unlimited travel miles, Stuker is also treated like a VIP, with a special check-in station that has a door which takes him straight to the security queue.</p> <p dir="ltr">He also has access to VIP airport lounges with free fine dining, spa treatments, showers and sleeping quarters.</p> <p dir="ltr">In 2011 Stuker hit the 10 million mile mark which prompted the airline to name a 747 after him.</p> <p dir="ltr">In 2019 he hit the 20 million mile mark which he celebrated mid-air with a champagne toast that he shared with other passengers aboard the same flight.</p> <p dir="ltr">Stuker remained humble as he talked with all the other passengers and even topped up their glass of bubbles as they congratulated him on this milestone.</p> <p dir="ltr">“It’s not about the places I go, it’s about the people I meet,” he said to the passengers via the plane's intercom.</p> <p dir="ltr">“I wanted to say thank you to all of you who shared this moment with me,” Stuker continued. “To be able to celebrate 20 million on my favourite airline in the whole world, it’s everything.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Stuker initially found out about the lifetime pass when his colleague told him American Airlines was offering it.</p> <p dir="ltr">He then approached United airlines and said: “ ‘you’re going to lose me as a customer’ and they said ‘we have the same thing’,” he told Chicago-based TV station <em>WGN News</em>.</p> <p dir="ltr">Sadly, for others who want to follow in his footsteps that offer doesn’t exist anymore, but there are still similar passes available, Stuker said.</p> <p dir="ltr">“They came out to my office, they presented it and I did the number crunching and made a really good business decision because that’s what I bought the pass for — to save money on my business travel.</p> <p dir="ltr">“They still have programs that do that, just not the unlimited.”</p> <p dir="ltr">It’s been 33 years and Stuker still spends most of his time flying, unable to stay off a plane for more than a week.</p> <p dir="ltr">He has travelled to over 100 countries using his unlimited United pass and is generous enough to share this experience with his wife, taking her on over 120 “honeymoons”.</p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image: Instagram</em></p>

International Travel

Placeholder Content Image

World’s Best Airline crowned for 2023

<p dir="ltr">Air New Zealand has received the top honour from the <a href="https://www.airlineratings.com/news/passenger-news/air-nz-named-airline-of-the-year-for-2023/">AirlineRatings.com Airline Excellence Awards</a>, taking home the coveted title of World’s Best Airline. </p> <p dir="ltr">It’s the seventh time the airline has been commended since 2013, for the likes of its innovative and multi-award-winning SkyNest economy beds, its operational safety, environmental leadership, and staff motivation.</p> <p dir="ltr">Competition was tough for the top five, with five editors looking at everything from major safety and government audits to 12 key factors including “fleet age, passenger reviews, profitability, investment rating, product offerings, and staff relations.”</p> <p dir="ltr">And while Air NZ had taken out second place to two-time-consecutive champ Qatar Airways in 2022, the situation flipped in 2023, with the airline beating out Qatar, Etihad, Korean Airlines, and Singapore for the prestigious win. </p> <p dir="ltr">As AirlineRatings’ Editor-in-Chief Geoffrey Thomas said, “in our objective analysis Air New Zealand came out number one in many key areas although it was a very close scoring for the top five.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Air New Zealand’s commitment to excellence in all facets of its business starts at the top with outstanding governance and one of the best executive teams in aviation through to a workforce that is delivering consistently to the airline’s strategy and customer promise.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Like all airlines across the globe Air New Zealand has faced severe disruptions during and after the pandemic and this year huge challenges from storms and cyclones. The airline has responded well.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Our editorial team was impressed by the airline’s commitment to the economy passenger and on long haul offers more comfort options than any other airline.”</p> <p dir="ltr">In response to the win, Air NZ’s CEO Greg Foran shared that the airline owed its success to the 12,000 members of staff “who wake up each morning to connect Kiwis with each other and the world.” </p> <p dir="ltr">He remarked that “it is a sign that we have got our swing back”, and like with many other airlines around the world, “we understand that our fantastic team faces difficulties in providing the service we strive for and that our customers expect. We’re working hard to address these challenges. </p> <p dir="ltr">“There is no doubt that we have more work to do to tackle customer concerns like wait times, on-time departures and arrivals, lost baggage, and refunds. We want to thank our customers for their patience and support as we work towards delivering the greatest flying experience on Earth.” </p> <p dir="ltr">Just missing out on the top five were Australia’s own Qantas and Virgin - coming in at sixth and seventh place respectively - although both airlines snagged number one positions in other categories. </p> <p dir="ltr">Qantas took out Best Lounges with its network of over 51 lounges across Australia and the rest of the world. Meanwhile, Virgin Australia/VirginAtlantic took home the title of Best Cabin Crew - in what marked their fifth victory in the category.</p> <p dir="ltr">And for anyone wondering how the rest of world’s top 25 premium airlines stacked up, here’s the complete list: Air New Zealand, Qatar Airways, Etihad Airways, Korean Air, Singapore Airlines, Qantas, Virgin Australia/Virgin Atlantic, EVA Air, Cathay Pacific Airways, Emirates, Lufthansa / Swiss, SAS, TAP Portugal, All Nippon Airways, Delta Air Lines, Air Canada, British Airways, Jet Blue, JAL, Vietnam Airlines, Turkish Airlines, Hawaiian, KLM, Alaska Airlines, and United Airlines.</p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Images: Getty</em></p>

International Travel

Our Partners