• Sun
  • Jul 27, 2014
  • Updated: 12:05am
Lai See
PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 06 May, 2014, 12:02am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 06 May, 2014, 12:02am

Reality punctures Dragonair's version of flight delay

BIO

Howard Winn has been with the South China Morning Post for two and half years after previous stints as business editor and deputy editor of The Standard, and business editor of Asia Times. His writing has also been published in the Far Eastern Economic Review, the Wall Street Journal, and the International Herald Tribune. He writes the Lai See column which focuses on the lighter side of business.
 

Why is it that when there's a problem with an aircraft before it takes off airlines seem completely unprepared for it. It's not great for the passengers when it happens but the basic rule surely is to keep passengers abreast of what is happening.

Dragonair left its passengers in the proverbial mire early on Saturday morning in Calcutta. Passengers spent about 3½ hours on the plane as a result of a punctured tyre, before being bussed to a hotel at around 6am, not knowing when they would be able to fly out. The flight to Hong Kong was due to depart at 1.15am. The doors were closed, and the safety drill was under way when the pilot announced there would be a "slight delay".

One of the passengers, Soma Roychowdhury who lives in Hong Kong, said: "Around 2.30am, the captain said the punctured tyre was being replaced and the flight would take off in 45 minutes. But over an hour and a half passed before the restless passengers finally learnt that the attempt to fix the spare tyre had failed and the flight would take off only after a spare wheel arrived from Hong Kong." Around 3am she received a message from the airline's flight information service notiFly saying the flight would depart at 3.30am. That also proved incorrect but no explanation was offered. When the passengers disembarked the confusion continued. "There were conflicting stories about when we would be able to fly out," said Roychowdhury.

The passengers eventually flew at 4.15am on Sunday morning. Dragonair said in a statement: "Passengers were kept updated of the situation via announcements inflight as well as travel advisory handed over by our airline and ground handling agent staff. Assistance was also provided to passengers with connecting flights."

Having spoken to passengers, this would appear to be an overly favourable account of what happened. The airline cannot take pride in this performance.

 

Disregard for public builds up

Readers will be all too familiar with the hoardings that building contractors erect around their sites when construction is under way. The idea is protect the public from noise and dust. However, the hoarding that has been erected while a ground floor shop is renovated at Carnarvon Plaza - at 20 Carnarvon Road, Tsim Sha Tsui - encroached three feet on to the pavement, leaving four feet for pedestrians.

This would be just about be okay if it wasn't for a traffic sign in the middle of the pavement making it impossible for anyone in a wheelchair to get past, particularly as the street is usually jammed with parked cars. So a resident duly complained. This relatively minor complaint had a minor butterfly effect on the civil service. The police were informed, as were Lands Department, Buildings Department, Department of Home Affairs, Food and Environmental Hygiene Department, and Transport Department. Finally, after two weeks of haranguing, the hoarding was moved back, thus allowing wheelchairs, goods trolleys, and wheeled suitcases to pass without being forced into one of Tsim Sha Tsui's busiest streets. This incident betrays an all too common disregard for the public.

You would have thought Savills Hong Kong, the building management, would have had the sense to intervene, but despite being approached, it did nothing. Its website states: "We behave responsibly; We act with honesty and respect for other people; We adhere to the highest standards of professional ethics."

Another company that apparently believes that concern for the disabled begins and ends with Operation Santa Claus.

 

Bankers even miss out on crumbs

There's been a certain amount of comment following the failure of the WH Group IPO, along the lines that if you want your initial public offering to be a success, hire fewer bankers.

It is true the 29 brokers and bankers on the WH IPO were a record, surpassing the one set by Galaxy Securities with 21 bankers in May last year. This exceeded the 17 bankers on the PICC offering in December 2012.

But it is clear that with that many bankers on an IPO none of them would be making much, if anything, for their participation. Indeed the sheer number is an indication of a poor listings market. If times were good banks wouldn't need to participate in a deal in which they didn't make money.

 

Have you got any stories that Lai See should know about? E-mail them to howard.winn@scmp.com

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