Travel travail

When a flight is delayed by seven hours, no-one is pleased. How the airline treats its clients can save the day, or make them vow never to use the carrier again.

In a country where tourism reached 21.4% of export earnings before the violence marred elections in 2007, Kenya’s national carrier has a special obligation to keep travelers happy, now that tourism is suffering again as the the harsh effects of El Shebab’s revenge attacks start to bite.

The experience with flight KQ221 on July 14 showed little evidence that the Kenya Airways ground staff in New Delhi know that. With one desk clerk handling all the complaints, and no special treatment for premier class passengers, it was time for the supervisor to take charge. Instead he sought refuge on his cell phone, while frustrated customers stalked his retreat.

Kenya airways 02

Without acknowledging their needs, he kept talking. When one of the clients ended the call for him by seizing the phone, he defended his lack of attention, saying that he was trying to arrange hotels. The passengers explained that they had other needs, like resolving the conflicting information from the different sources about when the flight was expected to leave. The boards showing that the flight was delayed until 7AM. The check-in clerk was saying the flight would leave at 8AM, and the airline’s website displaying a 2:55AM departure.

And then there is the fact that the Indira Gandhi airport is a prison for passengers whose flight is delayed. Military officers armed with semi-automatic weapons physically bar exit. Release requires official confirmation that the flight has been delayed from the same airline ground staff, who being otherwise engaged, clearly do not care about the plight of their passengers.

The absence of any signage that exit through departures is also not allowed, as is normal in any other country exacerbates the frustration. Yet another armed officer blocks that way out.

When the offending supervisor was eventually confronted about helping stranded passengers to get out of the airport, his response: “you should have waited!”

The passengers were clearly at fault. Perhaps not so much for the impatience, as for having elected to fly with Kenya Airways. Never again.

More at:
Flags of inconvenience
Let Africans fly
Departure delayed

Open letter to the CEO of Samsonite

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Attention: Mr Tim Parker
Chief Executive Officer
Samsonite International SA

Dear Sir,

As more people travel, and people travel more, Samsonite is benefitting from a well earned reputation for quality backed by an industry leading warranty. It’s that reputation that’s made me a regular customer.

My experience of the Samsonite warranty has always been positive, until yesterday.

PB096504 The shell and zip of a 55cm Pixel Cube carryon purchased in January this year had begun to separate. The dealer to whom I’d delivered the warranty claim said that the case was irreparable and that because the Pixel Cube has been discontinued cannot be replaced, so I would have to select another product.

The only product coming close to the specifications of the Pixel Cube in store is the Cosmolite Spinner 55cm, which at ₹18,100 is significantly more than the ₹7,630 that I’d originally paid. My request for a discount was refused.

My request for a Samsonite Cruisair Bold 21″ Spinner which I have found online for $206.99 (₹12,989.80) was also refused because it’s “not available in India”. So I bought the Cruisair Bold online, paying $165.59 (₹10,391.70).

So much for the warranty.

Samsonite’s Asia strategy is opportune, but the expected success will be diminished if the Samsonite warranty becomes little more that a bait and switch ploy.

I hope not.

Roy R Dalle Vedove

More at: Samsonite CEO On Business Strategy For Asia Samsonite CEO Parker on Results, Outlook Samsonite CEO sees China as next top market

India’s competition with China

Although politicians deny it, the competition between China and India once again hit the headlines as India successfully launched it’s first mission to Mars.

In New Delhi the competition with Beijing is also evident. The air pollution is making life unbearable for the inhabitants.

IMG 5022 The haze that obscures parliament is being explained as the after effects of the weekend’s fireworks celebrations for Diwali.

Air quality measurements taken before the celebrations had even started, showing pollution levels have not deteriorated significantly, suggest a different reason. Perhaps it’s because a third of the population don’t have electricity, and so rely on burning wood to stay warm as as the weather cools.

But you can’t blame the gods for the electricity.

More at:
India launches spacecraft to Mars
Diwali air quality worse than last year’s in Delhi
Air Pollution and Management in Delhi, India
Top 10 Cities With the World’s Worst Air
The carcinogenicity of outdoor air pollution
Speciation of ambient fine organic carbon particles and source apportionment of PM2.5 in Indian cities

Getting team India to win again – the plan

The situation today is not nearly as dire as the one that India faced in 1991. But the plan it should adopt must be as courageous as the one it took then.

Bureaucracy and corruption need to be faced head on. Like a cancer the solution is targeted surgery that removes the diseased elements quickly.

India’s reliance on foreign oil is also an issue that can be readily addressed. The country has huge coal deposits, and by adopting South Africa’s coal to oil technologies, there is a ready solution. Joint ventures with the large oil conglomerates who are desperately looking for new partners and will happily provide the skills India needs to develop its oil and gas reserves, which the Boston Consulting Group believes are the world’s 15th largest.

Nehru, India’s first prime minister, had the dream of renewable energy 60 years ago, using hydro electric power. That dream must be renewed, together with India’s huge potential for other renewables.

The controversial subject of nuclear energy needs to be balanced against the county’s desperate need for more energy.

The overloaded rail system will benefit from the sophisticated software that makes Switzerland’s train network the envy of the rest of the world.

There is a growing belief that rail is more efficient than road. With it’s huge population, India needs to expand its rail network instead of succumbing to the vested interests of the motor industry that have polluted the air and clogged the roads in so many other countries.

Technology is changing education, and Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCS) offers an opportunity for India to find a solution to the challenges of trying to educate 230 million students.

The broadband network will have to be expanded so that the whole population has affordable connectivity. And the students will need to have inexpensive tablet computers, that India’s education department is already distributing, on which to work.

India has a huge unexploited potential for tourism. But it needs to learn how to treat its visitors well.

India’s business people have already proved their skill in the international markets. By allowing foreign direct investment (FDI) into the country, they will be able to prove themselves at home.

India must swallow its pride and go to the markets to borrow the money it needs to invest in its economy. India’s government has taken a conservative view to borrowing, fearful that a dramatic drop in the value of the rupee will leave it unable to meet its debts. But the currency already reflects the world’s poor expectations. By surprising them, the country will be rewarded with a stronger currency and discounted debt. It will take a bit of courage, and strong leadership at the Indian Reserve Bank.

In Raghuram Rajan, India’s newly appointed head of the Reserve Bank, they have one of the world’s leading economists. In 2005 Rajan warned the world’s central bankers of the dangers of some of the new financial innovations. At the time they were a little disparaging of his views. Not so much now. No doubt he has quite a few of good ideas how to revive the Indian economy.

Let’s hope the Indians listen to him.

More at:
Getting team India to win again
Getting team India to win again – poverty
Getting team India to win again – infrastructure
Getting team India to win again – The 1991 financial crisis
Getting team India to win again – fiscal consolidation
A price worth paying
Ideas coming down the track
Opening learning
Out of the frying pan
The attack of the MOOCs
The screen revolution
Unleashing the Potential of Renewable Energy in India

Getting team India to win again – fiscal consolidation

The fiscal deficit, the amount by which the Indian government’s expenditures has exceeded it’s revenues is 5.5% of GDP over the last 5 years. Over that same period the revenues have averaged 9.6%, so the fiscal deficit as a proportion of the revenues is 57%.Expenditure

In 2012-2013 India’s subsidies ballooned to almost ₹2.6 trillion (2.5% of GDP), almost 30% of government expenditure. The government’s decision to steadily reduce the fuel subsidy, at 40% of the total subsidy bill, was overdue, and will help the government towards it’s aim of fiscal consolidation. With 250 million Indians living on less than $1.25 per day, the food subsidy is sensible, but widespread corruption results in food not reaching the intended beneficiaries. Subsidies

India is allowing it’s demographic dividend to lapse. Young Indians are not getting the education required for them to compete against the youth from the other Asian tigers. The government is aware of this. It introduced an act in 2009 giving the right of education to every child, 50 years after the constitution said it should. But the fiscal deficit divides intent from achievement. There are 230 million Indian children aged between 6 and 14. There are not enough schools and teachers, or the money to pay for them.

Increasing taxes is also a challenge. The super wealthy are already taking advantage of the agreement with Mauritius, and the proximity of Singapore and Dubai to minimize their taxes. The nightmare that is India’s bureaucracy is already chasing away foreign investment, without adding punitive taxes to the list of disincentives. Taxes on tourists are so punitive that India ranks alongside little Switzerland for revenue earned from its visitors. Indirect taxes hurt the poor.

The government was relying on growth to save the day, and now that hope is disappearing fast.

In anticipation the 2014 election no-one is expecting a solution soon.

But India needs a plan – now!

More at:
Getting team India to win again
Getting team India to win again – poverty
Getting team India to win again – infrastructure
Getting team India to win again – The 1991 financial crisis
Getting team India to win again – the plan
A billion brains
A passage to Mayfair
A price worth paying
A tale of two villages
Asian Development Outlook 2013 pg190
Can India become a great power?
Cash, with strings
Made outside India
The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009
What a waste
Will India Be The First BRIC Fallen Angel?