In which we present a regular round-up of news from the world of Grown-up Travel
Ethiopian Air becomes 1st outside Japan to fly Dreamliner
Ethiopian Airlines today became the first airline in the world outside Japan to fly paying passengers on the Boeing 787 Dreamliner.
The carrier entered the aviation history books today at 12:50 p.m. ET, inaugurating passenger service on the jet around 1:30 p.m. with a special flight from Washington Dulles to the carrier’s hub in Addis Ababa. Today’s flight comes just two days after Ethiopian officially took delivery of the first commercial jet to be made from carbon fiber construction instead of more-traditional aluminum and steel.
“I think it’s an historic milestone for an African airline,” Ethiopian Airlines CEO Tewolde Gebremariam said Wednesdaywhile aboard a special “delivery flight” from Boeing’s factory in Everett, Wash., that positioned it in Washington Dulles for today’s inaugural flight. (See above video for more from the delivery flight.)
Gebremariam said it was hard to overstate the significance of Ethiopian’s status as one of the first airlines in the world to put the Dreamliner into service. With today’s flight, Ethiopian has beaten all of the big global carriers from the United States and Europe in deploying the revolutionary jet. Only Japanese carriers All Nippon Airways and Japan Airlines have flown the jet earlier.
Ethiopian’s early admission to the Dreamliner club reflects a growing optimism for aviation in Africa, Gebremariam said while chatting from a coach seat about two-thirds of the way through Wednesday’s delivery flight.
“By being the first airline in the world outside Japan to take delivery to take this wonderful flying machine, we are setting the standard in the continent,” he said. “A continent which was known in the past for all the doom and gloom news reports. Now Africa is growing. Ethiopia is growing. Ethiopian Airlines is growing. Today you have witnessed yourself with your own eyes that you have success with global brands coming out of Africa … competing with the global mega carriers of the world with the same standard of aircraft … with the same standard of products and services. I think it is an historic milestone. ”
A Day In The Life of A Mumbai Sandwichwallah
He has 16 sandwiches on his menu, but is happy to customise each one of them to his patrons’ tastes. Sanjay Singh will put only beetroot and cheese in one; butter and powdered masala (salt, black salt, cardamom, cumin, and coriander seeds ground together) in another; tomatoes and garlic chutney for people who want that mix; and capsicum and butter for a few others. Like most sandwichwallahs in our city, he assembles exactly what the customer desires—easily a few hundred combinations drawn from the handful of ingredients he has bought and barely processed. No restaurant affords the level of customisation to a snack, or meal, as a Mumbai rasta sandwichwallah.
Kala Ghoda-based sandwich maker Singh started out working at his elder brother’s sandwich stall 18 years ago, as soon as he arrived from Benaras. He was 12 then and the menu listed two items: vegetable sandwich and vegetable toast. They served about 100 sandwiches a day. Today, the daily average is 350 sandwiches and toasties, almost each one minutely customised. The Kala Ghoda Arts Festival in February is boom time; they sell 700 items per day during the cultural event. Singh, who has since taken over the running of the stall from his brother, works with three other people on any given day. He calls them “mere bhai”, but that’s an ambiguous description. In truth, they are cousins, nephews, or people from his gaon.
Singh wakes up every morning at 5am, makes the chutneys for his sandwiches and travels from his home in Bhayander to Kala Ghoda where he sets up his stall at 9am. Before he opens shop, he buys vegetables from the Bora Bazar market in Fort. The breadwallah (who also supplies the ketchup) and coalwallah visit his stall daily to provide the remaining supplies. Singh emphasised to us the importance of a good workstation. The cutting surface must be at the right height, and there should be enough storage room for veggies and bread as well as the leftover trimmings that will be given away to street kids at the end of the day. All the ingredients must always be at arm’s length. A folding table hinged to the side of the stall is part of the assembly line. Singh slides the sandwiches to his co-worker Gopal Singh, who fans the coal burner, flips the chimta, and stacks the ready-to-eat toasts.
Planes cheaper than trains on half of routes
It is more expensive to travel around Britain by rail than it is to fly on about 50 per cent of popular routes, research by Telegraph Travel has revealed.
The study comes after it was announced this week that train fares are to rise by between five and 10 per cent, and would appear to undermine both the ongoing efforts of the Government to discourage Britons from taking domestic flights, and VisitEngland’s recent advertising campaign urging more Britons to consider a holiday at home this summer.
We compared the cheapest available return fare when travelling by plane, train, coach and car, for those booking at a week’s notice (for travel on August 20, returning on August 27) and for those booking in advance (for travel on October 15, returning on October 22), on various routes around Britain. Departures were limited to sociable hours, and – where possible – for travel on direct services.
Travelling by coach proved to be the cheapest mode of transport on 47 of the 50 journeys selected, with only advance rail fares to Great Yarmouth from London, Manchester and Edinburgh proving more cost effective. On the 24 journeys that could be tackled by both train and plane, air travel was found to be cheaper on 13 occasions; in some instances travelling on the rail network was found to be almost twice as expensive as flying.
For example, the best available rail fare from London to Edinburgh and back, found using the “Best Fare Finder” on the National Rail’s website, was £121.40, whether booked at short notice or in advance. The same journey could be made with easyJet for £111 or £63, respectively, while a National Express coach ticket would have cost a little over £50.
Despite soaring fuel prices, travelling by car proved cheaper than taking the train on 16 of the 50 journeys. Anyone wishing to make a return journey from London to Newcastle by car, a 570-mile round trip according the AA’s online route planner, can expect to fork out around £98 for petrol. This was calculated using the fuel economy of Britain’s best-selling family car, the Ford Focus – around 35 miles to the gallon, according to the motoring website HonestJohn.co.uk – and the average cost of unleaded petrol. The same journey by train, when booked a week in advance, cost £117. These figures don’t take into account car purchase, depreciation and servicing, however, nor do they make allowance for the fact that several travellers can share the cost of fuel on a car journey.
Passengers ‘asked to chip in’ for fuel
Air France passengers on a flight which was diverted from Beirut and landed instead in Damascus were asked at one point to chip in and help pay to refuel the plane, a passenger has said.
“We went down in Syria where there were lots of soldiers … We thought there were some problems and that there was no money to pay for the fuel,” 42-year-old businessman Najib said.
“They asked if the passengers could contribute for the refueling. Then they found a solution to the problem” for Wednesday night’s flight from Paris that was diverted to Damascus because of tensions in Beirut and then flew on to Larnaca, he said.
Roland, a 23-year-old engineer who was also on the flight which finally landed in the Lebanese capital on Thursday, said the plane was held up in the Syrian capital because of the fuel problem.
“There were some negotiations going on to buy fuel because Air France doesn’t fly to Damascus at the moment and so it doesn’t have an account” with Damascus airport authorities, he explained.
France’s carrier suspended flights to Damascus in March because of the deadly unrest sweeping Syria.
The flight to the Lebanese capital, where unrest broke out on the airport road on Wednesday night, was diverted first to Damascus after an attempt to reach Amman was abandoned and the plane needed fuel to divert to the safety of Cyprus.