Forget champagne, fully flat beds and on-board showers. WOLE SHADARE writes that for airlines’ travellers, the must-have facility these days is WiFi
At over 37, 000 feet above sea level, air passengers can make video calls, send Short Messaging System(SMS) and be in contact with their loved ones and continue with their works as if they are in their homes or offices.
That is the power of technology, which was a rarity many years ago, as airlines are taking advantage of technology to offer great services to their passengers especially for long haul passenger.
Travelling long distances across different time zones can become a big torture, tiring and sickening. So, many passengers pay with their credit cards to surf the Internet and be in touch while they are in the air.
Most gulf carriers like Emirates, Qatar, Etihad, United States airlines and others are daily developing Internet technology. For Emirates, the airline offers 20 free MB to its economy passengers, which they expect passengers to exhaust within two hours when they log in. They are allowed to pay between $9 and $24 for few hours and duration of the flight.
On an American or Delta plane you could wind up paying $10 to $20 to surf for the duration of your flight. JetBlue offers complementary Internet access to all of its passengers. For most major airlines, Internet is a revenue generator.
An airline expert told New Telegraph that passengers go for airlines that provide such facilities especially if the journey is more than six hours or one that lasts for between 10 and 16 hours. It keeps them busy and helps them to run down the time of sitting in a position for so long. Long distance journeys can be very boring even with inflight entertainment facilities.
It would be recalled that from humble beginnings, inflight connectivity has certainly taken off in recent years. With more than 80 airlines worldwide now offering wifi services to passengers, nearly half of all the miles being travelled by air each year have the option of inflight wifi.
From real-time access to news and weather, to being able to browse the web, stay in touch with family, or catch up on email, the benefits to passengers of on-board Internet are clear. So much so that today, 94 per cent of air travellers believe inflight Internet enhances their travel experience and 30 percent check if wifi is available before booking.
For the airlines, however, it’s not as simple as just offering connectivity any more. Back on the ground, the world of public wifi has rapidly evolved and become increasingly commoditized, so businesses have looked to both monetize and differentiate their offering from the competition.
Customers can increasingly walk into their favourite café or hotel and access the wifi network using a branded application, where they will also see promotions and marketing for additional products or services. Not only are customers avoiding the frustrating login screens and confusion around choosing a network, they’re getting a more personalized experience and incentives to spend more money as a result.
Making a wifi strategy more passenger-centric is also becoming increasingly important from a business model perspective.
The CEO of Delta Air Lines recently announced aspirations to make on-board Internet free to passengers across the Delta fleet, a move that could set off a domino effect across the industry.
This highlight that now is the time for airlines to put in place a differentiated wifi service that not only delivers for the customer, but can provide a revenue stream in the future.
By tightly integrating wifi within the airline’s apps and entertainment systems, it becomes a means to offer passengers additional, paid-for services – from inflight food and personalized entertainment, to last-minute deals at their destination or even loyalty credit cards.
Win-win for airlines
It’s clear that the inflight connectivity landscape is evolving – it’s no longer just about making sure it is available on board most flights, but also about making the customer experience great too. For airlines, keeping customers within a more tightly controlled airline-branded ecosystem is an obvious way to differentiate from the competition and serve up additional, complementary services.
This has the double benefit of a better passenger experience and a better way to monetize each seat – two things that are going to be increasingly important in a future where free wifi might not just be available in the hotel and café at the airport, but on the flight home as well.
Though frequent fliers have made their pleas to the airlines to offer on-board Internet, when the service is available it isn’t always up to par with the tech-savvy traveller’s needs…
Even though an increasing amount of airlines like Finnair, Srilankan Airlines, Kuwait Airways, TAAG Angola Airlines, and WestJet have announced that they’ll soon be implementing WiFi, there’s still a long way to go when it comes to the quality of the service, as exorbitant pricing and slow speeds that would make even a snail yawn are deterring fliers from considering purchasing Internet aboard.
Airlines that offer inflight WiFi and/or GSM Internet access are Aer Lingus, Aeroflot, AirAsia, Air Canada, Air China, Air Europa, Air France, Air Tran, Alaska Airlines, Alitalia, All Nippon Airways, American Airlines and ANA. Others are British Airways, Cebu Pacific Air, China Eastern Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Egypt Air, Emirates, Etihad, EVA Air, Finnair, Geruda Indonesia, United, Turkish Airlines.
Also included are GOL Linhas Aereas, Inteligente, Gulf Air, Hong Kong Airlines, Iberia, Iceland Air, JAL, Jetblue, Lufthansa, Libyan Airlines, Malindoair, Mango Airlines, Nok Air, Norwegian, Oman Air and Philipine Airlines. Qatar Airways, Ryannair, SAS, SaudiArabian Airlines, Singapore Airlines, SouthWest Airlines, TAM, Tap Portugal, US Airways, West Jet, Vietnam Airlines and Vueling also made the list.
The London School of Economics has made a strong business case for the future of Inflight Connectivity (IFC), predicting a market worth $130 billion by 2035, and contribution of $30 billion to airline revenue.
By world region, the largest market will be in Asia Pacific, reaching $10.3 billion in revenue by 2035, with Europe and Russia in second place at $8.2 billion and North America, which took the lead in the initial introduction of IFC inflight as a common service, in third place at $7.6 billion by 2035.
Consumers expect in-flight Wi-Fi to offer the same browsing experience in the air, as they have at home or at their favorite hotel. Like in the hospitality industry, airlines see the connectivity experience as a differentiator that customers care about and that can help increase ancillary revenues from added services and purchases.
Chile starts identifying remains of plane crash victims
The remains of 38 people killed in a military plane crash have been flown to a military base in Chile for identification.
“A C-130 plane [just like the one that went down on Monday] arrived at the Chabunco airbase, with the first findings of human remains and personal items .. these were already delivered to the Public Ministry … to confirm the identity of the people that went missing,” the Chilean air force said in a tweet on Friday.
On Friday, a total of 39 relatives of 11 crash victims flew from the capital Santiago to Punta Arenas, where the base is located, to provide DNA samples.
Thirty-eight people – 21 passengers and 17 crew – were on the plane that crashed on Monday, en route to a base in far-southern Chile on a regular maintenance flight for an Antarctic base, reports al-Jazeera.
Radio contact was lost 70 minutes later.
After midnight, the air force declared the plane a loss, but it was not until Wednesday that a plane scanning the seas first spotted floating debris believed to be from the plane.
Authorities say they have not ruled out anything as to the cause of the crash, while they also called for national mourning on Saturday and Sunday.
According to reports, the plane made no emergency signal prior to its disappearance, indicating the circumstances of the accident were likely abrupt.
The air force has said the plane’s maintenance record was in order.
It also said it will investigate a WhatsApp audio message sent by a passenger to relatives that allegedly said the plane was having electrical problems.
The plane was flying over the Drake Passage, the sea between the southern tip of South America and Antarctica, which is infamous for rapidly-changing and often severe weather.
New Beijing airport uses cutting-edge blind landing equipment amid low visibility
Beijing’s new Daxing International Airport used its cutting-edge blind landing equipment for the first time on Tuesday morning to safeguard service amid low visibility.
At 6:57 a.m., under the command of the tower controller, an Airbus 330 of Finnish national carrier Finnair landed safely on the runway of Daxing International Airport with visibility below 175 meters.
It was the first passenger flight to conduct a landing with visibility below 175 meters, known as a Category-IIIB landing, since the airport opened to flights, reports Xinhua.
At 7:29 a.m., a Boeing 738 of China United Airlines took off from the runway, becoming the first aircraft to leave Daxing International Airport with visibility below 175 meters.
Daxing Airport used the highest-level ground lighting guidance system amid the low visibility.
The airport opened to flights on September 25. Located 46 km south of downtown Beijing, the new aviation hub is shaped like a phoenix spreading its wings. Its passenger and cargo throughput are expected to reach 72 million and 2 million tonnes, respectively, by 2025, with 620,000 takeoffs and landings.
Qatar Airways to take 60% stake in new Rwandan international airport
Qatar Airways has agreed to take a 60% stake in a new $1.3 billion international airport in Rwanda, the state-run Rwanda Development Board said on Twitter on Monday.
The board said a first phase of construction would provide facilities for 7 million passengers a year in the Bugesera district, about 25 km south east of the capital Kigali. A second phase, expected to be completed by 2032, would double capacity to 14 million passengers a year.
The country’s infrastructure minister Claver Gatete told a news conference that a construction company was still being sought to build the airport, and that once work starts, the first phase would take five years to complete, reports Reuters.
Qatar Airways declined to immediately comment outside of normal business hours.
The plans for the new airport are a modification of those drawn up in 2017 for a smaller facility with a maximum capacity of 4.5 million passengers a year in the same location.
Company and government officials said at the time that Rwanda had signed a deal with the African division of Portuguese construction firm Mota-Engil (MOTA.LS) to build an international airport at a cost of $818 million.
Gatete said the investment from Qatar Airways would enable it to build the larger airport.
“We are looking for a bigger sized airport. That’s why we are looking for a bigger investor,” he said.
Qatari ruler Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani is currently visiting Kigali for the presentation of the International Anti-Corruption Excellence (ACE) Award.
Gatete said there was also a possibility that Qatar Airways would help state-run carrier RwandAir to expand, but gave no more details.
Virgin to deploy A350 in Lagos, unfolds 2020 plans
Mega carrier, Virgin Atlantic, has concluded plans to deploy some of its new newest airplanes, the fuel efficient, noise compliant A350, on London-Lagos route beginning from August 2020.
This is due to the strategic importance they attach to Lagos route.
The Chief Executive Officer of the airline, Shal Weiss, made the disclosure when he visited Nigeria.
Weiss was in Nigeria as part of the airline’s strategic growth to reposition and consolidate on its lucrative London-Lagos route. which was launched 18 years ago and to hold business meetings with airline strategic partners.
He told New Telegraph that the airline customers were going to enjoy incentives, stressing that Virgin Atlantic had returned to profitability and ready to launch more routes to South America.
The airline, according to him, is already phasing out its iconic B747 and A340 airplanes, which it hitherto deployed on the London-Lagos route.
His words: “The plans are to retire the old planes like B747 and A340 for the new ones that are coming. B747 by the way has been a fantastic plane. Everybody loves the B747. The passengers absolutely love it especially the upper deck but it has been 50 years that it has been flying and there are new technologies, better planes, more efficient, more noise efficient and we are moving to those. We are not saying we have been operating B747 for 50 years. We retired one actually last week.”
Asked if the carrier was looking at expansion into more cities in Nigeria, the airline chief said his company was in growth mode not only in Nigeria where they have made some strides but expanding to other cities like Tel Aviv, increasing its flights to Mumbai and opening up services to South America.
Evaluating Nigerians’ low propensity to flying
Nigeria boasts of population many say is almost 200 million. This, however, does not translate to huge traffic due more to prevailing economic situation. WOLE SHADARE writes
Nigeria despite a significant increase in domestic passenger traffic in 2018 by almost 30 per cent, there is still a huge gap in travel demand by Nigerians.
No fewer than 15 million air travellers both domestic and international went through Nigeria Airports in 2018, according to figures released by the Consumer Protection Directorate of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA).
This story is a paradox of sort, given that the geography as well as the demographic profile in Nigeria favours air travel.
The country has a working population of over 80 million, which, in addition to the fact that there are substantial inter-city distances, should favour propensity to travel by air.
The low Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita probably provides some explanation for low propensity to fly.
Pakistan has a lower GDP per capita and still manages to record a higher flight propensity than Nigeria. The number of active domestic airlines is also lower in Nigeria than in other countries, again indicating the low level of demand for air travel.
Dubai, a city and emirate in the United Arab Emirates had 3.137 population. The Dubai airport handled 89 million passengers in 2018.
Dubai, Singapore example
Same with Singapore with a population of 5.6 million but handled 65.6 million passengers in 2018. Infrastructure, security and deliberate plan of making their airports hubs has contributed to the success they and others have achieved over the years.
More than one third of the Nigerian passenger traffic is handled by Lagos alone, and almost two-thirds of the total is served by the three airports in Lagos, Abuja and Port-Harcourt.
Air fares are observed to be on the high side. The most trafficked route in the network, Lagos-Abuja, has an average fare of N30,000 per passenger flight hour. Customer confidence in Nigerian airlines is another reason air travel demand is deemed low.
Airlines in Nigeria, as in several places, are mostly passenger movers, hence, the focus on passenger traffic.
Traffic at the 20 nodes shows that over the period 2007–20182 Lagos, Abuja and Port-Harcourt airports accounted for 76 per cent of domestic passenger traffic at the 20 domestic airports.
Abuja and Lagos are Nigeria’s political and commercial capitals respectively, while Port-Harcourt is a major oil producing city. Clearly, the cost of air fares naturally excludes a large share of Nigeria’s travelling public.
Much of the movements recorded in Lagos pertain to corporate travellers in the middle and high income categories; Lagos houses much of this group in Nigeria given its status as a megacity.
In Abuja, passengers are mostly top government and private sector workers, while Port-Harcourt travellers thrive on the oil economy. The lower middle class where a great potential for market exists generally do not find air fares affordable. They therefore resort to corporate road transport services.
The implication of low traffic densities in several nodes is that many city-pair routes are not commercially viable to the degree that active airlines will increase their service frequencies on these sectors.
Consequently, many nodes in the network do not record sufficiently large passenger movements. Nevertheless, city pairs in Nigeria’s network have great potential for air travel as road distances on these corridors range from 200 km to over 1400 km.
Air transport offers the fastest means of covering these distances as long as airlines keep to scheduled departure time.
Air travel is one of the barometers to gauge the health of a nation. Whenever a country is doing well, it will reflect on the number of people that travel by air. Nigerian aviation is not a stand-alone. It is part of the bigger economy of Nigeria and contributing to the GDP. It is obvious that aviation is the quickest barometer to check any economy.
A frequent traveler and an airline owner, who preferred anonymity, said: “If you check the Nigerian travelling populace, 70 to 80 per cent of those travelling are business people, as compared to the outside world where only 40 per cent are business people, 30 per cent tourists and the other 30 per cent are students and others.
“In Nigeria if you check the flights going to Abuja, 80 to 85 per cent are on business purpose and once these people don’t have business to do, it is obvious that there won’t be any movement because if you are not going to do business, no travelling. So it is a clear quick indication and barometer for the economy.
“So, if the economy is not performing as expected and businessmen are not moving, the airlines will not find the passengers.
“Once the economy begins to jump, business starts to move; then you see movement in our airports. Where 80 to 85 per cent of the passengers are doing business, most of them are not seeing any business to do now. I guess what is happening in Abuja right now is more politics than business. So it is the politicians that are moving.”
The spokesman of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Sam Adurogboye, recently told New Telegraph that the low passenger traffic was a reflection of the prevailing economic situation, noting that the aviation industry cannot be insulated from the rest of the economic mix.
“Air travel and the aviation sector respond to the prevailing economic situation; just like it affects other sectors. In air travel, there is low season and there is also high season. Even on international flights, there are times seats are fully booked and there are also times of flying empty seats. But safety remains our number one priority,” he noted.
Road transport alternative
Since the availability of alternative modes of transportation that are reasonably close substitutes for air transport diminishes with distance travel, it is expected that the demand for air transport will be less elastic for longer flights than for shorter flights.
Furthermore, international travel tends to be spread over more time than domestic travel, so that the airfare is a smaller proportion of overall trip costs, which makes international travel less sensitive to changes in ticket prices.
In addition, leisure travellers are more likely to postpone trips to specific locations in response to higher fares, or to shop around for those locations offering more affordable fares. Consequently, it is expected that the demand for air transport for leisure reasons will be more elastic than business travel.
This basic concept of own-price elasticity of air travel in different market segments suggests that if air fares are reduced on Nigeria’s domestic routes, demand for air travel is likely to increase, since these routes are short-haul. the prohibitive costs of air travel exclude several potential consumers of the service.
S’African Airways shunned by insurers as financial doubts grow
Two big travel insurance companies in South Africa have stopped covering tickets issued by South African Airways (SAA) against insolvency as doubts grow about whether the struggling state-owned airline can survive.
While the move is unlikely to push SAA into liquidation by itself, it will hurt ticket sales and exacerbate a cash crunch that left the airline unable to pay salaries on time this month, analysts said.
SAA has not made a profit since 2011 and has been struggling with an unprofitable network, inefficient planes and a bloated workforce, despite bailouts of more than 20 billion rand ($1.4 billion) over the past three years, reports Reuters.
Its financial position worsened dramatically after Nov. 15, when two of its largest unions began an eight-day strike over pay that forced SAA to cancel hundreds of flights.
Banks want additional guarantees from the state before they lend SAA more money but Finance Minister Tito Mboweni has refused, leaving the airline’s finances on a knife edge.
Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan still wants to save SAA, which says it needs to more than 2 billion rand ($136 million) quickly to stay afloat.
President Cyril Ramaphosa has stayed out of the tussle so far but the longer Mboweni refuses to sign off on guarantees, the more likely it is that SAA will shut down – an outcome an SAA board member said last week was a possibility.
Santam’s Travel Insurance Consultants (TIC) said this week it had stopped its travel supplier insolvency benefit for SAA flights then Australian agency Flight Centre Travel Group said it would stop selling SAA tickets.
The company that administers Hollard Travel Insurance told Reuters on Friday it had also excluded SAA from its travel supplier insolvency coverage, citing the airline’s finances.
Bryte Insurance’s head of travel Anrieth Symon said on Friday it had reversed its position on SAA and would cover its flights against insolvency.
SAA spokesman Tlali Tlali declined to comment when called by Reuters on Friday and did not respond to emailed questions.
Neither Mboweni’s spokeswoman nor Gordhan’s spokesman answered their phones when called by Reuters.
SAA said in a memo to staff on Friday seen by Reuters that its board and executives were in intense discussions with the government and that the airline’s leaders were exploring “all options regarding SAA’s future”.
Guy Leitch, an aviation analyst who edits the SA Flyer magazine, said the decisions by the insurers and Flight Centre to drop the airline were hugely significant.
“No one managing SAA, from Minister Gordhan downwards, anticipated the flight of confidence that the strike would have,” Leitch said.
In a letter to clients dated November 28, Flight Centre said its preferred travel insurance provider was no longer willing to cover SAA due to doubts about its long-term viability.
TIC said its reinsurers had instructed it to exclude SAA from its insolvency coverage. It did not disclose the names of its reinsurers.
Ramaphosa’s government has taken a harder line on SAA recently, saying repeated bailouts must come to an end. He is trying to preserve the country’s last investment-grade credit rating and revive growth in Africa’s second-biggest economy.
South Africa’s sovereign debt is rated “junk” by S&P Global and Fitch Ratings but Moody’s still ranks it as investment grade, helping to prevent a spike in borrowing costs typically sparked by a downgrade from all three agencies.
Leitch said SAA’s liabilities exceeded its assets by a huge amount and the recent loss of confidence in the airline would force the government to decide whether to rescue it.
“This is a high-stakes game.”
BA flight heading to Abuja loses engine mid-air
…Returns to Heathrow
A British Airways flight heading to Abuja from London on Tuesday returned to Heathrow Airport after the plane lost one of its engines mid-air.
The airline confirmed that BA 083 flight returned to Heathrow and was met by the emergency services as a precaution measure after what it called “a minor technical issue.”
In a mail sent to THISDAY, the airline said, “For your information, the aircraft experienced a minor technical issue and our pilots elected to return to Heathrow. In terms of the emergency services meeting the aircraft, this is standard practice.
“Our aircraft returned to Heathrow and was met by the emergency services as a precaution after experiencing a minor technical issue. Our teams looked after our customers last night, providing them with overnight accommodation. We’re sorry to our customers for the delay to their travel plans. (sic)”
Air rage: Coping with unruly passengers
Indeed, air rage has become a global problem. Such unruly behaviour threatens safety and security, adversely affects travel experience of compliant passengers, and disrupts operations that may result in flight delays, cancellations or diversions, writes WOLE SHADARE
The global statistics for unruly passengers is alarming. Before proceeding, there is need to look at global statistics on unruly passengers and the work the industry is doing to prevent incidents and to ensure a stronger international legal deterrent. The 2017 global statistics comes from reports submitted by airlines to the International Air Transport Association (IATA) STEAD database. Not every airline is a member of IATA and not every member of IATA submits data. So, it is likely that the statistics significantly underestimate the extent of the issue. Assistant Director, External Affairs, IATA, Tim Colehan, at the IATA Media Day held in Geneva, Switzerland, said when they look at the incident rate, there was one incident every 1, 053 flights in 2017, adding that this means the frequency of reported incidents has increased versus 2016 where there was an incident every 1, 424 sectors.
According to IATA, there were 8, 731 reports in 2017, which is a reduction of 1, 106 versus the previous year. He stated that the total number of reports submitted could be affected by changes in the number of airlines submitting data to Safety Trend Evaluation, Analysis and Data Exchange System (STEADS). For example, some airlines change their reporting systems during the year and so may not submit data. According to him, “when we look at the intoxication, we see that 562 out of the 2, 454 relate to consumption of own alcohol-for example duty free brought on to the aircraft. We know that the remaining amount relates to mostly to alcohol consumed prior to boarding. “So, what we can conclude from these figures? Well, they show that unruly passenger incidents remain a significant issue. We know that they are committed by a tiny minority of our customers, but like we heard in the example I gave at the start, they have disproportionate impacts on other passengers, crew and the operation.”
IATA members agreed a resolution in 2014, which set out the strategy and approach-one element of that work with other stakeholders to try and improve prevention and to share best practices internationally. One market, which has seen a significant rise in reported incidents, is the United Kingdom. In the period 2013-2017, there was a 325 per cent increase, with alcohol intoxication identified as a trigger in many of these cases. Many of the cases were focused in the key summer months and on flights to particular destinations. The UK Air Navigation Order already makes it illegal to board an aircraft when drunk or to be drunk when onboard. The penalties are a GBP5,000 fine or two years in prison. But the industry itself has been proactive in trying to prevent incidents. IATA said it was part of a10-week government-endorsed public information campaign called, ‘One Too Many” during summer 2018 that aimed to raise awareness of the need to fly responsibly,
No one knows how many unruly passengers cause flight diversions each year or how many are ordered to pay restitution. However, in some of the most egregious incidents, unruly passengers can face large financial restitution penalties. The fines carry a dual purpose. They help airlines recoup the cost when a flight is cut short and serve as a deterrent to others to think twice before behaving badly on a flight. Unruly passengers have been a problem airlines have grappled with for decades. But in an era with increased focus on safety and security, tighter seating and packed planes, the airline industry feels a sense of urgency to identify potential problems and prevent incidents. The restitution penalties are federal prosecutors’ efforts to put a dent in the problem.
Pay the fine
In a case in July 2018, passenger Bolutife Olusegun Olorunda was ordered to pay Delta Air Lines $9,118 for the cost of a diversion to Tulsa after he verbally assaulted a flight attendant on his flight from Portland, Ore to Atlanta. The issue of misbehavior in the air has gained greater focus in recent years, with IATA pushing for countries to adopt a global legal framework and enforcement policy for unruly passengers, since gaps in governance can mean some people are never punished for misconduct. Association of Flight Attendants union spokeswoman Taylor Garland said a lot of people take prescription drugs to feel more comfortable flying, and they don’t realize the [different] effect that alcohol or drugs can have when you’re up in the air. If an issue with one problematic passenger isn’t tackled quickly, it could escalate into a conflict involving more people and become “a much bigger incident,” Garland said — which is why the captain may decide to divert.
Globally, airlines are doing their bit to control the menace. Some airlines had requested airports to limit customers to two-drinks before boarding flights and not to serve alcohol in the airport before 10 am. But aviation experts aver imparting and upgrading training to cabin crew and airline staff is the only way out.
Qantas urges rapper will.i.am to withdraw racism accusation against staffer
Australia’s flagship airline, Qantas, said on Monday it stood ready to offer legal assistance to a member of its flight crew named in a racism accusation by Black Eyed Peas rapper will.i.am on social media.
The U.S. singer had taken a flight about 1-1/2-hours long to Sydney, Australia’s most populous city, from northeastern Brisbane to play at a concert on Saturday, but was met by Australian federal police at the arrival gate.
He said on Twitter he was racially targeted by an airline attendant, whom he identified by name, after failing to put away his laptop as the flight prepared to land, because he had put on noise-cancelling headphones to “make beats”.
Qantas, which called the incident a “misunderstanding”, has requested the rapper to retract his statement, reports Reuters.
“Absent a retraction, and if the crew member wanted to take the matter further, we’d certainly be willing to provide legal support for them to do this,” a spokesman told Reuters in a statement.
Police confirmed they spoke to crew and passengers at the airport, but said no further action was required. “The Australian Federal Police considers this matter finalised,” they said in a statement.
On Saturday, will.i.am said in a post on Twitter, “Is calling the police on a passenger for not hearing (the) P.A. due to wearing noise-canceling headphones appropriate?”
He added, “If didn’t put away my laptop ‘in a rapid 2min time’ I’d understand. I did comply quickly & politely, only to be greeted by police. I think I was targeted.”
As of Monday, will.i.am had not made any retraction on social media, even as other commenters pointed out that the crew member he identified had received threats on social media as a result.
He pointed out that if he were rude to a fan or journalist, he would be publicly named.
“This is what Twitter is for…we are supposed to call out wrongdoings so we can have a safer, more compassionate world,” will.i.am said.
Reuters was not able to contact the rapper through his agency, and he did not immediately respond to a request for comment on social media.
Last remains of Ethiopian plane crash victims buried, families say little notice given
The last remains of 157 people killed aboard an Ethiopian Airlines plane in March were interred at the crash site, farmers and families told Reuters, but some relatives were upset they had been unable to take part in the ceremony.
Nadia Milleron, whose daughter Samya Stumo was killed, said an email was sent to some families — but not all — notifying them of the burial just two days before it happened.
“By the time the burial took place I was just wiped out; I was just glad they were doing it. I was tired of it not being done,” said Milleron. “But a lot of people didn’t feel like that. They hadn’t been aware of what was happening.”
Ethiopian Airlines did not return calls seeking comment about why some families were not told in advance.
Families have been begging the airline to fill in the crater left by the March 10 crash, which still contained remains too small to be recovered.
Milleron said on Saturday that locals had been burying remains exposed by rains in small mounds of earth. She herself found a bone at the site when she visited Ethiopia to collect her daughter’s remains in October, which she told the airline about in an email.
The force of the impact meant no complete bodies were recovered; partial remains were tested for DNA and finally returned to families last month.
As the burial took place on Thursday, a U.S. embassy representative present kept Milleron updated by text: “Now they’re laying the coffins down, now they’re putting earth on them …”
“I became a blubbering mess,” she said.
Milleron said the lack of notice of the burial ceremony had raised tensions between the families and Ethiopian Airlines.
“We are looking into taking legal action against EA – not of course to exhume and re-organise the burial, that’s done – but to make sure we secure a leading role in planning for a future memorial,” said Adrian Toole, a British father whose daughter Joanna was aboard the plane.
“EA are clearly on a corporate strategy to ‘tidy up’ the remaining issues so as to get the whole episode out of the public eye.”
Representatives of the airline and of Boeing and some embassy employees were there. The Boeing representatives were on a prearranged trip to discuss community projects, Milleron said.
Boeing manufactured the 737 MAX 8 plane, which nosedived shortly after take-off. A preliminary investigation pointed to a malfunctioning anti-stall system known as MCAS, which was also implicated in the crash of a Lion Air plane in Indonesia five months earlier. All 189 people onboard that flight were killed.
Tesfaye Mulatu, a farmer near the crash site, said he had seen a helicopter arrive and cars bring caskets on Thursday. The crater left by the impact has been filled in, he said.
“Now, the area looks a football field,” he told Reuters by telephone.
Some bereaved families have formed associations and hope to use funds from Boeing to build a memorial. The manufacturer will make $100 million available, with half going to families and half to projects in local communities.
“We continue to offer our deepest sympathies to the families and loved ones of the victims of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 and Lion Air Flight 610 and we are committed to helping those affected by these tragedies,” Boeing spokesman Chaz Bickers said.
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