Vol. 10  No. 8                                                   WE COVER THE WORLD                                 Monday January 31, 2011

Push Back In Price Fix

     Apparently, there is no law against airlines getting together and saying, enough is enough. The air cargo business is finally standing up, with British Airways, Air France-KLM Group, Cargolux and others saying they will appeal the billion dollar antitrust fine levied last November for alleged price fixing of air cargo fuel and security surcharges.
     And so the push back finally arrives, after years of government/justice department-inspired cop raids, fines and even jail for some executives, with all told more than $1.5 billion paid out in fines.
     Interestingly, Lufthansa Cargo is also appealing “for legal reasons,” although as the first carrier to have settled with investigators on both sides of the Atlantic, the carrier has been operating with immunity and no further fines.
     What’s next?
     The hope is that guys thrown under the bus, like Bruce McCaffrey, the USA Qantas Cargo boss who served time, and Uli Ogiermann (Cargolux ex-CEO) who face prosecution can get their lives and reputations back.
     As we wrote a few years back, air cargo needs to stand up and say we have had enough and will not take this anymore.
     Air cargo can say, “If we need to do business a different way, then clear guidelines and rules must be drawn, just as was done for passengers flying post 9/11.”
     Then everyone can get back to business.
     Stay tuned.


Basel Goes E-Freight

     Basel Airport goes IATA e-freight capable added to Zurich and Geneva and that is working out well for Markus Loeffler, Senior Manager Quality and Safety Assurance at Swiss WorldCargo who exclaims:
     “The implementation of the e-freight process in Basel marks a significant step to improve data quality and efficiency as well to strengthen the leading role of Switzerland as a hub for urgent, sensitive and high value cargo.”
     Swiss World Cargo leads the way for Lufthansa, Singapore Airlines plus the ground handling agent Swissport, customs and airport authorities as well as a large group of local and international freight forwarders - such as Panalpina, DHL, Agility Logistics, Fracht AG, Glob-sped, Gondrand, Lamprecht, Hoco and Wincanton.
     The first e-freight compliant transaction was performed in on January 14 by Kühne & Nagel on the trade lane between Basel Airport and Hong Kong.
     Zap came the sound from the warehouse.


Reporter's Notebook—By Geoffrey Arend

Drinking LaGuardia

Tim Peirce at the center of the entire LaGuardia Airport staff on a snowy February day in 1978.

     I’m sitting at a bar in the basement of the Central Terminal Building (CTB) at LaGuardia Airport, in a space that used to be home to Manufacturers Hanover Trust Bank, reminiscing on a time that I thought would never go away.
     George "Tim" Peirce was once manager of the airport, Ronnie Rapaciullo was bank manager, and Danny Radovan was upstairs at a restaurant called "The Terrace."
     Kevin Malanaphy at United and Andy Roman at Delta lit up the universe with style and class.
     But now Tim is gone.
     He died eleven years ago on January 31, 2000.
     Ronnie is retired.
     So is Danny.
     Both of these guys, I imagine, are living somewhere in Florida.
     Last time I saw Andy was after Delta took over Pan Am, and I thought he was a German. He wore a Euro-cut suit and light brown shoes, and I discovered then that he was a big shot in DL's European plans.
     Kevin and dear Pat Malanaphy are living somewhere near San Francisco.
     Every time I hear from them, even if my wife takes the call, I feel good for a month.
     My friends mean everything to me.
     So I am sitting in this airport place called "Figs," watching prosciutto pizzas as they are churned out of a hot, brick oven.
     The dancing fire adds comfort to the high ceiling room and seems to mock the window-wall view of late January swirling outside. It's Bowery Bay weather and a queue of aircraft seem to hug hard against LaGuardia’s main runway.
     The feeling from the fire is like the warmth of the sun, and it is with me tonight: I think of Brian Wilson’s apropos lyrics, and also recall the Yule Log burning endlessly on Christmas Eve T.V.,0 here in New York.
     It’s always like this for me during this time of year in Queens, New York.
     The ritual is always the same since Tim died.
     I belly up to this bar in the CTB at LaGuardia.
     The drink is Dewar’s White Label, Tim’s favorite, and it costs seven bucks a shot.
     The order is two rocks glasses with double shots neat, no ice.
     The bartender never need ask whom the drink is for—by the time he collects his 28 bucks plus tax, I’m already in earnest conversation with Tim.
     It’s funny; these days you can talk out loud in public to no one in particular and most people won’t think you’re nuts.
     I think the advent of cell phones has caused people to think that anyone talking to no one is really just wearing an earpiece. Maybe all the homeless in New York are just on an earpiece with God. Something to think about.
 (left to right)—Tim Peirce, James Brooks and Geoffrey Arend

    Tim asks me about a big corkscrew-looking thing hanging from the atrium ceiling inside the CTB. It is festooned with miniature representations of the Beck Eagle that was once atop the entranceway of the CTB. I tell him those little Eagles and Dolphins are part of the execution of interpretive art.
     "The only thing that gripes me," I tell Tim, "is that the stone bust of Mayor LaGuardia that was in the CTB is now squat in the center of the MAT."
     "We cannot get drunk enough to roll it into Bowery Bay," I say. "I remember the day they unveiled it. Mrs. Marie LaGuardia (Fiorello’s widow) was in attendance, and she just gasped:
     ‘That doesn’t look anything like Fiorello.’"
     Now, the corkscrew resides in the CTB and the brooding, offensive Fiorello rests inside the MAT.
     "Someday," I tell Tim, "I’ll take care of that."
"Better not let anybody hear you talking," Tim cautions. "Besides, Jim told me just the other day that Mayor LaGuardia loved the MAT and pulled 'surprise' inspections on the place when Jim was painting the mural, even checking out the lavs to make sure they were clean."
      Jim is James Brooks, the artist who painted the enormous "Flight" mural in 1940-42 that encircles the upper walls of the MAT Lobby.
"So perhaps," Tim suggests, "the bust is meant for the MAT."
     Tim always knew what to say, and was more than careful while working for a little agency called the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey.
     He was absolutely masterful at getting things done and knowing what to do when the chips were down.
     Tim had this great boss by the name of Robert J. Aaronson. Bob both knew and understood Tim in a way that most can only hope to be witness to one day.
     I mention that I saw him recently at The Wings Club in New York and he still looked great, although the moustache was gone.
     "Great guy," Tim says. "A visionary aviation director who changed everything, even hired a cargo marketing manager, a first for the country, but always respected everybody around him. One of a kind."
     An airplane taxies outside and I tell Tim that most of the LaGuardia legacy airlines are still struggling with regaining financial power after the financial meltdown two years ago, but because of other efforts to realign themselves most have finally returned to profit in 2010.
     "Is Ronnie still clearing your checks?" Tim wonders.
     I tell him that I think Ronnie retired to Vegas or some place, and we both laugh at that one.
     Looking around at the fresh, energetic faces of airline people today, we can both agree what a great place this LaGuardia was, and still is.
     The motto is "The little airport that works," and "The Passenger’s favorite."
     Once upon a time at a little airport called LaGuardia, you could park your car upstairs on the drive deck and get a haircut from Ricky the barber at the CTB, or go upstairs to Danny Radovan’s Terrace Restaurant to watch the runway from above.
     Danny was the perfect host at the Terrace, but beyond that, he was also the greatest airport restaurateur anywhere in the world.
     Style, class and impeccable service matched good food, a great view and over-stuffed banquettes for discrete, afternoon libations.
     "The financial condition of the airlines has prompted an end to food service aboard the airplanes," I tell Tim.
     Tim smiles. He whispers that airline chow was never that hot in the first place, so maybe terminal food will benefit from this change.
     "How’s Helen Marshall?" Tim asks.
     I tell him that Helen was reelected for a second term as Queens New York Borough President.
     He is not surprised.
     "She always had an eye for the people and the good of the Borough. There might not have been a LaGuardia Airport without her.
     "Back when she represented the neighborhood surrounding LaGuardia on the New York City Council, she always took an even, balanced approach so that both community and airport could get along.
     "She’s a great gal and Queens is lucky.
     "And Don Marshall? How is he?"
Tim asks.
     I tell him that LaGuardia Kiwanis is still working hard for the airport, and that after we spoke last year I heard from Joan DeCorta who is now happily married and prospering in a life away from the airport.
     I remind him that the reputation of the Kiwanis Club Annual Charity Ball Award as a kiss of death to careers remains intact. The 2004 winner was ATA and, true to form, about six months after the party at the LaGuardia Marriot, the airline went into bankruptcy.
     Tim makes me promise to stop telling that story.
     "Remember the clambakes that Tony Lima put up on Martha’s Vineyard Island when he was manager of Air New England?"
     "You’ll never guess what happened to Vince Costanzo," I say.
     "Last time I talked to him, he was selling bibles or something."
     "What’s so funny about that?" Tim wonders.
     "We get a lot of that around here all the time.
     "Pete Gebhard and I always find a reason to be someplace else.
     "I miss Bill Felt."
Tim says.
     "We used to sit and talk about things all the time.
     "Often as the hour got late at our gatherings, sometimes after the annual Kiwanis Kids Day, Pat Felt would sing to all of us in her beautiful, sweet voice that I always thought was heaven on earth."
     "Tony Statuto is working hard for the airport too. Ralph and Connie Sabatelli are still together and a big part of the airport family here, and dear Mary Sabatelli brought back the old feelings for many of us at her annual open house New Year's Eve party on Long Island,” I say
     "Mary made us all look good," Tim says.
     "Tell her I love her, and think of the good times we had with much affection."
     I tell Tim that Kenny Ippolitto is still on a bulldozer all day and dressed to the nines at night, and Tim nods.
     Tim recalls:
     "You could always call up Kenny anytime, for anything, and he would come through.
     "I guess I was kind of tough sometimes, setting up events like Man of the Year, but Kenny and all the others were simply great.
     "People like Kenny and Pam, Dik Wesson, Dick Allen, Kevin and Pat Malanaphy, John and Joan Zito, Andy Roman, Doc Herrlin, Jessie Cromer and others made the ‘80s and ‘90s a very special time for the airport.
     "Doc and me talk about that all the time now.
     "We were an extended family.
     "I wish we were still together,"
Tim says.
     "Most of these folks are in no rush to join you now," I laugh.

NBC founders honor James Brooks (center) the man who created the mural “Flight” in 1942 for LaGuardia Airport’s Marine Air Terminal at a gala party inside the MAT in 1980. (Left to right is Vince Costanzo, Tony Lima, Kenny Ippolito, Danny Radovan, Mr. Brooks, Kevin Malanaphy, Tim Peirce, Geoffrey Arend and Andy Roman.

     "Warren Kroeppel, who took over as LaGuardia Airport GM, retired. He was LGA Manager for the past eleven years.
     "He kept your picture in a place of pride in that little cubbie with a sink inside your office atop Hangar Seven."
     "I remember Warren," Tim says.
     "He was a bright, rising star. Best of all, he read the airport manager play book that was developed in 1948 by all the Port Authority managers."
     "Warren turned out just great," I tell him.
     "The new guy seems to have slid right into the GM role," I tell Tim.
     "Tom Bosco, who is a genuine American war hero having served in both Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm, took over as LaGuardia General Manager earlier this month.
     "But right away he said all the right things, handling a huge airport stopping snowstorm and also addressing LaGuardia challenges.
     "A reporter asked Tom:
     'How do you react to a Zagat survey calling LaGuardia the worst airport in the country?'
     "Tom said it didn’t come as a surprise.
     "'There is some truth to that when you look at its infrastructure,' he said.
     "'We are gonna change that,' Tom Bosco said.
     "Tom also recalled your old mantra, Tim.
     "LaGuardia handling 22 million passengers a year in a space of just over 600 acres 'is like a mini-city, and I’m kind of the Mayor,' he said.
     "A couple of weeks a career does not make, but Tom looks like the real deal," I tell Tim.
     "Tom was at the airport during the late 1980’s right after he joined the Port Authority. Smart good guy just right for LGA," Tim says.
     "About that Zagat rating... I can’t help but feel they represent a fraction of the 22 million that flood to the airport every year…"
     "The North Beach Club (NBC) that you started is still going strong, with monthly meetings happening in the MAT," I tell Tim.
     There are a couple of people at NBC who work hard to keep the spirit of that special group going, organizing the Annual Golf Outing that does so much to support North Beach Club charities.
     We recall the creation of NBC twenty years ago that went on to doing nothing more than raise money to give to LaGuardia Airport employees who needed a helping hand.
     "The idea of airport people helping each other is a notion that should spread elsewhere," Tim states.
     I’m thinking of how much we both had in common during our twenty years together, and how strong our love for the airport and the airline business was and is.
     Once, we served as polar opposites: Tim the public agency man; Geoff the writer from the private sector.
I think we eventually discovered we were from the same place.
     I ask Tim: has he seen Pope John Paul?
     Then we remember the day in 1980 when his Holiness visited LaGuardia. He walked on a red carpet rolled out from his TWA B727 onto the airport.
     "Later, Herb Borrelli cut up that rug into six inch squares and gave out pieces to airport employees to commemorate the visit," Tim recalls.
     "I know," I say, "I still have two pieces in the office filing cabinet.
     "But the best was when you called me up to tell me to watch the television coverage of the Pope's arrival.
     "There you were on the hardstand on national television, handing the Pope a copy of a book I wrote about LaGuardia Airport.
     "I could read my name on the spine of the book that the Pontiff was looking at and holding.
     "Tim, after I saw that picture, I told everybody I knew that there were two books his Holiness had read for sure, and my book on LaGuardia was one of them,"
     I say, "remember when we did the same thing on the day the Dali Lama landed over at the Eastern Airlines Shuttle?
     "His Holiness was both a good sport and appreciative," says Tim.
     I respond, "Somewhere I still have the personal, handwritten letter of thanks: ‘To Geoff and Tim Pears."
     "How’s your Mom?" Tim wonders.
     "Maybe you can tell me," I reply.
     The fire from the brick oven dances on the window in a flighty, orange light, teasing the cold birds lying in wait on the runway.
     "Let’s do this again," he says.
     "Same time next year."


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