Vol. 9 No. 27                                                             WE COVER THE WORLD                                          Thursday February 25, 2010

Here Comes DE Judge

How Lufthansa Got Back
In The Air

     As big things happen in the world, so do they happen in the airline business – like last week’s strike at Lufthansa.
     When somebody has the ability to look into the face of an impossible event and reap a decent result, it is proof positive that it isn’t just a matter of being in the right place at the right time. You also have to be the right person.
     At 44 years young, with a PhD in Philology and membership in the German Social Democratic Party (SDP), Silke Kohlschitter has quickly become a household name for Germans in air cargo.
     ‘Quickly’, referring to just this past Monday, when she found herself on the world stage, with millions of Germans and people around the world suddenly aware of her presence.
     As judge at Frankfurt’s labor court, this humorous and energetic lady brought the scrabbling pilots union, Vereinigung Cockpit (VC), and Lufthansa back to the table.
     “I am only a kind of nurse offering my help, but it’s your job to give birth to a new tariff agreement,” she address the brooding VC and Lufthansa people, along with their various mouthpieces, in her court room.
     “And hurry up with your decision-making process since at 8pm begins the Tagesschau,” she admonished, referring to Germany’s best-viewed TV news program.
     The impact of those words snapped the lawyers and emissaries out of the quarreling and into the field of compromise, eventually settling onto an important agreement for a new round of negotiations to settle their tariff dispute and end the strike actions.
     This, only minutes after Judge Kohlschitter astounded everybody in the packed court room by asking the pilots if their main demand was to receive better pay.
     This simple but basic question obviously surprised the VC representatives, who finally nodded after taking long and notable breaths.
     “Okay,” she said, “since the main topic is a new settlement on salaries, you both better get back to the table straight away and negotiate a new deal, since there is no real alternative to talks.”
     Her recommendation was the right thing at the right time, resulting in a welcome respite in an otherwise grim fight that has to do with more influence on management decisions and long term job security, which the VC unionists ranked top on their agenda. It provided a chance for some perspective on both sides. Consequently, by admitting that their main cause was money, the VC side had to drop all claims that German pilot tariffs should also be applied to cockpit crews of foreign Lufthansa subsidiaries, like LH Italia.
     This was especially important, as this demand has been a sort of casus belli for Lufthansa’s executive board members. Hence, they had fiercely rejected all attempts to interfere in management decisions by the unionists prior to the court hearing.
     When the VC entourage and Lufthansa managers entered the courtroom again after a round of separate consultations, both sides accepted Frau Kohlschitter’s proposals unanimously and without any conditions.
     The court’s hearing was over.
     The pilot’s strike, too.
     It was 7:54 pm, exactly six minutes before Tagesschau went on air.
     Talk about on-time delivery!
Heiner Siegmund

     Recently released figures from the Central Bank of Russia (CBR) show the value of foreign direct investment into Russia during January-September 2009 was USD$30 billion, or 44 % less than in the same period a year earlier. (The figures do not include investments in the financial sector.)  FDI inflows to Russia reached USD$73 billion in 2008.
     Russian Federal States Statistics Service (Rosstat) figures provide insight into the structure of FDI.
Rosstat uses slightly different rules than the central bank in collecting data on FDI, so its overall figures are not fully comparable with CBR figures, which follow international standards. Rosstat reports that the largest
share of FDI inflows during the first nine months of the year went to manufacturing (28% of investment), mining and mineral extraction (22%), as well as trade and real estate (17% each).
     FDI is also geographically quite concentrated. Some 52% of FDI is destined for the City of Moscow and the Moscow region, in part because most nationally operating companies have their headquarters in Moscow. The next largest destinations for FDI were the City of St. Petersburg (9%), followed by the Sakhalin (8%) and Kaluga (3.5%) regions. The Sakhalin region boasts extensive oil and gas deposits; the Kaluga region includes an industrial zone on the outskirts of Moscow.
     Rosstat reports the biggest foreign direct investment flows into Russia in the January-September period came from Cyprus, Germany and the Netherlands, which together accounted for 48% of FDI. Cyprus, in
particular, is an important off-shore banking centre for Russia and is used to recycle Russian capital and circumvent taxes.
     Foreign direct investment flows into Russia, which were barely a trickle a decade ago, have increased briskly throughout the 2000s. According to UNCTAD figures, Russia’s FDI stock amounted to USD$214 billion at the end of 2008. The stock corresponded to 12% of the Russian GDP, placing the country in between e.g. Brazil (19%) and China (9%). The FDI stocks of developed countries averaged 25% of GDP in 2008.
Gordon Feller

Wings of Hope . . . (L) Dr. Eckhard Cordes, Chairman of the Management Board and CEO, Metro Group, Thomas Schnalke, MD, DUS, Baerbel Dieckmann, President Welthungerhilfe, Reto Hunziker, MD, LH Charter, Frans W.H. Muller, Metro Group.

     Despite the now settled walkout of many Lufthansa pilots (Monday) an LH Cargo MD-11F departed on time at midday from Duesseldorf airport to Santo Domingo. From there the load will be trucked to Haiti.
     “The aircraft was flown by our own Lufthansa Cargo crew members that refrained from participating in strike action,” the company’s spokesman Nils Haupt emphasized.
     On board the freighter were 65 tons of relief supplies for the earthquake-stricken people in Haiti. The goods were donated by one of the world’s biggest retailing enterprises, Germany’s Metro Group.
     By putting together the relief supplies Metro collaborated closely with experts from the Welthungerhilfe. This non-profit organization made up a list of what was most urgently needed to assure the every day life of the quake survivors. Among the items were tents, diesel generators, satellite telephones, different tools, personal hygiene items, cooking pots as well as school materials and toys for children.
     Said Metro’s CEO Dr. Eckhard Cordes: “We do take our global corporate social responsibility very seriously. That’s why we immediately decided to help the people in the devastated areas. Our aim is to contribute effectively to the reconstruction works.”
     In addition the executive applauded the commitment of the Metro Group staff. “We did not have to ask much, everyone gladly volunteered to help.”
     Cordes also thanked Lufthansa Cargo Charter, which transports the relief goods at cost price to the Dominican Republic. He further lauded Duesseldorf’s airport management for not charging any landing fees, ground handling costs or other expenses.
     Baerbel Dieckmann, President of Welthungerhilfe, praised the humanitarian commitment of all parties involved:
     “This support is extraordinary and remarkable. Especially now, when many journalists have already left the country, and Haiti gets slowly out of public focus, the population urgently needs our sustained support over the months to come.”
     “Lufthansa Cargo Charter has always supported relief flights to disaster areas,” said Managing Director Reto Hunziker.
     “Normally, we conduct humanitarian aid flights at cost price. We consider offering relief agencies the possibility to ship as many relief goods as possible to the affected region fast and at a reasonable price as our contribution to help.”
     A second MD-11F special flight chartered by the METRO Group is scheduled to follow in early March. Prior to yesterday’s mission a Lufthansa Cargo freighter had already airlifted relief supplies to Haiti on January 25 at LH Cargo expenses.
Heiner Siegmund

Amelia Earhart Goes
Missing Again

     Amelia Earhart went missing again.
     The American aviator who disappeared somewhere over the Pacific in 1937 while trying to become the first woman to fly around the globe was the subject of a biographical movie last year starring Hilary Swank.
     But next week when Hollywood hands out its annual Oscars, the film “Amelia” will not be in evidence.
     What happened?
     We think that this movie production is strictly for the initiated, meaning that unless you love to watch lots of aerial scenes and a couple of hours of a Lockheed Electra and the Lockheed Vega taking off and landing, then this biopic on cinema despite its subject and her eventual disappearance is an exasperatingly dull production.
     Maybe worse, director Mira Nair who has otherwise made some pretty good movies misses the point here completely.
     Ms. Nair’s qualification appears to be that she’s a woman who has made others films about and with women (“Mississippi Masala,” “Vanity Fair”), for some reason here delivers an antiseptically clean, over sweet and carefully staged production.
     Everything is perfect, right down to Hilary’s Amelia toothy grin.
     It’s hard to fathom how, both Swank, who apparently put up some money to get this film made and Nair, who as mentioned is usually spot on—missed with Amelia so badly.
     Earhart was a big celebrity for more than 20 years setting records, even selling luggage with her name on it at Sears.
     In 1928 she became the first woman to fly across the Atlantic.
     She didn’t pilot the plane, forced instead to watch the world pass by from the rear.
     Four years later she took the controls of her blood red Lockheed Vega to become the first woman to fly solo across the pond from Newark Airport to Europe.
     She then tried to circumnavigate the world saying:
     “Like previous flights, I am undertaking this one solely because I want to, and because I feel that women now and then have to do things to show what women can do.”
     No problem with that.
     The problem seems to be Hilary Swank herself.
     Ms. Swank looks the part but after about an hour of wooden performance and screen filling wide smiles (maybe the American Dental Assoc. (ADA) should use some clips of this film for a commercial) it all gets a bit tiresome.
     But then there are the occasional flight sequences and all that stilted story line fades.
     Unfortunately what goes up must come down, so when the plane moves back to earth, once again the dull story line takes over.
     The best part of the film is saved for the end, when the 39-year old Amelia and her navigator the great Pan Am Airways navigator have flown off into history forever.
     Over the final credits are film clips of the lady herself in some flinty black and white newsreels.
     There she is on the screen 100% real and back, bigger than life 72 years after she disappeared.
     But now Amelia is available on video and is playing on airplanes and on cable TV in USA.
     Here are some memories not soon forgotten.

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