Monthly Archives: December 2016

Now Arab Gulf’s Biggest Airlines Reveal Impact

President Donald Trump’s travel ban on immigrant visa holders from seven Muslim nations has had little impact on travel, at least at the major Arabian Gulf carriers that control much of the airspace between the U.S. and the Middle East.

“A very small number of our passengers were affected by the new U.S. immigration entry requirements,” Dubai-based carrier Emirates Airlines said in a statement.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) followed an executive order by Trump on Jan. 27 to ban travel from seven countries, including war zones like Yemen, Syria, Iraq and Libya. The move was immediately called a “Muslim ban” on social media, leading to protests against the order in Washington, New York City, and at airports throughout the country. A little over 1,100 people were reportedly denied boarding this week because of the ban, CBP said on its website. But William Cocks, a spokesperson for the State Department’s Bureau of Conslar Affairs said Friday that “roughly 60,000 individual visas were revoked”.  A Federal judge in Seattle ordered a stay on the ban later in the day on Friday. It is unclear how Homeland Security will respond to the injunction.

Major Muslim nations like Saudi Arabia as well as United Arab Emirates were not part of the ban.

Two green card holders were stopped at the border during that time frame, but one was from Canada and he decided to go there instead of continuing onto the U.S., according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Initial rules to ban green card holders were scrapped following harsh criticism from U.S. family members. Green card holders are one step away from citizenship. Tourist and H-1B worker visas were also banned.

Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways said their flight crews were unaffected, but that a number of passengers were not allowed to board. Qatar Airways from Doha did not comment on its Tehran to New York route, which leaves daily from JFK International. Iranians without diplomatic visas or green cards are banned from entering the U.S. for 90 days.

A State Department spokesperson said that the executive order does not effect refugees already vetted for travel to the U.S. Others may be let in on a case by case basis while the order stands. Some 900 refugees from around the world were in transit when the order was released and will be admitted to the U.S. by the end of this week, including a small number from the seven countries. The State Department did not say which countries or how many were coming.

The Trump Administration says the ban gives Homeland Security a chance to retool vetting procedures of passengers coming from countries known to be hotbeds of anti-American terrorism. Critics of the ban argue that a number of jihadis fighting in the seven countries carry passports from places unaffected by the executive order.

The World’s Longest Flight Is Now A Matter Of Dispute

Qatar Airways says its Boeing 777 200-LR has completed the longest commercial flight in the world – by time.

Measured by distance, the honor of operating the longest flight in the world is now a matter of a global dispute.

Qatar’s first Doha, Qatar to Auckland, New Zealand flight took off Sunday and covered 9,032 miles before landing on Monday.

Air India’s flight between Delhi and San Francisco connects cities separated by 8,264 miles. But Air India elects to fly a circuitous route of 9,389 miles because the flight encounters fewer headwinds and takes less time than it did previously. It is also operated with a Boeing 777-200.

Qatar’s flight QR0920 was scheduled to take 16 hours and 20 minutes. But it arrived in Auckland 15 minutes early, according to The New Zealand Herald.

The return flight was scheduled at 17 hours and 30 minutes, the longest flight in the world, with the added length attributed to headwinds.

The Doha-Auckland flight surpasses the 8,819-mile flight between Dubai and Auckland that is flown by Qatar rival Emirates, also using a Boeing 777-200 LR. Dubai-Auckland had been listed by some as the world’s longest flight.

In terms of distance, neither route surpasses the 9,389 miles covered by Air India’s Delhi-San Francisco flight.

Air India previously flew a shorter Artic route, which took it over the Atlantic Ocean and totaled 8,264 miles. It switched to trans-Pacific in October.

The trans-Pacific flight takes 14.5 hours, almost two hours less than trans-Atlantic.

“Flying Delhi to San Francisco over the Pacific Ocean instead of the Atlantic, as it had done till last week, has earned Air India the record of operating the world’s longest nonstop flight,” The Times of Indiareported in October.

Although the Pacific route is longer, “the flight took almost two hours less thanks to tailwinds — winds that blow in the same direction as an aircraft and thus make it go faster,” The Times said.

“The Earth rotates from west to east, and winds flow in that direction too,” according to an Air India official quoted by the newspaper. “Flying west means facing strong headwinds (that decreases an aircraft’s actual ground speed), and flying east means getting strong tailwinds, which does the opposite.”

OAG, which periodically compiles a list of the world’s longest flights, “measures flights by distance between point A and point B,” a spokesman said. By that measure, the Qatar flight is the longest in the world. “As the crow flies” is OAG’s preferred standard of measurement.

The longest flight by a U.S. airline is San Francisco-Singapore, which United serves with a Boeing 787-9. United first operated the 8,446-mile flight in June: The flight is now tied for the fourth longest in the world. In October, Singapore Airlines began a competing flight aboard an Airbus A350.

On Sunday, Auckland became Qatar’s first New Zealand destination: the carrier serves more than 150 destinations from its Doha hub and is a member of the oneworld alliance.

Qatar operates its Boeing 777-200 LR with 42 seats in business class and 217 seats in economy.

“The launch of our new service to Auckland is an important milestone for Qatar Airways as we expand both in the region and globally,” CEO Akbar Al Baker, a passenger on the first flight, said in a prepared statement.

At one time, Singapore Airlines flew non-stop from Singapore to both Newark and Los Angeles using an Airbus A340. Both flights were discontinued in 2013, partially because the four-engine aircraft was a gas guzzler.

Singapore Airlines plans to resume both flights in 2018, using an Airbus A350-900ULR.  At 9,534 miles, the eighteen-and-a-half hour Singapore-Newark flight would once again become the longest flight in the world – by any measure.

News about Solar Power And Electric Vehicles To Halt Growth In Oil And Coal

After a terrible couple of years, this looks like a good time for the fossil fuels sector. Oil prices are on the up again, President Donald Trump promises to sweep away many of the restrictions the industry had imposed upon it during the Obama Administration, the former head of ExxonMobil is Secretary of State and there is even talk of watering down fuel economy requirements.

Trump has pushed through executive orders to revive the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines and he has even promised to revive the moribund US coal industry, causing shares in coal miners to soar. But a new report suggests that demand for coal and oil could peak by 2020 thanks to dramatic falls in the cost of solar power and electric vehicles.

The report, Expect the Unexpected: The Disruptive Power of Low-Carbon Technology, co-authored by the Grantham Institute for the study of Climate Change and the Environment at Imperial College, London and the Carbon Tracker Initiative, says that the big energy companies are seriously under-estimating the speed at which low-carbon technologies are advancing and they could be left with stranded assets unless they change their approach

The growth in sales of electric vehicles could cut demand for oil by 2 million barrels per day as soon as 2025, the report says – the same amount that caused the oil price to collapse in 2014-15. The market for EVs is currently growing by 60% year-on-year and there are already more than 1 million on the roads. Battery costs fell by 73% to $268/kWh in the seven years to 2015 according to the US Department of Energy, and Tesla, the electric car maker, predicts they will reach $100/kWh by 2020.

Carbon Tracker says that EVs will be cheaper than conventional internal combustion engines from 2020 and could have a fifth of the road transport market by 2030. Add in growth in hydrogen cars and petrol/electric hybrids, and conventional ICEs could account for less than half the market. By 2050 EVs sales could hit 1.7 billion (69% of the market) while ICEs would make up just 12%.

This could displace 25m bpd of oil by 2050, in stark contrast to the continuous growth in oil demand the industry expects. BP’s 2017 outlook expects EVs to make up just 6% of the market in 2035.

Meanwhile, Carbon Tracker says that solar PV could supply almost a quarter (23%) of global power generation in 2040 and 29% by 2050, entirely phasing out coal and leaving natural gas with just a 1% market share. By contrast, ExxonMobil sees all renewables supplying just 11% of global power generation by 2040.

The cost of solar PV is 85% lower than it was seven years ago and the study suggests that it will become “materially cheaper than alternative power options globally” leading to the addition of more than 5000GW of capacity between 2030 and 2040. “In such a scenario of rapid change, the mass stranding of downstream fossil fuel assets is highly likely,” it says.

The report argues that the use of Business-As-Usual scenarios should be retired and that scenarios should now apply, as a minimum, the latest cost reduction projections for solar PV and EVs, along with emissions commitments nations have made in their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) under the Paris Climate Agreement, to reflect the current state of the low-carbon transition.

“This new “starting point” scenario more accurately reflects the current state of play and finds that coal demand could peak in 2020 and fall to half of 2012 levels by 2050. Oil demand could be flat from 2020 to 2030 then fall steadily to 2050,” the report asserts. Most major oil and gas companies do not expect coal to peak before 2030 and none see peak oil demand occurring before 2040.

But Luke Sussams, senior researcher at Carbon Tracker, says: “Electric vehicles and solar power are game-changers that the fossil fuel industry consistently underestimates. Further innovation could make our scenarios look conservative in 5 years’ time, in which case the demand misread by companies will have been amplified even more.”

The report’s authors say that the speed of technological changes means that PV and electric vehicles could take 10% of fossil fuels’ market share within just 10 years. “This may not sound much but it can be the beginning of the end once demand starts to decline,” they write. “A 10% loss of power market share caused the collapse of the US coal mining industry and Europe’s five major utilities lost more than €100 billion in value from 2008 to 2013 because they were unprepared for an 8% growth in renewable power, of which solar PV was a big part.”

James Leaton, head of research at Carbon Tracker, adds: “There is no more business as usual in the energy sector – so it is time that scenario was discarded. There are a number of low-carbon technologies about to achieve critical mass decades before some companies expect.”

Info The Cheapest-To-Own Cars And Trucks

All but the wealthiest car buyers compare sticker prices when shopping for a new ride, but we’d guess far fewer consider how much money a given vehicle will actually cost to own and operate over the course of several years.

The sharpest car shoppers work the bottom line like an accountant to determine which models under their consideration will prove to be the most financially advantageous in the long run. This includes comparing the costs of depreciation – how much the vehicle will have lost in value at trade-in time – fuel, insurance premiums, maintenance charges, state fees, and out-of-warranty repair bills.

“­­New-car shoppers typically give more consideration to the cost of a car upfront, but sometimes other factors, such as depreciation, maintenance and fuel costs, can significantly increase total ownership costs,” says Mike Sadowski, vice president of operations and general manager for Kelley Blue Book.

To help consumers find the best overall deals, KBB just announced its annual 5-Year Cost to Own Awards in 20 separate vehicle classes. The kbb.com website tracks new vehicles’ depreciation, fuel costs, insurance costs, financing, repairs, maintenance, and average state sales taxes and registration fees over a five-year ownership period, and even computes a per-mile expenditure for easy comparison. We’re featuring the 20 vehicles cited by KBB for low ownership costs in their respective classes in the accompanying slideshow.

20 Cars And Trucks With The Lowest Ownership Costs

The cheapest-to-own vehicle among all models for 2017 is the Chevrolet Spark microcar, which starts at around $15,000. It’s not for everybody, but in its base form (with an automatic transmission) KBB predicts the Spark will cost an average owner $27,577 over five years, which comes to $5,511 a year, $459 a month, or 36 cents a mile.

Among automakers, Subaru was cited as having the lowest overall ownership costs among mainstream makes for the second year in a row; KBB notes the brand’s low rate of depreciation and stalwart fuel economy as helping keep expenditures affordable across the model line. Meanwhile, Acura took top honors among luxury brands, placing its vehicles either first or second in better than half of the aforementioned ownership cost factors. Among individual models, the Chevrolet Impala was cited as having the lowest costs among large cars for the sixth year running and is the only car to fill that slot since KBB initiated the awards in 2012.

Generally, the more expensive the vehicle, the more important differences in certain ownership costs become over time – particularly depreciation – simply because there’s more money at stake to lose. For example, the costliest model in KBB’s survey, the Lexus LS 460 – a 5-Year Cost to Own winner in the High-End Luxury Car category – is estimated to lose $47,493 of its original $73,495 MSRP after five years while the above Chevy Spark, starting at a far more affordable $14,975, is expected to cost an owner just $10,440 in depreciation.

Checking long-term vehicle expenses is great way to help consumers budget for all-inclusive car costs. It can also help tell whether a hybrid-powered version of a given vehicle is a good deal compared to a gas-only model, or for comparing the cost differences between a plug-in hybrid to a conventional self-charging hybrid. For example, the projected five-year ownership costs of a base-model Toyota Prius hybrid are predicted to run an average $34,409, according to KBB, while the plug-in Prius Prime version (which can run for the first 25 miles on a charge solely on battery power) is estimated at $32,553. That’s a five-year savings of $1,856 despite the Prime initially costing $2,415 more.

The fine print: KBB’s 5-Year Cost to Own awards are based on estimated average costs for depreciation, fuel, maintenance, insurance premiums, state fees, and out of warranty repairs. Figures cited are for base models from the 2017 model year with standard powertrains and equipment (except where a manual transmission was standard, we chose the optional automatic for the sake of consistency). KBB calculates total ownership costs for new vehicles by applying a sophisticated valuation methodology along with critical financial data from third-party providers; depreciation costs are based on KBB predicted residual values. Be aware that specific ownership costs will vary from one area of the country to another based on local gas prices, insurance premiums (based on location, driving record and other personal factors), per-hour labor charges, and other variables.