The Monocle Minute

Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Wednesday 10 January 2018

Aviation

Image: Shutterstock

Forging a flight path

Aegean Airlines is part of a squadron of small carriers achieving big things in a crowded aviation industry.

Ever-growing aviation behemoths Lufthansa, IAG and Ryanair may dominate European air travel but smaller airlines are quietly catching up. Riding on a strong year for tourism, Greece’s largest carrier, Aegean Airlines, reached a record 13.2 million passengers in 2017, 6 per cent up from the previous year. The company, founded in 1987, is part of the Star Alliance alongside Lufthansa, Air Canada, TAP and Turkish Airlines, among others. It is set to fly even higher this year, adding 11 new destinations – including Basel, Malaga, Palermo, Turin and Bologna – as well as three new Airbus A320neos to bolster its fleet of 60. With cutthroat competition in the European short-haul market and budget airlines taking the lion’s share, it’s great to see non-budget airlines that focus on service taking off.

Politics

Image: Getty Images

Old times’ sake

Malaysia’s 92-year-old ex-PM has corralled the opposition and is up for re-election, which raises the question: where are his party’s younger candidates?

It seems that some people in Malaysia really do believe that age is nothing but a number. The country’s former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad – who was in office for 22 years until 2003 – has this week been put forward as the candidate for opposition coalition Pakatan Harapan in elections later this year. It’s causing controversy for a number of reasons, not least his age: at 92, should Mahathir be allowed to run? Also ruffling feathers is the fact that Mahathir quit the ruling party UMNO last year in order to switch sides and cash in on his political fame, rallying a group of disjointed opposition parties into forming an alternative to scandal-plagued incumbent PM Najib Razak (who, at 64, is a spring chicken by comparison). That the fragmented opposition has finally banded together should have been a show of strength but putting Mahathir forward as a candidate only highlights the lack of hopeful, fresh faces among its ranks.

Fashion

Image: Pitti Immagine

Finnishing touch

Pitti Uomo puts Finland on a pedestal as the country’s native designers ply their trade in Florence.

Unlike its Nordic neighbours, Finland is not really known for its fashion houses (with the exception of Marimekko). This is somewhat surprising given that Helsinki’s Aalto University consistently ranks as one of the top fashion and design colleges in the world. But the latest edition of Pitti Uomo, underway this week in Florence, is looking to bolster the country’s sartorial reputation. Finland is the guest nation this season and the fair has selected eight of the brightest Finnish menswear designers to showcase their wares, from the conceptual style of Rolf Ekroth to classic shoe brand Saint Vacant and the minimalism of Nomen Nescio, which only makes black garments. We are most looking forward to seeing a collaboration between the historic tailoring house Turo and young Finnish designer Ikla Wright, who is based in London and creates elegantly draped clothes. It promises to deliver old-school tailoring with a cool Nordic twist.

Urbanism

Image: Lit Ma

Brain drain

Hong Kong, famously pushed for space, plans to use every last bit of it – even the sewers.

Hong Kong’s underground cultural scene is plumbing new depths. The city’s largest subterranean storm-water storage drain, located under the busy streets of Kowloon, has recently been converted into a gallery for an exhibition by local artist Kingsley Ng – and tickets have already sold out. Beyond art appreciation, the collaboration between the Arts Development Council and the Drainage Services Department aims to capitalise on underused space that sits empty during the dry winter months. Hong Kong is hilly and densely populated so land is regularly required to serve multiple purposes (another storm-drain sits beneath a sports field and a horse-racing track). Building beneath three major public parks is currently on the table and the government is exploring the feasibility of moving some public utilities into underground caverns. Evidently the soil is also no limit in this famously high-rise city.

From Monocle 24

Image: Flickr

Hong Kong, Wong Chuk Hang

Food Neighbourhoods

A walk through the Wong Chuk Hang district of Hong Kong, which has rapidly changed since a new subway line connected it to the rest of the city.

From Monocle Films

Making it in Jakarta

Indonesia’s bounteous resources make it the perfect place for entrepreneurs to set up camp. We meet four enterprising Jakarta residents, who tell us how they are taking advantage of the opportunities in this chaotic city.

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