Tuesday. 20/12/2022

The Monocle Minute

Opinion / Topi Manner

Back in action

Since restrictions were lifted, demand for air travel has come roaring back, first in leisure and, after the summer, in corporate travel. If there was a discussion at the height of the pandemic about whether people would want to travel again or companies would want their representatives to meet face to face, we can now put that to rest.

Going into 2023, Russia’s airspace closure is affecting our airline, Finnair, significantly in terms of Asian traffic. There are also energy costs: jet-fuel prices are at historically high levels and fares have been increasing. But over the summer demand for air travel returned faster than supply, so many European airlines had their capacity constrained. At least 100,000 jobs vanished during the pandemic but 88 per cent of Europe’s capacity has come back. This demand will hold up pretty well because people want to travel, even though there will be a recession next year.

We’re targeting carbon neutrality and want to reduce our carbon footprint by 50 per cent by the end of 2025. Sustainable aviation fuels and biofuels will be very important. On some short-distance domestic routes, we’re replacing flights with bus services. In the medium term, we will look into innovative engine technology and new types of fuel-efficient and carbon-efficient aircraft.

We’re also introducing a Premium Economy cabin, a completely new travel class. Our seats, made with Heico, are spacious and will hopefully provide a comfortable experience. We’re in the middle of a €200m investment and we’ll be finalising that rollout to all of our long-haul aircraft by the end of next year.

Topi Manner is the CEO of Finnair and he spoke to Monocle in ‘The Forecast’, which is on newsstands now.

Image: Shutterstock

Defence / Global

United front

Russian president Vladimir Putin (pictured, left) is visiting Belarus for the first time in more than three years today to meet one of his few remaining allies, Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko (pictured, right). It comes amid warnings from Ukraine that their two countries could be planning a renewed attack on Kyiv in 2023.

As Putin schemes, Europe is preparing its response: Monday’s Joint Expeditionary Force summit in Riga brought together 10 leaders from the UK, the Netherlands and the Baltic and Nordic nations; Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy, addressing the gathering by video link, offered a “very specific” list of military defence needs for a decisive winter that focused on air defence and tanks. UK prime minister Rishi Sunak, who heads to Estonia today to visit UK and Nato troops stationed there, backed calls for increased deliveries of military aid to Ukraine. Only an unwavering response will deter Putin and Lukashenko’s scheming a few hundred kilometres to the south.

Read more about the war in Ukraine in Monocle's new December/January issue, which is out now.

Image: Shutterstock

Society / The Netherlands

Sorry state

It is widely accepted that the Netherlands participated in, and profited from, the slave trade. There are, however, arguments about the propriety of apologising for this. Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte (pictured, right) pressed ahead with a formal mea culpa yesterday, calling slavery a "crime against humanity" in a speech at the National Archives in The Hague. Rutte did so despite being aware that the country is divided: polls find about 50 per cent of Dutch people against an apology and 38 per cent in favour.

The Netherlands is not the first country to engage with this issue. There are those who contend that no one alive today participated in enslavement so an apology is a necessarily vapid gesture. Others believe that an apology is empty without more meaningful – and usually expensive – action (the Netherlands is promising to spend on awareness projects and a museum). But the really tricky bit, as Rutte may be discovering, is placating affronted patriotism: nobody enjoys thinking ill of their country or its history.

Image: MTA/Flickr

Transport / USA

Access all areas

New York’s Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) has announced plans to start installing or replacing lifts at 23 of its stations as part of its ambition to make its whole network accessible by 2055. It’s a step in the right direction and one that other transit organisations around the world are also taking. EU-backed transport research group Transport Innovation for Persons with Disabilities Needs Satisfaction (Trips) is working with transit bodies in cities such as Brussels, Lisbon and Stockholm to improve their networks.

Rather than simply installing lifts and ensuring step-free access to public transport, Trips is helping these cities think differently about the issue. This includes route-planning apps that account for people with reduced mobility. “Poor access to public transport means people are stopped from accessing job opportunities, education and social and leisure activities,” says Kristina Andersen, associate professor at Eindhoven University of Technology and a Trips consultant. The MTA, which has given itself a generous 33-year window to achieve its goal, would be wise to look at other alternatives to improve its system in the short term.

Manufacturing / Japan

Snowed under

As unlikely as it sounds, Japan is the world’s snowiest country so it makes sense that it produces its own snowploughs. Sapporo-based Nichijo controls 62 per cent of the domestic market. The company makes yellow or orange rotary ploughs with red blades at the front to tear through the thickest blankets of snowfall. “Each country has its own particular needs when it comes to snowploughs,” says Tetsuya Nakamura, from Nichijo’s planning division.

In Japan that means operating on narrow city roads, turning with ease and, crucially, blowing snow out of the way: Japanese citizens like their snow to be piled up in an aesthetically acceptable manner. But climate change is posing new challenges to Nichijo and its international competitors. “It’s not so much that we’re seeing less snow now; instead, we’re seeing more days when snow is dumped unexpectedly,” says Nakamura. The company also manufactures heavy-goods carriers for factories so it will be able to adapt in the future, whatever the weather.

Read the full story in Monocle’s ‘Alpino’ newspaper, which is now on sale.

Image: McCord Stewart Museum

Monocle 24 / Monocle on Design

‘Enchanted Worlds’

At Montréal’s McCord Stewart Museum, we visit an exhibition showcasing the mechanical Christmas window displays of Ogilvy.

Monocle Films / Global

Monocle preview: December/January issue, 2022

Monocle’s annual Soft Power Survey ranks the major players in the gentler aspects of the diplomacy game. How does your country fare? Elsewhere, we preview a potentially pivotal year for Taiwan, shine the light on Iraq’s unlikely culture push and open the door to the best festive finds from Hudson to Genoa. Order your copy today.

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