Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - January 31, 1975, Lethbridge, Alberta
Friday, January 31, 1975 THE LETHBRIDGE HERALD 23 China's national airline: adventure in ineptitude Tlit Herald By JOHN BURNS Special to The Herald PEKING, China There was a piece in the Chinese press not long ago celebrating the financial troubles of Pan Am'and TWA. A few days later a young, university educated Chinese, a man who has neither flown nor ever been to an airport, cited the piece to a westerner as proof of the superiority of socialism. "You he said, "we really do have the world's best The CAAC, or Civil Aviation Ad- ministration of China, as the national air- line is known, is indeed exceptional among international air carriers. But most foreigners who have flown it on journeys abroad or dealt with its ground personnel in Peking consider it remarkable not for its excellence so much as its peculiarity. Peculiarity, in fact, is hardly the word that most disaffected customers would use. In recent months, since the airline went international with new routes to Moscow, Tokyo and Paris, the air in the diplomatic community in Peking has been heavy with such pejoratives as effrontery, inefficiency and duplicity. The least a critic can say is what, was said in a recent article in that most dis- creet of journals, Le Monde of Paris that the CAAC has something of a public relations problem. But whether it will make a real effort to upgrade to the stan- dards of the better western airlines or per- sist in its erratic performance, unconcern- ed about public alienation, remains to be Among the many indignant stories in circulation is the one about the Canadian woman who was to fly Peking Tokyo Toronto but woke the morning of her flight feeling unwell. Her husband called the air- line 90 minutes before flight time to say she wouldn't be leaving, but when he call- ed again later in the day to make a new booking found he would have to pay a penalty 25 percent of the fare. The man argued, unsuccessfully, that there was no reason for a no show penal- ty since the airline had been given ad- vance notice, and that if there had to be a penalty it should be applied only to the Peking Tokyo portion of the fare, that be- ing the only leg of the flight that his wife was to have covered v.'ith the CAAC. The official at the airline office was ada- mant that a penalty had to be paid since less than 48 hours notice of cancellation had been given, and insisted that it was the CAAC's right to apply the penalty to the total fare. Since this would have amounted to however, he proposed a com- promise a penalty of and no argument. When the exchange became acrimonious the official withdrew for consultations with his superiors, and returned with his final offer: If the man's 'wife could produce a medical certificate attesting that she was unfit to fly, the penalty would be waived. High handed though it seemed, the man agreed to talk 'it over with his wife. Nature of indisposition not specified She, furious, nonetheless went to the hospital, saw her gynaecologist, and returned with a certificate attesting that she was not fit to fly and should take two days rest. The certificate was duly presented to the official at the CAAC, who accepted it only reluctantly, after protesting that the exact nature of the in- disposition was not specified. Talking the incident over with friends, the Canadian couple realized that the air- line had let them down lightly. A few days earlier a diplomat arriving at the airport 35 minutes before the departure of the CAAC flight to Tokyo had been told that he was too late to make the flight, and fined as the price of making a new booking on the flight the next day. Another diplomat ran foul of the rule in Canton, where the CAAC imposed a 25 per cent surcharge on the regular Canton Peking fare to change his booking inside the 48 hour limit. When he demanded to know the airline's authority for the sur- charge he was referred to the rules of the International Air Transport Association to which the CAAC does not belong. Pointing this out, the diplomat was assured that the airline would be joining the association in due time, and saw fit. to apply its rules on a provisional basis in the meantime. Not wishing to waste time the man paid the surcharge, filing the rationale away for use at an appropriate time. As chance had it, the occasion was. not long in coming. On the day of the flight, after keeping the passengers waiting in the terminal, the CAAC announced that the Peking flight was cancelled due to bad weather enroute. Returning to the hotel, the diplomat demanded that his room be paid for by the CAAC, according to IATA rules. He was told, of course, that the CAAC does not belong. Many complaints against the airline derive from the Chinese insistence on be- ing the sole ticket and reservation agents for flights originating in China, whether Chinese or foreign. This results in in- numerable imbroglios, some of them to do with ineptitude and others with the CAAC's favoring of its own interests at the expense of foreign airlines. The ineptitude was probably un- avoidable in an airline new to inter- national aviation, particularly one that was cut off from the world as long as the CAAC. But understanding the cause of the problem does not make it much easier to suffer a two week delay in confirming a reservation on a flight from Peking to Toronto, to cite one of many examples. Foreigners calling the airline's booking office, on the ground floor of one of the few high rise buildings in central Peking, are commonly told to come to the office in person and work out for themselves, using IATA directories, how to make the connections that will get them to their destination. To the uninitiated, it can be like trying to decipher a code. Tickets must be paid for in the Chinese currency, Renminbi, creating additional problems. The airline, using an arbitrary exchange rate that takes no account of the Bank of China's recent devaluation of the dollar against the Renminbi, charges for tickets at what amounts to a 10 to 15 per cent surcharge. The prescient passenger, obviously, buys his ticket abroad. All .of this, however, is as nothing against the tribulations of foreign airline agents stationed in Peking. Apart from the socialist countries with air links to Peking (Soviet Union, Rumania, North Korea, North there are now five such men, representing Air France, Ethiopian Airways, Iran Air, Japan Air Lines and Pakistan International Airways. With the exception of Ethiopian Airways, flying a weedy schedule from Peking to Addis Ababg, all these lines fly routes also flown by the CAAC. According to the principles enunciated by the CAAC the route sharing is supposed to be on the basis of equality and mutual benefit, but in fact the CAAC, controlling all bookings, favors itself. 747 JUMO SIGHTSEEING CRUISER WITH STEWARDESS FLORIDA DISNEY WORLD, WASHINGTON, D.C. TOUR Washington, D.C., Cape Kennedy Space Centre, Cocoa Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Miami Beach, Nassau in the Bahamas, Walt Disney World, Pensacola, El Paso, Jurarez Mexico, Phoenix. Las Vegas. Feb. 24th, March 17th. t> 24 low i 'Canada Winter bmf Sw Diego, feneydnd, MMiy Ivur. Feb. 8lh 23rd, 16 days. 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Reno, San Francisco, Fishermans Wharf, Knotts Berry Farm, Hollywood, Disneyland, San Diego, Tijuana Mexico, Palm Springs, Las Vegas.............AS LOW AS NlW Id QptflttM IN MflMCV i FlMl NORTHERN TOURS Phone 327-38, 329-447f_________COLLEGE MALI PLANTATION FAILED Hawaii's first sugar plan- tation, which failed, was started in 1825. Travel News from home business of Canadian in Florida by VICTORIA MACKIE OTTAWA Canadians are big business in the state of Florida. They flock down there by the thousands to escape for a time the rigours of the Cana- dian winter. They drive, fly, go by train or bus. But they get there. Parked along many beaches in that state are nearly as many Quebec and Ontario licensed automobiles as American cars from out of state. Some are pensioners, there for the entire winter. Others are parents with children out of school at the Christmas or Easter breaks down for a brief two or three week holiday. They are hungry for Cana- dian news. Now two Canadians, one formerly in the broadcasting business and politics in this country and the other a publisher, are providing that news of Cana- dian developments. Finlay MacDonald, former principal assistant to Opposi- tion Leader Robert Stanfield and a broadcaster, and James E. Bowes a newspaperman and publisher are the two men providing the media for the Canadian news. MacDonald does a morning news broad- cast from his studio in Fort Lauderdale while Bowes is, publishing a Canadian oriented tabloid newspaper Hawaii Jumbo jet Suntlight. Greal holidays, great value. Hawaii.............from H nights: 14 nighlslfom S439, via wardair 747 ____ Mazatlan. 7 nighls. H nights fro from via Wardair 7U7 Puerto Vallarta M nigMs: hfeaklasl. dinner from S419. Prices are per person. 2 people per roori. include Canada's Number One from CALGARY Contact any one of these acredited Travel Agencies ART WILLIAMS TRAVEL Centre Village Mali Phont 328-3201 A.M.A. TRAVEL AGENCY 60S 5th Ave. S. Phone 328-7921 P. LAWSON TRAVEL Marquis Hotel Bldg. Phone 328-3000 "The Daily Canadian" in Sarasota, distributing it to the main centres where Canadians are located. MacDonald has moved south to Fort Lauderdale for the winter. He resigned from the post of principal assistant to Mr. Stanfield last summer. As the former owner of radio and television stations in the Maritimes he has had wide ex- perience as a broadcaster. He acquired the rights to "Canada the morn- ing news broadcast that is carried by eight stations in Florida. It was formerly own- ed and operated by Dave Price a retired Canadian newsman who became a familiar voice to Canadians visiting Florida in the winter months. Finlay embarking on his new venture has built a radio studio in his handsome home in Fort Lauderdale. He has in- stalled the Canadian Broad- cast News wire provided by Canadian Press. He gets up early in the-morning between 4 and 5 a.m. reads the over- night wire, selects his items edits them and writes his script. Then he records his broadcasts and is finished his day's work before noon, ready for tennis or a plunge in his pool. He told this correspondent, who visited him after New Year's, that he plans broad- casting to Canadians from No- vember to March or April. Then when many of the Canadians are trekking back north he will pack it up for the season and return to Canada to see his old friends and renew his contacts. He misses the burly of the political life with which he was associated in the Maritimes and in Ottawa. But he'll be back. On. the newspaper side Bowes is also a Canadian. He has made good in the new- spaper business. He plans to publish his paper for Canadians in Florida for five months of each year. He started last month and will close down in late April. His big problem is to get the tabloid distributed and into the nands of the widely separated Canadians. They are scattered in colonies all He is convinced they will buy the paper once they see it. He is taking a chance but he likes to gamble and hiss record with other modest papers in Canada shows he usually ends up in the black. He got the idea of a paper for Canadians when he was vacationing down there. Scanning the Florida papsrs he had trouble finding any paragraphs of Canadian news. He sent queslionaires to Florida hotels and motels to p'inpoint the greatest concentrations of Canucks. He sent a staffer to Florida. to talk to Canadian; and ask them if they'd buy a Canadian newspaper if one was provid- ed, for them. He got a good response from 650 out of about people canvassed. Next he had to find a plant. He found it on the south side of Sarasota, Suncoast Color Press Inc. It was only just over a year old with news presses. It had been making money by printing six local publications. Bowes bought it in August and began preparing for the first appearance of his "The Daily Canadian." The Canadian Press provide a newsprinter. The paper pays the extra wire tolls along with the same news service fee it would be charged in Canada for a paper.of similar size. Canadians are located all over the state and he has to make his paper available to them down the East coast and the Gulf coast. Its a question of circulation. If he can get it properly distributed he will be able to sell it and the advertis- ing will follow to-make it a viable operation. Finlay MacDonald has also done some checking on how 'many Canadians.go to Florida and where they stay. He ob- tained an analysis of the Cana- dian Travel Market to Florida prepared by the United States department of Commerce. During 1973 when the survey was made there were approxi- mately 1.7 million .-Canadian vacation trips to the U.S. of which 20 per cent were to Florida equalling about 000 trips. The U.S. travel ser- vice on that basis estimates there were 1.1 million Cana- dian adults travelled to Florida that year. Klondike oldtimer Dredges that once ripped millions of dollars in gold annually from the creeks of the Klondike, have now become a major attraction to Yukon tourists. The last of the dinosaur-like monsters was shut down in 1966 after returns dropped to a point where the op- eration-was not longer profitable. Now they awe the hundreds of visitors that take the organized bus tours from Dawson City. Check package tours OTTAWA (CP) Winter- escapers going the package- tour route should do some checking, the Consumers' Association of Canada says. If it's an international flight, be sure it originates in Canada, and not the United States. The Canadian tran- sport commission requires travel agencies to pay for return flights in advance so there's less chance of being stranded. Passport Photos Candid Weddings Picture Framing Photo Supplies A. E. CROSS STUDIO Phone 328-0111 7103rdAve.S. Phone328-0222 CHARTERS to Europe Register now for our frequent departures. Lowest Possible Prices. THOMAS World Travel Service Over 500 Offices To Serve You Phont 329-3336 ADVANCE BOOKING v DVANCE BOOKING VHARTERS BOOK NOW FOR 1975 DEPARTURES NO MEMBERSHIP REQUIREMENTS CALGARY TO LONDON AMSTERDAM via WARDAIR S50 DEPOSIT WILL RESERVE SEAT A.M.A. TRAVEL AGENCY 608 Slh Ave. S. Lethbridge Phone 328-7921 or 328-1181 Office open Monday thru Friday a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday a.m. to p.m.