Archive for June 2009


Brûlé Airways: The Crew

Malay air flight attendants

Just as we were speculating about Brûlé Airways, the man himself writes a full column on what it would be like. Finding himself desperately needing “trans-Med connectivity” he lays out – eloquent as always – what the crew on this fictional airline would be serving and wearing:

On the crew front, my jury’s out on who I’d have in the cockpit but I’d definitely have Italians to man the on-board espresso machines and I’d hire my friend Kamal Mouzawak to be my chief catering officer and have him demonstrate why Lebanon’s mezze culture was made for in-flight meal service. Along with produce sourced in the Bekaa Valley and the Chouf Mountains, he’d also select the best reds from Spain, rosés from Provence, whites from Italy and beer from Turkey.

After food, uniforms would be the second most exciting element and I’d leave the sourcing to my Galician friend Sagra who’d have a sleepy little espadrille firm do a smart shoe for both men and women, find an emerging French designer to produce dresses and knitwear ensembles for the girls and a solid tailor from Genoa to do the designs and manufacturing for the stewards’ and pilots’ uniforms.

He does however leave us with one mystery:

Would it make more sense to crew the airline from the lower-wage Maghreb countries or leave it to the Spanish or the Lebanese to run?

Those Maghreb countries have that ever-charming sub-Med disposition, so our money is definitely on them.

Quote from the weekly

Seat Leon FR1

From the 25th edition of the Monocle Weekly:

That was the Mexican Institute of Sound. Rob, if that does not get picked up by someone like Seat to market some sexy little convertible, for hairdressers, I shouldn’t be in media probably.

A decent week for Zürich


A couple of weeks ago Zürich was just another of many trending hubs in Europe, perfect for dashing in and out over a weekend to do some local shopping in the city’s Vice district. This part of Zürich that, instead of being constructed as your local Swiss bank vault, actually looks like it’s painted with colours from the vibrant streets of Berlin-Mitte.

Last week the spotlight certainly turned to Zürich. It started when they snatched the award for Best European Airport right in front of the always confident Münich airport. Which was, I think we all feel, quite an upset, especially since Lufthansas work pods ranked as Most productive place in Monocle’s Travel Top 50.

Later last week Monocle released one of the absolute highnotes of the year – The Most liveable cities list of 2009. What affected the list this year were the new metrics. First, The Zara/Starbucks index, i.e. the independence of a city’s retail. Secondly, how easy it is to set up a new small business shop. And last, planned improvements in infrastructure. This change of metrics of course meant that all previous bets were off. Frankly we had our money riding on Münich for a long time, but after this radical change of the lists fundamentals we would have put our money on Copenhagen.

But Zürich proved unbeatable this week, snobbing Münich not once but twice in seven days. We’re guessing the equally elegant as arrogant people of Zürich have been celebrating on Bahnhofstraße all week long, probably drinking large quantities of Fledschloesschen while filling up with some delightful hot chestnuts at some of the best street corners in Europe. We tip our hat for Zürich and plan on taking a closer look at the city later this year.

Brûlé Airways – The fleet

ec-ivg airbus a320 spanair

As mentioned, Mr Brûlé has expressed interest in his own airline. And after going through what the terminal would be like, our next stop is of course the aircraft fleet.

Aviation purchases are always troublesome, as you are well aware of. A long line of factors need to be taken into account – range, fuel efficiency, seating arrangements and so forth. In cases like this we tend to always to lean towards people rather than specs. And who would you rather lean on than the “best thinker in the sky” – Robert Lafontan. As Airbus’s senior chief engineer he is the master mind behind the A380 (that we sincerely hope never will be produced in it’s 853 people economy class only configuration).

For Brûlé Airways however, we are opting for his next project in line – the A350 XWB. So we’ll go for a few of those for long haul while settling for the more lean A320 for short and medium haul trips. That should cover the basic LHR-NRT, CPH-ZRH and ARN-PMI routes.

But, as our efficient German friends Lufthansa have shown us, no airline is complete without a private jet section. So to finish off, we’ll pop in a Cessna Citation XLS+ for good measure. A pure bespoke offering for those customers that prefer a smoother debarkation.

Better people: John Morford

Park Hyatt Tokyo, Library

Recently ranked in the Monocle Travel Top Fifty as the top “man who knows his way around a room”, John Morford is definitely a better person.

The man responsible for the designing the Park Hyatt Tokyo is nothing less than an demi-god of interior design. Just look at their library shown above. As a matter of fact, the only downfall we can find about the hotel is that their club sandwich doesn’t hold as high class as their Milan sibling. But Mr Morford can hardly be blamed for this. However another Morford-designed hotel – the Masuichi Kyakuden in Obuse – serves the best hotel breakfast, full stop. It’s a slight culinary mystery.

He has a special approach to public spaces that “makes the guest feel they´re the star, not the interior”. As it should be. And this skill alone makes us title Mr Morford as a better person.

Quote from the Weekly

Two huge cappuccinos

From the excellent 23rd edition of the Monocle Weekly:

You might have caught the headlines earlier in the week that had McDonalds announcing their plans of thumping Starbucks in the coffee retail wars in Europe by bringing its cookie cutter concept and two huge cappuccinos to high streets from Manchester to Munich. Indeed if ever it was a moment of a bit of culture and trade protectionism it’s now, or is it? Earlier this week another upstart arrived on European shores in the forms of South African born Vida e caffè. Originally launched in Cape Town Vida e caffè plays up a bit of a portuguese story and does so with a sunny southern hemisphere disposition. With…reasonably big ambitions for Europe is the concept just another Starbucks in giraffes clothing?.

How to save SAS


The Airline Blog reports on the once proud Scandinavian carrier SAS´ financial troubles. They note that the A330s and A340s are flying long haul without filling up adequately with passengers, leaving these routes to account for 50% of SAS losses. The blog suggests that they should turn Copenhagen Kastrup Airport into a stronger European international hub, competing for North American flights, in order to save the company.

Although we completely agree that something needs to be done, the analysis is slightly off. The route map is fine, what needs overseeing are the inflight amenities. From Nuuk to Beirut, we’re all wondering why the glassware can’t be crisp Iittala like Finnair? Why the nightwear can’t be sharp like ANA? Don’t get us started on the pre-flight dining – have you never been to Cathay Pacific’s Wing lounge in Hong Kong?

Fix these details and you’ll have passengers queuing up to hit the skies in those SDL-designed Airbuses again.