Monday, November 24, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Airlines symbolize nations’ hopes or reflect shame

Planes Powerful Symbols

In this April 8, 2014, file photo a school utility worker mops a mural depicting the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 at the Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino High School campus at Makati city east of Manila, Philippines. After the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 on Thursday, July 17, 2014, Malaysia is now grappling with the horrific loss of two of its airplanes, just four months apart. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez, File)

By
From page A1 | July 20, 2014 |

NEW YORK — The jetliner is much more than a machine used to get from one spot to another. It often carries deep symbolism, especially when flying for a national airline.

It can represent hope, modernity and a country’s power. And when things go wrong, that once mighty plane can bring about deep national disgrace.

Malaysia now finds itself grappling with the horrific – and extremely unusual – loss of two of its airplanes, just four months apart. It’s a sad coincidence that also stings.

“It is unbelievable misfortune that struck (Malaysia Airlines) in such a short span of time. It will not affect Malaysia’s name, but it will damage the airline’s reputation,” said James Chin, political analyst at Monash University in Malaysia. He said it would be tough for the already-struggling airline to survive the twin catastrophes.

The shooting down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 on Thursday over Ukraine comes just 131 days after the disappearance of Flight 370. That Boeing 777 is presumed to be on the floor of the Indian Ocean but, without any scrap of wreckage found, it remains the key to one of the biggest aviation mysteries.

Fair or not, the back-to-back incidents have led travelers to question the safety of flying Malaysia Airlines. Malaysian officials were widely criticized for how they handled the search for Flight 370.

“Airlines symbolize the nation and are ambassadors,” says Chris Sloan, who runs the aviation history and news website Airchive.com. “Airlines tend to reflect the values of their countries.”

Even before this year’s two disasters, Malaysia Airlines had deep financial troubles, losing $370 million last year. That 6.2 percent net loss was among the worst in the global industry, according to industry newsletter Airline Weekly. Most of the world’s other airlines had a great year, posting an average profit of 4.7 percent.

“When an airline has the kind of issues that Malaysia has, it becomes a national shame,” Sloan added.

Americans have come to despise their own airlines, annoyed by invasive airport security, packed overhead bins and a lack of legroom. But in other parts of the world, the public takes great pride in national carriers.

“They like to go to the airport and see these great, glistening modern jet airplanes with the flag of their country on it,” says Robert Gandt, who spent 34 years as an airline pilot and has written 15 books including “Skygods,” an account of the demise of Pan Am.

The giant pre-war route maps of European national carriers like KLM Royal Dutch Airlines and Air France were proclamations of those countries’ colonial might. The airlines often carried domineering names, like Imperial Airways, a precursor to British Airways.

“What better description is there for its purpose? It was to help keep the empire united,” says F. Robert van der Linden, chair and curator of air transportation at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum.

In the 1970s, long after their empires fell, Great Britain and France teamed up to create the world’s fastest passenger jet. The supersonic Concorde wasn’t always profitable but that didn’t matter – the jet showed that the two nations were still players on the world stage.

That theme can extend to whole airlines. Italian carrier Alitalia shouldn’t even exist any longer, given its abysmal financial performance, says airline consultant George Hamlin. But the government has repeatedly bailed it out.

“That has to do with national pride, more than anything else,” Hamlin says.

That deep connection between people and their national carrier also works against an airline when somebody wishes to harm their country. For decades, the carrier El Al has been a target of anti-Israel attacks.

The United States never had a national passenger airline, but Pan Am was long considered its unofficial carrier. The airline was viewed as an extension of the U.S. government, van der Linden says, so in countries without an American embassy or consulate, people in trouble would go to the Pan Am ticket office.

That relationship is why Libyans targeted the airline in a bombing over the Scottish town of Lockerbie in 1988. Many of those killed were American college students flying home for Christmas.

The 9/11 terrorists hijacked American Airlines and United Airlines planes, in part, because of their representation of the country as a whole.

“They didn’t choose an airline that didn’t have some hint of the United States of America in its name,” van der Linden says.

It doesn’t always take a crash to stir a nation’s emotions.

Last year’s mechanical problems with the Boeing 787 Dreamliner brought embarrassment to Japan, which was proud to have engineered the plane’s electrical systems and to be the first to fly the jet.

Planes are seen as critical lifelines after a hurricane or earthquake, bringing in humanitarian workers, food, water and medical supplies. But it’s those same civilian aircraft that are used to carry troops to and from battle zones.

Planes used by heads of state – such as Air Force One or a jet borrowed from the national airline – also serve as tools of diplomacy and propaganda. Giant red carpet arrivals, with military bands playing, are meant to show off a country’s power.

“They are the ultimate stage props,” says Henry Harteveldt, a travel industry analyst with Atmosphere Research Group.

Ultimately, as a traveler, there’s something familiar and comforting about flying your country’s own airline, says Janet Bednarek, an aviation history professor at the University of Dayton. The flight attendants speak your language and serve your food.

“It’s that little piece of home,” she says, “that you take with you when you fly abroad.”

 

The Associated Press

The Associated Press

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

  • Recent Articles

  • Enter your email address to subscribe and receive notifications of new posts by email.

  • .

    Solano News

    Cadets raise cash to help wounded Air Force veteran

    By Ian Thompson | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    Solano cities gather for Thanksgiving meal

    By Tony Wade | From Page: A2

     
    Food Addicts group sets Thanksgiving Day meet

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

    Local government board schedules meeting

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

     
    Turkey Trot returns Thanksgiving Day

    By Glen Faison | From Page: A3

    Holiday tree-lighting events begin

    By Glen Faison | From Page: A3

     
    Holiday boutiques in full swing

    By Susan Winlow | From Page: A3 | Gallery

     
    .

    US / World

    Anxieties mount as Ferguson waits on grand jury

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

     
    3 months after Napa quake, recovery rolling

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

    US looking past Ebola to prepare for next outbreak

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

     
    San Jose police arrest man after airport chase

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

    Surfer missing off beach south of San Francisco

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

     
    Thief suspect falls through ceiling, leaves phone

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

    1 killed, dozens injured in California bus crash

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

     
    Boy with fake gun dies after shot by Ohio officer

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

    Israeli Cabinet moves to define Israel as Jewish

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

     
    Former DC Mayor Marion Barry dies at 78

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

    Islamic State group recruits, exploits children

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

     
    Giffords rides in Tucson cycling event

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

    Suicide bomber kills at least 45 Afghans

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

     
    Some 30 horses die in stable fire outside Chicago

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

    Crew blasts off for International Space Station

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

     
    US tells Iran to consider nuclear talks extension

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

    Damage worse than thought in Japanese earthquake

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

     
    Joey Chestnut devours turkey to win eating contest

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

    Strong quake in west China kills 5; 54 hurt

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

     
    Health care M&A leads global deal surge

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

    .

    Opinion

     
    Does D stand for deliberate, deception, denial?

    By Colleen Britton | From Page: A8

    OMG, am I eating a GMO?

    By Mike Kirchubel | From Page: A8

     
    .

    Living

    Today in History: Nov. 24, 2014

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

     
    Community Calendar: Nov. 24, 2014

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

     
    Horoscopes: Nov. 25, 2014

    By Holiday Mathis | From Page: B5

    My sister-in-law expects me to pay her for damages, but she won’t pay me

    By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: A7

     
    Horoscopes: Nov. 24, 2014

    By Holiday Mathis | From Page: A7

    .

    Entertainment

    ‘Mockingjay, Part 1′ opens with $123 million

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

     
    TVGrid Nov 25

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

    List of winners of the American Music Awards

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

     
    1D, Katy Perry win big at American Music Awards

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

    TVGrid Nov 24

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

     
    .

    Sports

     
    Speights scores 28 as Warriors hold off Thunder

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Hyde scores go-ahead TD, lifts 49ers past Redskins

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Federer leads Swiss past France for Davis Cup

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Hamilton answers Rosberg in style to clinch title

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Stacy Lewis sweeps 3 biggest LPGA awards

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

    UCLA honors Robinson, retires No. 42 for all teams

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

     
    Katy Perry to perform at Super Bowl halftime show

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

    NFL roundup: Seahawks roll past Cardinals

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

     
    Athletics acquire 1B Ike Davis from Pirates

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

    Revs win 2-1 at Red Bulls in East final 1st leg

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

     
    Sarvas puts Galaxy past Seattle 1-0 in West opener

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

    First lady attends Princeton women’s hoops game

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

     
    This date in sports history for Monday, Nov. 24, 2014

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

     
    .

    Business

    .

    Obituaries

    Leslie “Esi” Gros

    By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

     
    Jack I. Johnson

    By Glen Faison | From Page: A4

    Dorothy Pouge Arnold

    By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

     
    Arthur Irving Weiner

    By Nancy Green | From Page: A4, 1 Comment

    .

    Comics

    Get Fuzzy Nov 25

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

     
    Baldo Nov 25

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

    Garfield Nov 25

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

     
    Frank and Ernest Nov 25

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

    Wizard of Id Nov 25

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

     
    Baby Blues Nov 25

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

    Pickles Nov 25

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

     
    For Better or Worse Nov 25

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

    Dilbert Nov 25

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

     
    Blondie Nov 25

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

    Rose is Rose Nov 25

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

     
    Zits Nov 25

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

    Peanuts Nov 25

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

     
    Beetle Bailey Nov 25

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

    Sally Forth Nov 25

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

     
    B.C. Nov 25

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

    Sudoku Nov 25

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

     
    Cryptoquote Nov 25

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

    Word Sleuth Nov 25

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

     
    Crossword Nov 25

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

    Bridge Nov 25

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

     
    B.C. Nov 24

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

    Garfield Nov 24

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

     
    Baby Blues Nov 24

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

    Dilbert Nov 24

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

     
    Rose is Rose Nov 24

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

    Frank and Ernest Nov 24

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

     
    Peanuts Nov 24

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

    Beetle Bailey Nov 24

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

     
    Pickles Nov 24

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

    Wizard of Id Nov 24

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

     
    Sally Forth Nov 24

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

    Baldo Nov 24

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

     
    Get Fuzzy Nov 24

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

    Zits Nov 24

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

     
    For Better or Worse Nov 24

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

    Blondie Nov 24

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

     
    Cryptoquote Nov 24

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

    Word Sleuth Nov 24

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

     
    Crossword Nov 24

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

    Bridge Nov 24

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

     
    Sudoku Nov 24

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7