Airlines crowing as strong demand kicks off Year of the Rooster.

first_imgGlobal air travel has had a rip-roaring start to the Year of the Rooster with passenger demand growth in January hitting a five-year high and pushing aircraft load factors above 80 per cent.A boost from Lunar New Year celebrations saw January demand 9.6 per cent higher than a year ago with Asia Pacific carriers recording an increase of 10.9 per cent on January, 2016.The International Air Transport Association estimated that holiday traffic contributed up to 0.5 per percentage points to a result that still signalled a robust start to the year. January global capacity growth of 8 per cent lagged demand growth to see load factors climb 1.2 points to 80.2 per cent.“2017 is off to a very strong start, with demand at levels not seen since 2011,’’ said IATA director general Alexandre de Juniac. “This is supported by the upturn in the global economic cycle and a return to a more normal environment after the terrorism and political ‘shock’ events seen in early 2016.” International passenger traffic surged 9.3 per cent in January compared to a year ago, while capacity rose 7.5 per cent to see the average load factor hit 80.3 per cent.Planes were even fuller in the Asia-Pacific, where the load factor rose 1.5 percentage points to 81.4 per cent, but carriers in the region are still reporting intense competition that is keeping a lid on ticket prices.Strong growth of 8.3 per cent was also reported in Europe against “a backdrop of moderate momentum in the Eurozone community”.Middle East carriers reported the strongest growth of 14.4  per cent with load factors rising against the year-ago period for the third consecutive month to hit 79.8 per cent.Latin American passenger demand rose 8.2 per cent with carriers in the region recording the highest load factor 83.7 per cent, while  Africa was up 5.6 per cent.North American airlines experienced the slowest demand growth of 3.2 per cent and the load factor for the region was flat at 80.3 per cent. “Traffic on the transpacific market has continued to trend upwards but North Atlantic traffic growth has weakened since the middle of 2016, reflecting softer demand on UK-US routes,’’ IATA said,Global domestic air travel climbed 9.9 per cent in January with India and China both posting huge increases.India posted its 15th consecutive month of growth above 20 per cent to lead the field with a 26.6 per cent increase on the back of strong flight frequency.China’s domestic traffic growth of 23.2 per cent was its strongest monthly figure since June, 2010.“The timing of the Lunar New year affected the results but ongoing robust expansion in the services sector as well as increasing flight frequency are boosting demand,’’ the report said.Countries with low or negative domestic growth included Brazil (-2 per cent) and Australia (1.1 per cent).last_img read more

South Africa submits final bid for SKA

first_img16 September 2011 South Africa has submitted its bid documents to host the €1.5-billion Square Kilometre Array (SKA), the world’s most powerful radio telescope – arguably the country’s most important contest since its successful bid to host the 2010 Fifa World Cup. The final documents supporting the SA-led African bid – South Africa’s response to a request for information issued by the international SKA Siting Group in June 2011 – were submitted ahead of Thursday’s deadline. South Africa, allied with eight other African countries, is competing against Australia (allied with New Zealand) to host the SKA, an instrument 50-100 times more sensitive and 10 000 times faster than any radio imaging telescope yet built. The international science funding agencies and governments involved in the international SKA consortium are due to announce the winning bidder in 2012, with construction likely to start in 2016 and take place in phases over several years, with completion by about 2022. More than 70 institutes in 20 countries, together with industry partners, are participating in the scientific and technical design of the SKA telescope, which will be located either in Australia and New Zealand or in southern Africa extending to the Indian Ocean Islands.Huge significance for Africa SKA South Africa director Bernie Fanaroff told Business Day this week that if Africa was to fulfil its potential as the next great economic growth destination, it needed large scientific projects such as the Square Kilometre Array. The design, construction and operation of the telescope will have a potentially massive impact on skills development in science, engineering and associated industries, not only in the host countries but in all project partner countries. The SKA project will drive technology development in antennas, fibre networks, signal processing, and software and computing, with spin-off innovations in these areas set to benefit other systems that process large volumes of data. Science and Technology Minister Naledi Pandor said in a statement on Friday that Africa would “provide a home for the SKA to do revolutionary science”, describing SA’s proposal as “strong, cost-effective and robust”.‘Strong, cost-effective, robust bid’ South Africa’s proposed site for the core of the SKA – the remote, radio-“quiet” Karoo region of the country’s Northern Cape province – was “orders of magnitude better than any existing observatory, and is protected by the Astronomy Geographic Advantage Act,” Pandor said. “The excellence of our site has been recognised by the construction and operation of the world-leading PAPER and CBASS telescopes on our site, in which we are collaborating with leading US institutions. “Our team, with business and industry, has developed excellent solutions for how to provide power, data transport and infrastructure for the telescope very cost-effectively.”MeerKAT South Africa’s progress in building the Karoo Array Telescope (also known as the MeerKAT), an 80-dish precursor instrument for the SKA, “has won us many friends and has changed the way the international community sees us,” Pandor added. “Many leading international researchers are now taking up full or part-time positions in our universities and the MeerKAT team. “We are fully committed to the SKA, and so are our partners in Africa,” Pandor said. “Building world-leading science instruments and research in Africa will help us to create the skills, innovation and technology which will underpin our long-term vision for Africa as a leading economic power-house”.Decision by February or March 2012 According to the Department of Science and Technology, the bid reports will be evaluated by expert panels and considered by an independent SKA Science Advisory Committee of leading international scientists and science administrators. They may ask for further information or clarification from either of the bidders. SKA South Africa project representatives will meet this committee in the US in December. The committee will aim to make a recommendation on a site by January 2012. Its recommendation will go to the not-for-profit SKA company, which will be established in November, with about 15 governments as its members. They will consider the recommendation, and any other factors they wish to take into account, and aim to make a decision by February or March 2012.‘Eight years of work’ The department said that South Africa’s bid documents, covering a massive range of information – from measurements of radio frequency interference to working conditions for a highly skilled workforce of scientists and engineers – represented eight years of work. The South African SKA team “has worked closely with telecommunication service providers including Broadband InfraCo, Meraka, Nokia Siemens Networks, Seacom, FibreCo, Muvoni Weltex, EASSY, SIA Solutions and Cisco, and with Eskom, the City of Cape Town and Aurecon to come up with robust and cost-effective data transport, power and infrastructure proposals for the telescope.” The team had also received support from the Independent Communications Authority of SA, Sentech, the Departments of Communications and Public Enterprises, mobile providers Vodacom and MTN, and the National Association of Broadcasters, in designing solutions to reduce radio interference on the SKA site while still providing services to people in the area. “A great deal of support was also received from the SA Revenue Service, the Reserve Bank, Southern Mapping Geospatial, the HSRC, the Centre for High Performance Computing, the Council for Geosciences, the SA Weather Service, and many other government departments and service providers in preparing the bid reports.” SAinfo reporterlast_img read more

Building a Better Low-Cost Rental

first_imgMaking the Case for Prefab Zero-Energy Homes With NZE as an Option, a Modular Series Launches in MainePassivhaus Building the Modular WayNext Generation Mobile HomesNet-Zero Modular Homes Head for Peaks Island, MaineThese Superinsulated Homes Were Delivered By TruckPassive House Building in the Digital Age No push to certifyAn obvious question is whether certification from either PHIUS or Germany’s Passivhaus Institut would make any difference on the company’s balance sheet. Morosko doesn’t think so.“Why did I not certify it? I’m a Certified Passive House Consultant,” he said. “I drank the Kool-Aid. I’ve lived it for more than a decade now. Shame on me. The realistic part of it is (a) it didn’t quite meet the metric and I couldn’t convince myself to put more R-value and more cost into it, and (b) my appraisal is not going to be any higher if that place uses $300 a month in utilities or $80.”Nor would Passive House certification necessarily help him rent the house.Certified or not, the house should be comfortable and easy to heat and cool. But the story of the tenants who went from a falling-down manufactured home to a plain-Jane superinsulated one has an odd ending.The older couple loved the place at first, Morosko said. But Morosko’s decision to make bedrooms a little bigger than those in a typical manufactured home, thereby reducing space in the main living area, proved to be a deal-breaker.“The tenants I had in the trailer for the last eight years were all psyched to get their new one,” he said. “They even camped for three weeks while we swapped them out. They moved in. They loved it. They loved the fact there was no heat stratification. It was warm all the time. But they couldn’t get their furniture situated. It is as simple as that, and I beat my head against the wall. They moved out. They moved out because the woman could not get her furniture situated. It was a completely different layout than the trailer they had.”Three other potential renters are looking at the property. “We will have it rented within the next week or two,” he said. Adding it up: Best business move?This property is rented with utilities included, and that could turn out to be a good deal for tenants. For example, the old manufactured home rented for $500 a month, with tenants picking up the cost of hot water, heat, and electricity for another $200 or so, depending on the season. Once moved into the new house, tenants will pay a flat $725 a month for everything, a predictable monthly expense for a much more comfortable dwelling.The rent was enough to cover the owners’ costs. But as purely a profit-and-loss question, building the modular may not have been their best move.“Did I succeed? From a landlord-economic-rental standpoint, it was stupid,” Morosko said. “My personal drive is I hate the thought of trailers. They’re a complete energy waste. A landlord loves them because they’re cheap, they rent for almost what you’d be able to rent a house out for, and they cost the tenant. They uncomfortable, and they leak and fail all over the place.”He also recognizes he’s invested $80,000 in 850 square feet when he could have spent $15,000 on a new manufactured home and rented it for practically the same amount of money. Whether he and his brother recoup that money over time because the house is worth more than a conventional manufactured house remains to be seen.But in general, Morosko isn’t especially upbeat about the prospects for high-performance modular housing.“I have visited four modular factories that have tried to make a go of it, building some kind of net-zero or Passive House modular, and I have not seen any of them wildly succeed,” he said. “Selling a Passive House modular has not been a succeeding business model — yet.“Why?” he continued. “Energy costs in the United States are still way too low, and there’s no incentive, and unfortunately I feel there’s going to be even less over the next four to eight years. “ Jason Morosko is the lead engineer for UltimateAir, a manufacturer of whole-house ventilation equipment, and the only Certified Passive House Consultant in Athens, Ohio. Morosko built a Passive House duplex for his own family a few years ago, regularly consults with builders, and rarely skips the annual conferences of the Passive House Institute U.S.In short, the 39-year-old Morosko is completely invested in high-performance building, even when it comes to the handful of rental properties he owns with his brother Jeremy, 43, in the not-so-highfalutin southeast corner of Ohio.The two of them late last year completed their first superinsulated modular, what they’re calling a “Modular Passive House,” for well under $100 a square foot. They hope the modest building can become an example of what can be done on a shoestring budget for families who want comfortable, energy-efficient accommodations but can’t afford steep rents.“From a business standpoint for rental units, the math is terrible,” he said in a recent telephone interview. “But, on the flip side I hate seeing a poor family living so uncomfortably in a terrible single-wide mobile home.” Taking over a family-owned businessAthens is a city of 24,000 close to the West Virginia border, an area Morosko describes as “economically deprived” where paychecks often fall below national averages. The Morosko brothers, both of whom work as engineers, got into the rental business through their parents. Although not by any means wealthy, the elder Moroskos had over time accumulated 10 or so rental properties.When their parents wanted to retire, their sons bought them out, providing the nest egg their parents had never been able to set aside. The rentals included a mix of properties, but it was the manufactured housing that Jason Morosko especially loathed.“With my history of Passive House and building science and the building industry, oh my gosh, I despise a mobile home for everything it stands for,” he said. “It’s a damned piece of Swiss cheese you’re trying to heat and cool.”The brothers, doing business as Sustainable Path, owned one mobile home that was ready to fall apart. They originally planned to renovate it, but then decided to replace it with a more efficient, better insulated building of roughly the same size, about 850 square feet.Their first step was to visit a local modular home manufacturer to buy a standard 13-6 by 70-foot steel frame on wheels. The seven-axle trailer had been used to deliver modular homes. Once a crane lifted the modular unit off the frame and placed it on a permanent foundation, Morosko said, the trailer was no longer needed. The modular builder had 30 spent trailers lying around and was happy to sell one of them.Soon afterward, Sustainable Path started work on the first, and so far only, of its modulars. Morosko described the building as a wood-framed structure whose 2×6 exterior walls were insulated with cellulose in the stud cavities and an additional 4 inches of polyiso rigid foam on the exterior. The 2×10 shed roof, as well as the floor, were insulated with a mix of polyiso and cellulose. In all, the specs sound something like a “Pretty Good” house and a lot more attractive than a built-to-code house: R-40 in the walls, R-50 in the roof, and something like R-40 in the floor. Windows are triple-paned, and the all-electric house came whole-house ventilation system using an UltimateAir ERV.A blower door test for airtightness has not been done. Good, but not Passive House and not upscaleIt took a crew of one or two carpenters about seven months to build the house in a local parking lot. When it was finished, the Moroskos swapped it for the dilapidated mobile home, with the tenants temporarily storing their belongings in a container on the site. What the tenants got was a snug, two-bedroom, two-bath house that is heated and cooled with a single 9,000 Btu/h ductless minisplit head even in sub-freezing weather.The Sustainable Path website claims that power bills will average $65 a month.What the new tenants didn’t get was much in the way of expensive interior or exterior finishes. Exterior walls are clad in sheet steel. Interior walls are 1/4-inch thick lauan mahogany plywood, the seams between sheets covered with strapping. Flooring is vinyl plank. The house still sits on its original steel frame, and although the wheels and axles have been removed it is the steel frame that supports the building, not the concrete block skirting that has been built to disguise it.That last detail has been something of an issue, not only with Morosko’s insurance company but with county assessors. Buildings permanently attached to trailers are defined as manufactured housing; those trucked to the site on a trailer but then placed on a conventional foundation are modulars. The distinction, Morosko said, has made financing and the appraisal “a little hairy.”Morosko convinced insurers the building is a house, not manufactured housing, but his fate with appraisers is still up in the air. Their decision could have long-term consequences for the project.“A mobile home depreciates in value,” Morosko said. “A piece of real estate appreciates.” RELATED ARTICLES last_img read more