Wednesday, August 19, 2009

 

TIDBITS FROM THE DESK

In the midst of these "dog daze" of the summer of 2009, and as Hurricane "Bill" huffs and puffs into a category 4 storm through the Caribbean, let's take a moment to clear-out a backlog of accumulated notes on my workspace.

Best to clean these out; after all it's a matter of short time before our Parliamentarians return to their Ottawa offices...the debate in the House of Commons sinks to new inconceivable lows...and the blind race towards an election no one wants heats up to a fever pitch.

-AIRLINES, AEROPLANES AND RECESSIONS DON'T MIX
Doubtless it's been a tough tourist season for Canada's air carriers. Visa and Passport restrictions have reduced cross-border travel. Summer load factors have slumped and aviation consultants predict "lean, dark times" for the usually slow fall period. Air Canada is mired in debt once more...the word bankruptcy has been bandied about. It won't happen...but if it did, for the second time in one decade, it could usher-in irreversible damage for our national flag carrier. WestJet had been counting on a cash infusion from SouthWest Airlines in the USA. The two airlines follow the same business model, and were to enter into a code-sharing arrangement this summer. Code-sharing involves booking flights on each other's routes. Instead, SouthWest has pocketed the money to bankroll a bid to buy bankrupt Denver based discount carrier, Frontier Airlines. And, orders for Bombardier's business jet aircraft are said to be down about 40% as client companies, like GM, Chrysler and others shed their private aircraft and adjust to the new economic realities.

-WHERE'S THE MISSING LOOT?
If the Royal Canadian Mint can find it, maybe the airlines could use it. Very little has transpired...er, well nothing really...since the Federal Government called-in the RCMP to investigate the disappearance of more than $15-million in gold from the mint. It has been almost a year since auditors at Ottawa's most heavily guarded building started to query how a thousand pounds of gold went missing from the Fort Knox like vaults on Sussex Drive. Although "who's got the loot?" (Bernie Madoff? Earl Jones? Michael Jackson?) has become a favorite parlour game in the Capital, the daily "Ottawa Citizen" reported this week that the Mounties have yet to launch their government ordered investigation..."That suggests they don't suspect the missing gold has been stolen." The Mint's bean-counters are knee-deep in the middle of three ongoing "last-ditch" efforts to account for the missing bullions. Lest of course they be knee-deep in dark doo-doo if they can't find anything.

-TIMMY, IN FOR THE DUNKIN'
Going for the gold? Invaders from the north became the darlings of the "Big Apple" over the summer months when Tim Horton's took over about a dozen former Dunkin Donuts stores in New York City. The stores are owned by franchisee Riese Corporation. Some will recall a few year's back the scandal when photos were published showing mice on the racks of one of their Manhattan Dunkin' stores. Obviously engaging in a rear guard action against "Buy American" provisions. New Yorkers have apparently fallen in love with Tim's rich calorie laden Ice Cappucinos. If we can't beat'em, maybe we can clog their arteries. Tim Horton's reported earlier this month that it now has 536 restaurants down in the USA. Same store sales in the United-States have grown as much as 5% over last year. Sales at the Canadian stores, of which there are just short of 3000, grew less than 2% during the same period. The company has said it may have to raise prices in Canada to meet its year-end goals. The American owned McDonald's restaurants, Canada's second largest chain, have been increasing pressure on the Canadian icon by offering discounted breakfast and premium coffee options. Roll-up The Rim to see who wins!

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