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Old October 13th, 2006, 09:16 PM   #1
hkskyline
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MISC | Smoking in the Airplane?

German entrepreneur proposes airborne refuge for smoking travelers
13 October 2006

BERLIN (AP) - A German entrepreneur wants to create a nostalgic smokers' haven above the clouds by starting a nicotine-friendly airline offering Cuban cigars, caviar and flight attendants in designer uniforms -- as well as smoking allowed in every seat.

Alexander Schoppmann, a 55-year-old former stockbroker, has come up with a business plan for Smoker's International Airways, or Smintair, which he says will offer flights between his home town of Duesseldorf in western Germany and Tokyo.

It's all about service, he says -- and that includes helping people avoid long hours confined without a cigarette break during a long-haul flight.

"I've been an airline passenger for 50 years," said Schoppmann, perhaps not surprisingly a smoker with a 30-cigarette per day habit. "It made me very angry that the gap between service and price became so big with regular airlines. Especially in the first class and business class, service is at its lowest point ever."

Schoppmann says he's got investors willing to provide €65 million (US$81 million) to get started -- including the €40 million (US$50 million) he'll need to get a license from the German government -- and sponsors ready to sell luxury goods on board.

"We are on the same price level with Lufthansa, British Airways and other airlines that operate on similar routes," he said. "Frankfurt-Tokyo and back costs €10,000 (US$12,500) with Lufthansa for the first class and €6,500 (US$8,125) for business class both ways. And those are exactly our prices."

Schoppmann said in an interview he plans to start flying in March with three leased Boeing Co. 747s, two of them plying the route and one as a backup. The idea is to bring back "the luxury of the old days" by using only 138 business- and first-class seats on a plane that has space for more than 400 people.

TVs, DVDs, telephone and Internet access and flight attendants "in uniforms designed by famous couturiers" are just a few of the frills.

The German entrepreneur said he plans to supplement ticket revenue by selling luxury products in an extra lounge on the upper deck and also put to use the cargo hold. "The cargo rates to Tokyo and back are among the highest in the world," he said.

Schoppmann recalls his flights in the 1950s, 60s and 70s as "a luxurious experience above the clouds," with room to relax and Cuban cigars on offer.

Aviation consultant Richard Aboulafia of the Teal Group in Fairfax, Virginia, expressed skepticism about Schoppmann's chances of getting over regulatory and financial hurdles.

"You can't start flying between two countries just on the basis of a business plan. You have to deal with the regulatory authorities in both countries ... arrange for overflight and whatever else," he said.

Schoppmann said applying for an operating license is not as complicated as one might think. "The German Aviation Authority only wants you to prove funds sufficient for a three-months undertaking in case no money comes in," he said. "And that's all available."

Aboulafia also said using jumbo jets "is very ambitious. No other premium airline that I know of has ever started with 747s. ... You're betting that you've got enough of a niche customer group to support you."

He said it will be interesting to see whether enough people will opt for Smintair over a carrier like Lufthansa, which has more frequent flights, just because they like to smoke.

Schoppmann said non-smokers are welcome and would even find the cabin air much more refreshing than on any other flight because the airline will pay the added cost of a system to add outside air to the cabin air conditioning.

He insists that nonsmokers would face no hazards aboard his planes. "Second-hand smoke doesn't exist," he said. "At the most there is something that smells, but perfumes smell, as well."

Dr. Eva Kalbheim, spokeswoman for the non-profit organization German Cancer Aid, disagrees. "The latest numbers we have from the German Cancer Research Center show that 3,300 people in Germany die every year as a result of passive smoking," she said.

And flight attendants would run substantial health risks, she said.

Asked how certain he is that Smintair will take off as planned in March, Schoppmann said:

"How certain is it that I will be alive by then? That's of course a philosophical question. The way we are positioned right now, it is certain."
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Old October 14th, 2006, 05:14 PM   #2
Irish Blood English Heart
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hahaha yeah whatever, I'll believe it when I see it!
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Old October 14th, 2006, 06:17 PM   #3
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hmm the business case underlying the idea is very weak, I doubt "Smintair" will ever fly...
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Old October 14th, 2006, 06:49 PM   #4
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that's a funny idea, don't like smoking but it's funny. have read somethig about that in our newspaper.
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Old October 14th, 2006, 07:25 PM   #5
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bad business, at least for me, in planes, I take tobacco chewing or snuff usually
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Old October 15th, 2006, 09:19 AM   #6
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It was also not a good idea back then for the Wright Brothers to attempt to fly!
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Old October 15th, 2006, 11:15 AM   #7
oz.fil
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i wouldnt want to fly with them... i cant even stand the smell of smoke, i hate it, cant see myself stuck in a smoke infested cabin for more then 10 minutes let alone the 10 or something hours it takes to fly Germany-Japan
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Old February 3rd, 2013, 07:51 PM   #8
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Flight to Caribbean diverted due to smoking family
CBC News
Posted: Feb 2, 2013 3:17 PM AT

A Sunwing flight from Halifax bound for the Dominican Republic was forced to land in Bermuda Friday night because three passengers refused to stop smoking on the plane, CBC News has learned.

The Bermuda police service said they were called to the airport around 9:55 p.m. local time to meet Sunwing flight 454, which was on its way to Punta Cana.

Police said they boarded the plane and arrested the three smokers.

"It appeared to be a father, a mother and a son. The parents appear to be in their 50s. The son, I believe, is around 22 or so," said acting Insp. Paul Simons.

Dave Shellington's wife was on the plane. He said she texted him to tell the story.

"They were smoking in the plane's washroom and when they came out they got into a little bit of an argument with the attendants. They couldn't say where they put their cigarette butts and that caused a bit of a commotion, I guess. From there it kind of escalated with the father, the mother and the son," said Shellington

He said his wife said there was a lot of screaming and swearing.

Simons said he couldn't confirm the family's nationality or if they had also been drinking, but said they were co-operative when they were removed from the plane by police.
Passengers en route from Halifax to the Dominican Republic wait in Bermuda.Passengers en route from Halifax to the Dominican Republic wait in Bermuda. (Courtesy of bernews.com)

They were taken to the police station and have since been released on bail.

The flight was grounded overnight and the crew and passengers were put up in a hotel.

"The flight was also grounded so that a Canadian-trained mechanic could inspect the aircraft for undetermined reasons," Simons said.

The flight was rescheduled to leave on Saturday.

The family has been ordered not to leave the island and their passports and travel documents have been seized by the Bermuda police.

They have not been officially charged.
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