Richard Aboulafia: October 2019 Letter

Dear Fellow Former Gruyere and Chateau Petrus Consumers,

Even as a young boy, I knew that the original Lost in Space was unbelievably bad science fiction. But looking back, I do appreciate one aspect of it: the robot, who was easily stopped when he went haywire, by pulling out his external power pack, which appeared to hold 4 AA batteries. When designing a robot, or a monster of any kind, it’s important to install a kill switch, something that turns it off instantly, before it can do too much harm if it turns bad.

With the latest Airbus/Boeing WTO trade complaint developments, I’m wondering if Boeing shouldn’t have installed a kill switch. This complaint might be turning into a bad robot.[More]

Richard Aboulafia: September 2019 Letter

Dear Fellow Fragmented Route Flyers,

Like you, fellow aerophiles, I am surrounded by friends and family who, impossible as it seems, have no contact with, or even interest in, airplanes. On the rare occasion they express interest in the World’s Best Industry, they’ll inquire about the 737MAX, although many of them seem unaware of the distinction between 737 variants. Yet I’d argue that the MAX is not the most important aircraft of 2019. Its problems will be fixed, hopefully lessons will be learned, and I doubt it will be a problem for our industry in twelve months. … [More]

Richard Aboulafia: June 2019 Letter

Dear Fellow Tarmac Zombies,

This month, I had the pleasure of attending a globally famous aviation event. It attracted many companies, industry luminaries and others, all there to discuss important topics in what the attendees consider to be one of the most important segments of the world economy.

Oh, I also attended the Paris Air Show. Comparing it with the Uber Elevate Summit (in my hometown, DC) is kind of interesting. Consider the distinctions between the two:… [More]

Richard Aboulafia: May 2019 Letter

Dear Fellow Divestiture Watchers,

The best way to create a medium-sized aircraft company is to start with a large one. Bombardier has spent the past month (and perhaps the least 14 years) proving that. The formerly mighty Canadian Aero Giant once sprawled over the world, building everything from firefighting water bombers to 130-seat jetliners (and snowmobiles too). But recent and imminent divestitures are reducing it from an aviation powerhouse to a much smaller and leaner player…. [More]

Richard Aboulafia: April 2019 Letter

Dear Fellow Company Anthropologists,

To my deep regret, my only personal contact with Herb Kelleher, the great founder of Southwest Airlines who died in January, was, predictably, over a drink in a bar. As for any aviation fan, that moment made my list of career highlights, and indeed life highlights. Not only was he a remarkable character who helped reinvent the industry, he also provided what may be the best management quote ever: “Your employees come first. And if you treat your employees right, guess what? Your customers come back, and that makes your shareholders happy. Start with employees and the rest follows from that.” This was not only a humane vision of the world; it was also a great maxim for long-term company success. … [More]