FedEx dumps Airbus A380, flocks to Boeing

It’s hard to imagine a worse collapse of confidence in product delivery than the one that Airbus is experiencing lately. Not only has its white elephant A380 been delayed numerous times, forcing huge management restructuring, but now major aircraft buyers are canceling their orders and shifting their buying power to Boeing. FedEx is the 1st major that I’ve seen, but I’m sure there will be more:

The world’s largest express transportation company cited Airbus’ production delays and said in a statement that its FedEx Express unit has ordered 15 Boeing Co. 777 freighters with a list price of $3.5 billion and taken options on an additional 15.

Source: FedEx drops A380 order, buys Boeing 777s – Yahoo! News

Being a frequent traveler, I’ve been a big fan of the 777, from a passenger perspective. It seems to be the right size for a jumbo – not too many people crammed in, and the ability to travel great distances with reasonable luxury. Earlier this month Boeing announced a modified 777 that would be capable of traveling from any one point on earth to another point on earth non-stop. I suspect this makes it even more attractive for FedEx, reduced stops leads to greater efficiencies.

From a passenger perspective, last year I took an American Airlines 777 non-stop from Chicago O’Hare to New Delhi. Just a few years ago that would have been unimaginable, but the 777 (and some changes in overflight laws across the former Soviet Union) have made it a reality. While spending 15+ in flight is not something I look forward to, being able to ‘jump’ from the US to India in one shot is unbelievably convenient. I’m sure the FecEx pilots that move cargo all around the world will prefer this approach as well.

Microsoft makes Accounting free for small businesses

My pals over at Download Squad wrote about this yesterday:  Microsoft is offering Office Accounting Epxress 2007 for free.  It’s the first time I can recall Microsoft offering a business focused application for free.  I’ve been beta testing the new Accounting 2007 for the last 2-3 months, and it seems to have a nice flow and is certainly better than an underpowered Quicken for Home & Business – and nicer than the awkwardly designed Peachtree applications.  I’m going to download this free version and give it a test run.  The early comments on DSQ seem to indicate that it is definitely worth a try.

Charging to sit in the emergency row with Northwest Airlines

These days it seems airlines are trying just about anything to make an extra buck.  The latest quick buck approach that I’ve experienced is the added charge to fly in the emergency row on Northwest Airlines flights.  I did this yesterday, paying an additional $15 to fly in the emergency row of a flight from Minneapolis to San Francisco.  Since I don’t fly Northwest that often, I couldn’t have qualified for a Northwest Perks upgrade for the emergency row.  For those of you who don’t fly that often, the emergency row seat is considered a ‘better seat’ because there typically is more leg room.  It also means that you have the added burden of opening up the airplane hatch in case of a crash landing.  And that’s where I thought the Northwest policy took on some morbid undertones.  Aren’t the exit row passengers paying for both real legroom AND a quick exit off of the aircraft in case of emergency?  That doesn’t seem right, does it?

I know that this is a relatively new policy, so I bet Northwest hasn’t faced some of the tougher questions that will arise from this approach.  For example, what happens if an unqualified person [A child, someone who can’t lift the 35lb. door, etc.] buys the upgrade and then, upon arriving at their seat, the flight attendant has to inform them that they need to change their seat?  I can only imagine the lunacy that will follow.  Will that person then get a refund, and when?  I’ve been on more flights than I care to remember where someone become belligerant just because another person accidentally took their seat.  Can you imagine if these people are asked to move from a seat they paid a premium for?

It seems like air travel already has too many ‘whacko’ factors and this is one that the airline industry would be best served to stay away from.  As for me, I don’t think I’ll pay for that privilege again.

Just got an invite for Gmail for your domain

I signed up for the new gmail for your domain service that Google is beta testing (isn’t Google in permanent beta mode anyway?).  Well, I just received an invitation to turn on the service, along with the option to add up to 25 users to that domain.  At first glance everything looks just like gmail, with ability to make slight changes.  I’ll give this a real test in a few days, and log my impressions here.

Signs of trouble at Microsoft?

Late last night Microsoft announced that it would delay shipping the highly anticipated Vista operating systems for consumer use until after the holiday season.  That was pretty surprising, given that all indications were for Vista to be selling in time for Christmas ‘06.  Apparently this delay has also forced the hand of Steve Ballmer to do an internal re-org, and place a long time Office division veteran on top of the Vista hierarchy.  The WSJ is reporting the details here.