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Europe’s Museums Are Open, but the Public Isn’t Coming



AMSTERDAM — Visitors to the Rijksmuseum’s vast, vaulted galleries of Dutch old master paintings can feel as though they’ve got the whole place to themselves these days. Before the pandemic, around 10,000 people used to crowd in each day. Now, it’s about 800.

In theory, even with strict social distancing guidelines — visitors must book ahead, wear a mask, follow a set path and stay at least six feet apart — the Dutch national museum could accommodate as many as 2,500 people a day. But the public isn’t exactly jostling for those limited tickets.

Across town, the Hermitage Amsterdam museum has extended an exhibition of imperial jewels from the Russian state collection that was attracting 1,100 visitors a day last year. Now, the museum has limited daily ticket sales to 600, though it’s only selling about half.

As cultural institutions reopen across the United States, with new coronavirus protocols in place, many have been looking to Europe, where many museums have been open since May, for a preview of how the public might respond to the invitation to return. So far, there’s little reason to be optimistic.

Almost all European museums are suffering from visitor losses, but their ability to cope depends almost entirely on how they are funded. Institutions supported by government funding are able to weather the storm with a little belt-tightening, while those that depend on ticket sales are facing tougher choices. Many are laying off employees and restructuring their business models.

Visitor information from across Europe tells a fairly consistent story: Museums that have reopened have about a third of the visitors they had this time last year. The Louvre in Paris reports about 4,500 to 5,000 visitors a day, compared with about 15,000 a year ago. The State Museums of Berlin, a group of 18 museums in the German capital, reports about 30 percent of its usual attendance.

Others are faring worse. The Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam is down to about 400 visitors a day, when it used to welcome 6,500. “It’s really very, very quiet in the museum,” said its director, Emilie Gordenker.

Travel restrictions and border closings have dramatically reduced the numbers of international tourists in European capitals. Over the summer, institutions in the Netherlands reported a boost in tourism from neighboring Belgium and Germany. That waned again when the school year started in September, and a surge of new coronavirus cases in the Netherlands led to “code red” alerts in several Dutch cities, including Amsterdam.

European governments support many national cultural institutions, but there is a broad range of business models across the continent, from privately established museums that receive virtually no government money to those that are wholly subsidized by taxpayers. In recent years, however, governments in many countries, including the Netherlands, have been cutting support of museums, as politicians have encouraged the “American model” of funding, with more reliance on earned income.

The Rijksmuseum and the Hermitage Amsterdam, less than a 10-minute bike ride from each other, represent two points on that spectrum. While the Dutch national museum receives one-third of its financing from the government, the Hermitage, a private initiative, has no government subsidy, and relies on ticket sales for 70 percent of its budget.

“Seniors have been our core business,” said Paul Mosterd, the deputy director of the Hermitage Amsterdam. “We had a lot of senior groups, a group of friends of pensioners, or grandpa celebrates his 80th birthday with a guided tour and a lunch.” Such those patrons are now wary of indoor spaces and public transportation, he said, making the museum more reliant on younger visitors. But, he added, “That generation isn’t coming.”

Several European countries — including Britain, France, Germany and the Netherlands — have already announced government bailout packages for the arts. But many local institutions are still projecting shortfalls.

“We foresee huge losses for the next few years, and just a very slow return to normal,” said Lidewij de Koekkoek, the director of the Rembrandt House, a museum in the artist’s former home and studio. Before the pandemic, 80 percent of the museum’s visitors were international tourists.

“We expect that in 2024 we might be back to our normal visitor numbers,” she added. “Financially, it’s quite a disaster.”

Ms. de Koekkoek said that Rembrandt House had lost about 2.5 million euros, or around $3 million, because of the decline in visitors — more than half its overall budget.

A bailout from the Dutch government’s bailout and support from the city of Amsterdam have helped recoup about $1 million, she said. “On the positive side, it’s back to basics, and there’s a lot of creativity in thinking towards the future,” she added.

Yilmaz Dziewior, the director of the Museum Ludwig in Cologne, Germany, said that the country’s museums were lucky because they have long received generous government subsidies. Few, he said, are in danger of failing, even if visitors don’t come.

“What the crisis also showed is how robust or healthy the German system is, in comparison with the U.S., for example,” he said. “We need the visitors, but they do not make up such a big part of our overall budget.”

He said that in the museum’s annual budget of roughly €13 million, about €3.5 million comes from earned income, with €1.8 million of that from ticket sales. He anticipates a loss of half of that.

The museum’s straitened financial situation has nonetheless prompted a rethink, Mr. Dziewior said. “One thing that it showed us is that we need to work more with our own collection,” he said. “We do so many shows where we ship works from across the world, which is not good ecologically, economically and in other ways. Through the crisis, these issues became clearer.”

Mr. Mosterd of the Hermitage Amsterdam said the crisis had compelled the museum’s staff to rethink exhibitions that could appeal to a different kind of visitor. An exhibition of medieval art, “Romanovs Under the Spell of the Knights,” for example, has been recast with greater emphasis on armor, weapons and battles.

“It’s more suitable for families with young kids, which is for us in some ways a new audience,” Mr. Mosterd said. “That's 100 percent a change we made for marketing reasons.”

Mr. Dziewior said that reorienting the Ludwig Museum, and finding a more sustainable, more inclusive approach to visitors — especially those who live locally — was unlikely to be a temporary shift.

“One thing that the crisis showed us was that the so-called normal wasn’t normal,” he said. “It’s not our aim to go back to where we left off.”

By: Nina Siegal
Title: Europe’s Museums Are Open, but the Public Isn’t Coming
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Published Date: Mon, 19 Oct 2020 11:27:20 +0000

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What could you order from Ansett Airlines’ inflight bar in the early 1970s?




People have always liked to drink on board flights, especially people from Australia. Therefore, it should be no surprise to anyone that there was an inflight bar offering in the 1970s.

Ansett Airlines were a major player in the Australian domestic market up until their demise in September 2001. For many years, there were two domestic airlines, Trans-Australia Airlines (TAA) and Ansett.

Ansett’s Inflight Bar

At the time, Ansett operated Boeing 727s, Douglas DC-9s and Fokker F27 Friendships on domestic routes in the country. Airline tickets were quite expensive, with tariffs agreed upon by both airlines thanks to Australia’s weird two-airline policy at the time.

While tickets were expensive and food complimentary, you still had to pay for a drink at the bar. Here is an inflight bar menu from the era, showing the drinks available and their prices.

Clearly the pricing is astounding by today’s standards – 30 cents for a beer? I’ll have thirty-three please! I like how Australian gin is 35c while the imported gin is just 5c more. Which would you choose?

You can tell it is from another era as you can buy cigarettes on board. These price up at 45c, a far cry from the extortionate prices people in the west pay these days for a smoke!

Overall Thoughts

The on board offering is pretty comprehensive for internal flights, and I imagine you’d be hard pressed not to find something you might like. In those times, all payments would have been by cash as well, which would have meant a lot of coinage being handled on board.

Of course, things haven’t changed too much over the years. On many airlines you pay for your drinks just as they did back in the 1970s. Shame the prices aren’t the same of course!

Did you ever buy drinks on board flights from the inflight bar back in the day? Do you still? Thank you for reading and if you have any comments or questions, please leave them below.

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Featured image by Daniel Tanner on via Wikimedia Commons.
Menu image by Ikara on Australian Frequent Flyer.

By: The Flight Detective
Title: What could you order from Ansett Airlines’ inflight bar in the early 1970s?
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Published Date: Thu, 19 Nov 2020 15:03:14 +0000

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These Shrimp Leave the Safety of Water and Walk on Land. But Why?




The shrimp stop swimming at dusk and gather near the river’s edge. After sunset, they begin to climb out of the water. Then they march. All night long, the inch-long crustaceans parade along the rocks.

The parading shrimp of northeastern Thailand have inspired legends, dances and even a statue. (Locals also eat them.) During the rainy season, between late August and early October, tourists crowd the riverbanks with flashlights to watch the shrimp walk.

Watcharapong Hongjamrassilp first learned about the parading shrimp, and the hundred thousand or more tourists who come each year to see them, about 20 years ago. When he started studying biology, he returned to the topic. “I realized that we know nothing about this,” he said: What species are they? Why and how do they leave the safety of the water to walk upstream on dry land? Where are they going?

Mr. Hongjamrassilp, a graduate student at the University of California, Los Angeles, decided to answer those questions himself. His findings appeared this month in the Journal of Zoology.

Working with wildlife center staff members, Mr. Hongjamrassilp staked out nine sites along a river in Thailand’s Ubon Ratchathani province. They found shrimp parading at two of the sites — a stretch of rapids, and a low dam.

The videos they recorded revealed that the shrimp paraded from sundown to sunup. They traveled up to 65 feet upstream. Some individual shrimp stayed out of the water for 10 minutes or more.

“I was so surprised,” Mr. Hongjamrassilp said, “because I never thought that a shrimp can walk that long.” Staying in the river’s splash zone may help them keep their gills wet, so they can keep taking in oxygen. He also observed that the shells of the shrimp seem to trap a little water around their gills, like a reverse dive helmet.

DNA analysis from captured shrimp showed that nearly all belonged to the species Macrobrachium dienbienphuense, part of a genus of shrimp that live mostly or fully in freshwater. Many Macrobrachiumspecies spend part of their lives migrating upstream to their preferred habitats.

Most parading shrimp that Mr. Hongjamrassilp captured were young. Observations and lab experiments showed that these shrimp probably leave the water when the flow becomes too strong for them. Larger adult shrimp can handle a stronger current without washing away, so they’re less likely to leave the water.

Walking on land is dangerous for the little shrimp, even under cover of darkness. Predators including frogs, snakes and large spiders lurk nearby, Mr. Hongjamrassilp says. “Literally, they wait to eat them along the river.”

And the shrimp can survive on land for only so long. If the parading crustaceans lose their way, they may dry out and die before they get back to the river. A few times, Mr. Hongjamrassilp came across groups of lost shrimp dead on the rocks, their once-translucent bodies baked pink.

Yet most navigate upstream successfully, and scientists have spotted other freshwater shrimp around the world performing similar feats, scaling dams and even climbing waterfalls.

Leaving the water when the swimming gets tough may have helped these animals spread to new habitats over their evolutionary history, Mr. Hongjamrassilp said. Today, the number of parading shrimp in Thailand seems to be declining. He thinks tourist activity may be a factor, and learning more about the shrimp might help protect them.

The study’s authors made “some really excellent observations,” said Alan Covich, an ecologist at the University of Georgia who was not involved in the research. But understanding why the Ubon Ratchathani shrimp move upstream, and how far they travel, will require more research, he said.

“The most surprising thing to me was that it attracted so many tourists,” Dr. Covich said. He doesn’t know of any other example of people gathering to appreciate a crustacean in quite the same way.

“We have crayfish festivals, we have all kinds of things,” Dr. Covich said, “but generally it’s people eating them, not watching them move.”

By: Elizabeth Preston
Title: These Shrimp Leave the Safety of Water and Walk on Land. But Why?
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Published Date: Wed, 18 Nov 2020 17:02:07 +0000

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Will Aer Lingus launch transatlantic flights from Manchester?




There are reports that Aer Lingus have applied for 1,500 slots at Manchester Airport for the Summer 2021 season. This will allow the airline to base four aircraft there and service flights to the United States.

At present, there have been no press releases from the airline stating what is going on. Even so, it probably makes sense for the Irish airline to do this in the current market.

Aer Lingus And Manchester

From what is known, there will be three Airbus A321LRs and an A330 based at Manchester. These will operate non-stop services to New York JFK, Boston, Chicago and Orlando, and the season starts on 28 March 2021.

With Thomas Cook having gone out of business, there is likely space for another competitor. New York and Orlando will see competition from Virgin Atlantic, while the other two routes have no airline flying at the moment.

Aer Lingus has been connecting passengers over Dublin very successfully from the UK regions for a while now. Due to this, they will have visibility on traffic patterns, potential yields and more, making this an informed decision.

I imagine they also hope to cream off some of the connecting traffic that routes through London Heathrow on British Airways and Amsterdam on KLM among others. It would prove to be quite successful.

Transatlantic Joint Venture Approval

The US Department of Transport has tentatively given its approval for Aer Lingus to join the oneworld transatlantic joint business. This is operated by American Airlines, British Airways, Iberia and Finnair.

These airlines coordinate schedules and pricing, share revenues and expenses. For the consumer, it means more choice – those making a booking on British Airways across the Atlantic will also see options on American Airlines on the BA web site as one example.

Theoretically, it would allow people seeking flights on the British Airways web site to automatically be given options to fly non-stop with Aer Lingus, along with the Manchester-London Heathrow-US city connecting itinerary.

Whether Aer Lingus will join the oneworld alliance, even in a oneworld connect capacity remains to be seen. Frequent flyers would welcome it, especially those in Ireland.

Overall Thoughts

No doubt the boffins have been working behind the scenes to see if the business case for transatlantic flights from Manchester stack up. As things have proceeded as far as a slot application, I would guess chances are good that it will go ahead.

Either way, let’s see if this happens and if it does, whether Aer Lingus will stay for the long haul. If they can make more money elsewhere, they’ll up sticks and leave. Regardless, it is an interesting development in European aviation.

What do you think of Aer Lingus starting transatlantic services from Manchester? Thank you for reading and if you have any comments or questions, please leave them below.

To never miss a post, follow me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
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Featured image by N509FZ via Wikimedia Commons.
Aer Lingus A321neo LR by Pitmanaaron via Wikimedia Commons.
Business class cabin via One Mile At A Time.

By: The Flight Detective
Title: Will Aer Lingus launch transatlantic flights from Manchester?
Sourced From:
Published Date: Wed, 18 Nov 2020 18:03:48 +0000

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