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Delayed at Borispol in Kiev

So there’s apparently a delay at Borispol airport in Kiev. Nobody at the airport seems to know why. But according to the Kyiv Post, the massive delays at Borispol were caused by an unpaid bill. According to the article, the billionaire oligarch who runs Ukraine’s largest airline failed to pay his airport bill for so long that they cut the airline off and shut down operations.

I can’t verify this, but I have some theories. First theory is that it was an honest mistake, the digital check got lost in the electronic mail, and that everything will be resolved quickly and amicably. Second theory is that someone on one side or the other is relatively incompetent and just didn’t do what they should have. Third theory is that this is a broader social issue around oligarchy in the region. Fourth is that this was a move to make money.

The official story is that there was a systems glitch. This caused payment not to be sent or applied. And everything would be straightened out quickly. But given that shutting off an airline would take a positive action on the part of someone, and that it would be guaranteed to cause massive disruption and frustration, it seems like it’d have to be a huge glitch that persisted over months with nobody’s common sense kicking in to fix it. Otherwise the organizations would work together to get it figured out and there would be no disruption. So that leaves us with one of the other two theories as being more likely.

What if some incompetent bureaucrat caused the shutdown? Given the region’s reputation for incompetent bureaucracies that seems like a likely candidate. Maybe the check or paperwork sat on somebody’s desk too long. Or maybe somebody went on vacation without approving whatever needed to be approved for continued service. Or somebody was just obstinate about process, paperwork or whatever and didn’t do the right thing by the passengers. That’s believable.

What if this were an oligarch fight? Aerosvit is owned by an oligarch, according to the article. But it’s not clear who owns and operates the airport. That may be another oligarch. So maybe this is a feud. Or maybe someone at the airport decided to stand up to an oligarch who refused to pay for services. Or maybe the airport was trying to squeeze the oligarch for more money or power or some other reason. That’s fairly likely as well.

But a complete shutout of Aerosvit isn’t exactly what happened. Instead, flights were coming in on time, but not allowed to leave for hours. So peasants passengers were forced to spend extra time inside the airport itself, not just backed up at other airports. And therefore they were more than likely to buy stuff – food, drinks, souvenirs, cigarettes, whatever. So really there was an economic incentive for the airport to keep people there longer than need be. Maybe not enough incentive to offset the loss of goodwill by the passengers and airline, but who knows. This would be just the thing to increase revenues in the short term – perhaps to pay for things like makeovers for security agents or ongoing expansions in advance of the European Cup?

The Birds

Last night I had a 3 hour flight delay. The plane was on the ground in Atlanta and ready to go, it had come in from Syracuse, NY a bit late, but not too bad. But the flight crew wasn’t there. That’s because they were on an aircraft that was having some work done in Springfield, MO. What was wrong with the plane? It ran into some birds shortly after takeoff and had to return to the airport for repairs. That would have been a wild flight to be on. I wonder how often that kind of thing happens.