HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Air Transport World (ATW) Honors Airline’s Cargo Operation

Vietnam celebrates first day of spring festival

Dragnet fishermen in Trat Province urged to enter tourist industry

Mae Sa camp toasts ninth baby elephant

Baan Klong Kon villagers revive mangrove hibiscus for eco-tourism

Air Transport World (ATW) Honors Airline’s Cargo Operation

Korean Air will be named Air Transport World (ATW) Cargo Airline of the Year for 2003 at an awards ceremony in Washington, DC this month.

According to ATW officials, “Korean Air Cargo has been a top-ranked carrier on a commercial basis for many years. Now it has put together all the pieces needed to be considered a world-class operation.”

Korean Air has been a significant force in air cargo for more than 30 years. The airline started its air cargo division in 1969 shortly after privatization. Its timing allowed it to take advantage of its location between North America and burgeoning Asian economies to build a freight operation that now provides 32 percent of Korean Air’s operating revenues.

For the last decade the airline has been one of the top three combination freight carriers in the world, with the largest freighter fleet of any transpacific airline, providing 31 cities around the world with regular freighter service.

China’s booming growth has given Korean Air Cargo a real boost, and the airline expects to produce a 20 percent annual increase in its airfreight traffic to that country. This potential inspired the creation of KAL-SkyBridge, tying Korean Air Cargo’s Chinese freight flow into the shipping and trucking operation of its parent company, Hanjin, for seamless intermodal worldwide delivery in as little as five days.

Korean Air is a key member of SkyTeam Cargo in partnership with AeroMexico, Air France, Alitalia, Czech Airlines and Delta Air Lines, and is the group’s largest freight carrier. It also is the Asian partner of a new US-focused air cargo marketing joint venture with Delta and Air France.

The airline gained greatly from the opening of new cargo facilities at Incheon International.

Vietnam celebrates first day of spring festival

A band and singers dressed in traditional costumes ride in a boat along the Yen River near the Perfume Pagoda in Yen Ben on Thursday February 6. The first day of the spring festival season began with thousands of Vietnamese flocking to temples around the country. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel)

Dragnet fishermen in Trat Province urged to enter tourist industry

“Just the facts, mam...”

Fishermen still using dragnets are being urged by the Trat provincial authority to turn to tourism as an alternative profession, in the hope that this will mitigate the impact of the government’s decision to ban dragnet fishery.

Chumphol Sa-nguansilpa, chief of the Trat fishery department, expressed confidence that the provincial authority will be able to successfully find alternative employment for fishermen currently using dragnets.

The National Fisheries Policy Committee has already passed a motion banning the use of dragnets, but has yet to determine exactly how the ban is to be implemented.

Chumphol said that Trat’s fame as a tourist destination meant that finding alternative employment for the fishermen would not be a major problem, as work in the tourism industry was easy for people who already had boats and had a good knowledge of the sea.

When the ban comes into effect, the authorities suggest fishermen become tour leaders or rent their boats for tourists who want to fish. This would give the fishermen at least as much income as they are presently earning, if not more.

Currently fishermen are allowed to use dragnets as long as they keep at least 3,000 meters from the shore. Fishermen violating these regulations are fined between 5,000 to 10,000 baht and have their equipment confiscated. (TNA)

Mae Sa camp toasts ninth baby elephant

Staff at Mae Sa Elephant Camp in Chiang Mai joyously celebrated the birth of a male baby to 12 year-old elephant Nung Ning.

Both mother and child were said to be in good health and the camp staff said the baby was already toddling after its mother.

The baby, who has not yet been named, is the ninth elephant to be born under the camp’s Thai Elephant Conservation Program, overseen by veterinarian Ronchit Rungsri. Nung Ning’s mate was the 29 year-old Jumbo B. (TNA)

Baan Klong Kon villagers revive mangrove hibiscus for eco-tourism

Local people have been planting hibiscus, so that now the whole headland is infused with their scent as they open in the dry season sun. While the natural creation of the land by the steady build-up of sediment has been going on for hundreds of years, the hibiscus planting program began just ten years ago, but already the 2,500 rai area around Baan Klong Kon is the largest hibiscus plantation in Thailand.

Former village head Phaiboon Rattanaphong who started the project said, “Ten years ago, only 950 rai of mangrove forest remained in the area, after being destroyed by human hands. Our forest disappeared, which meant that livelihoods went too. We needed to have mangrove forests in order to bring back the old ways of life, so that prawns, shellfish, crabs and fish could return.”

The former village head called on local people to plant a variety of mangrove trees, including hibiscus. At first, the survival rate for the seedlings was a mere 20 percent, but as the local people learned from their mistakes, the project took off.

By 1990, the mangrove forest was beginning to look thick with trees covering 1,500 rai. In that year the provincial administration invited HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn to preside over a planting ceremony.

Afterwards, local villagers started to take part in increasing numbers. Private and public sector agencies began to offer financial support, including 50 rai supported by the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand.

Today, the mangrove forest covers 1,500 rai. The forest supports local aquaculture, acts as a windbreak and gives sustainable ways of life and income to the local people. It is hoped that eventually 10,000 rai will be covered with hibiscus trees.

The local administrative organization is now looking at making the area into an eco-tourism destination, hoping that the wealth of flora and fauna, including crabs, fish, birds and monkeys, will pull in nature lovers from across the globe. (TNA)