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Hashima today
Hashima in the 1880s
Airbus A350 XWB

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The story behind Bond villain’s island
Forget Istanbul, Macau, Shanghai and Scotland as the places to go if you’re a fan of the locations in the 23rd James Bond film, Skyfall. By far the most interesting is the concrete island of Hashima, off the Japanese coast near Nagasaki.

Today, it is a collection of derelict buildings – a mini and rundown version of Alcatraz in San Francisco harbour, and just the place for the lair of the villain, played by Javier Bardem.

Hashima, or Gunkanjima (“battleship”) Island as it is also known, is in fact a former mining settlement, established after Mitsubishi began extracting undersea coal in the late 1880s. Although Hashima started as a much smaller outcrop of rocks, the company decided to stop ferrying the workers and build housing for them and their families on a typhoon-proof island.

Giant, multi-storey concrete apartment blocks went up. Schools, bath houses, temples, restaurants, markets, even a graveyard, were built, all on a space the size of a football field. 

For years after it was suddenly abandoned in 1974, when the company closed the mine and offered work elsewhere, Hashima remained neglected and ignored. This 2002 article by a Canadian professor in Nagasaki was an exception

About the same time, a Swedish film-making team went there with a Japanese who had grown up there and made a documentary. In 2009, the Japanese finally recognised its tourist value and began offering tours, a 15km trip from Nagasaki.

Disappointingly, the Skyfall scenes are a mix of studio sets made at Pinewood Studios and computer generation. According to the BBC, using Hashima was suggested by Daniel Craig, who heard about in Sweden when filming The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

Airbus unveils engine-less A350 XWB
The new Airbus A350 XWB that will compete with Boeing’s Dreamliner for airline business has moved on its wheels for the first time out of the main assembly hall. The fuselage and wings, sans engines, are now in the adjacent indoor ground test station where the hydraulic system will be tested, followed by the full electric and hydraulic power-on of the aircraft.

It will then go through a series of extensive production and certification/development tests, before being painted and having its engines installed. After that, it will be delivered to the flight-line and be readied for its first flight in mid-2013.

Qantas upgrades Jumbo fleet
Qantas has completed the upgrading of its Boeing 747s at a cost of $A250 million. The makeover includes new seats, interiors and inflight entertainment based on Qantas’ Airbus A380 offering.

Nine of the 18 Boeing 747-400 aircraft were refitted over a 14-month period and will continue to fly long haul routes, including Sydney-Dallas, Sydney-Los Angeles-New York and Brisbane-Los Angeles. Each is fitted with 58 Skybed II seats in business class, 36 premium economy seats and 270 economy seats.

Lufthansa adds premium economy
Lufthansa is adding a premium economy cabin to all its long-haul flights, including routes from Asiaand North America to Europe that connect with Air New Zealand. The German airline says its premium economy is a "substantially upgraded economy product," though details will be finalised next year.

"Development will take about two years," the airline says, adding that it intends to "equip the entire Lufthansa long-haul fleet with premium economy."


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