Saturday, October 13, 2007

There Will Be Trouble Ahead

The naivety of Alistair Darling's plans to make aviation more ‘green’ is a triumph of politics over practicalities. The plan is to replace the duty paid on tickets by passengers with a charge based on the type of aircraft the airline uses and the distance it flies. He thinks it will make airlines more efficient by encouraging them to buy newer aircraft. He clearly has little or no understanding of the way the industry works.

It will not reduce aviation's CO2 emissions or enable the industry to grow ‘sustainably’ – that is a conflicting dream that plays well in political circles but has no bearing on reality. Most of the aircraft that are now flying, will be doing so for many years to come (the length of time aircraft are ‘written down’ in their owners accounts makes this a certainty). They might not be flying with the airlines that now own them but with some other airline that buys them and either starts up or expands their own business; not necessarily in Europe but elsewhere in the word. The aircraft manufacturing industry is all about growth and so are the airlines themselves. New and more efficient aircraft like the A380 will just replace less efficient 747s, but someone will be interested in buying and operating that less efficient aircraft

Of course the charges levied on the airlines will just be passed on to the passenger via the ticket prices. And all that this is going to do is to allow the likes of easyJet and Ryanair to advertise yet lower and more crazy lead-in prices (the supermarket mentality)/ This in turn will have the effect of making things even more competitive and all this is against a background of an industry that is about to see passenger demand being squeezed as the disposable income of British travelers, in particular, continues to fall..

I predict a bloody price war, and financial losses ahead. Will there be a major causality in all this? Most definitely.

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