Up in the Air


Now that the dust has cleared – if you’ll forgive the pun – and the stranded are all finally returning home from the nightmare of having to stay a few days longer in Vegas or Majorca, we airlines are throwing their collective dummies out the pram. The government should have lifted the ban earlier, there shouldn’t have been a ban at all, why weren’t there tests? You can understand why they’re angry – the longest flight ban since WW2 and losses totalling the billions. My the comfort of my desk and admittedly not having had to fly anywhere during the past fortnight, I think the airlines should be thanking the government. A cloud of volcanic ash covering almost the entire British mainland, that is a genuine first in aviation history – a real unknown.
They were right to be cautious and right to seek proper, scientific consultation and then put that advice into action. Consider the scenario – what would have happened if there hadn’t been a ban, or it hadn’t been long enough and a plane had crashed – just one plane. Hell it wouldn’t even have had to be caused by the ash – public confidence in air travel would plummet. People abroad and needing to get home or with flights already booked would undoubtedly still fly but over the coming weeks and months, we would almost certainly see a major drop off in people choosing to flight. Holidays would be cancelled, meetings rescheduled – and the losses suffered by the airline industry would be 10 fold the results of this small ban. It could take years for people to be fully willing to fly again, ticket prices would have to go up to cope and it wouldn’t be long before more of the small companies started going under. I think we should all be thankful for small mercies.

On a related note, there are real and obvious lessons to be taking away from the past few weeks. A wakeup call to society and industry. Look how quickly we started to feel the pain of not being able to fly, look at the effect it had on business, conferences and holidays. A few days longer and we would have noticed the shortage in imported goods as prices jumped up. What on earth have we allowed ourselves to become so reliant one single technology which can so easily we taken away from us? In the same way we need to break our reliance on our cars, we need to learn to live without planes as well. I’m not saying everyone should stop going on holiday but start looking at other alternatives, we have a rich and beautiful country of our own to explore and wonderful rail and ferry links to the rest of Europe and beyond. Businesses need to stop flying people to meetings within the UK and start embracing teleconferencing or getting back on the trains. And imported goods, when so many British farmers are struggling why are we buying from abroad? If this happens again, say a even bigger volcano explodes or the fuel starts to run out then we’re going to be screwed so let’s start learning us lessons now and being prepared. Consider the benefits – better for the British economy, better for the environment and means we not stranded up Shit Creek without a flight home!

Title image courtesy kteague

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Published in: on April 24, 2010 at 11:22 AM  Leave a Comment  
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