Saturday, July 21, 2007

4.4 billion people moved by airports in 2006

That's the news from the Geneva-based Airports Council International (ACI), which has 1,640 airports operated by its members from 178 countries. Presumably at least a few airports are not members, so the number must be larger in fact....

But even if we take the figure provided by the ACI, it means that, on average last year, something like one out of every two people in the world took a flight somewhere.

I don't know if you have noticed, but the era of cheap air travel seems to be coming to an end. The airlines are trying their hardest to keep it cheap, but they do have to make money. And even when they offer a particular flight for nearly zero cost to the customer, fuel surcharges alone are higher now than the complete flight used to be not long ago.

My guess is that most people are still flying (1) because they feel they have to - e.g. on business;(2) because they have relatives that they feel they *must* visit - e.g. at a wedding or the birth of a child or a funeral; and (3) because they are not yet used to the idea of flying being too expensive - e.g. for holidays.

As the price of flights, but even more important now the *inconvenience* of flying because of flight delays and security measures, comes to rest in people's consciousness, more and more people are expressing a distaste with the idea of flying - though that does not seem to have dented the willingness of these folk to travel (I think that applies to me too, except in the case of holidays, when I have started to avoid travelling if at all possible).

Might we expect that, sooner rather than later, the love of flying (and the love of motor cars, which is associated) will drop dramatically?

Logically, one should think so. Yet there is a prophecy in the Bible that as the world speeds towards its end, travel will only increase and increase. Is it the case that people will refuse to adapt? Or that newer forms of travel will become possible technologically, due to which travel will become even cheaper, more hassle free and (extremely important) environmentally friendly?

I don't know. But I wouldn't bet against any prophecy in the Bible. It seems to have been proved too right over too many hundreds of years to tangle with it.

So I wait to see how this conundrum is resolved, between on the one hand the Biblical prediction that world travel will increase and increase, and on the other hand the reality of flights becoming more and more expensive, frustrating and (at least in the awareness of an increasing number of people) environmentally unacceptable. Sphere: Related Content

No comments: