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Thursday, 16 January 2020

The future of air travel

I can predict that 2020 will bring many news stories about air travel. This week we have the saga of Flybe, and the paradox that rail travel is tax subsidised by £29bn a year, road travel by £15bn a year but that passengers of airlines competing with these modes of travel within the UK must pay through the ticket price to build their own airports, buy and operate their own aircraft without subsidy and allow the operators to collect additional taxes from passengers to boot in the form of APD. Despite the predictable whines from the rest of the industry, the government has agreed to give Flybe a pause by postponing tax due.

Then there's saving the planet. St Greta avoided air travel by crossing the Atlantic in a large private yacht, but that's not an option available to many. The wealthy and virtuous have the option of booking passenger cabins on merchant vessels - these have been a little known secret for many years but are hardly a substitute for business travellers. I suppose we could tax air travel back to the ticket prices of the 1960s to discourage use, but this would need to be a global initiative.

Then there's airport expansion and nuisance. Heathrow rows haven't even seriously started yet, and not a single elderly home counties lady has yet chained herself to the bulldozers. And we've yet to see the egregious Meghan Markle flying back first class long haul to LHR and forcing her limos through hordes of climate change and anti-runway demonstrators to attend a conference on saving the planet.

That's the problem with air travel - we all use it, many of us even depend on it, but few of us like it in the way we like trains, for example. We hate the budget airlines and their cash scams, for which Flybe are one of the worst offenders, but continue to book their seats.

Just what is the future of air travel?

Update 08.43
Matt nails it -


Mark In Mayenne said...

Air travel is cheap in part because by treaty, governments don't tax kerosene fuel. That will likely change.

Mark said...

Hmmm, no subsidy for air travel?

I'm not sure the FAA or the complex and sophisticated air traffic control system comes out of ticket prices.

But whatever.

The future of air travel?

Just because the green communists don't like it doesn't really mean shit. Certainly not globally. Can't imagine China is going to take much notice of them.

I suspect the management of Boeing is probably a bigger threat!

Nick Drew said...

thre is clear potential for a fad to take a grip here, because nothing is easier for people than to change their holidaying behaviours ("nobody does that anymore")

and if you take out mass holiday travel, the cost of business flying and "minority pursuit" leisure flying will rise inexorably to where that decision becomes much more difficult, too

the power of Fad is very, very great

Raedwald said...

Mark - I understand that NERL, the civilian ATC bit of NATS, recovers its costs of about £0.75bn annually from charges to flights. And ultimately from ticket prices.

The FAA is a US thing.

DeeDee99 said...

The EU can't afford to destroy the economies of southern Europe by pricing short-haul air travel out of the reach of holiday-makers, whether from the UK or elsewhere. And despite the EU's continental HS2 network, few holiday-makers are going to pack themselves and kiddies on a train and then several hours travel on coaches to get to the Med. The British Government, post Brexit, won't do anything which will make the Euro/EU even more unstable.

I'm sure Boris is fishing around for a justification to keep HS2 that might generate public support for the squandering of £100+ billion on a rail line which few will ever use. So what is currently receiving a lot of propaganda and support from Joe Public? Oh yes "saving the planet."

My prediction "for the future of air travel" is therefore that we will be told we must have HS2 despite the tripling of the cost in 10 years because, internal to the UK, we must switch from air to rail to save the planet. That will also be a justification for the £squillions he is also planning to "invest" in a bridge/tunnel between NI and Scotland.

Mark said...

Sorry, I meant CAA.

But if air travel is "under threat", the question should be from whom and why. That seems to be the same green disease that is giving us "renewables", "smart" meters and the fantasy of milk floats. All RIP roaring successes as can be clearly seen!

They likely will do the same for air travel - hitting the poorest hardest. Watch this space.

Dave_G said...

Amazingly - but unsurprisingly - the 'simple expedient' of taxing CO2 is causing mass economic disaster decades before any supposed disaster the production of CO2 is supposed to bring about.

Talk about shooting yourself in the foot!

But the more business starts pointing out such basic facts the more people will object to the policies made to distort business and increase individuals expenses. For NO APPARENT PURPOSE and with zero supporting evidence.

The scales are now tipping in the wrong direction - the 'need' to tax the climate into submission is being overwhelmed by the financial distress it is causing. The pips are squeaking.

Span Ows said...

I'll be flying as much as ever. Averaging 100 flights a year over the last 15 years. Not apologetic.

Anonymous said...

'we all use it'; no, we don't.

Pat said...

Considering the revenue raised from vehicle excise duty and tax on fuel, I seriously doubt road travel has a nett subsidy.

Raedwald said...

Pat - the £15bn is just the central subsidy from the DoT. Add to this Local Government roads maintenance, lighting, construction, gritting and sweeping budgets, subsidies paid to local bus companies etc and the total subsidies may well exceed the £6bn raised in VED and the proportion of the £26bn fuel duty that doesn't relate to industrial, marine or heating fuels.

I'll work it out if you like.

Andrew said...

I think this is what I like most about your blog (and contributers) - it's always grounded in reality.

Mark said...

VED/fuel tax is not hypethocated and is just general taxation out of which everything is paid for.

Therefore it's only fair that you pay per mile to use the roads you are getting for free.

This sort of thinking is quite common in government and very convenient. It can be applied to pretty well anything. The "free" NHS next I should think.

You don't even need "externalities"

Sackerson said...

Next up: Zil planes for the apparatchiks.

Dave_G said...

I'd be more than happy to 'pay-per-mile' in place of VED and Road Tax - they could even lump mandatory insurance into the figure for cost-per-mile and no one could avoid it. It would remove the unfair lumping of 'CO2 tax' on the SUV and 4x4 users and make those that use the roads most, pay the most.

What's not to like?

Next - single fixed-rate cover-all general tax rate. Put the tax avoiders/evaders and accountants/tax lawyers out of business and share the expense.....

Do I win?

Mark said...

Probably not as you would then need some sort of tracker to charge you with all that entails.

A "smart" meter for cars. Ye gods!

Dave_G said...

If you carry a phone you're already being tracked. Much as I used to hate the idea of (even) id cards the benefits (denying the undeserved) now outweigh the disadvantages. Those that accept mobile phones as part of everyday life would be hypocrites to use the 'tracking' argument against road pricing.
Being tracked is one thing - adding a facility to cut you off is something else (that I wouldn't acede to) though.

Mark said...

A phone is not part of the car so can't really be definitively tied to it. We're not talking about insurance here but raising tax.

You can keep your phone in a metallised case for most of the gtime if you want but you can't do that with a tracker on your car.

Not the same argument I'm afraid. A phone might seem pretty well compulsory but I go out plenty of time without mine.

Trackers fitted to the car by the manufacturer (which is what this would mean). Thin end of a very large wedge. Resist and for as long as you possibly can.

John Brown said...

I will admit that I could be completely wrong but a couple of years ago I attempted to look up/calculate the fuel/mile used per passenger on a jumbo jet compared to that for the fastest version of HS2 and found it wasn’t that different and that’s before taking into consideration all the CO2 which will be generated building and maintaining a high speed line and the damage to the environment caused.

To not lose totally all the money already sunk into HS2, the line should be converted to a “normal” speed broad gauge track with driverless trains to provide really cheap high capacity travel between London and the North.

To use the aircraft analogy we need Jumbos not Concordes.

Dave_G said...

Jumbo's, Concorde's - I know which vehicle most would chose and thereby lies the problem. People will not be given an option to chose. The 'insistence' that we travel by train may well be followed by draconian charges on air travel to 'discourage' its use. Not choice - 'informed decisions made for us'.

We face the same situation regarding today's cars - they are to 'forced' off the road in favour of EV's and, given a choice, I wouldn't use a (pure) EV.

The whole world used to get by, very successfully, by BUSINESS making the business choices. Nowadays we are faced with a deluge of 'emotional' demands to change, none of which are business-based and most are based on lies designed to enrich a few and enslave the many - paid for by the many so, effectively, a double-whammy for the poor punter.

There has been ZERO Government-based incentives that have shown a profit. Businesses rise and fall on success but Government goes on and on regardless of their innate stupidity and interference. The world will descend into complete and utter collapse if Government manage to control more than 50% of 'everything' and we can't be far short of their goal.

When (not if) Government control our energy supply 'YOU' will feel the force of their ineptitude more directly than you ever have. The current inefficiencies and incompetence will be looked back upon with 'regretful loss' in the face of what's to come.

All thanks to the gullible, clueless, moronic and mindless supporters of so-called human caused climate change. Did you see tonight's national news???

Congratulations you utter morons.

Span Ows said...

Dave_G, tell me what was on the news...

John Brown said...

Dave_G @14:29 : "I'd be more than happy to 'pay-per-mile' in place of VED and Road Tax - they could even lump mandatory insurance into the figure for cost-per-mile and no one could avoid it."

Sorry to disappoint you but I think you are dreaming if you think any government is going to remove any existing taxes.

Income tax was supposed to be a temporary measure and we were told that the Dartford Crossing charges would cease once the bridge had been paid for.

They will keep VED and Road Tax and will simply add 'pay per mile'.