The End of Aviation: What Will Happen When We Can't Afford To Fly?

flying like it used to be photo

Flying prop isn't so bad.

Bradford Plumer writes in the New Republic about the most radical transition that we may have to make in the post-carbon world: the end of cheap commercial flight. Airlines aren't very profitable with expensive fuel, and 25 have gone belly up this year already. Canadian transportation experts Richard Gilbert and Anthony Perl suggest that oil prices will reduce domestic flying by 40% by 2025, even with a 50% increase in fuel efficiency. The US might go from 400 major airports to 50, and "instead of dozens of flights each day between New York and San Francisco carrying 200 people apiece, there might be only a handful carrying 800 or more in new extra-jumbo jets."

It might be like the 50s again- "flying was a special event: You could hardly find a ticket from New York to Europe for less than $5,000;[probably $50K in today's dollars] men put on suits, women wore hats and heels, and some of the luxury planes, like Pan Am's Clipper, had bridal suites, dining salons, and beds."


Perhaps they will just pack them in more tightly

What will happen to society?

"To start with, flight may become once again largely confined to a more elite jet-setting class. The rest of us may have to vacation closer to home: Even the relatively modest 30 percent dip in air travel after September 11 proved a boon to old-fashioned local attractions like the Texas State Fair and the Bronx Zoo. And many people may think twice about relocating a flight away from family members. "It will involve a shift in people's decisions of whether they have to move," says Vered Amit, a professor of anthropology at Concordia College who studies transnational mobility. "If people are separated for longer, don't see each other as often, it's going to hurt."

As people stop crossing the globe so frequently, the landscape will change, too. Popular tourist resorts accessible mainly by air, like Orlando and Las Vegas, could decline--much as, ironically, Atlantic City did in the latter half of the twentieth century, when air travel made it easier for East Coasters to fly off and gamble in the Nevada desert."

Time to start investing bigtime in a national electrified rail system. ::New Republic
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