Thursday, May 29, 2008

Canaries in a Coal Mine

I'm going to miss air travel. I know it's wasteful, I know it's the epitome of gas guzzling.. I'm going to miss it though. Frontier, Aloha, ATA, Skybus, Champion, and MAXjet have all filed for bankruptcy this spring. Delta and Northwest are merging. Continental is cutting jobs in the 10's of thousands. Most citing rising fuel costs as a reason. I think they are the canaries in the coal mine.
Turns out jet fuel is one of the more expensive things that comes out of a barrel of oil. Delta's gas bill last year was 4.7 Billion. The remaining airlines will try a mixed bag approach of nickel&dime tactics like the luggage fee, reducing amenities, reducing routes and just straight ticket price increases. Whether these will save the airlines, I don't know. I'm not a business guru. Do I see air travel continuing to be an option for most Americans? No. I don't see any way for airline companies to deal with skyrocketing gas prices and keep ticket prices low enough for the average American to hop on a plane to see Grandma. I'm sure CEO's and Senators will find a way to continue to jet set, but in 5 years I think most people will be done with air travel. Between prices to fill their cars, and prices at the grocery store, people just won't have the money for air travel. I love to travel, and this makes me very sad. Hopefully railroads will survive and branch out more into passenger trains.

Oh, and I know that the picture at the start of the post isn't a canary, it's a Baltimore Oriole, I've been seeing one around my garden and today's post coincided with a hunt to figure out which bird I was seeing. :-D

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