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As the Economist argued in its editorial back in July 2008 (17th) cheap air travel has transformed Europe. Deregulation created a new low fare industry bringing the populations of member states closer together. The Economist pointed out that in 2000 there were just five scheduled routes between Britain and Poland. In 2006 there were 27 routes linking 12 Polish cities to 12 British ones. Between 2003 and 2007 a 1,000 new city pairs were created in Europe linking regional cities not just the capitals. “Low fares and multiplying routes have made it possible for a new brand of highly mobile Europeans to work, live and weekend in different countries.” Business travel is being undertaken by lower income passengers.
What was wonderful change a decade ago must now be reconsidered in a world of carbon constraint.
In November 2008 (8th) The Economist was pointing out that scarce take-off and landing slots have recently changed hands at Heathrow for £30m a piece. But is characterised the claims for enlarging the airport as “specious of misleading”.
More than one third of passengers arriving at Heathrow are transfer passengers – up 9% on the early 1990s. The extra numbers are useful to the airlines and the airport operator “but the notion that they play a vital role in connecting London with the rest of the world is not supported by the evidence.” The Economist points out that as the number of transit passengers has grown the number of destinations served out o f Heathrow has shrunk form about 230 to 180.
In September 2009 (26th) The Economist reports Walsh’s announcements at the UN on behalf of IATA with scepticism.
“.. some scepticism is in order. Mr Walsh described the 50% cut by 2050 as an ‘aspiration’.” Airbus has said that it will not producer a successor to the A320 until 2024. The Economist concludes:
“Like St Augustine the industry’s motto appears to be “Make me virtuous, but not yet.”