Travels

Are the cheap flights over?

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They arrived in May as a tourist market in which the price of an international plane ticket used to be equivalent to several hotel nights at the chosen destination. In the national market, traveling from Asturias to Madrid on ALSA buses meant spending about 5000 ptas. (30 Euros) on a trip of about six hours, while doing it with Iberia or Spanair left you flying in the capital in less than an hour, but with 25,000 ptas. (150 Euros) less in your pocket. And there was practically no difference between the fares of one and another airline.

Not to mention the prices of international flights, monopolized by flag companies, such as Iberia, Air France, Allitalia or Aer Lingus.

Now, thanks to the low cost, flying to Madrid on the first plane in the morning, a Monday at the end of September costs about 24 euros with Easy Jet and a whopping 174 euros with Iberia or 91 euros with Spanair (but only if we fly at noon).

Vini, vidi, vinci… they came, they saw and dominate the market, something recognized even by the traditional companies that, not surprisingly, don't like them especially well. A few weeks ago, the president of British Airways, fueled the discussion about the feasibility of low-cost flights by sentencing: The "boom" of cheap flights is over.

In the midst of an unquestionable, except for the Government, economic crisis, black gold has already reached prices of almost 140 dollars and it is precisely the fuel responsible for much of the cost of a flight, about 30% of it.

Therefore, the executives of the airline companies see them and want them to cut expenses and increase revenues, making additional, and paid, services that were previously free, offering new ones, also for payment, or restricting those that go paired with the purchase of a ticket. In this battle, airlines that do not have free customer service telephones or offices in each European capital carry the win. And we talk about a lot of money.

One can divide among the number of flights other variables such as employee salaries, airport management expenses, maintenance of computer systems, insurance policies, etc. But the most obvious, most direct expense of a flight is the liters of fuel consumed by its engines.

Thus, for example, each of the one hundred and twenty Boeing 737-800 of Ryanair's fleet (the low cost operator par excellence) consumes a whopping 2526 kilograms of fuel per hour. As a flight from Dublin to Madrid lasts about two and a half hours, 6315 kilograms of fuel burned to transport 189 passengers more or less comfortably. With each of them paying between 50 and 120 euros (depending on the advance with which they made the reservation and the dates on which they fly), although the price of aviation fuel is not the same as that of your car's gasoline, One can explain the interest that the company has because you pay for being the first to board, to check luggage, because it weighs more than 15 kilos, because you buy on board the bus ticket that takes you from Stansted to the center of the British capital, etc. etc.

I do not think that cheap flights disappear, but companies will choose to go to “business” or “first” customers, who are the ones that really interest them (increasing the quality and level of services they already offer) , while in economy class they will have a small percentage of tickets at a low price, another small percentage at a high price and, in between, a majority of tickets at a price similar to that of the other air operators. For those who know the dates of their trip eight months in advance and do not mind flying from Tuesday to Thursday, there will not be much difference, although they will be less, and more difficult to find, the real “bargains”.

And, perhaps, what weighs the president of British Airways is the 481 million euros of net profit of the harp company in the past year. And that money came out of the pockets of 51 million passengers who did not fly with Aer Lingus, Iberia or Lufthansa.

Nor, of course, with British Airways.

Photo Treehugger

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