Peter Clarke has noticed plane tickets getting steadily more expensive. He reckons it is just the beginning and ponders the personal, societal and business changes that are going to come as flying returns to being something for the wealthy few. How would that change the electronics and semiconductor industries?
A colleague of mine just asked over Facebook: "Did plane tickets get ridiculously expensive, or is it just me?"
Well I don't think it is just him. I have been noticing the climbing prices of air tickets for a few years.
And with increases in energy costs around the globe and the acknowledged damage that burning fuel at high altitude does, I think airplane ticket prices are going to keep on getting higher and higher – unlike many of the planes.
It seems to me that – barring an energy-source breakthrough such as nuclear fusion – this is just the beginning. From some point in the not-too-distant future we will come to see the period from 1980 to 2010 – when a significant proportion of the world's population could afford to travel by air – as an anomaly, a short-lived golden age founded on oil.
While renewable energy may be able to make some difference on the ground it is hard to see how it can help much in the air. Although greater use of wind and solar energy would leave more oil available for air travel it is still hard to see renewable energy offsetting the massive increase in demand that is coming from places such as China, India and other developed and developing countries. In short gas will continue to be in shorter and shorter supply.
So are we going to see a return to an era when travel by air was a glamorous luxury to be undertaken by C-level executives and celebrities while we mere mortals will have to stay-at-home and enjoy travel vicariously over the internet? Could be!
For an industry that is more globalized than most; with specializations in different countries; an industry that flies chips and wafers around the world, sometimes as work-in-progress, that could have some "interesting" consequences. One argument is that chips are light and suitable to be carried as airplane cargo, or if necessary by surface transport, unlike the equipment, which perhaps should be made locally. But the more significant effect is likely to be the cultural one of keeping more people stuck to the surface of planet Earth and unable to meet and share ideas.
Could rising air ticket prices even halt and reverse the trend towards globalization, stimulating a need for localization of the many design and manufacturing skills that are currently coalescing at fewer and fewer geographic centers of excellence.
It's hard to say, but peak-oil is big global-trend stuff and rising air ticket prices, with fuel surcharges and the like, is just one early symptom. As Bachman Turner Overdrive once said: "You ain't seen nothing yet."
Stephanie was asked by me to send that email. We answer questions from customers all the time. However, we have never been recorded without our permission. That is what we had a problem with, not the fact that you were asking a question.
This is the description on Amazon:
This calibrated silicon solar cell is perfect for PV system installers, to test instruments or in the classroom. The factory has tested this 0.5volt, 2 x 4 cm cell in 1 sun conditions and written the output on the rear of the #2 size plastic case (2 1/4" x 1 3/8" for reference).Since a silicon cell is used, the current output is almost linear to the amount of light. Example: 1 sun = 250ma / 50% sun = 125ma.
I found this description of “1 sun” conditions:
The test condition 1 sun of AM1.5 represents the average situation for the U.S., but for some combinations of locations and dates, this test condition may occur when the sun is too close to the horizon for making outdoor measurements. Given an AM of 1.5, testing outdoors may proceed only under a clear sky. A practical alternative is to perform PV measurements indoors using a solar simulator.
The factory we get these from, I believe uses a solar simulator for accuracy.
If you have other questions, feel free to contact me.
President, Sundance Solar Products, Inc.
672 Currier Rd.
Hopkinton NH 03229
Us microcontroller hardware/software engineers
are suspicious of large scale solar generation of electricty.
Oil is still very cheap. In my local grocery store in Vancouver most veggies are from California, some like grapes or apples frequently come from far away places like Chile or New Zeeland. So we are far away from reversing the trend of globalization. Once I see local apples here it will start happening...and people will continue flying in higher numbers, adjusted for inflation the air ticket is cheaper than it was 20 years ago, again the ticket price will have to double in few years to reverse that trend, possible but not likely...Kris
I do not think the situation is as dramatic as the article portrays. Yes, air travel is getting more expensive but we will adapt to this trend with time. Alternative fuels will be developed and we will find more efficient ways to communicate and transport goods around the world. For example, I am not too keen on fruits and vegetables being flown away from the other side of the world to my local supermarket. This is a waste that could easily be avoided. Also, politicians should steer away from centralised schemes and a adopt a localisation agenda in every walk of life. If that is the result of the current energy crisis, then it would have been a blessing in disguise IMHO.
How about the idea that airlines are poorly run, and driven into unprofitability by the very same incompetent boardroom douchebags who regularily run previously profitable electronics companies into the ground,combined with a airport service infrastucture like a grasping, over-taxing government. Not much to do with the cost of fuel-IMHO-- today, I saw you can fly from London, UK to Rome or Barcelona for 80$. but Vancouver to Toronto- 800!!Go figure.
Air freight costs move heavy stuff to boats and Air people costs move unnecesary flyers to Live Meeting on web. Life adapts. Electronics moves from engine controllers to internet and moblie device controllers. Technology evolves faster than people. But oil is running out fast compared to demand, with crossover of curves by 2016 no matter what happens in new oil finds or biofuel or CNG substitution or fuel cells or nuclear power. Get ready for that.
I believe the rise in the oil price is a saviour for economies such as the US. You know oil is way too low when a company can afford to fly parts to Singapore, do an assembly operation, fly the assembly to Mexico complete the build and then fly it to the US for global distribution. I worked for a company that did this very thing. When Oil hits $150 a barrel we will still be able to afford to fly overseas on holidays once a year, it will just be a bit more expensive. The thing where it will be noticed more is in the daily commute which is an almost daily occurrence, and all of a sudden my opening example won't be a viable thing and local production will set in with all of the environmental and employment benefits. As others have said airfares aren't really expensive considering how infrequently most of us have to pay them. I also don't see how fuel costs render an airline unprofitable, if ALL airlines need fuel (I'm sure they do) they are all equally affected by that cost and can all pass that cost on. The price goes up a little, but it's still damned cheap compared to the 1970's when fuel was cents per gallon. Okay, so usage will drop, so their market will shrink somewhat but with local jobs opening up it will only represent a shift, not a collapse in employment.