The Capitalistic Beauty of Air Travel

Our seemingly expensive airline tickets seem much cheaper when the bigger picture is looked at.


By Sam Loose | USA

Those of us who follow politics from a social media perspective know the frustration that comes from seeing intellectually immoral “normie” memes. Well, this week I couldn’t help but let myself get angered over by far the largest steaming pile of pseudo intellectual idiocy that has ever found its way on to cyberspace. While it may be foolish to get up in arms over a simple meme, I couldn’t help just critiquing the issues I saw in its reasoning.

151The meme itself featured a picture of the world leaders at the Paris climate accord captioned “151 world leaders flew 151 planes to Paris to tell the world to use less fuel.” I think part of the reason this angers me is that it completely lacks a point. Were they supposed to walk, or travel by even less efficient ships? I’m merely guessing the meme was produced as an argument against climate change, but it represents a gross misunderstanding of the Paris climate accord. The Paris climate accord is surprisingly not a legal agreement with universal standards, but rather it allows each nation to set their own goals while not having any legal penalties other than shame to enforce them.

But the claim that “151 planes are using so much fuel” is what I find by far to be the most puzzling. Every two seconds, a 737 either takes off or lands. With similar statistics for many commercial aircraft, 151 looks extremely insignificant compared to the tens of thousands of commercial flights each day.

But that brings me to what I’d like to talk about today, why I love air travel, why it’s efficient, and why I believe it can only exist in a capitalist market place.

Now some of you may already be confused as to how I will argue that an A320 now, a plane that carries 6,400 gallons of fuel, the equivalent of 376 car fuel tanks of fuel, is efficient. How can a plane that burns 1.5 gallons of fuel for every mile it flies possibly be efficient? Simple, while it is true that an a320 NEO only gets 67 miles to the gallon, that accounts for a completely empty plane. With a full passenger load of 154 passengers that number gets raised to about 104 miles per gallon per passenger, a number rivaled only by hybrids. Commercial airlines also are able to carry heavy loads, which mean right next to your luggage is contracted cargo, helping to increase both the monetary and relative fuel efficiency of the plane.

The statement monetarily efficient may have caused some sparks to fly in your heads as flying is expensive. Very little of the price of a ticket actually comprises an airline’s profits; in fact, the profit margins of the vast majority of airlines hovers from around 3% to 15% percent. Part of the efficiency of air travel comes from the fact that aircraft are durable. The a320neo has a recommend life time of 60,000 cycles (takeoffs and landings) which means the aircraft its self is not as expensive as we might think as each flight only cost the airline about $1,800. But after we combine all the costs that make up a ticket price, $430 dollars is much cheaper than the thousands of dollars one would have to pay to drive from New York to Los Angeles, considering gas, food, and hotels alone.

Aviation is a constantly evolving market, one that is based purely on desires. Capitalism is what allows air travel to exist. Without competition, the very nature of capitalism, there would be no need to increase the fuel efficiency of aircraft, there would be no need to invent aircraft such as the 787 giving smaller airlines a fighting chance by being able to fly to two smaller cities rather than larger airports, there would be no need for higher quality service, and there would be no need to offer business reduced fairs to transport their business people. Air travel is inherently capitalistic and the most promising future of travel.

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