liv: cartoon of me with long plait, teapot and purple outfit (Default)
[personal profile] liv
I have managed to write up a couple of the books I was reading while travelling:

Steven Brust: Phoenix
Pamela Dean: Tam Lin

The only other thing I've managed to do today is establish that there is no affordable way I can manage my intended trip to north America this summer. I've been poking around every internet site I can find, and I can't get the price down under £900. I'm almost tempted to do it anyway, since I've set my heart on it, and I really, really, really want to see [ profile] rysmiel and [ profile] darcydodo and [ profile] compilerbitch. But it's not sensible; I have to compare how much holiday in Europe I could get for that kind of money, or how many trips to England. And [ profile] compilerbitch is going to Mars so I wouldn't see much of her, and [ profile] darcydodo is coming to England in August so I'll see her at least briefly then.

The reasonable thing to do is to come to America sometime when I have more flexibility, so it's not the middle of peak season. And spend this summer's vacation exploring somewhere I haven't been before, such as the remote parts of Sweden, or the interesting bits of Europe. But I am sick as a dog about missing my people. Stupid evil horrid geography.

(no subject)

Date: 2008-06-01 01:35 am (UTC)
ext_3375: Banded Tussock (Default)
From: [identity profile]
The era of cheap air travel is over. As in over. Gone. A thing to tell your grandchildren.

If you haven't been to North America, Australia, the Far East, and Africa, then you might still go as a once-in-a-lifetime holiday or That-thing-we-do-every-three-years-and-do-without-a-lot-of-luxuries-to-afford-it but long-distance travel isn't a commonplace thing any more. Not on your income, not on my income. It's over.

(no subject)

Date: 2008-06-01 01:53 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Yup. As someone who emigrated to the USA, I'm not best pleased by this. As someone who cares about the planet, I'm delighted. With any luck the shipping lines will realise that the market for transatlantic crossings in steerage is opening up again, and start running crossings which aren't cruise holidays - but that won't happen right away.

Re: à propos de rien

Date: 2008-06-02 12:08 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
For cartesiandaemon, by all means. Lemme know if you want anything emailed.

(no subject)

Date: 2008-06-01 02:46 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Define cheap.

For those of us who have been pinned into peak times by school holidays and the like but see imminent prospects of not being so any more, it's not that bleak-looking a medium-term future.

(no subject)

Date: 2008-06-01 04:29 am (UTC)
darcydodo: (Default)
From: [personal profile] darcydodo
Right now at least the exchange rate makes it vaguely favorable for you Europeans. :(

(no subject)

Date: 2008-06-01 02:23 pm (UTC)
ext_3375: Banded Tussock (Default)
From: [identity profile]

Yes, I guess that we all have a disposable income, and we can still spend a few hundred or a thousand a year on air fares. But it's no longer something I regard as cheap.

A quick note on the economics: the media are a bit behind the curve on this, and talk in terms of a 50% rise in fuel costs only loading the fare by 10%... That's three years out of date - when crude was $40 a barrel, going on $50, fuel wasn't the major determinant; at $120 it definitely is.

Here's an article from 2005 about the cost of aviation fuel for different operators. It paints a complacent picture about airlines' ability to absorb fuel price increases: with a major airline paying about $1.25 a gallon, fuel's $4 Billion on top of a $15 Bn non-fuel cost base.

A 50% rise in fuel costs is therefore a $2Bn cost, or about 10% extra on the overall operating costs... At 2005 prices.

The current cost of fuel to the bulk carriers is undisclosed but it's between $3.50 and $4.00 per gallon: the big operators have contracts with the fuel suppliers (and use financial instruments, like futures) that even out the spikes in the 'spot' price of fuel, so 'headline' prices of $7 aren't relevant - but the long-term price is relevant, and estimates (and futures prices) are still rising. It'll be in the $4.00 to $4.50 range next year, barring severe price movements, and it could be a lot higher.

Whatever. $3.75 per gallon gives our hypothetical major carrier a $12Bn dollar fuel bill on top of the $15Bn cost base. Or, to put it another way, a $190 economy ticket from NY to LA fare goes up to $270. Not, on the face of it, a deal-breaker - it's a £500 economy translatlantic ticket going up to £700. Yes, that's a crude average (fuel's a bigger proportion of a long-haul ticket) but an extra £200 or £300 isn't going to deter you if you were originally prepared to spend £500.

Except that it isn't just you, and a drop in passenger numbers means that the $15Bn fixed cost base has to be spread amongst fewer passengers. In the medium term, that cost base will shrink as airlines pare down the flight schedule and sell off aircraft - your ticket won't pay for as many empty seats - but in the short-to-medium term, you'll pay for the people who aren't flying.

The long term is that fewer flights mean less competition; a move away from 'economy' to 'luxury' bracket flights - think of it as paying the current business class fare - and fuel at $7 a gallon and rising.

I don't think that we'll go back to the days when a 'jet set' of the rich and fashionable were the world's frequent flyers, and everyone else flew once a year if at all; but aviation is moving out of the mass-market and up into the middle-income range. Which is, as you say, affordable to you.

(no subject)

Date: 2008-06-01 04:30 pm (UTC)
ext_3375: Banded Tussock (Default)
From: [identity profile]
until there is literally no oil left in the world

Quite. But there's still a lot of oil. Not, admittedly, cheap oil, but there's plenty out there. The example I quote at 'peak oil' doomsayers is the Colorado Oil Shales - a hydrocarbon reserve exceeding Kuwait and, by some measures, Saudi Arabia. The economics are ambiguous and it's possible that it's viable at international crude prices of $40 per barrel. Personally, I think the oil shales work at a stable price of $75. That's one example: there are others.

Which means that expensive air travel will remain a viable industry for decades.

When there's literally no oil left? Or, more realistically, so little oil that the price goes over, say, $500 a barrel? Somewhere over $130 a barrel it's economical to plant jojoba and soya for oil production, although it'd need more than 40% of the USA's arable area to fuel all their road transport. I hesitate to ask what that'll do to world food prices, but the poor don't seem to matter and the economic overclass will continue to fly, even if their newspapers spell it out in very small words that someone died when they could've eaten the crops that were turned into aviation fuel.

I fear that the middle classes - us - will continue flying too. Meanwhile, enjoy it while you can. And maybe cellulosic ethanol will resolve the food-vs-food conflict, although I'm inclined to doubt it.
Edited Date: 2008-06-01 04:39 pm (UTC)

(no subject)

Date: 2008-06-01 10:35 pm (UTC)
emma: (leaving on a jet plane)
From: [personal profile] emma
I'm so glad I'm no longer part of a transatlantic relationship. We used to fly and see each other every 2 months, for 18 months until early 2006. Student loan was good for something...

(no subject)

Date: 2008-06-02 04:28 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I've done several of those, but they work a lot better when you are perfectly happy seeing each other once every year and exchanging lots of email the rest of the time.

(no subject)

Date: 2008-06-01 04:33 am (UTC)
darcydodo: (heron)
From: [personal profile] darcydodo
So, at least you might like to know that I've booked my tickets to-and-from England. I'm flying out of SFO on July 31, arriving at Heathrow on August 1 at 1:35pm. Let me know if I'll be able to stay with you in Cambridge or if I should be looking into finding somewhere to stay.

While my flight home isn't until August 18, I figure I'll spend a week-or-less in Cambridge and another week or more in Oxford (with [ profile] thalassius's blessing, so I should really check on that), and then go visit Kathryn W. near Geneva for a week or so and kick about the French Alps.

I'm sad we won't see you out here, though. :( (But at least I get to see you!!!)

(no subject)

Date: 2008-06-01 04:55 pm (UTC)
darcydodo: (Default)
From: [personal profile] darcydodo
I need to be in Cambridge most of the first week in August, in order to go to [ profile] shreena's wedding.

Obviously why I'm going to be there too. :P

I don't need to avoid your parents! And I feel no real need to be near the town center, at least if I'm going to have you around as my native guide. ;) If our friends in Great Wilbraham were going to be around (but they're not), I'd probably stay with them! They've in any case given me permission to go eat fruit from their garden (currants! gooseberries! raspberries!), so maybe we can all take a picnic out there, or something.

In any case, yes, maybe you and [ profile] pseudomonas can share me, especially if that ends up working better logistically for the sake of when you and I are each arriving in England, or something.

Have you checked these

Date: 2008-06-02 12:50 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Hi, You should check out zoom airlines and also aer lingus which are doing north american deals at the moment, if you haven't already. It made my summer trip possible after I too thought I was going to have to stay in Europe... Good luck.


Miscellaneous. Eclectic. Random. Perhaps markedly literate, or at least suffering from the compulsion to read any text that presents itself, including cereal boxes.

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