Aviation dispirited

We’re repeatedly told by the Murdoch media that Britain’s businesses will suffer unspeakable indignities on their way to a slow death unless Heathrow gets a third runway.

It’s nonsense, of course. The biggest ‘real’ story about Heathrow is the Borders Agency’s inability to handle the volume of passengers delivered by the two existing runways.

Now, a new report into alternatives to travel has knocked several more spikes into the third runway argument

It highlights the millions of pounds that businesses have added to their bottom lines by avoiding airports and airlines altogether. Since it’s axiomatic that jetting around the world willy-nilly is a vital sign of corporate machismo, I will disguise the identity of the firms in question – but here goes.

  • M*cr*s*ft saved $93 million in a year by avoiding 100 million miles of air travel thanks to teleconferencing
  • Gl*x*Sm*thKl*n* cut 38 million miles of air travel, saving itself a packet and improving its employees’ work-life balance enormously. Avoiding a single meeting saved £60,000.
  • *vrsh*ds cut its air-travel-related CO2 emissions by 85% by holding electronic meetings instead of making employees do the sardine can tango at 35,000 feet. That’s a big drop in flight bookings and airport landing fees.

Airlines are the canary in the peak oil coal mine. With 2011 shaping up to beat 1864 as the year with the highest-ever average price per barrel, even the biggest carriers are starting to look a little peaky, if you’ll excuse the pun.

And, if airlines are looking sicker by month and businesses like Mcrs*ft are boosting their bottom lines by eschewing air travel, what’s to be gained from feathering the nests of BAA and the construction business by building a white elephant for soon-to-be-redundant jumbos at Heathrow?

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