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Old 02-25-2010, 11:59 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Has Airline Travel Turned into a Mass Production Manufacturing System

With the dawn of industrialization came mass production, and mass production lead to mass marketing. Mass marketing lead to the growth of mass media including Newspaper, Radio and TV.

Everything was driven by costs and profit and pushing stuff out to the consumer who also happened to be part of the mass of producers and marketers. If you make it cheap enough and market it to the masses, they will consume it.

With everything geared towards the masses, mass transit developed in the cities to move people to and from their jobs as workers in the large corporate factories that mass produced.

Mass transit started with the rail system and then added buses and eventually the airlines developed into the mass transit system of the air.

Mass transit is all about price and when price is the driving factor, the needs of individuals are sacrificed for the needs of the masses. Load everyone up like cattle, route them through the hubs, off load and reload on to the next flight that gets you somewhere near your destination, maybe not so quickly or in the most comfortable or sociable environment, but do it cheaply. It feels more and more like riding the metro rail?

So the airlines developed terms for describing productivity and efficiency that sound much like production manufacturing terms:

* CASM: Cost per available seat mile. A seat mile is one seat covering one mile.
* RASM: Revenue per available seat mile. The amount of revenue generated for every seat available covering a mile.
* RPM: Revenue per passenger mile. The revenue generated per passenger flown flying one mile.

All of this sounds like mass production. Are airlines in the business of providing transportation to the flying public or are they in the business of producing ASM’s and selling them at a profit generating RASM?

Is there a point where driving the CASM down to make a profit overrides best safety practices? That is a question being asked in the Frontline Documentary entitled “Cheap Flights”. I will leave that answer up to the safety experts for now.

Does the public merely want to get from origin to destination and back again for the lowest possible cost?

Will the public pay for something better than mass transit delivered at the lowest cost?

In the economy of the future, people will be more aware of the value of their time and they will have the tools to quantify its value. They will also value the experience of travel and quantify that experience in a social cost or benefit.

Just as people are longing for the personal touch and experience of buying their food at the farmers’ market versus buying mass produced food, they will long for and seek out solutions to every facet of their lives, including travel that gives back quality, experience and relationships.

And let’s not forget that people want their time back, spending it how they choose, and not how the systems of mass production forces them to spend it.

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