Thursday, June 05, 2008


I fear for Ryanair. For all their faults, for many of us outside the Southeast it wasn't just their low prices we wanted - they gave us destinations we couldn't otherwise have dreamed of accessing. It's only a couple of years since we flew to Jerez and back for 60 odd quid for two. Now I'm looking at going again in October, and even with giveaway fares of £nil going out and a tenner coming back, taxes and extras hike the price up to £180. £45 each/each way is still a good deal, but it's not just a question of affordability. Add another 20% to cover the pound's decline against the euro and a trip that almost everyone could take on a whim is now a subject for consideration against the alternatives. It might still be worthwhile to me, but some people are bound to think the extra isn't worth it which, given Ryanair's pile em high/sell em cheap business model, could be worse for them than most.

Still, at least a weekend of frolics and flamenco is only a discretionary purchase. There won't be the same rioting for the last check-in places as we're seeing for scarce cups of rice in the Far East. There's no spot or futures market in flights. It's unregulated and not subject to the speculation, manipulation and hoarding that pushes commodity prices to misery levels for billions. Any shakeout in the airline industry will hit only those consumers best able to withstand it and, who knows, this customer resistance to $150 a barrel oil may be the trigger that brings prices back to realistic levels. There is no serious oil shortage, there is no serious rice shortage - any more than there is a gold shortage or it was a housing shortage that precipitated the property boom. All are the consequence of an oversupply of money being pumped into safe havens and a means of generating more wealth for those holding the right bits of paper.

We're used to a balance in our transactions. We make a rough judgement as to whether the slice of our income that something costs is worth the benefit to us of the goods. We do much the same when we invest in friendships or relationships - which is why we feel cheated if we believe we've put more in than we're getting out of them. It's a feedback loop - or a kind of karma, indeed. This is what will ultimately govern reactions to worldwide energy and food prices if they get too far out of kilter with people's need for them. In the end, despite some casualties among the weak, suppliers know they can't kill the golden goose.


Glamourpuss said...

I like this post - the way you explain is lovely - simple but true.

But Ryanair are a rather cunty.


All Shook Up said...

Thanks Puss. They can be bstds when you're on the wrong side of them. But until you can find me another way of flying from East Mids to Brittany, I'll stick with them, warts and all.

Selena Dreamy said...

"...the consequence of an oversupply of money ...and a means of generating more wealth for those holding the right bits of paper."

One consequence of this is the absurd prices paid for London real-estate and graded mansions. With oligarchs and oil-sheiks paying 10, 20, 50 million at the drop of a hat - completely distorting the entire inflationary (London) housing market, it’s like playing Monopoly.’s obscene, it’s pornographic, it’s virtual reality!