According to this great story appearing on the BBC to-day, Airline could land 1,000 new jobs , Aer Lingus is considering basing its UK operations in Belfast. The Lagan Valley MP Jeffrey Donaldson maintained this would be a substantial investment boost for Northern Ireland and is quoted as saying:-
“Aer Lingus is a respected carrier with its eye on growth opportunities in the United Kingdom; meanwhile the International Airport is growing its business at an impressive rate.”
Now I welcome the 1000 jobs that might be created here and the sight of Jeffrey supporting Aer Lingus is ..ah.. refreshing.. but what the story really does is give us an opportunity to discuss this whole air travel thing! Let’s look a a few things:-
- Bringing back the Belfast-Heathrow route would be lovely and profitable for Aer Lingus and very convenient for me at times but this little webite, Co2balance.com , has a handy wee CO2 emissions calculator that says the total carbon emissions for 1 person traveling on this route would be 0.16 tonnes, 20 people is 3.2 tonnes and 99 people cause 15.84 tonnes of carbon. You can do the maths yourself. (I’m sure someone here will help me out!) One thing is for certain, another route into Heathrow means a lot more carbon emissions. Somebody help me out here – with 2 flights a day, 365 days a year…???
- Do we really need all this travel given the speed of to-day’s communications? In times gone by it was nice to scoot over to London, do a meeting, maybe a leisurely lunch then grab a show before spending a nice quiet night in a fairly decent hotel before flying back the next day. It was nice to look into the eyes of prospective partners and get a “feeling” for just how trustworthy they were before settling any kind of deal. But.. today …is that really necessary? For a start, if you want to check out how trustworthy someone is you can have an online credit check done in a day, organise an email quick poll of friends and contacts to see who has worked with that company/person before and do an full internet check on the whole organisation while you’d still be stuck in the traffic at Toome on the way to the airport! With something like SKYPE you could do an intensive video conference session – costs nothing – in the time you’d be queuing to get through security, removing nearly every stitch of clothing and stuffing your immaculately pressed best suit into a somewhat dubious plastic container. And, when you had all the information you needed about your prospective business partner you’d still not have spent the cost of a bus fare up the Springvale Road. In fact, the only things you’d have missed would be the dodgy lunch, the over-priced show and the expensive hotel accommodation!
I am constantly amazed by the expectation we have that we can jump in a plane in Belfast or Derry at 8am, be in a London meeting at 11am and be back in time to put the kids to bed or join the local darts team for a pint and the last throw! We spend way too much time traveling to meetings that modern communications technology could help us avoid. Maybe it’s time we re-assessed how we do our business…. indeed how we are running our lives.
“Hey… whoa..,” I hear you say. “Slow down and give someone else a chance to say something on this!”
Ok.. your turn. (deep breath, turning away…)