The aviation sector has passed its “golden age” and is entering a period of decline, according to Monarch Airlines’ marketing director.
Tim Jeans believes the last five years of low-cost start-ups and cheap fares is over.
A combination of green taxes, fuel costs and a shift towards rail on short haul could spell the end of accessible air travel for all.
Speaking at a Chartered Institute of Marketing Travel Intelligence Group debate on air travel on Monday (September 28), Jeans said:
“We might well look at the last five years as a golden age of air travel.
“Governments are beginning to turn towards air travel as a cash machine.
“From November 1 it will cost a family of four travelling to the Caribbean £400 in tax on Air Passenger Duty.
“Yes we all want to travel but it has its price.
“We may yet have seen the peak of air travel.”
Jeans described the current climate for aviation as “extraordinarily difficult” and predicted the change in flying when we come out of the recession would be permanent.
According to industry airline association IATA, combined losses over 2008/09 will top $27 billion – more than post 9/11.
Mike Forster, of BAA (pictured above, standing), who was also speaking at the debate, agreed:
“We will see short-haul flying decline considerably.
“But we will still need long-haul to function in an integrated global economy.”
Forster warned that Heathrow was rapidly losing ground as an international hub to rival European airports, in particular Amsterdam Schipol, Paris Charles de Gaulle and Frankfurt.
And the airport would sink further unless permission was granted to build a third runway.
“Airlines at Heathrow currently serve 180 destinations. At Paris CDG it is 244. In ten years time, unless we get a third runway, Heathrow will fall back to 147 and Paris will have 280.”
Forster added that Heathrow was now operating at 99% capacity.