Sunday musings: Dublin from the air, Allegiant’s business model, esthetics vs. environmentalism


Today we have a chance to reflect on Dublin from the air. We learn about Allegiant, a small player in the overall aviation network, but one of the most profitable airlines. And, an article discusses the tension between beauty, such as the fleeting cherry blossoms of spring, and longer-term environmentalism.

The Air Corps took these photographs of Dublin by air and they’re stunning

I had the good fortune to return to Dublin about a year-and-a-half ago after an absence of many decades. The city has blossomed into one of Europe’s most enjoyable destinations. Museums are spectacular, the singing and pub life is lively as always and restaurants are among some of the best in Europe.

When I discovered these photos of Dublin from the air, I wanted to share them. They provide a unique view of this fair city.

To paraphrase Samuel Johnson, when you’re tired of Dublin, you’re tired of life.

The city has its bad and good parts – usually ones that have actually escaped from the decades of badly-thought-out planning – but from the air, it looks beautiful.

These photographs were taken by the people with some of the best views of the city: the Irish Air Corps, who took the photographs on the days when their operations took them over the capital.

Allegiant: a successful niche player with wider lessons for the world’s airline industry

Is Allegiant, with all of its ancillary fees for everything from carry-on luggage and airport check-in, good for consumers or a bottom feeder preying on unwary passengers looking for a good deal, but paying significantly for travel in the end? This piece looks at the airline’s business model — targeting small markets of leisure passengers with direct, but infrequent service to popular vacation destinations.

Leisure passengers in small cities have characteristics that set them apart from the target markets of most airlines. First, they are more motivated by price than by schedule. Second, they like to take weekend breaks flying to a leisure destination towards the end of the week and back home at the beginning of the week. Third, they form a series of small markets that would not support a high frequency schedule, nor would they support a large number of airlines. Fourth, their pattern of travel has significant seasonal variations.

Allegiant’s other significant area of achievement is in its ancillary revenues, which formed one third of its total turnover in 2013. Its average fare was USD92 and total ancillary revenues per scheduled passenger were half as much again, USD46. Ancillary revenues make a significant contribution to profit margins as there is relatively little incremental cost associated with them.

Essentially, its business model works by generating demand with low fares and this requires it to have a low cost base. However, as a monopoly supplier on most of its routes, once it has constructed a suitably low cost base, it can charge whatever fare it likes as long as there is demand. Rising average revenue per passenger in recent years also seems to confirm Allegiant’s pricing power.

My take: Allegiant provide service to remote, smaller cities that would not receive service from other players. It has no competition on 90 percent of its routes. Low prices make the destinations work and then no competition allows the airline to raise its prices as needed. The airfares, even with all the ancillary fees, are a bargain when compared to driving back and forth to a major airport to ride major airlines. The major consumer problem comes when flights are canceled and future flight are few and far between.

Sakura — Heady with beauty, in cherry tree season Japan celebrates environmental values that Western greens have lost

This piece provides an analysis of the battle between beauty for its sake in nature and the modern environmental science of interconnection and eco-value. What is beautiful is not always what is most environmentally responsible. Ignoring beauty is culturally irresponsible.

Back in the day, when Teddy Roosevelt was founding the National Park System, his impetus for conservation had little to do with envisioning “ourselves as integrated in material systems of natural objects and habitats.” He, initially, focused on preserving grandeur of the country and the conservation of historic ruins.

Today, much of environmentalism is based on technical science and the interconnectedness of the environment with man. Actions are based on the impact on future generations more than they are on current beauty.

The article is thought-provoking and fascinating, especially after our extremely short cherry blossom season and as tulips unfold in the springtime sun.

Japan’s urban cherries are ornamental, neutered cousins of orchard varieties. Planted to mark out places or events of note, some of the trees are thought to be more than 1,000 years old. Despite their lack of edible fruit, for two to three weeks in late March or early April, the city’s cherries become the most important trees in Japan.

The cherries’ high, white foam pours through avenues that lead to shrines, into graveyards, over public lands, and then to the brink of rivers and lakes where great canopies of petals spread above koi fish the size of corncobs.

Mere aesthetics can no longer form the basis of a wide moral responsibility to the environment: beauty is too reliant on the cultural and historical values of human societies. In the past, environmentalists have failed to appreciate the ecological significance of subjectively ugly, or simply less visible, life forms, processes and biospheres. Contemplation was once the foundation of conservation, which consisted largely of the perpetual, and often expensive, stewardship of wild and beautiful places.

What grounds most modern, mainstream green movements is not an investment in environmental mythos, natural majesty or animistic re-enchantment with beautiful sites and life forms…Behind the beauteous enjoyment of these flowers lies an appreciation of environmental imagination we would do well to recoup.

  • DustyW

    Nothing irritates me more than being nickel-and-dimed by an airline … or any other business, for that matter. It just seems sneaky somehow. Furthermore, I can’t get past the idea that if an airline chisels their customers, are they also cutting corners on the really important stuff … maintenance, for example?