Not so much looking down as across..

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Flying is a human right

I am surprised that many well educated people including stockbrokers seemed unmoved when it appeared that Aer Lingus might fall into the ownership of Ryanair. They seemed to forget that we live on island that lies off another island that lies off the biggest landmass in the world.

A humble sheep farmer called Hamish in Inverness can get into his battered Land Rover and drive to the Wall of China. Admittedly he has to cheat slightly by taking the Eurotunnel but he can still appear in his battered old car on the streets of Peking.(also know as Bejing, but not to Hamish)

Even Ireland's wealthiest Billionaire (if we still have one, a real one, Irish born and made) could not summon his chauffeur to drive the Maybach beyond the pier in Dun Laoghaire.

The point I am labouring to make is that air connections are probably more important to us than any other European Country. Daniel O Donnell may or may not be a National Treasure but Aer Lingus certainly is. That is why I am in favour of keeping Aer Lingus independent and Irish and flying.

I have to confess to actually liking Aer Lingus air hostesses be they in their twenties or fifties. There is something comforting about about them. They may not have made the annual Calendar Girls magazine but nearly of them are pleasant and helpful. That is not to say that other airlines do not have nice staff as well which they often manage to keep hidden from public gaze.

If I was really technically competent I would start a Facebook campaign to save and support Aer Lingus. A service business such as flying is more than oil costs and volcanic dust - it is about the people who serve. I know very generous people who think nothing of leaving a fifty euro tip after a big family or business meal but will choose an airline over the difference of 10 euro.

Eating in a restaurant is not usually a matter of life and death - unless you are eating shell fish - but if you are 35,000 feet in the air and surrounded by a vacuum that is minus 70 degrees centigrade you should be very grateful to the people who get you up there and far more importantly get you down.

As a young banker I lent to the airline business for a few years. Approaching any industry it is important to know the terms or words. Airplanes were monitored in relation to the miles they travelled and the cycles they flew. I was intrigued that a cycle was a combined take off and landing. I wondered if there was a word that described half a cycle e.g. a take off only. I was informed by a world weary pilot who looked over glasses and said without irony - 'half a cycle is a crash - there is no other word we have found for it'. And so I learned that aviation people take safety very seriously.

Most people operate on double standards and we are happily one of them. Buying thirteen Volvos in a row ( a world record perhaps?) to ensure safety makes sense only if I forget the series of single engined planes I have travelled on.

Should we think of tipping the staff and ground crew in Aer Lingus every time we safely disembark from a plane? I generally give the taxi man who drives me from Glenageary three or four euro as a tip and he only has to navigate the perils of the M50 - should I not give a tenner to the Aer Lingus staff who had my life in their hands for a few hours? We tip waiters and barbers. Some people even tip politicians and planning authorities (although that may be called bribery). But you get my drift. The Aer Lingus people are doing something far more important that a short back and sides.

If we could free the Birmingham six, why cannot we free the staff of Aer Lingus from the threat of eternal company rearrangements, personnel redeployment and downsizing?

When we book online there should be a box where we can donate a fiver or a tenner. We generous people who contribute should get picked out and pampered by the glamorous hostesses, brought to see the pilot and let off the plane 20 minutes ahead of the ungrateful passengers who did not tick the box.

Intel has come and some day may go - hopefully not. But Aer Lingus should never be let go. If they are closed down, merged, sold off or sold down I will be on the last flight that leaves the country. Someone else can turn off the lights.


  1. Here Here and Hurrah and all that.

    Besides the fact that Ryanair have to be the worst airline ever for customer service and comfort, I agree that Aer lingus is a national treasure. So you keep singing and I will join in the chorus.

    p.s. saw a Maybach online the other.. I WANT ONE

  2. Just found your link by way of Barbara's. Enjoyed your post. You make a good point, I agree and I'm in the U.S.

    Thoughts in Progress

  3. Thanks Mason, you have a very busy and interesting blog site. I will check in regularly. Good luck Team USA in the socccer World Cup!