surinenglish

Flying so low

If a tourist came into the pub and began telling me they'd just enjoyed a whopping sirloin steak and chips for two euros fifty or how, last year, they bought a brand new laptop from an official dealer for twenty pounds, I'm not sure how I'd react. It'd be clear that something was radically amiss somewhere along the line and I'd probably warn them to expect trouble ahead in the form of a decent bout of food poisoning or an uncontrollable plague of computer viruses.

Holiday flights, on the other hand, are a law unto themselves. Over the last couple of years I've lost count of the number of people who've mentioned that they got a return flight from the UK to Malaga in exchange for one euro fifty in coins and a second-hand gobstopper. I never know quite what to say. The expected and conventional response to this kind of thing is to raise your eyebrows in wonder.

“Wow! That's brilliant. You lucky things, you did really well there.”

What really passes through my head, though, is , “Surely, that can't be right. Prices like that aren't viable as a business model. Something has to give.”

Still, no-one wants to be a party pooper, so I never say anything of the sort.

Ryanair have been in no end of trouble recently and only this week Monarch has bitten the dust. The only surprising thing is that some people seemed to find it surprising. It's anything but.

If Mike and Mary can fly from Glasgow to Madrid on a return flight for 50 quid each on an aeroplane that requires fuel, maintenance, crew, supplies, taxes, ground staff and myriad other expenses, surely it's clear that the company involved will be surviving on a knife edge, whatever their annual turnover figures say.

If we want to take advantage of extraordinarily cheap flights, we have to accept that we're directly contributing to the precarious nature of these businesses and not be too shocked when they fold. The problem is that everyone's become so used to being able to get from Leeds to Lanzarote at a price that's cheaper than getting a taxi from Leeds to Liverpool, it'd be nigh on impossible to backtrack. Any realistic price would now appear abusive to the casual observer. That's quite a problem.

Anyway, I'm off for my tea. Steak and chips, I think - at fourteen euros fifty just round the corner in a lovely restaurant founded in 1968 and still going strong.