No patience nor money

CBC reports today: Air Canada losing money, patience.

I have no patience for Air Canada, nor for any of the other ailing airlines looking to be propped up in this inarguably troubling time.

Here’s the thing: shit happens. Granted, recent shit is bigger shit than we’ve seen in a long while. But there are ups and downs in the world. It’s a big, complicated, organic psycho-stew out there, and sometimes people are going to want to travel by air more than other times. This is inevitable. Your airplanes will crash. Other guys’ airplanes will crash. The economy will go sour. Train service will get better. Pilots will go on strike. And terrorists will crash airplanes into buildings. All of this is inevitable; the specifics may be unexpected. But shit happens. It’s the way the world works.

Airlines are a business monoculture. They do one thing: fly from place to place. And they appear to base their business model around the notion that nothing will ever go wrong and that there will be no rainy days. This won’t work over the long term; it’s simply not a sustainable system, especially once the jig is up and millions are no longer available to pour in from our tax dollars.

What happened to the idea of putting money aside for a rainy day? What about diversifying the business so that when travel’s down you’ve got other activities that are up? What about creating a sustainable business ecology where you concentrate on the long view, and where you build in the assumption of disaster, evil, bad economy, etc. into the model?

These are all things that small businesses are expected to do to survive. These are lessons that farmers know well, and have known well for many generations. These are habits that most families know well (or wish they knew well) when it comes to basic home budgeting.

I have no patience for stupid, greedy airlines that don’t think this way. You reap what you sow.


Steven Garrity's picture
Steven Garrity on November 3, 2001 - 18:25 Permalink

Agreed Peter. Also interesting is the CEO of WestJet saying that they don’t need money, so why should Air Canada.

Jarret MacDonald's picture
Jarret MacDonald on November 4, 2001 - 00:34 Permalink

I don’t agree with you. There is logic to injecting $ into the airline industry. Without knowing the underpinnings of economic policy I do not believe that any comment regarding this matter is qualified. I am sure that many federal departments have input concerning these injections, and they are completed for good reason. Without hesitation, I suggest that injections of $ prevent the economy as a whole from suffering (in fact, it is likely cheaper to inject these $ then have an airline go out of business and have unemployment to combat).

…so why don’t airlines pile money away during the good times?
Simply put, they don’t have to be economically wise. They have a government to continually bail them out, which is a “just” thing to do!

Oliver Baker's picture
Oliver Baker on November 4, 2001 - 00:43 Permalink

If no one stops a business from employing slave labor, and no customers care, then other businesses that pay workers will have trouble competing and every business is liable to have slaves. If these businesses form the infrastructure that delivers all the country’s mail, the country would be acting against its own immediate interest to allow them disintegrate in rare instances of hardship, whether foreseeable or not.

I would also say that many, many people and many, many institutions acting together create the environment that enables a particular kind of business to thrive and become dominant—that a kind of business does not persist at the whim or mere preference of any one person or corporation, and that to some extent the government and society are complicit in its way of doing business.

That said, I don’t know what’s going on in the news with Air Canada, and I usually think of it as run by bunglers.

Oliver Baker (PS)'s picture
Oliver Baker (PS) on November 4, 2001 - 00:58 Permalink

I think I should have made my analogy to slave labor explicit: I’m making it in response to the suggestion that we should ridicule companies that don’t set aside money for rainy days or diversify. I assume that a company that doesn’t do this must be more efficient and harder to beat in its specialty under the circumstances that prevail most of the time— or else we wouldn’t have companies like this (I might be wrong I suppose). So these company’s choices are like the choice to employ slaves might be under other conceivable circumstances—detestable and yet necessary.

Nathan's picture
Nathan on November 4, 2001 - 22:29 Permalink

RE: WestJet vs. AirCanada.

WestJet only flies a select few routes that they can make a profit on. AirCanada is mandated to provide service to everywhere else in Canada.