Monday 11 November 2002

Going to London

I first visited London when I was about ten years old. The family undertook a two-day car journey to cover the 400 miles to London. This was before the days of motorways. The idea of going by plane would have seemed extraordinary. In 1948, there were two flights a day from Edinburgh to London by DC-3. This provided 60 seats each way. By 1969, ten daily Vickers Vanguard flights to Heathrow gave us about 1,100 seats in each direction. Now, there are 59 daily flights from Edinburgh to the five London airports. That amounts to some 9,000 seats each way. And it can be cheap. My flight back from the Libertarian conference cost the equivalent of five beers. The recent boom at Edinburgh Airport is largely driven by the growth of low-cost airlines such as easyJet and Ryanair. Their web-based booking and pricing systems enable them to raise and lower fares in response to constantly changing demand. It’s raw capitalism in action. Adam Smith would have loved it.