Air travel was previously affordable mainly to the elite, the rich, the powerful and the privileged. However, today many ordinary people are able to fly the world, succinctly stated in Air Asia's slogan "Now everyone can fly." This opportunity can be attributed to cheap air travel that gives many people the freedom to travel farther. Although cheap air travel is welcomed by many, some are of the opinion that it has some negative effects. The following paragraphs will discuss both points of view.
Cheap air travel lets people travel farther, virtually extending the frontiers of their country. This opens up opportunity for international work, business, sports, culture, education, tourism and exploration. Students can travel to countries farther away for full time courses or short study tours. This improves knowledge transfer across nations and encourages a broad education base. With cheaper flights, some people can seek employment in other countries and fly back during vacations. International markets also become available for the ordinary businessman as they readily afford to physically venture and supervise their business in other countries. Cheap air flights will welcome inbound tourists spending foreign currency, thus increasing national income. As tourism increases, there will be investments and improved employment opportunity in airline companies, tour agencies, guest accommodation, and food and beverage outlets. Group travel for culture and sports exchange becomes more frequent as group flights costs less. In addition, sportsmen and sportswomen have a better chance to access specialized training in other countries as travel costs drop.
The downside of cheap air travel is that more airplanes will crises-cross the skies. This burns more hydrocarbon fuel which is environmentally polluting and unsustainable. Carbon emissions increase in the atmosphere, possibly adding to the green house effect. As airlines compete for cheap fares, some standards may drop. If comfort, safety and security standards drop, there is a higher risk of hijacking, air terrorism, health hazards and accidents. With more people travelling, diseases spread across continents quickly by airplane, pushing "SARS", "bird flu" and other threats to endemic levels.
In my opinion, cheap air should be encouraged as the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages. Cheap air travel should be encouraged because air flight is now becoming a main tendency in this fast developing era, and it is undeniable that it makes our life easier and more convenient with more options.
Basically, it benefits ordinary people by empowering them to travel and to know planet earth. It also helps to even out competition for jobs and investments by making otherwise remote markets available to everyone. To lessen the risks, better inspection and regulation by the relevant authorities on air travel should be implemented. Airline companies can also be encouraged to practice self regulation via corporate social responsibility incentives. The possible negative environmental impact should be monitored by independent scientific authorities. Interactive monitoring involving the airlines and aircraft manufacturers may encourage new technology in aircraft engines which are eco-friendly and more efficient. Innovation and development costs become reasonable with economy of scale as the air travel market has expanded with cheap fares.