Time to start clearing out some accumulated chum — and non-political chum at that! Here are three airline things that are going away, plus one non-airline thing that may also be disappearing:
- The 747. Once the queen of the sky, now relegated to freight service, just like the DC-10. US airlines are no longer operating the 747 in passenger service. The reason is simple: A four-engine aircraft uses just too much expensive fuel; there are two-engine crafts with similar capacities.
- The A380. As for the other plus-size queen: the Airbus A380. It seems no one is buying them. Unless an order comes in soon, Airbus will be shutting down the production line. In this case, there are very few markets that need the capacity. [ETA: Looks like the production line was saved by an Emerates order]
- Four Digit Flight Numbers. This one is an interesting Y2K-ish problem. Airline mergers have created a problem: Some airlines now have more than 10,000 flights, but the systems are only designed to support at most four-digit flight numbers. Addressing this is a gigantic problem, for all airline systems for all airports need to be reprogrammed. Right now, they are reusing numbers (a recent flight I took had the same number coming and going), and possibly even using retired numbers. One wonders if a cheaper solution will be to create more airlines within an airlines, so they can have multiple name spaces.
And also disappearing:
- The Market for Used Clothing. What happens when you donate that used shirt? In the past, it was often bundled and sent to lower-income nations, and often made into other products. Well it seems that new clothing has gotten so cheap to make that there is no financial incentive for used clothing. Could we see more clothing turned into insulation? This is a continuation of our disposable society trend, where it is cheaper to make new than to repair and reuse, and it is creating a gigantic trash problem, as well as tying up potentially reusable resources.