THE FUTURE OF AVIATION & TOURISM
Quietly, without fanfare, the world aircraft traveling public are seeing a revolution inspired by improved materials technology and jet engine power, thrust, weight and efficiency. While the International News might dwell on the economic competition between the AIRBUS from the European Union and the 787 by Boeing in California; most tourist travel these days is being done by 737s. There are more 737s flying than any other airplane on tourist routes around the world.
We all remember when our own Belize Airways bit the dust and went into bankruptcy because they had started on obsolete 727 aircraft. The engines on that aircraft at that time were fuel guzzlers, the maintenance horrendous in costs and a host of other reasons. Since then, just over the last 4 years, I have noticed the change in the popular 737 passenger plane. This plane hits the market with 200 and less passengers. They are cheaper to buy and each new model and several models come out as they get improved in increments a few times a year. The jet engine on a 737 today is a huge machine. Lots of drag, but the power is awesome and the fuel efficiency outstanding. It can take off, in Belize, in about just double the distance of Tropic Air puddle jumpers. You are basically strapped into a flying jet pair of rockets. The flight time to Miami from Belize has shrunk from 3 hours, to 1 hour and 45 minutes over the last 15 years. You fly to Miami today in a newer model 737 with those huge powerful efficient jet engines and you are going OVER six hundred miles an hour; up from the 380 to 450 miles per hour of yesteryear. You also fly higher in thinner air and follow a track dictated by satellites and not some airport signaling beacon.
Times have changed! The 737 is not the old pile of junk our defunct Belize Airways operated years ago. This plane runs continuously. Maintenance is minimal and time is money. To justify the cost of these planes: they are popular because they can be used in many market niches. With fewer passengers, but higher speeds and more efficient engines, the 737 is the work horse of the American Continent.
To run an airline, or an airplane, you must keep it flying. This plane fits many flight operations, from short haul, to long haul and small passenger loads to larger passenger loads. Ideally, you want to run that plane obsolete in about 3 or 4 years and replace it with a newer model. To do that you have to make a profit. You also need routes with enough passengers to fill most the seats. To justify an airplane it must fly continuously and as full as possible.
There is a reason why our International Airport sees the 737 flying in here? Because that plane can fly the Belize route and then do Detroit, or Montreal, or Panama all in the same day.
For Belize tourism expansion though, we are going to need the more fuel efficient long range passenger planes. Those with 5000 to 7000 mile range. And we need the runway to handle them. The PUP government is working on that. The International Airport is being extended as I write this article. It is a changing world and technology is changing rapidly the way we do things.