On Thursday, Senator Mazie Hirono (D-HI), who is no slouching leftist herself (witness her attacks on judicial nominees for having religious Christian views), permitted her mind to contemplate reality for a moment as she examined the “Green New Deal” offered by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. That perusal stimulated Hirono enough to acknowledge an obvious problem with the deal’s apparent insistence on phasing out air travel: Hirono reportedly said, “That would be pretty hard for Hawaii.”
On Thursday morning, Ocasio-Cortez released an overview of her new plan which stated, “Totally overhaul transportation by massively expanding electric vehicle manufacturing, build charging stations everywhere, build out high- speed rail at a scale where air travel stops becoming necessary, create affordable public transit available to all, with goal to replace every combustion-engine vehicle …”
Hawaii, lying in the Pacific Ocean, rests approximately 2500 miles from the coast of California. A commercial flight takes roughly six hours to travel from California to Hawaii; a normal cruise line takes four days. A motor boat can take up to two weeks.
Since we’re examining travel time, how long does it take to travel by air from New York to Europe? London, for example? 7.5 hours. When the trip is reversed, it’s roughly 8.5 hours. By ship? From New York to London, roughly six or seven days.
Thus, eliminating air travel isn’t just bad for tourism, which would deeply hurt Hawaii, but items being shipped from overseas would take astronomically more time to reach the U.S.
As Quartz reported in 2013:
Despite the fact that air shipment costs 6.5 times as much as sea freight, about one-third of U.S. imports by value entered the country on a plane and about two-thirds left that way, and those proportions are increasing: Global usage of air cargo grew 2.6 times faster than ocean cargo between 1965 and 2004, according to analysis by economist David Hummels.
You probably know how the cargo container changed the world, acting as a force multiplier for the global shipping industry. But more recent trends have made time more important. One is that, dollar for dollar, traded goods are getting lighter. Another is just-in-time manufacturing, where components spread across international supply chains have to arrive at factories when they are needed; if they are late, facilities can stand idle and productivity stops. That’s likely why 41% of trade identified as components is shipped through the air.
The Air Transport Action Group added some more facts:
The air transport industry generates a total of 29 million jobs globally. 5.0 million direct jobs. The airline and airport industry directly employ 4.3 million people globally. The civil aerospace sector (manufacture of aircraft systems, frames and engines, etc.) employs 730,000 people. 5.8 million indirect jobs through purchases of goods and services from companies in its supply chain. 2.7 million induced jobs through spending by industry employees. 15.5 million direct and indirect jobs through air transport’s catalytic impact on tourism. Some 6.7 million direct tourism jobs are supported by the spending of international visitors arriving by air.