“Don’t ask why, ask why not” John F. Kennedy
On the news that the Government has extended $600 million extra in credit to keep Air New Zealand in the air.
(taking it to a maximum of $1.5 billion.The interest rate on the loan has also been lowered.)
Talk about a missed opportunity.
Can we really afford such short term BAU thinking?.
If we are ever to tackle climate change, converting airliners to greener fuels will be extremely problematic, (less so for surface vessels). So much so, that I doubt it will ever happen, or wind up being so horribly expensive and impractical that we will be burdening future generations of New Zealalanders with a stranded asset.
What if the government instead of making this eyewatering amount of funding available to a sunset industry like air travel, put that money toward a new way of connecting us to the world, one much less damaging to the climate
The Bullet Trains of the sea.
Tasmanian built LNG powered Incat vessels can cross the Tasman sea in 24 hours carrying 1,000 passengers, (possibly twice that or more if you packed them in with aircraft style seating arrangements). Plus 150 cars. Get rid of the car deck and you could probably double passenger capacity again.
Do that and the cost per unit could be very low.
Just as high speed trains in Europe and Japan sucessfully compete with the airlines over land, Incat vessels have been built to compete with the airlines across water.
How about it? Would you buy a ticket to cross the Tasman on a high speed ocean going ferry if the cost of a ticket was half or even a quarter the price of an airfare over the same distance, also knowing that you were saving the planet?
There is even a possibility of moving from low emissions LNG to zero emissions Hydrogen fuel.
Such a vessel is already being built right now. (admittedly for the luxury billionaire end of the market, but if rich people have any social use at all, it is by being early adopters and trend setters. Strip away all of the billionaire fripperies and a hydrogen powered drive chain could be fitted into an Incat passenger vessel. But that is for the future, LNG powered Incat passenger vessels are operating now and successfully competing with airlines.)
OK so it takes 24 hours instead of 3 hours to cross the Tasman, but realistically it takes up most if not all your day getting to the airport and preflight boarding and luggage check in. A lot of this could be done in transit on a much roomier ferry. And with roll on roll off you could drive right on board (As an incentive to ditch the ICE I would take EVs at no extra cost to your boarding ticket)
Now that’s what I call addressing climate change by building back better.
Comrade Patrick John O’Dea is a fierce fighter for worker rights.