[Marxism] La lógica irresistible de la "desregulación"

Nestor Gorojovsky nestorgoro at fibertel.com.ar
Wed Apr 26 05:39:26 MDT 2006

[Breve traducción resumida:  tras haber triunfado en su lucha por 
imponer las necesidades "del mercado" (es decir, de los monopolios) 
sobre las necesidades de cualquier ser humano normal, las líneas 
aéreas, fabricantes de aviones y productores de mobiliario 
aeronáutico se lanzaron a reducir cada vez más el espacio entre 
asiento y asiento.  Ahora, llegan al resultado predecible:  aviones 
donde el pasajero de "clase turista" viaje de pie, amarrado a un 
panel vertical.  La legislación, al menos en los EEUU, lo permite.  

Al mismo tiempo, y siguiendo la misma lógica de maximización de 
beneficios, los que viajan en "primera" (o las nuevas categorías que, 
con nombres cada vez más segregacionistas, la reemplazan), disfrutan 
de ventajas y chiches cada vez más exquisitos.  

La estructura social se refleja también dentro de los aviones.

Alguna vez los transportistas estadounidenses apostaron a transformar 
el transporte masivo por ferrocarril en transporte masivo por avión. 
Entre otras cosas, comparaban el servicio de mierda que recibía el 
pasajero de tren con los lujos que ofrecía el avión.  Con fuerte 
apoyo estatal (¿o alguien creyó alguna vez que la actividad 
aeronáutica creció en un ambiente de libre competencia?) desbancaron 
al FC, y se apoderaron del transporte de media y larga distancia en 
EEUU.  Una vez que lo lograron, le dieron a las masas transportadas 
aquello que les corresponde bajo el régimen capitalista: mierda.

Y, para peor, impusieron su "modelo" al planeta entero.

Mucho más decente era nuestra LADE, que transportaba gente de pie, 
cuando se ocupaban los asientos, pero no andaba por allí 
promocionando el servicio.  Y cobraba tarifas promocionales.  Con lo 
cual la aerolínea podía perder plata, pero se beneficiaba el común.

Que es lo que deja de suceder cada vez que se privatiza un servicio 
público esencial.

Original en inglés, del New York Times, al pie.]

Gentileza de la lista Marxmail

NY Times, April 25, 2006
One Day, That Economy Ticket May Buy You a Place to Stand

The airlines have come up with a new answer to an old question: How
many passengers can be squeezed into economy class?

A lot more, it turns out, especially if an idea still in the early
stage should catch on: standing-room-only "seats."

Airbus has been quietly pitching the standing-room-only option to
Asian carriers, though none have agreed to it yet. Passengers in the
standing section would be propped against a padded backboard, held in
place with a harness, according to experts who have seen a proposal.

But even short of that option, carriers have been slipping another row
or two of seats into coach by exploiting stronger, lighter materials
developed by seat manufacturers that allow for slimmer seatbacks. The
thinner seats theoretically could be used to give passengers more
legroom but, in practice, the airlines have been keeping the amount of
space between rows the same, to accommodate additional rows.

The result is an additional 6 seats on a typical Boeing 737, for a
total of 156, and as many as 12 new seats on a Boeing 757, for a total
of 200.

That such things are even being considered is a result of several
factors. High fuel costs, for example, are making it difficult for
carriers to turn a profit. The new seat technology alone, when used to
add more places for passengers, can add millions in additional annual
revenue. The new designs also reduce a seat's weight by up to 15
pounds, helping to hold down fuel consumption. A typical seat in
economy class now weighs 74 to 82 pounds.

"There is clearly pressure on carriers to make the total passenger
count as efficient as possible," said Howard Guy, a director for
Design Q, a seating design consultant in England. "After all, the
fewer seats that are put on board, the more expensive the seat price
becomes. It's basic math."

Even as the airlines are slimming the seatbacks in coach, they are
installing seats as thick and heavy as ever in first and business
class — and going to great lengths to promote them. That is because
each passenger in such a seat can generate several times the revenue
of a coach traveler.

At the front of the cabin, the emphasis is on comfort and amenities
like sophisticated entertainment systems. Some of the new seats even
feature in-seat electronic massagers. And, of course, the airlines
have installed lie-flat seats for their premium passengers on
international routes.

Seating specialists say that all the publicity airlines devote to
their premium seats diverts attention from what is happening in the
back of the plane. In the main cabin, they say, manufacturers are
under intense pressure to create more efficient seats.

"We make the seats thinner," said Alexander Pozzi, the director for
research and development at Weber Aircraft, a seat manufacturer in
Gainesville, Tex. "The airlines keep pitching them closer and closer
together. We just try to make them as comfortable as we can."

There is one bit of good news in the thinner seats for coach class:
They offer slightly more room between the armrests because the
electronics are being moved to the seatbacks.

One of the first to use the thinner seats in coach was American
Airlines, which refitted its economy-class section seven years ago
with an early version made by the German manufacturer Recaro.

"Those seats were indeed thinner than the ones they replaced, allowing
more knee and legroom," Tim Smith, a spokesman for American, said.
American actually removed two rows in coach, adding about two inches
of legroom, when it installed the new seats. It promoted the change
with a campaign called "More Room Throughout Coach."

But two years later, to cut costs, American slid the seats closer
together and ended its "More Room" program without fanfare. When the
changes were completed last year, American said its "density
modification program" had added five more seats to the economy-class
section of its MD-80 narrow-body aircraft and brought the total seat
count to 120 in the back of the plane. A document on an internal
American Airlines Web site, which was briefly accessible to the public
last week, estimated that the program would generate an additional $60
million a year for its MD-80 fleet.

United Airlines has also used the earlier-generation thin seats. But
it held open the possibility that once its current seat stock needs to
be replaced, it might try to squeeze in more seats. "We're always
looking at options," Brandon Borrman, a spokesman, said.

Airlines can only do so much with their existing fleets to save space.
The real opportunities, say seat manufacturers and design experts, are
with the new generation of aircraft that are coming soon.

"People hear about these new planes, and they have bowling alleys and
barber shops," Michael B. Baughan, the president and chief operating
officer of B/E Aerospace, a manufacturer of aircraft cabin interiors
in Wellington, Fla., said with a bit of exaggeration. "But that's not
how planes are delivered. On a real airline, with real routes, you
have to be economically viable."

Perhaps the most extraordinary example of a new jet that could
accommodate features unheard of previously is the Airbus A380. There
is so much available room on the superjumbo that Virgin Atlantic
Airways is even considering placing a beauty salon in its
premium-class section. (No final decision has been made, according to
the company.) The first A380 is scheduled to be delivered later this

With a typical configuration, the A380 will accommodate about 500
passengers. But with standing-room-only seats, the same plane could
conceivably fit in 853 passengers, the maximum it would be permitted
to carry.

"To call it a seat would be misleading," said Volker Mellert, a
physics professor at Oldenburg University in Germany, who has done
research on airline seat comfort and has seen the design. If such a
configuration were ever installed on an aircraft, he said, it would
only be used on short-haul flights like an island-hopping route in

While an Airbus spokeswoman, Mary Anne Greczyn, played down the idea
that Airbus was trying to sell an aircraft that accommodated 853
passengers, the company would not specifically comment on the
upright-seating proposal.

There is no legal barrier to installing standing-room seats on an
American airliner. The Federal Aviation Administration does not
mandate that a passenger be in a sitting position for takeoffs and
landings; only that the passenger be secured. Seating must comply only
with the agency's rules on the width of aisles and the ability to
evacuate quickly in an emergency.

The Air Transport Association, the trade association for the airline
industry in the United States, does not have any seat-comfort
standards. Nor does it issue any recommendations to its members
regarding seating configurations.

The two Asian airlines seen as the most likely to buy a large plane
for short-haul flights, All Nippon Airways and Japan Airlines, are
lukewarm about the Airbus plan.

"Airbus had talked with us about an 800-seat configuration for
domestic flights," said Rob Henderson, a spokesman for All Nippon
Airways. "It does not fit with our present plans going forward."

A spokesman for Japan Airlines, Geoffrey Tudor, said Airbus had
presented its ideas for using the A380 on short-haul flights, but
added, "We have no interest in increasing seat capacity to this

Boeing is under similar pressure to squeeze more seats onto its newest
aircraft, the midsize Boeing 787. Some airlines are planning to space
the seats just 30 inches apart from front to back, or about one inch
less than the current average.

And rather than installing eight seats across the two aisles, which
would afford passengers additional elbow room, more than half of
Boeing's airline customers have opted for a nine-abreast configuration
in the main cabin, said Blake Emery, a marketing director at Boeing.
Even so, he said, "It will still be as comfortable as any
economy-class section today."

Indeed, it is possible to have it both ways: more comfortable seats
that are also more compact. For example, the latest economy-class seat
from B/E Aerospace, called the ICON, allows the seat bottom to move
forward when the seat is reclined, so that it does not steal legroom
from the passenger behind it. It also incorporates better ergonomic
designs now typically found in the business-class cabin.

But the ICON and similar seats can cost up to three times more than
the $1,200 that a standard coach seat costs. That may make them
unaffordable to all but a few international airlines that would use
the seats on long-haul routes, the experts said.

Some frequent fliers, asked about the slimmer seats, said they feared
that the result would be tighter quarters. Some expressed concerns
about sharing a cabin with even more passengers and increasing the
risk of contracting a communicable disease.

Others were worried about even more passengers sharing the
already-tight overhead bin space.

"It seems like every year there is less room for my long legs," said
Bud Johnson, who is a frequent traveler for a military contractor in
Scottsdale, Ariz. "I'm afraid that's going to continue."

Este correo lo ha enviado
Néstor Miguel Gorojovsky
nestorgoro at fibertel.com.ar
[No necesariamente es su autor]
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"La patria tiene que ser la dignidad arriba y el regocijo abajo".
Aparicio Saravia
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