Over the last twenty five years I have flown back and forth between the UK and Switzerland close to a hundred times and today it is cheaper than it has ever been. Once it was charter flights that offered the best value, with scheduled flights much more expensive. At Christmas I flew to England and took advantage of Easyjet's remarkably cheap fares. Not a charter, but a scheduled 'no frills' flight. I paid fr130 return for my seat, including all taxes.

Twenty five years ago this return flight would have cost about fr350 by charter and over fr1500 by a scheduled British Airways flight. These high fares financed BA's large offices in Zürich's Bahnhofsrasse. Today British Airways and Swiss also offer discount prices similar to those of Easyjet – forced into low prices by competition from cut-price airlines.

Regardless of price, I prefer to fly with Easyjet, rather than British Airways or Swiss to London, even if they all offer the same low prices. Why? Because I do not like to support companies that only offer cheaper prices to customers when competitors forced them to. And I prefer to support the challenger who broke the mould rather than large corporations that in effect cheated by overcharging for tickets for many years. If they did not overcharge before, how can BA & Swiss suddenly offer cheap tickets now?

So now I can fly to the UK and back for what is in real terms less than a third the charter price of years gone by. Would I fly less if it cost more? Probably not. Would I fly more if it cost even less? Also probably not. I travel about four times a year to the UK and convenience and reliability are as important as price. Thus I would pay more to guarantee the flight was on time. Sadly, the ticket price has little to do with punctuality. In fact British Airways and Swiss which fly to a congested Heathrow have a worse record than the cut-price airlines flying to smaller airports like Gatwick and Luton. It is of little importance whether a meal is served or free drinks and newspapers distributed on a flight that lasts about as long as the check-in time.

Nobody seems sure of the future trends in commercial aviation. Last month the British government published their strategy for commercial aviation to the year 2030. They propose the extension of runways and enlarging of British airports because they predict that by 2030 passenger figures will increase by 2 to 3 times present levels. Worldwide this represents an increase in passenger figures, presently at 180million a year, to over 500million by 2030.

One way or another air travel is not going away and this is probably good news for someone. It is not good news for those living in the 'Südanflugroute' round Zürich. It is not even likely to secure the future of Swiss International Airlines as competition is forecast to get sharper with ever falling ticket prices. It is certainly not good news for the environment. The current winners being the "no frills" airlines with low overheads, with no flashy offices nor the kind of expenses traditionally associated with the airline business.

Even the world's plane makers do not agree on the future of their industry. America's Boeing just announced their latest plane to go in service in 2008. Boeing is the company that brought the world the Jumbo Jet and with it the era of mass air travel. But now, instead of innovation, Boeing followed their accountants' advice and decided not to gamble with their shareholders' funds. Boeing is flying in a new direction and the once revolutionary company has gone for a very conventional solution for their latest machine, the 7E7. It will carry a maximum of 350 passengers, less if the cabin is divided into classes and well under the passengers to be carried on two floors in the European Airbus A380 which comes into service in 2006.