Is it me or does this plane smell like french fries?

November 28, 2011 at 9:54 am Leave a comment

by Tony

I’m not sure if you caught the CNN article, but a number of airlines are checking out alternative fuel sources such as algae and cooking oil — and it struck me as intriguing. I’m all for anything that can reduce the general dependency on oil, given the dramatic impact it has on the Travel industry, but it sounds like we have a ways to go here before we should start getting too excited. The cost for alternative fuel sources is still somewhat prohibitive, but what CNN identifies as just as challenging is that there is no “supply chain” for these alternative fuel sources. So even if the industry can figure out how to get all the kinks out, they’ll still have a pretty big hurdle: there is no efficient way to get the product from producer to consumer.

That got me to thinking about a topic I’ve blogged about in the past, namely the concept of a T&E Supply Chain. In case you don’t want to hit the link and read the post, according to Wikipedia a supply chain is “a system of organizations, people, technology, activities, information and resources involved in moving a product or service from supplier to customer.” Think about yours, and when you consider game-changers like fragmenting content, new sources of distribution and payment (think Mobile), and new players and processes (think Daily Offers, Gamification, and Social Networking), ask the question “What will our new T&E Supply Chain look like in a year or two?” Which of these new processes or platforms are most likely to stick and become part of the new Travel Program? Which will attract users, and which will become distractions that fall by the wayside? Attraction or Distraction? That is the question, when thinking about your new T&E Supply Chain.

Alaska Air is now testing alternative fuels, running test flights powered by cooking oil, which the airline claims is reducing CO2 emissions by 10 percent. Meanwhile, that fuel costs six times as much as conventional jet fuel. (It simply is not cheap to filter the fried bits out of cooking oil before reclaiming it to power a jet.) I see the attraction of trying to reduce carbon emissions from a corporate social responsibility perspective, but I fall down on the side of distraction on this one due to supply chain issues … because the idea of running a plane on fryolator grease is worthless until McDonald’s makes their drive thrus big enough to accommodate a 757. So the next time you are considering the latest and greatest idea, ask yourself – attraction or distraction?

Entry filed under: T&E Supply Chain, Tony's thoughts. Tags: , , , , , .

Rest in Peace, Champ Tony D. is The King of Logic

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