The exhibition GEO—DESIGN: Budget Airlines. We Are All The Jet Set* considers how “cheap” is more than just a price: it is a way of looking at the world. Nine research projects demonstrate how low-cost carriers impact everyday life at many scales of observation, from airport infrastructures and aircraft models to labour negotiations and digital services, from international boundaries and corporate sovereignty to marketing strategies and environmental impact. Suisse Int’l is used throughout for all typography.
Budget airlines, no-frills flights, peanut fares are a few of the familiar names used to describe low-cost carriers. The Ryanair Group carried the most passengers in Europe in 2019 and 2020, some 30 years after the then obscure Irish company rebranded itself as “Europe’s first low-fares airline”. It pioneered an operational model oriented towards a singular goal of cheap flights, but many others have followed, including EasyJet and Wizz Air in Europe. Operating on a business model that minimises operational costs, unbundles fares, reduces customer services and decentralises routes, budget airlines have not only shaped the world-wide aviation industry as we know it, but an entire travel culture. The European consciousness and landscape have been fundamentally transformed by minor local airports being plucked from obscurity and ‘abroad’ becoming a commodity rather than a luxury.
The fifth chapter to emerge from the Design Academy Eindhoven’s GEO—DESIGN exhibition platform, the nine projects were selected by open-call, and developed by 13 alumni over the past three months. GEO—DESIGN: Budget Airlines was presented at Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, from 9 October to 14 November 2021.