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You'd probably be better off reading the full article but some people want executive summaries.
Rick starts with certain assumptions and follows them to various conclusions about the interstellar economy.
They go fast, can carry lots of people and cargo, and are the most advanced technology that can be massed produced.
Assumption: cargo starship operating cost is similar to cargo jet.The leader of the thalassocrats is of course called the thalassiarch.This section is basically a rough outline of Rick Robinson's Interstellar Trade: A Primer.That is, assuming a full cargo turnover at each port of call, how many one-way runs can the ship make? From departure planet orbit to FTL flight to arrival planet orbit. Assumption: each trip requires one month for servicing, maintenance, selling the cargo, buying new cargo for the next run.This makes each trip four months from departure to departure, or three cargos per year.
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Therefore the starships will do fewer trips per year than airliners, so the starship passenger ticket price (and cargo waybill) will have to cover a larger share of the starship's yearly expense.