Future of Flight: Time to Take Off
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE
Aviation's changed forever. We tell you what to expect.
By OZY Editors
More than 16,000. That’s the number of planes grounded worldwide as the aviation sector grapples with its worst-ever crisis. Hit by a triple whammy of the coronavirus pandemic, unprecedented travel restrictions and an economic recession, many carriers will likely never take flight again. And little about those that do survive will look the same as before.
Those who remember flying pre-9/11 know how the terrorist attacks permanently altered air travel. Things we could carry onboard previously became off limits. The changes, though, mostly had to do with security.
This time, prepare for the transformation to be much more comprehensive. OZY’s latest original series, Future of Flight, is a deep dive into what to expect — for the industry, and for you.
From how the aviation sector might survive and the challenges ahead to the dramatic new offerings airlines are designing to make passengers feel safer and more comfortable, join us on this ride from the safety of your laptops and smartphones. Prepare for takeoff.
With the coronavirus pandemic set to forever change the nature of business travel — many business meetings are likely to take place via Zoom permanently — economy-class seats are more crucial than ever for airlines. And they’re innovating to make them more comfortable as a result: from sleeper pods and flexi-seats that let you stretch when the seat in front of you is unoccupied to rotating seats and family-size beds.
The airline industry is battling to stay aloft amid the biggest hit it has ever taken: the coronavirus pandemic. Companies are offering something that would ordinarily be seen as basic but is now a centerpiece of marketing to potential customers: fogging, cleaning, swiping and other cleanliness and health measures.
You’re probably worried about whether your frequent flyer miles will expire if flying remains out of the question for long. But if there’s one part of their business practice airlines will try to protect, it’s their miles programs. While these programs are marketed as customer loyalty initiatives, they’re major money spinners for airlines, which sell the programs to banks that actually pay for your frequent flyer miles. As they hunt for funding from every possible source in these troubled times, airlines might find your miles invaluable in getting them up in the air again.
Aireen Omar, AirAsia’s CEO is leading one of the world’s fastest-growing airlines and among the planet’s best-rated no-frills carriers at a time the company and the aviation industry are witnessing rare churn. Her inspiration? Google. How she manages could shape the future not just of Air Asia but of low budget flying globally.
It cost FDR a $6 ticket price to fly Pan Am from Washington to Casablanca on Jan. 11, 1943, for his landmark meeting with British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, where they decided to impose unconditional surrender conditions on the Axis powers. It was the first time an American president was leaving the country in the middle of a war. And it was the start of a two-year period when the American airliner played a pivotal — and largely forgotten role — in helping the Allies win the war in Africa.
At a time most airlines around the world are scrambling to survive, an unlikely set of aviation companies are best placed to survive and grow from the ruins of the coronavirus pandemic: national, state-owned carriers. Private airlines in the United States and most of Europe are pleading for — and in some cases securing — bailouts, but with strict strings attached. Meanwhile, national carriers are securing funding from their governments without such strict conditions, and the ability to not just survive, but grow after the crisis.
The aviation industry has in recent years emphasized its efforts at becoming carbon neutral. And indeed, several airlines have turned to more efficient engines and streamlined aircraft, and are experimenting with alternative (and less polluting) fuels. That’s helping them reduce their carbon emissions per passenger, for each mile they fly. But it isn’t helping them reduce their overall carbon footprint. New research shows that every one of the world’s 58 largest airlines increased its total carbon emissions between 2017 and 2018.
New avatars of the Boeing 737 Max and the Airbus A320 Neo, capable of covering far longer distances, landing at smaller airports and carrying more passengers than a typical single-aisle plane, are promising to revolutionize airline connectivity between smaller towns.
- OZY Editors, OZY AuthorContact OZY Editors