The world is changing. You may feel it in the earth, in the water, but most importantly, in the air
Today, we celebrate the ability and the will of human beings to explore and learn about various places around the world. By commemorating World Tourism Day not only do we give credit to all technologies that allow us to wander the world in basically no time, but also the responsibility it ties us with.
By paraphrasing the classic Tolkien quote mentioned in the first paragraph of this article, we can say that there are major changes in the air — and mainly in air travel industry. Below are a few major trends overtaking the world of travel right now.
Connecting the unconnected
Some time ago, travelling for holiday was pretty much straightforward. Holidaymakers looked into a brochure and picked the most appealing tour they could find. But with the new technologies, everything turned pretty much upside down.
Now it is up to you what way of transport you prefer as options are abundant in all cases. And thanks to the technology of Virtual Interlining, you can even combine it all on one ticket. It is now pretty easy to fly from New York to Berlin, then jump on a train to Prague, and then on a bus to Vienna while getting an Uber driving you to your hotel.
Everything is out there, it is you who decides how. Combining routes operated by different carriers has one significant advantage — travelling becomes way more affordable and accessible to practically anyone. This in turn leads to a massive growth of the air industry overall.
Number of travellers to multiply
According to IATA, 4.4 billion passengers travelled by plane in 2018 alone. The same association predicts that the number of travellers will double over the next 20 years. 8.2 billion passengers are expected to fly with a commercial airline in 2037.
While IATA calls for reduced regulations and better infrastructure in Europe to handle the masses, China and Turkey have already set themselves ready for the ever-growing influx.
The two countries have recently opened new airports that are both proclaimed to become the busiest in the world.
Two days ago, Beijing kicked off the operation at its new Daxing airport. With four runways, vast terminal building covering 700,000 square metres, and 268 aeroplane parking bays, the airport should reportedly handle 45 million passengers a year by 2021 and 72 million by 2025. By 2040, the figure should increase up to 100 million.
Istanbul’s Yeni Havalimanı that opened in October last year has even more optimistic expectations. In its first phase, it should serve more than 90 million passengers per year. However, the plan is to serve around 200 million travellers annually, which is almost double the number of passengers that pass through the current busiest airport — Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson.
Overtourism and environmental challenges
With the growing number of people who can afford to travel, various locations around the world have become victims of the masses. Venice is battling with the phenomenon called overtourism by implementing taxes, so is Amsterdam. Taj Mahal, for instance, is reducing the number of visitors let in. The people of Barcelona have even organised protests against the influx of tourists.
What can one do to avoid such places? Simply, not go there. The world boasts various lesser-known and equally amazing places to choose from.
Moreover, it would be impossible to deny the fact that air travel and travel in general is one of the major contributors to global warming. However, being aware of this unpleasant reality, major players have decided to do their best towards improvements.
For instance, Alaska Airlines, Qantas, or Air New Zealand have pledged to cut single-use plastics from the board of their planes. Similarly, the city of Goa and an entire Italian island banned plastics from their land completely.
Recently, the major airports in the world have pledged to get net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.
“Our NetZero2050 commitment builds on a strong record of carbon management and reduction by the European airport industry, that has been well documented over the past decade,” said Director General ACI EUROPE.
“Crucially, it means the European airport industry is aligning with the latest scientific evidence, the need to secure a +1.5C future and the Paris Agreement.”
Kiwi.com cannot stay behind. In fact, we have decided to change with the changing world and allow our passengers to travel differently. Recently, we introduced ground transport to our search allowing anyone to choose whichever means of transport they prefer. Want to discover Europe by train? Try out our revolutionary NOMAD search that will generate the most fitting itinerary for you.
Fast airport journeys with biometric technology
Nobody likes to be stuck at the airport. But the growing numbers of passengers pressure the current infrastructure to improve the overall airport journey and experience.
One of the ways how to fasten the security check process is implementing biometric and facial recognition technology. What sounds like an Orwellian reality is in fact a tool that helps to secure the process with less invasive checks and less time waiting.
One of the pioneers is Qatar’s Hamad International which is one of the most progressive airports in the world. It has just launched the second phase of its Smart Airport programme including facial biometric recognition.
The system combines passport, passenger, flight and facial biometric information in one electronic record. The facial recognition will be used at bag drop, security, and boarding, based on the biometric information registered while checking in at a self-check-in kiosk or via an app.
The newly installed system is expected to speed up the queues and remove the need to show multiple documents at each point. It would also allow the airport to track passengers’ movements throughout the airport and in turn increase efficiency.
A similar system has been implemented at Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson by Delta. The first biometric terminal in the United States serves its passengers travelling through terminal F on international flights.
From London to Australia in four hours
Humans are restless creatures and this applies to research and science more than to any other discipline. With the constant criticism of current plane engines, manufacturers are trying to come up with alternative ways of powering their aircraft, and ultimately, making travelling much faster.
For instance, European manufacturer Airbus has teamed up with SAS to research the options of hybrid and electric planes.
The aim of their cooperative study is to “address the entire aircraft operations ecosystem in order to better support the aviation industry’s transition to sustainable energy,” Airbus said in a statement.
“The project scope includes five work packages. The researchers will analyse the impact of ground infrastructure and charging on range, resources, time, and availability at airports.”
In addition, the collaboration also includes a plan to involve a renewable energy supplier to ensure genuine zero CO2 emissions operations.
But it is not only about the environment, the speed plays a key role as well. An Oxford-based company — Reaction Engines — is currently developing an engine called Sabre that could shorten travel from London to Sydney to only four hours. According to the UK’s space agency, their hybrid hydrogen air-breathing rocket, which is designed to propel an aircraft at twice the speed of Concorde, could be used by 2030.
Futuristic inner-city transport to help with traffic jams
High-speed and available transport will not be limited only to international routes. Many manufacturers have started developing self-driving vehicles that will contribute to decongesting transportation in big cities by, simply, flying.
In cooperation with Kiwi.com, a Czech start-up called Zuri has come up with a prototype of autonomous aircraft, that is capable of vertical take-off and landing and is able to fly in a radius of 700 kilometres.
“The Zuri project represents a direction that I see as key in the future of transport and our investment is proof of that. This segment is practically non-existent, although it is one of the critical elements in the first and last mile of transport,” said Kiwi.com’s CEO and Co-founder Oliver Dlouhý.
“Intertwined with the global transportation network, it will bring completely new options for travelling by adding thousands of smaller cities into the airports.”
Similarly, the concept of flying taxis has been emerging around the world. Recently, Frankfurt’s international airport has teamed up with aircraft manufacturer Volocopter to develop a new method of transportation — air taxi services.
Rolls-Royce showed its flying taxi prototype flying at speeds of up to 402 km/h for approximately 800 kilometres. Similar projects are taking place in Dubai, while in Los Angeles, such vehicles might be involved in the Uber network as well.