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Vision 2050 Competition - The Next Generation

Excerpts from the winning essays in IATA’s Vision 2050 Competition

Vision 2050 is an attempt to look ahead four decades to what is needed for a sustainable aviation industry. It is estimated that by 2050 16 billion passengers and 400 million tonnes of freight will need to be flown yearly. However, with historical profit margins of 0.1% in the past 40 years, the industry faces enormous challenges.

The Vision 2050 contest called for thought-provoking papers addressing a cornerstone of the project:

What kind of airline structure, networks and business models will we need in 2050 to be sustainably profitable?  

 What kind of airports and air traffic management concepts will we need in 2050 to handle the potential demand?

What kinds of aircraft and fuel will we use in 2050 to manage aviation’s growth and environmental responsibilities? 

 How should airlines provide for travelers in 2050 to make them not only satisfied customers, but industry advocates?

The papers were reviewed by Kevin Done (former Aerospace Correspondent for the Financial Times), Martin Craigs (President of the Aerospace Forum Asia), and Anthony Concil (IATA Director of Corporate Communications).


Janet Murphy

Airsystems Engineer, Rolls Royce

In her essay, Janet argued that airlines should exploit new technology to customize the travel experience and help passengers recapture the enjoyment of flight.

“Airlines must provide a safe, reliable, punctual, and cost-effective service. But to turn passengers into industry advocates they must provide something extra, an X-factor that harks back to the early excitement of flight. This will not be the latest gadgets onboard, as customers can already carry a total entertainment system in their pockets. Instead, airlines must recapture the excitement of flight and convey the pioneering spirit that is inherent in an aerospace industry pushing the boundaries of technology every day.

“In 2050, airlines must provide a tailored travel experience meeting the different needs of their diverse group of passengers. Every flight with an airline should feel like a passenger’s own personal jet, in terms of convenience and flexibility.”

Runner-Up Andrew Harrington
Senior Analyst, The Australian Consumer And Competition Commission

Andrew investigated how the removal of regulatory barriers, increasing airline consolidation, and greater network connectivity would lead to better profitability.

“The removal of regulatory barriers will see the creation of a level playing field in terms of airline ownership and unfair government subsidy advantages. There is no sound economic reason for governments to continue being majority shareholders of airlines or to place foreign ownership or investment restrictions on airlines, whether this has arisen through a bailout necessitated by previous mismanagement or through misguided, archaic notions of nationalism and the need for a national flag carrier.”

Runner-Up Mike Smith

Senior Project Engineer, Aero Engines Controls

Mike explored the possibility of an equitable cost base, including taxation, to ensure a level playing field. He also came up with a dynamic leasing concept for aircraft.

“While each airline may still control its own core fleet, there would be a supply locally from which the airline may source aircraft. Why take a half-empty A321 when a locally available E-190 could be used instead? Common cockpit ratings across all aircraft would mean that the same flight crew could operate every aircraft. The Dynamic Leasing concept would ensure that we are able to match supply capacity with demand, keeping costs low and ensuring that we maximize profit on every single flight.”

Runner-Up Wang Hongjun
second-year student,Nanyang Business School, Singapore

Wang’s essay looked at how to exploit customer feedback to improve the passenger experience.

“Today’s ‘Me Generation’ consumers are increasingly self centered, and do things out of a primary need to show others and look good through social comparison. The increased narcissism of this generation and the next will define expectations for the next 40 years. Airlines need to design the experience around customers and be more attentive to these needs



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