It’s important to note that the pace of these technological advancements and their implementation may vary across airlines, airports, and regions impacting passengers at different times and in many different ways. However, these anticipated advancements highlight the potential ways in which technology can transform the future passenger experience.
Economic and societal shifts will also have a significant impact on the future passenger. Regulatory policies (including safety and security), economic factors, taxation policies, and trade agreements, will all affect the future passenger.
Changes in regulatory policies will impact the airline industry in many ways. For example, policies related to greenhouse gas emissions will change airline operational procedures and increase ticket prices. These policies in turn will change passenger air travel frequency through greater environmental awareness or higher ticket prices. Regulatory policies related to security resulted in drastic changes in passenger travel patterns and attitudes over the last 20 years. Security policies will continue to evolve with new and evolving technology. These policies will impact passenger and baggage screening procedures, baggage contents regulations, and other security measures in and around airports.
Additionally, taxation policies, such as airport taxes or fuel taxes, will affect the cost of air travel for passengers. Taxation policies can impact ticket pricing and profitability depending upon whether airlines add the cost of new taxes to fares. This, in turn, affects passenger behavior and travel patterns.
Economic shifts, caused by recessions, inflation, or extreme events (natural or manmade), will continue to shape air passenger activity and attitudes. Future economic factors will also affect the pricing, destination popularity, and availability of air travel, which will influence passenger behavior and travel choices.
Passenger behavior and travel patterns may also change with liberalization of air transport markets by increases in competition and changes to ticket prices and trade agreements. New trade agreements often change the airline industry in many ways, such as by affecting market access, air service agreements, and competition policies. Alternatively, global conflicts like the war in Ukraine dampens travel demand, in this case closing air travel markets to Russia and limited access to trans-polar air routes between South and East Asia and the European Union and the U.S. The war has also changed world trade relationships, which changes business travel patterns, reducing demand in some markets while increasing demand in others.
To respond to these economic and societal shifts, airports should embrace resiliency Planning (See L&B LAB from April 20, 2021, Airport Resiliency) to be better prepared to adapt to many of these coming trends. Economic stressors, such as the recent pandemic and other extreme weather events, are likely to continue over the coming decades. As governments respond to these global challenges, their actions may incur costs and requirements. While the specifics of future socioeconomic landscape remains unclear, airport resiliency plans will enable airports to harden their facilities and finances to face tomorrow’s challenges and continue serving their passengers.