British Airways boss Alex Cruz forecast an era of “hyper-personalisation” for air passengers as he launched a report on the future of flying yesterday.
BA’s Flight of the Future report, based on a survey of 13,000 travellers, suggests flying will be transformed in the coming decades.
Speaking at the Saatchi Gallery in London, BA chairman and chief executive Cruz said: “This is no longer just about facilitating travel [but] how we achieve this in a sustainable way.
“We are going to spend more and more time on sustainability, otherwise we are not going to be able to fly.”
The research for the study, which forms part of BA’s celebration of 100 years of flying, was conducted across ten countries.
Two-thirds of respondents said they would be keen to try an AI personal assistant on a flight, although 75% said they continue to appreciate speaking to a person.
Two out of three (63%) would like an in-flight concierge to organise a hotel for them and 56% would like to book a taxi in-flight to collect them on arrival.
Two-thirds of respondents said they would welcome a chance to pick and choose in=flight food options and entertainment.
Almost three out of four (73%) expressed a desire to complete immigration and visa processes before landing.
Almost half (46%) said they would appreciate communal space on an aircraft, but with 55% saying so in China and 69% in India compared with just 30% in the UK, 22% in Germany and 20% in Japan.
Two out of five respondents (43%) said they would be prepared to pay more for a flight which produced lower emissions.
A similar proportion, 45%, said they would be prepared to fly slower and for longer if this was more environmentally friendly.
Researchers also consulted industry experts and futurologists on likely developments in aviation in the next 20, 40, 60 and 100 years.
The electrification of flight, a new generation of supersonic aircraft and the development of single-passenger vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircraft integrated with hyperloop trains were among the forecasts.
The experts also suggested in-flight, augmented reality would allow for windowless aircraft and hyper-personalisation while robots undertake basic cabin crew functions.
A third and final part of the BA study examined six possible scenarios – such as solar-powered aircraft extracting carbon from the atmosphere as they fly – in detail.
These scenarios were then brought to life by post-graduate students at the Royal College of Art in a Flight of the Future exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery in London which runs through August.
Speaking at the launch of the report and opening of the exhibition, Cruz said: “The findings offer an unprecedented insight into how consumers across the world feel about flying [and] what they expect from us in the future.”
Josh McBain, consultancy director at the Foresight Factory which partnered BA on the research, said: “The next 100 years of flying will push the boundaries of technology and change the flying experience beyond recognition.”
The consumer research was conducted on behalf of BA between February and June this year.
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