The travel industry feels the need for speed – and expects supersonic flights to return to the skies, according to research by World Travel Market London, released today (Monday 7 November) at the event.
A WTM London poll of more than 2,000 senior travel executives found that almost two-thirds (63%) believe supersonic flying is likely to become a mainstream form of transport for holidaymakers. The survey’s findings are reflected in the WTM Global Trends Report 2016, in association with Euromonitor International, which also tips supersonic flights to ‘take off’ again soon.
Concorde, the first supersonic passenger jet, retired from service in 2003, following the tragedies of the Paris crash in 2000 and the September 11 attacks in 2001.
Now, several aeronautics firms are working on supersonic technology which could halve flight times and open up new long-haul destinations.
NASA and the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) are developing aircraft under the joint ‘Quiet Supersonic Technology’ or QueSST project.
They aim to build jets that fly more quietly than Concorde, which was famed for its loud sonic ‘boom’ as it broke the sound barrier. The new planes could take to the skies as early as 2020 if the project receives funding as planned.
Meanwhile, Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group is one of the companies investing in US firm Boom, which is also developing supersonic aircraft.
Boom flights from London to New York could take three hours, with return tickets costing an estimated US$5,000 per person. Blake Scholl, Founder and Chief Executive at Boom, claimed it would make commuting across the Atlantic a reality.
A prototype plane is expected by the end of 2017 and commercial flights could begin within a few years.
Other US companies are developing supersonic aircraft for business travellers, such as Spike Aerospace, and Aerion Corporation, which is working with Airbus.
Aerion hopes its jets will come into service by 2023.
Euromonitor International, Head of Travel, Caroline Bremner said: “Concorde started commercial flights back in 1976.
“Now, 40 years on, it’s encouraging to see so much effort and investment being made in developing a new generation of supersonic aircraft. If the new aircraft can overcome the technical hurdles, then perhaps we can see supersonic services in the 2020s.”
However, John Strickland, Director at aviation consultancy JLS Consulting – and WTM London’s aviation expert – commented: “Supersonic flights are unlikely in the short to medium term because investment and development costs are high. “Airlines are not willing to pay those costs unless they are confident that passengers will be prepared to pay more.
“Concorde only worked on the London-New York route as there were many well-heeled passengers able to pay for the convenience but this is not true on most routes.”
World Travel Market, Senior Director, Simon Press said: “Concorde was an icon of travel but it flew with 1960s and 1970s technology. “As we head towards the 2020s, it seems increasingly likely that supersonic flights will become a reality again, although the timescale may be longer than some of the developers hope.
“As well as being quick, the ‘son of Concorde’ designs will be quiet too, opening up new markets for the travel industry.”
WTM London is the event where the travel and tourism industry conducts its business deals. Buyers from the WTM Buyers’ Club have a combined purchasing responsibility of $22.6 billion (£15.8bn) and sign deals at the event worth $3.6 billion (£2.5bn). The annual gathering of 50,000 senior travel industry professionals takes place at ExCeL – London from Monday 7 to Wednesday 9 November 2016.
World Travel Market London
WTM London, the leading global event for the travel industry, is the must-attend three-day business-to-business exhibition for the worldwide travel and tourism industry.
Almost 50,000 senior travel industry professionals, government ministers and international press, embark on ExCeL – London every November to network, negotiate and discover the latest industry opinion and trends at WTM London.
WTM London is the event where the travel industry conducts and concludes its deals. WTM London will generate around £2.5 billion of travel industry contracts.
WTM London is part of Reed Travel Exhibition’s World Travel Market events, which also includes Arabian Travel Market, World Travel Market Latin America and World Travel Market Africa. www.wtmworld.com
Reed Travel Exhibitions
Reed Travel Exhibitions (RTE) is the world’s leading provider of exhibitions in the travel and tourism industry. Its wide-ranging portfolio of events around the globe covers leisure travel, luxury travel, meetings, incentives and business travel, as well as golf, ski and spa travel.
RTE, which organises more than 22 events around the world, includes three divisions; World Travel Market, IBTM Events and International Luxury Travel Market.
RTE is a business unit of Reed Exhibitions.
About Reed Exhibitions
Reed Exhibitions is the world’s leading events organiser, with more than 500 events in 43 countries. In 2014 Reed brought together more than seven million event participants from around the world generating billions of dollars in business. Today Reed events are held throughout the Americas, Europe, the Middle East, Asia Pacific and Africa and organised by 41 fully staffed offices. Reed Exhibitions serves 43 industry sectors with trade and consumer events. It is part of the RELX Group plc, a world-leading provider of information solutions for professional customers across industries.