Air Travel Industry in 2050 – Five very different Scenarios on the Menu

Air Travel Industry in 2050 – Five very different Scenarios on the Menu

With the sudden cessation of air travel and its ambiguous path to recovery, COVID-19 has undoubtedly brought aviation to its knees. In times of critical uncertainty, growing complexity, and rapid change, however, business leaders need to look beyond current expectations in order to better anticipate new opportunities and challenges, whilst stress-testing their strategic direction [1].


Following the project’s strategic foresight methodology [2], the Future of Air Travel team built upon the key developments of the aviation sector to systematically identify a variety of plausible futures. To do so, the Future Wheel technique [3] was applied to create scenarios that reveal implicit assumptions and implications on multiple stakeholders across the aviation value chain. The method, thereby, considers how various developments can interact and intersect in unexpected ways.


It is important to note that the development of these scenarios is built upon a 30-year horizon. This provides a time frame long enough to construct futures that differ substantially in their nature, whilst also reflecting the current planning time span of governmental and regulatory bodies [4, 5]. Moreover, the scenarios’ glimpse into the future is slightly exaggerated and provocative to challenge dominant perspectives and stimulate critical debate.


Together, the five scenarios form an entire scope of plausible futures for the air travel industry in 2050. A brief overview of the scenario narratives can be found in the illustration below, summarising the main characteristics of each future outlook.


After developing these scenarios, the project will move forward along the following action lines:

  1. Paths towards sustainable air travel,
  2. Emerging business models and their competitive value, and
  3. Airport as Mobility Hubs in a multimodal transport environment.


More news about the results coming soon. Stay tuned!


Eager to learn more about the plausible future scenarios and their impact on the air travel industry? Sign up to the EDHEC Foresight, Innovation & Transformation Chair Newsletter to receive a detailed report on the Scenario Descriptions, Trigger Points, and Implications on aviation’s intricate network and value chain.


[1] Wieckowski, A. G., (2018). Predicting the Future.

[2] Lehr, T., Lorenz, U., Willert, M., & Rohrbeck, R. (2017). Scenario-based strategizing: Advancing the applicability in strategists' teams. Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 124, 214-224.

[3] Rohrbeck Heger GmbH. (2020). Scenario-based Decision Making: From Fuzzy Uncertainty to Action. 124, 214-224.

[4] Destination 2050 (2021). A Route to Net Zero European Aviation.

[5] European Commission. (2011). Flightpath 2050: Europe’s Vision for Aviation.


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