Future of Air Travel


A project from the EDHEC Chair for Foresight, Innovation and Transformation 


APRIL 2020 The crisis hits 

In early April, as governments around the world were closing their doors to travellers. the aviation industry experienced its worst crisis in its 100-year history. On May 5, Carsten Spohr, CEO of Lufthansa group, tells his shareholders: "In less than 65 days, we have returned to the levels of 65 years ago in terms of air traffic volume." The main question at that time in the industry is, how long can this crisis possibly last? 3 months, 6 months or even 12 months? 


MAY 2020 The ESAC initiative

In May, the FIT Chair launches the Initiative EDHEC Students Against the Crisis (ESAC) to help companies from all industries to understand the possible impact of the sanitary crisis to their business, systematically explore possible solutions and develop recovery scenarios. 33 students worked with ten companies, spending a total of 1 300 hours of voluntary work. The Air Travel project was built on an existing partnership with the Lufthansa Group. To take a systemic industry perspective the EDHEC FIT Chair invited additional partners to the project, including, Amadeus, Airbus, Celfocus, Emirates, Ferrovial, Frontex, Global Load Control, Heathrow Airport, IATA, Schiphol Airport and Thales.



JUNE 2020 Radar with drivers of change

In the first phase drivers of change were identified through a 360-degree scan. The first workshop focussed on developing a short-term radar on the factors that will drive solutions for imminent problems and short-term recovery of the industry. The most important factors include: decontamination & disinfection technology, service digitalisation, alternative transport technologies, willingness to travel, Trust in health & safety measures etc.


Fig 2: Identified Political, Economic, Social and Technological trends.

JULY 2020 Scenario workshop

The second industry workshop applied a scenario sprint methodology which built on the co-creation of scenarios. Participants could leverage on the insights on the factors as well as their own insights and intuition. The workshop identified four plausible scenarios. 1. Comeback – The sky’s the limit (Pandemic under control, Global economy rebounds) 2. The Slow-down – Staying at home (Steady-slow growth, flygskam, climate awareness) 3. Resurgence – Let’s fly again (private air travel increased, innovation is the key) 4. Pivot – Air travel for the few (flying is for the rich, pandemic ongoing, limited recovery)


SEPTEMBER 2020 124 MSc Marketing students join the quest

In September, we decided to give the 124 students from the EDHEC Marketing program for their course on “Foresight & Strategic Design” a practical task: Investigating the customer-group-specific challenges and solutions to travel in the sanitary crisis.



SEPTEMBER 2020 Personas

Using existing reports and customer interviews the students co-constructed 8 personas, which are extreme customers representing a specific customer segment. For each persona the students collaboratively built a profile, a mood board and a key data sheet. 


OCTOBER 2020 Workshop on promising customer segments 

Working across the partnership of airlines, airports, manufacturers, think tanks and travel services providers the most promising and least promising air travel segments were identified:

  • High frequency leisure traveller 
  • Visiting friends & relatives traveller 
  • Future traveller 
  • Heavy business traveller 
  • Business traveller 

  • Medical travellers 
  • Pilots & Crew 
  • Pensioners 
  • Migrant travellers 
  • Low frequency leisure traveller 


OCTOBER 2020 Solutions 

Building on the personas and the challenges in current passenger journeys the participating companies prioritized the solutions for the pre-flight, in-flight, and
post-flight challenges

Testing facilities
 is the key to gaining public confidence to enable them to align themselves with the destination country’s COVID-19 sanitary crisis protocols. Through easy quick and reliable access to testing facility in the airport premise would help increase the customer satisfaction.

Live airport traffic map is a critical part in managing the flow of passenger traffic inside the airport and through live traffic governance instantaneous real time decisions can be taken by the airport authorities to manage the flow of passenger traffic to abide by COVID-19 rules.

In Flight:
Explaining the rules with respect to the pandemic of the destination country is a critical aspect to gain the trust of the passenger.

Thermal cameras inside flights would also enable airlines to have a secondary layer of safety net to protect the health of the passengers of the passengers. Instantaneous decisions taken in-flight (e.g.: isolation of passenger) and after arrival ( e.g.: proper health arrangements) would enable the confidence of the customers to a greater extent.

Post Flight:
Electronic queuing during disembarkment would help airports to manage crowds and would automatically promote a sense of wellbeing among the passengers.


The students came out with a plethora of innovative yet feasible solutions by aligning the recommendation and the personas to improve the airline industry.


"Travel & Care" loyalty program

A loyalty program designed for eager travellers who want to explore the world but do not yet have a stable financial situation. Their task is to complete missions for environmental organizations such as beach cleaning, charity support in exchange for points added to their personal customer account. And after earning enough points, users can use them to plan their next trip and have access to different kinds of offers (special access, discounts etc).

Application extension for airport services

A solution to prevent travellers moving too much in the airport by providing a delivery service added to the airport application service that will allow travellers to order food on the application while waiting for onboarding. Those deliveries will be made by employees or can be automated using small electric vehicles. The airport application would also offer a wide range of entertainment such as music, news, reading, and other content.

Green lounge evolution

An eco-responsible lounge service for airport and airline lounges called Green Lounges. The first service provided will be to rethink the energy management in lounges to reduce the consumption of energy. Secondly providing eco-friendly services such as eco-friendly themed lounges decor, sustainably curated food menu, gyms with green sport machines, sustainable cutlery, and furniture. This solution will be supported with technological innovations such as intelligent wi-fi water leak detectors, grey water system, green AC system, Pavegen floor that converts kinetic energy from walking into storable electricity.



  • Ideas and solutions for common problems - specific strategic and practical ideas to move businesses forward
  • Access for Foresight platforms
  • Work with thought leaders in the industry
  • Opportunity to get fresh insights and ideas from talented students



The team quickly developed credibility and trust with the industry partners given their ability and understanding to identify the key challenges and solve the related problems. Their 4-step approach to scenario planning and the scenarios developed were quite comprehensive. Plus, the factor listing, and signal scanning was meticulous throughout the project. With a scope this wide, the aviation industry has definitely benefited from their valuable inputs and innovative solutions." Jorg-Stefan Fritz, Lufthansa



The EDHEC FIT Chair is driven by the belief that organisations as we have built them for stable environments are ill-equipped for the era of relentless changes that they face today.

Change creates challenges, but also opportunities. The ability to embrace and profit from change will determine the winners from the losers in the 21st century.

Over more than a decade we have studied organisations that profit from change, developed a maturity model for the future preparedness of organisations and developed a comprehensive set of practices for enabling foresight, innovation, and transformation (FIT).

Our passion is to make organizations FIT to drive desirable futures.


EDHEC FIT Chair would like to thank our corporate partners for co-creating with us: 

  • Stephan COPERT, Head of Projects, and Innovation at IATA
  • Cedric RENARD, General manager at Emirates France
  • Jörg FRITZ, Director of Flight Operations Digital Strategy Group Airlines at Lufthansa
  • Sven TAUBERT, Head of Corporate Foresight & Market Intelligence at Lufthansa
  • Lionel AVEZOU, Senior manager, airline innovation at Amadeus
  • Didier BOULET, Chief Design Officer at Thales
  • Matt MULLAN, Strategic Design & Corporate UX at Thales
  • Catherine ROY, Lead Designer and Design Center Quebec leader at Thales
  • Nuno PERIQUITO, Head of marketing at Celfocus
  • Bruno SILVA SANTOS. Account executive at Celfocus
  • Sholeh BEHZADPOUR, Innovation Technologist at Heathrow
  • Carlos DEL RIO, Innovation manager for Airports at Ferrovial
  • Ismael ORDONEZ, Business Planning Project Director at Ferrovial
  • Roswitha BECKER, Managing Director of Global Load Control
  • Zachary STEGLIN, Senior Manager Strategy, and Innovation at Global Load Control
  • Markus BECKER, Strategic Delivery Executive at Global Load Control
  • Kien HEANG, Co-founder and CCO at Moove Technologies
  • Marieke SMIT, Manager Group Strategy at Schipol


EDHEC FIT Chair would also like to express its special thanks to the 124 Master Students of the EDHEC Marketing program and the 14 volunteers of the EDHEC Students Against the Crisis initiative who worked on the project



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