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Could trains overtake planes?

Exploring the future of the passenger aviation industry

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Within 20 years China has built the world’s longest high speed rail network. We can see the policy agenda in other areas such as mainland Europe and Turkey encouraging the development of new high speed rail routes that will destroy the profitability of some popular short-haul routes.

We think this will have a big impact on the future of aviation - but it will not be the only thing. Big items such as the balance of global wealth and the rise of an older middle class living in larger cities will change passenger choices.

Similarly, small things, like bags, have a big impact on the way the world of aviation currently operates. We think small changes in the way bags are handled, even with today’s technology will transform our flying experience.

Exploring the future of the passenger aviation industry
Exploring the future of the passenger aviation industry

About the report

PA and Oxera Consulting have undertaken research to examine these issues and have developed four possible future scenarios which could change the face of the sector – Destination Anywhere World, Nouveau Jet-Set World, Sky-Party World, Hop-on Hop-off World. Each one explores how the industry might look in 2034.

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PA and Oxera have tapped into a rich seam of data enabling them to create visionary and thought-provoking views of the future of aviation.

- Phil Maher, Director of Operations; Virgin Atlantic

A Hop-on Hop-off World is almost possible with today's technology. I'd like to see people compressing their bags and think there are big gains from this.

- Craig Smyth, CEO Menzies Aviation (2004-2014)

Key industry trends

The shape of the passenger aviation industry will be determined by a number of macro factors – economic, technology, consumer experience, environment and government, policy and regulation.

Aviation in 2013

Destination anywhere

Nouveau jet-set

Nouveau jet-set


Sky-party world

Hop-on hop-off

Contact the author

Contact the rail consulting team