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Journal of Air Transport Management 22 (2012) 28e35

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Journal of Air Transport Management


journal homepage: www.elsevier.com/locate/jairtraman

Scenarios for the aviation industry: A Delphi-based analysis for 2025


Marco Linz
Aviation Management Institute and Center for Futures Studies and Knowledge Management, EBS Business School, Soehnleinstrasse 8F, 65201 Wiesbaden, Germany

a b s t r a c t
Keywords:
Aviation industry scenarios
Wildcard scenarios
Delphi
Scenario technique
Passage
Business aviation
Air cargo

A Delphi panel of aviation experts is used to anticipate probable and wildcard scenarios on the future of
aviation in 2025. According to the experts estimations, the passenger, business aviation, and air cargo
segments will be faced with 27 probable high-impact developments. These include long-haul growth
primarily linked to emerging countries, a number of substitution threats, liberalization and deregulation,
increasing industry vulnerability, niteness of fossil fuels, and emissions trading. The emergence of low-cost
cargo carriers and air cargo substitution by sea transportation were identied as potential surprises. Several
wildcard scenarios were identied such as natural catastrophes, era of virtual communication, and homeproducing fabbing society.
2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

1. Introduction
The future of the aviation industry is dynamic and poses many
opportunities and threats. The passenger, business and air cargo
industry segments are experiencing strong long-term growth rates,
but are also confronted with short-term volatility and shocks as
a result of an increasingly complex and dynamic environment.
Further liberalization and deregulation, intensifying competition,
changing customer demands and resource scarcity are just a few of
the factors contributing to a more turbulent and uncertain future for
aviation. Scenario planning is a way of addressing uncertainty to do
long-term planning and support decisions.
Here scenarios are developed to examine potential long-term
developments in the aviation industry with a view to supporting
aviation managers in developing robust long-range future strategies
and to challenge strategies that are already in place. To consider
what is the most probable scenario for the future of aviation 40
projections are developed portraying potential developments in the
social, technological, economic and political environment.

2. Prior work
While there are numerous studies dealing mainly with quantitative scenarios on the development of aviation fuels and emissions,
and other individual aviation topics, there have only been a few
scenario studies on the potential development of the aviation
industry as a whole, based on the development of multiple external
factors, have been identied (Mason, and Alamdari, 2007). Table 1
E-mail address: marco.linz@ebs.edu.
0969-6997/$ e see front matter 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
doi:10.1016/j.jairtraman.2012.01.006

provides an overview of these studies. The different research


contributions are classied by scenario type, focus, planning horizon,
methodology and content.
Most of the studies we found were published after 2000;
a nding in accordance with Varum and Melo (2009) who revealed
that 70% of all scenario articles were published after year 2000,
conrming a substantial increase in academic research in this eld
in recent years. The planning horizon of the studies varied from one
year to 44 years. According to the recommendations and ndings of
Nowack et al. (2011), all studies but one used a qualitative explorative methodology in view of their long-term planning horizon.
None of the studies attempted to identify both a probable aviation
future scenario and surprising and disruptive wildcard scenarios as
recommended by Cornish (2003) and Grossmann (2007). In addition, the studies mainly focused on the passenger business. Special
developments in the air cargo and business aviation segments of
the aviation industry have not been taken into account before.
3. Methodology
Many authors specically recommend the development of
Delphi-based scenarios for the explorative and long-term oriented
derivation of future scenarios. This method is suitable for the
derivation of probable and surprising wildcard scenarios (Nowack
et al., 2011). In this context Delphi delivers valid and reliable data
and the Delphi process itself can be easily integrated into the
scenario composition process (Kameokaa et al., 2004). The Delphi
method is a judgmental forecasting procedure in the form of an
anonymous, written, multi-stage survey process (Rowe and Wright,
2001). The Delphi method aims at systematically fostering expert
consensus about future developments, which are formulated as

M. Linz / Journal of Air Transport Management 22 (2012) 28e35

29

Table 1
Prior analysis.
Author(s) (year)

Type of
scenarios

Focus

Planning
horizon

Methodology

Research details

Franke and John (2011)

Explorative

External factors

2010/2011

Genius judgment

HHL (2010)

explorative

external factors

2015

Scenario matrix

ICE (2010)

Explorative

External factors

2040

Scenario matrix

Mason and Alamdari (2007)

Explorative

2015

Delphi

CONSAVE (2006)

Explorative

External & internal


factors
External factors

Development of three end game scenarios for the


time after the 2008 recession
Development of four scenarios for the
European aviation industry
Development of four scenarios for the
European aviation industry
Assessment of eight predened passage scenarios

2050

Modeling, simulation

Advisory Council for Aeronautics


Research in Europe (2004)
Jarach (2004)

Explorative

External factors

2020

Explorative

External Factors

2004

Genius judgment,
workshops
Genius judgment

short and concise future projections. The Delphi process employed


here is based on the classical procedure from the RAND Corporation, (Dalkey, 1969) and follows the multi-stage process proposed
by Bood and Postma (1997): First, 40d projections were developed;
as a next step, aviation experts were identied, evaluated, selected,
and recruited for participation in the Delphi survey; third, the
projections were evaluated online by the experts, followed by an
automated interim analysis of the statistical group opinion and
aggregated arguments; fth, the experts were asked to revise their
rst round estimations based on the feedback of the interim results
in real-time. Up to ve Delphi and revision rounds were possible.
Research fatigue was kept as low as possible, which, in turn,
assured a higher response rate and greater validity of the data
(Mitchell, 1991). After the closure of the online Delphi survey,
scenarios were developed based on the Delphi data provided, desk
research and scenario writing. In addition, a discontinuity analysis
and an expert check for plausibility and consistency were carried
out. The derivation of scenarios was mainly based on a hierarchical
cluster analysis.
Standardization and pretesting are considered to be the most
effective means to ensure reliability in Delphi research (Okoli and
Pawlowski, 2004). Therefore standardization was implemented in
all Delphi and scenario processes: The denition of the research
aim and scope; the structuring of the scenario eld; the selection
of experts; the development of projections; and the interim
analysis all followed phase-based standard procedures. In addition, the entire online survey process was standardized since it
was planned and executed in line with the total/tailored design
method. To assure a high quality of work in terms of creativity,
credibility and objectivity several measures were undertaken. The
anonymity of the experts was guaranteed in order to eliminate
a potential bandwagon effect. Additionally, the experts comments
were communicated to all experts in each Delphi round as recommended by Nowack et al. (2011). Objectivity was assured by
carefully selecting industry experts with an overall average
industry expertise of 22.7 years and following the neutral STEP
framework for the projection development as suggested by
Nowack et al. (2011). Credibility of the scenario process was
guaranteed in line with Nowack at al. by integrating the Delphi
process into the scenario process, by incorporating discontinuities
and surprising wildcard scenarios. A standardized and documented process was applied to assure that the study is replicable.
As recommended by van der Heijden (2005), an additional nal
expert check of the probable and wildcard scenarios was conducted to ensure plausibility and consistency of the scenarios and
compliance with quality criteria. Additionally, further desk
research was conducted to support the plausibility and consistency of the scenarios.

Development of four global aviation


background scenarios
Development of three global aviation scenarios
Scenario of the European Airline Industry

3.1. Development of projections


The Delphi survey consisted of 40 projections on the future of the
aviation industry in 2025. These projections were developed
according to the neutral STEP framework in order to include social,
technological, economic and political developments and to avoid
biases in the questionnaire design as suggested by Nowack et al.
(2011). The exploitation of several sources for developing future
projections is recommended in Gausemeier et al. (1996). The
projections used in this study were therefore based on three sources
(Table 2).
First, an internal workshop was organized with two academics
from an aviation research center in Germany. The workshop started
with a brainstorming session which produced 66 future events and
development factors. These were grouped into seven broad topics
(Table 3).
Second, three external experts were selected based on their
aviation knowledge, years of industry experience and willingness to
contribute to the development of the future projections. These
participants discussed potential developments in the aviation
industry up to 2025 in brainstorming and mapping sessions. Seventy
relevant projections were identied.
Third, secondary data mainly consisting of industry studies was
reviewed in desk research. This highlighted 80 inuencing factors.
Similar to hypothesis development in survey-based research, the
formulation of projections directly impacts the quality of the entire
study (Mi
ci
c, 2007). In order to ensure their reliability, as well as
content and face validity, the projections were pretested at two
stages in the Delphi process. After their initial formulation, the
projections were assessed by two internal experts who checked for
completeness and plausibility of the content as well as methodological soundness. To ensure methodological rigor, the projections
were checked for ambiguity and precise wording was used to
guarantee specicity in formulation without including too many
elements (Salancik et al., 1971). In addition, conditional statements
were avoided by making the primary question dependent on the
fulllment of a series of conditions or by urging experts to evaluate
the two parts of the projection in the same manner, even if they
had a different opinion on each statement. If a projection was

Table 2
Sources of potential future projections.

1
2
3

Projection generation phase

No. of identied factors

Internal expert workshop


External expert workshop
Desk research of existing industry studies

66
70
80

30

M. Linz / Journal of Air Transport Management 22 (2012) 28e35

Table 3
Projections on the future of aviation 2025.
No. Future projection
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
28
29
30
31
32
33
34
35
36
37
38
39
40

Passengers and cargo customers will accept self-service in air


transportation.
There will be rising demand for easy air transportation to avoid
wasting time.
Travel budget cuts will force the increased use of low-cost carriers for
business travel.
Customers will demand unbundled services.
Customers will increasingly demand integrated services, door-to-door,
out of one hand (one-stop-shopping).
The use of business aviation will be accepted by society.
Business aviation benets will be less valued in short-haul markets
than in long-haul markets.
Demand for transportation within, from, and to emerging countries will
be the major growth driver in the aviation industry.
Long-haul national and international transport will grow faster than
short-haul international, national and regional transport.
The non-aviation business of airports will safeguard further airport
growth.
Low-cost carriers will grow faster than full-service network carriers and
business aviation providers in short haul markets.
The leisure travel sector will be the major driver of growth in the aviation
industry.
Value-added cargo will grow faster than standard cargo.
Courier, express and parcel (CEP) cargo will grow faster than value-added
and standard cargo.
The share of build up pallets (BUPs) will increase tremendously.
The demand for business aviation will exceed the projected annual
growth rate for general air transportation.
Business aviation will provide access to remote areas like free trade zones
and export processing zones.
The consolidation trend in the aviation industry will continue.
Yields will continue to decrease.
The members of the aviation transport chain (airlines, airports, ATC, etc.)
will collaborate in system partnerships.
Business and corporate jets will be managed collectively in pools.
Fractional ownership will become common.
Dedicated business aviation airports will evolve.
Regional and low-cost carriers will provide feeder services for
international network carriers.
Dedicated cargo airports will evolve.
Very light jets (VLJs) and air taxi services will increasingly be used to
accommodate short-haul demand and individual requirements.
Medical air transportation in chartered business jets will grow rapidly.
Business jets will be increasingly utilized for emergency freight
transportation.
In long-haul markets, low-cost carriers will be an established and
successful business model serving the majority of international routes.
Low-cost cargo carriers will be an established and successful business
model.
Legally binding emission rights and trading policies will be established
for air transportation.
Problems related to the scarcity of fossil fuels will not be resolved.
The vulnerability of the aviation industry will increase due to
unexpected events.
The growth of the aviation industry will be limited due to capacity
constraints.
The liberalization and deregulation of aviation markets will be nearly
completed.
The traditional air cargo transport chain will be intensely challenged by
integrator chains.
Virtual meetings, telephone conferences, and video conferences will
increase tremendously.
Air transport will be substituted by land transport in short-haul markets.
Air transport will be substituted by sea transport in long-haul markets.
New smaller aircraft and jet types will allow long-haul and transatlantic
point-to-point ights, thereby bypassing hubs.
International (satellite-based) air trafc control will be available.

formulated with conditions, it was split into two projections. After


the completion of the questionnaire design, another pretest was
conducted by a monitoring team of 17 external industry experts
(Turoff, 1975).

3.2. Selection of experts


The study aimed at involving 20e30 industry experts, a recommended panel size for Delphi surveys including quantitative and
qualitative data collection (see e.g. Parent and Anderson-Parent,
1987; Skulmoski et al., 2007). The initial pool of potential experts
for this study comprised 80 airline strategists, C-level managers,
aviation researchers and aviation consultants from companies all
over the world. For each of the expert candidates, a score was
calculated to reect their individual expertise since the improper
selection of experts is considered to be the most severe validity
threat in Delphi research (Creswell, 2003; Hill and Fowles, 1975).
The scores were based on a set of criteria including the management level, job specialization, functions inside and outside of the
organization and industry expertise in years (Lipinski and
Loveridge, 1982; Mehr and Neumann, 1970). In total, 57of the 80
experts approached agreed to take part in the Delphi survey.
Forty-two percent 42% of the 57 participants had expertise in
passenger aviation, whereas 25% had business aviation background,
and 33% air cargo background. All experts had at least 1.5 years of
experience within the aviation industry. On average the experts
had 22.7 years of industry experience. Most of the experts (47%)
were airline strategists, followed by aviation researchers (26%),
consultants (18%) and C-level managers (9%). All geographical
regions dened by the UN were represented so that the study can
claim to be global. The majority of the experts originated from
Europe (49%) and North-America (25%), Asia (9%), South-America
(7%), Africa (5%), and Oceania (5%).
All experts took part in at least two Delphi rounds, corresponding
to a drop-out rate of 0%. On average three Delphi rounds were
conducted. The fact that all of the experts participated in the second
round indicates a high level of satisfaction in terms of survey content
and questionnaire design. It is reasonable to assume that a high level
of satisfaction increases commitment and involvement, which
inevitably results in high survey data quality. In addition, research
has revealed that the majority opinion changes over rounds and,
therefore, the most important contribution occurs after the rst
iteration (see Rowe et al., 1991; Woudenberg, 1991).

3.3. Evaluation of projections and interim analysis


In each Delphi round, the experts assessed each projection in
terms of its estimated probability and impact on the aviation
industry for the year 2025. The estimated probability was measured
as a percentage and the industry impact on a 5-point Likert scale. In
addition, the experts were asked to provide a written justication for
each of their estimates.
After each round, an interim consensus analysis was conducted
based on descriptive statistics (mean, standard deviation and interquartile range). The interquartile range (IQR) is the measure of
dispersion for the median and consists of the middle 50% of the
observations (Sekaran, 2003). The consensus criterion for the estimated probability was an IQR of 30% or less. Since the panelists were
asked to provide arguments for their estimates, a huge amount of
qualitative data was produced. In total, 1364 usable arguments,
mostly written in whole sentences, were collected. These arguments
were aggregated together with a summary analysis of the content.
The following Delphi round included the group response and
aggregated arguments for each projection. Each expert had the
chance to revise answers from previous rounds based on the stated
group opinion and justications.
In the nal analysis, all questions were answered. There were no
missing values demonstrating a high degree of involvement and
commitment among the participating experts. Additionally, the fact

M. Linz / Journal of Air Transport Management 22 (2012) 28e35

that many comments were provided at the end of the survey can be
seen as an indicator of low fatigue.
3.4. Scenario development
A cluster analysis was conducted in order to identify structures
and similarities in the Delphi data. In order to identify possible
clusters, the data was processed using the furthest neighbor
(i.e. complete linkage) method with simple Euclidean dissimilarity
measure.
The variables considered in the cluster analyses were the mean
values of expected probability (EP) and impact (I) of each projection.
Numerous authors have argued that clustering along these two
dimensions is reasonable in order to derive appropriate actions and
strategies (see e.g. Akkermans et al., 2003; Hder, 2002; Ogden et al.,
2005; Rikkonen et al., 2006). Furthermore, the values of probability
of occurrence and impact were transformed by standardizing variables into Z-scores as they were on different scales. The description
of the most probable scenario is based on the experts qualitative
arguments in support of their estimations during the Delphi rounds.
Many scenario studies exclude discontinuities and wildcard
scenarios (Grossmann, 2007). Such wildcard events or developments
have a low probability of occurrence, but a high impact on the
industry. Their inclusion helps to increase the ability to adapt to
surprises and to test the robustness of strategies and decisions (Mi
cic,
2007). Based on a coding and further analysis of the experts
comments, nine wildcards were extracted, of which three will be
presented later.
As recommended by van der Heijden (2005), a nal expert check
of the probable and wildcard scenarios was conducted to ensure
consistency and compliance with quality criteria. Additionally,
further desk research was conducted to support the plausibility and
consistency of the scenarios.
4. Research results
4.1. Results of Delphi survey
Table 4 summarizes the Delphi statistics with regard to the
development of consensus after the two Delphi rounds. An analysis of
the estimated probabilities revealed a decrease in the standard
deviations (SD) of most of the projections after round two. In line with
the rationale behind the Delphi method, after receiving feedback
from round one on the statistical group estimation and the arguments
given by the experts in support of their estimation, round two showed
a greater convergence among the expert panels opinions and an
increased consensus. The strongest convergence was measured for
projection 5 (integrators). Its standard deviation decreased by 5%.
Projection 66 (virtual communication) showed a slight increase in
standard deviation of 0.7%. Consensus was measured after two Delphi
rounds for 25 of the 40 projections. Consensus was already achieved
in the rst round for 9 of the 18 projections.
4.2. Strategic mapping and the probable future of aviation
The visualization of the clustered Delphi results in the form of
a scatterplot on a strategic future map allows a logical clustering of
the aviation projections examined. Each number represents the
corresponding projection listed in Tables 3 and 4.
Fig. 1 provides interesting insights. It can be observed that most
of the projections have an average impact of three or gretaer, as
well as an average estimated probability of 50% or more. In general,
this demonstrates the relevance of the projections developed in the
rst phase of the research project. The results indicate that the
a priori formulation and selection of projections was accurate (von

31

der Gracht and Darkow, 2010). Projections, where consensus was


achieved predominantly, exhibit a probability of 60%. This nding is
quite common in Delphi studies (Ogden et al., 2005) because
dissent is more likely to be associated with projections for which
the future development is difcult to assess.
In addition, the strategic future map allows for strategic grading of
projection clusters, comparable to a portfolio analysis. The strategic
clusters conglomerate various projections according to their characteristics so that the projections within a cluster are quite similar. As
a consequence, the strategies used to deal with these projections
should also be similar. Using the estimated probability and
industry impact dimensions for a hierarchical cluster analysis, three
clusters of particular strategic importance were identied: 1) highimpact expectations forming the probable future scenario; 2) eventualities; and 3) potential surprises.
High-impact estimations are characterized by high estimated
probability of occurrence (in this study over 55%) and high industry
impact. They are, therefore, of great strategic relevance and should
be considered in long-term strategic planning. However, strategists
should bear in mind that expectations may turn into potential
surprises. Thus, their non-occurrence should also be considered in
discontinuity analyses. Here 27 projections fall into this cluster
forming the probable future of aviation scenario.
According to the expert panel, the probable future of aviation in
2025 will develop as follows: In 2025, passenger aviation and business aviation customers demand easy air transportation without
wasting time (projection 2). Self-service (self booking, self check in,
self cargo capacity booking, etc.) is widely accepted in passenger and
cargo air transportation (projection 1). Passengers increasingly
demand unbundled services whilst business aviation and air cargo
customers increasingly demand integrated services (door-to-door,
one-stop-shopping) (projections 4 and 5). The use of virtual meetings, telephone conferences, and video conferences has increased
enormously (projection 36).
Transportation to, from, and within emerging countries
(especially Latin America, Russia, India, China and the Near East) is
still the major driver of aviation growth (projection 8). In general,
long-haul national and international air transportation has grown
faster than short-haul national and regional air transportation
(projection 9). The growth of the aviation industry is impeded by
capacity constraints (projection 33) although an international
(satellite-based) air trafc control system will most likely be available
(projection 40).
As regards aviation business models, low-cost carriers are still
growing faster than full-service network carriers and business aviation providers in short-haul markets (projection 11). Due to reduced
travel budgets, low-cost carriers are also increasingly used for business travel, especially for short distances (projection 3). The members
of the passenger aviation and air cargo chains (airlines, airports, air
trafc control, forwarders, travel agencies, etc.) are expected to
increasingly collaborate in system partnerships (projection 20).
In the air cargo industry, courier, express and parcel (CEP) cargo is
growing faster than value-added cargo (projection 14). Value-added
cargo is growing faster than standard cargo (projection 13). The use
of build up pallets (BUPs) has increased tremendously (projection
15).
Liberalization and deregulation of aviation markets has further
progressed but is not complete in 2025 (projection 34). In contrast
to business aviation yields, passenger and air cargo yields are still
decreasing in 2025, with some exceptions (projection 19). As
a consequence of both developments, the consolidation in the
aviation industry continues (projection 18).
In 2025, legally binding emission rights and trading policies are
well established for air transportation (projection 30). The problems
related to the scarcity of fossil fuels remain unresolved (projection

32

M. Linz / Journal of Air Transport Management 22 (2012) 28e35

Table 4
Delphi statistics.
Thesis no. and short title

Estimated probability (EP)


Round 1 (n 57)

1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
28
29
30
31
32
33
34
35
36
37
38
39
40

Acceptance of self-servicing
Easy air transportation demand
Low-cost business travel
Demand for unbundled products
Demand for integrated products
Societal acceptance of business aviation
Lower value of short-haul business aviation
Emerging markets
Long-haul growth > short-haul growth
Non-aviation business of airports
LCC growth > full-service carrier growth
Leisure travelers
Value-added growth > standard cargo growth
CEP growth > value-added growth
BUPs
Business aviation growth > general
aviation growth
Business aviation to remote areas
Consolidation trend
Decreasing yields
System partnerships
Jet pools and fractional ownership
Dedicated business aviation airports
LCC and regional feeder services
Dedicated cargo airports
Very light jets and air taxis
Medical air transportation
Emergency freight
LCC in long-haul markets
Low-cost cargo carriers
Emission rights
Scarcity of fossil fuels
Vulnerability
Capacity constraints
Liberalization and deregulation
Integrators
Virtual communication
Substitution by land transport
Substitution by sea transport
Smaller long-haul aircraft
Satellite-based ATC

Impact (I)
Round 2 (n 57)

IQR

Mean

SD

IQR

Mean

SD

Mean change

SD change

Mean

10
18.8
30
30
20
35
20
10
35
10
30
50
20
25
27.5
47.5

81.3
79.7
63.3
61.8
66.8
41.1
42.1
83.3
67.9
72.9
68.6
42.1
73.4
74.7
64.5
53.6

11.7
8.5
19.1
19.3
19.6
21.2
17.6
9.8
18.2
10.8
15.4
23.3
18.5
17.9
15.9
23.6

10
18.8
30
30
20
35
20
10
25
10
17.5
38.4
20
20
22.5
47.5

81.7
79.6
64
61.4
66.1
41.1
40.7
83.9
69.6
76.1
69.7
37.8
73.2
64
65
53.6

11.2
8.4
18.1
19.4
19.3
21.2
16.4
8.9
16.7
10.8
13.8
20.8
18.3
16.4
14.7
23.6

0.5
0.1
0.7
0.3
0.8
0
1.4
0.6
1.6
3.2
1.2
4.3
0.3
10.8
0.5
0

0.5
0.1
1
0.1
0.3
0
1.1
0.9
1.5
0
1.6
2.5
0.2
1.6
1.2
0

3.9
3.5
3.7
3.3
3.4
3.2
3.2
4
3.5
3.2
3.7
3.2
3.4
3.6
3.8
3.2

37.5
15
40
40
37.5
40
28.8
62.5
30
45
55
20
35
40
40
30
50
40
40
30
40
47.5
47.5
40

46.4
79.8
61
58
66.4
62.5
49.8
50.6
48.8
46.4
46.4
39.9
35.3
64.5
69.1
62.5
62.8
60.1
65.8
62.4
61.3
45.3
62.4
57.5

21.2
9.7
19.5
17.8
20.7
22.1
17.3
28.3
18.2
24.6
25.5
12
19.3
18.7
19.9
22.3
25.2
21.1
23.9
17.6
22.9
24
23.3
19.9

37.5
15
40
20
37.5
40
22.5
60
30
45
55
18.8
35
30
30
30
40
35
30
30
30
47.5
47.5
30

46.4
80.3
60.6
58.4
66.4
62.5
49
47.2
45.8
46.4
46.4
39.3
34.2
73.1
71.8
63.3
63.6
60.2
65.5
62.4
63.1
44
62.1
57.1

21.2
9.2
19.1
15.7
20.7
22.1
16.7
27.5
15.7
24.6
25.5
11.6
18
16.7
17.6
21.3
24.4
18.8
18.9
18.3
20.7
23
23.3
19.3

0
0.5
0.4
0.4
0
0
0.8
3.4
3
0
0
0.5
1.1
8.6
2.6
0.7
0.8
0.1
0.3
62.4
1.8
1.3
0.3
0.4

0
0.6
0.4
2.1
0
0
0.6
0.8
2.6
0
0
-0.4
1.3
2.1
2.3
1
0.8
2.4
5
0.7
2.2
1
0
0.6

2.5
4.1
4.4
4
3.3
3.6
3.1
3.2
2.8
2.6
2.6
3.3
3.9
3.8
4.3
3.7
3.8
4
4.2
3.3
3.4
3.7
3.5
3.6

Note: Bold font marks theses where nal consensus was achieved.

Fig. 1. Strategic map on the future of aviation 2025.

M. Linz / Journal of Air Transport Management 22 (2012) 28e35

31). The vulnerability of the aviation industry in general increases due


to unexpected events such as economic crises, fuel price explosion,
war, pandemics, terrorism, volcanic eruptions, etc. (projection 32).
Passenger aviation and air cargo transport is increasingly
substituted by land transport for short-haul markets (projection
37) in 2025. In addition, the traditional air cargo transport
chain, consisting of forwarders, ground handlers, airports
and airlines, is heavily challenged by integrator chains
(projection 35).
New, smaller aircraft for long-haul, transatlantic, point-topoint ights are available for business aviation in 2025. Their
emergence in the general passenger aviation business is unclear
(projection 39). Business and corporate jets are managed collectively in pools. Fractional ownership has become common
(projection 21).
Airports will search for new growth potentials in 2025. On the
one hand, the non-aviation business of airports promotes further
airport growth (projection 10). On the other hand, new airport
business models, such as dedicated business aviation airports,
evolve (projection 22).
Eventualities refer to projections that are characterized by a low
to moderate estimated probability. In contrast to potential
surprises, these projections are considered possible, but not very
likely. Eventualities are usually subject to dispute. They represent
the highest degree of uncertainty and are neither believed to be
probable nor very improbable. Nevertheless, planners should pay
particular attention to high-impact eventualities in strategic planning and monitor them continuously since they may inuence
business radically. Projections will remain the primary basis for
developing strategies, with particularly high-impact eventualities
possibly forming a secondary basis.
Eleven of the projections considered in this scenario study fall
into the high-impact eventualities cluster. These include the
potential emergence of a disproportionally high leisure and business aviation growth (projections 12 and 16), the societal acceptance of business aviation and its appreciation in short-haul
markets (projections 6 and 7), the provision of access to remote
areas, medical and emergency airfreight transportation by business
aviation providers (projections 17, 26 and 27), feeder services for
network carriers provided by low-cost carriers and the emergence
of long-haul low-cost carriers (projections 23 and 28), dedicated
cargo airports (projection 24) as well as the establishment of very
light jets and air taxis (projection 25).
Over the next few years, these projections could become highimpact expectations and therefore key variables in strategy
development.
Potential surprises are characterized by low estimated probability
and average to high impact. Due to their relatively low probability,
they are often neglected in strategic planning. However, if they do
occur, they have a high impact on the industry or individual
companies. It is, therefore, necessary to consider such developments
when developing robust strategies. In this study, two future projections have been identied as potential surprises for the aviation
industry:
According to the experts consulted, the use of low-cost cargo
carriers as an established and successful business model (projection
29), as well as the substitution of air cargo by sea transportation in
long-haul markets (projection 38) would have a very high impact on
the industry in 2025 if they occurred.
4.3. Discontinuities and the surprising future
The previous scenario mapping gives insights into the most
probable scenario for the aviation industry in 2025 as well as eventualities and potential surprises. An in-depth analysis of the

33

surprising future and the derivation of wildcard scenarios isan


essential aspect of scenario development. Wildcard scenarios look at
the consequences of individual surprising events or developments.
Such incidents have to be considered as innite in terms of time. The
wildcard scenarios presented in the paper outline possible situations
in the future for which aviation companies have to prepare contingency plans.
Based on an extensive coding and analysis of the Delphi experts
qualitative comments and arguments, nine wildcard scenarios could
be deduced for the aviation industry. The comments on the projection about an increasing vulnerability of the aviation industry
(projection 32), for example, were used to formulate wildcard
scenarios on aviation terrorism, global pandemics, natural
catastrophes, global economic crises, wars and oil price shocks, as
well as a potential deglobalization and the return of protectionism
scenario. The projection was selected because its content has similarities with wildcard scenarios, it achieved a consensus within the
expert-panel, and it has high probability and impact. The wildcard
scenarios on a possible energy revolution, a revolution in transportation technologies and concepts, an era of virtual meetings
and a fabbing society are based on the comments related to the
projections on resource scarcity (projection 31) and substitution
(projections 37 and 38) and were included because of their potential
high impact. Desk research revealed additional information on the
selected wildcards. The nal wildcard scenarios have undergone
a workshop-based expert check for consistency and transferability to
the industry reality.
Wildcard scenario 1: Natural catastrophes have recently shown
that they may signicantly impact the aviation industry. In 2010,
the air transport industry experienced a major disruption of
services following the eruption of the Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajkull. The volcano spewed an ash plume in the upper
atmosphere which was potentially dangerous to aircraft. Particles
of volcanic ash can seriously damage engines, causing them to
shut down, as well as sandblast aircraft windshields, hampering
visibility, block fuel nozzles and air intakes for air speed instruments, and endanger passenger health. Flights were signicantly
delayed or canceled as a result and major European airports and
airspace closed. IATAs initial and conservative estimate of the
nancial impact of the volcanic eruption on airlines exceeded
$200 million per day in lost revenues and immediately affected
airlines and airports stock values. In addition to lost revenues,
added costs were incurred to re-route aircraft and to take care of
stranded passengers and stranded aircraft at various airports.
According to Smithsonians Global Volcanism Program, approximately 1500 volcanoes are still active. Each year, 50e70 of these
volcanoes erupt. The probability is high that future eruptions,
especially the very active Icelandic volcanoes, might affect global
aviation. Another danger for civil aviation might arise from space.
Planet Earth has always been subject to impacts from comets and
asteroids, which pose a signicant danger to life and property.
Although the annual probability of collision with a large asteroid
or comet is extremely small, the consequences of such a collision
would be catastrophic. According to the Ames Research Center at
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), studies
have shown that the risk of cosmic impact increases with the size
of the projectile. The greatest risk is associated with objects large
enough to inject large quantities of dust into the atmosphere. If
they do not directly affect the world climate and destroy
mankind, there is still the possibility that the corresponding dust
plume will affect global aviation, comparable to ash clouds from
erupting volcanoes. Signicant losses in revenues and additional
costs would be incurred, and global air transportation may even
become impossible for a longer period of time.

34

M. Linz / Journal of Air Transport Management 22 (2012) 28e35

Table 5
Wildcard scenarios describing eventualities and discontinuities.
Wildcard scenario name

Content in brief

Wildcard scenario 1: Natural catastrophes

Wildcard scenario 2: Era of virtual meetings

Wildcard scenario 3: The fabbing society

Costs of the eruption of the Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajkull and the corresponding ash cloud:
$200 million per day in lost revenues and costs to re-route aircraft and to take care of stranded
passengers and stranded aircraft
1500 active volcanoes worldwide
50e70 volcanic eruptions per year
Several comets and asteroids are on collision course with planet earth
Danger from ash clouds resulting from comet or asteroid impacts affecting air transportation
10% to 35% of business travel could be substituted by virtual meetings
The sustainability discussion and potential cost and time savings favor the usage of virtual meetings
New advanced forms of virtual meetings are continuously developed reducing the disadvantages
of impersonal contact
The so-called generation of Digital Natives is used to live and act in virtual communities and
does not differentiate between personal and impersonal contact in the same way former generations do
Direct fabrication of objects from digital models by using additive-fabrication-technologies, such as
3D printing and laser sintering
A personal fabricator could be an affordable device for the production (fabrication) of goods in ones own home
Strong increase in bulk transport of fabbing raw materials
Decrease in air cargo afne freight like fashion items and electronic devices possible

Wildcard scenario 2: The intensive use of virtual meetings has the


potential to substitute air travel to a signicant degree. Business
travel makes up for about 40% of total air travel. Studies have
proven that between 10% and 35% of all business trips could be
substituted by innovative communication methods. Whether
substitution of travel by new means of communication is a suitable alternative depends on the purpose of the journey. Kick-off
meetings, for instance, still require face-to-face communication.
The results of regular and follow-up meetings, in contrast, are not
affected if they are held virtually. The benets of virtual meetings
include lower expenditure in terms of time and money, sustainability considerations and the familiarity of the next generation
with multimedia applications are just a few of the reasons why
companies could switch to such forms of communication technology. Research and development has also signicantly
improved the applicability of these technologies, while at the
same time reduced their costs. Thus, the technology of virtual
meetings and other online events may be considered a potential
risk for the typical high-yield business travel segment. In addition, the leisure travel segment might be affected because people
are living more and more in virtual communities.
Wildcard scenario 3: The fabbing society could revolutionize
production fundamentally. Fabbing means the direct fabrication
of objects from computer models. Since the 1980s, this type of
fabrication has been researched under the term rapid prototyping, but so far has only been applied in the industrial sphere.
However, with technical advancements and falling equipment
prices, these technologies could also be made available for private
use in 2025. In the fabbing society, consumers would be able to
download a digital model of an object they would like and
produce it by their own personal fabricator. Only very large or
complex objects as well as the basic materials necessary for
personal fabricators would be produced centrally. Fabbing technology could potentially affect the air cargo industry. The transportation of time-critical, simple products, in particular, such as
fashion, could be the rst air cargo services substituted by
personal fabrication. Over time, even more complex products,
such as electronic articles, which are usually transported via air
cargo because of their high value density, could be produced by
personal fabricators. The Fraunhofer Gesellschaft has already
been successful in developing a technology to print entire
batteries. It is just a matter of time before more complex products
can be produced via decentralized fabricators. Even if we assume
that decentralized production technologies will become more
important, the scenario of everyone having a personal fabricator

by 2025 is still difcult to imagine from todays standpoint.


However, it cannot be ruled out. For example, the advantages of
PCs were underestimated for a long time. Ken Olsen, founder of
the Digital Equipment Corporation, anticipated in 1977 that [t]
here is no reason for any individual to have a computer in his
home. By 1998, 21 years later, the US Census Bureau found that
42.1% of US households possessed a computer and 26.2% had
access to the Internet.
Table 5 provides a summary of the important elements of the
wildcard scenarios and allows for easy comparison and analysis:
5. Conclusion
This paper shows that various high-impact eventualities, potential surprises and wild card scenarios are conceivable alongside
a probable scenario for future of aviation in the year 2025. Therefore,
long-term planning based on the pure extrapolation of historical data
is dangerous, does not necessarily cover all potential developments
and might be misleading. The scenarios developed should consequently be used as a basis for strategy and contingency planning. For
organizations already investing in environmental scanning, the
Delphi data and scenarios can provide a validation or expansion of
their own scans. The aviation scenarios developed might be used to
update or develop new strategies or to test existing strategies with
respect to their robustness and adequacy. The wildcards are particularly suitable for developing contingency plans for the future and
might be integrated into corporate risk management and early
warning systems.
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