Internet Travel Monitor - Marketing, Research & Tech

November 30, 2016

Travel Set to Boom as Supersonic Jets Return

Holidaymakers will be able to fly from the UK to the U.S. in just three hours in the near future
as supersonic flights make a return, reveals the WTM Global Trends Report 2016

The cutting-edge technology will soon be cutting flight times on popular routes and opening up new long-haul destinations, reveals the report.

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.

But a new generation of supersonic aircraft is ready for take-off, meaning British passengers can reach the Gulf in three hours rather than seven or eight. Thailand would be just five hours away instead of the current 11-12 hours, while flight times to Australia would fall from about 22 hours to eight or nine hours.

Virgin Group is one of the companies investing in a start-up firm, Boom, which is developing new supersonic aircraft, which fly 2.6 times faster than normal jets. Flights from London to New York will take three hours, with return tickets costing an estimated US$5,000 per person – similar to the cost in business class today.

Blake Scholl, Founder and Chief Executive at Boom, said: “Supersonic can make a huge difference for business travellers. You can actually commute across the Atlantic: the first flight of the day NY-London arrives in London in time to make afternoon meetings. After seven hours in London, you can return home in the evening and be able to tuck your kids into bed.

“But this isn’t just for people with private jets – it’s for anyone who can fly business today, and soon for everyone who flies.”

The WTM Global Trends Report also highlighted how private jets are becoming more accessible, with the development of apps enabling passengers to book empty-leg flights.

PrivateFly offers discounts of up to 75% while JetPartner offers a real-time online platform to find empty-leg flights, with fees at 40% less than hiring the plane.

The relationship between private jets and supersonic flights grew ever closer with the order of 20 Aerion supersonic jets in 2015 by Flexjet, a private jet leasing company.

Aerion has partnered with Airbus to provide components and technology, with construction starting in 2018 and the first commercial deliveries are expected by 2023.

Euromonitor International, Head of Travel, Caroline Bremner said: “The return of supersonic flights would be transformative, opening up far-flung destinations to holidaymakers and business travellers from the UK.

“Supersonic travel won’t publicly be available for a couple of years at least, with prototypes not aiming to fly before 2017, but it’s very exciting that so many players are vying to get into the sky – and with fares that are not sky-high.”

World Travel Market, Senior Director, Simon Press said: “Concorde was an icon of travel so it would be tremendous to see supersonic jets back in the sky.

“There are concerns about the noise of the ‘sonic boom’ and environmental pollution, but Boom claims that the new technology means that the planes will be no noisier than traditional jets.

“Hopefully it won’t be long before we’re promoting supersonic flights across the Atlantic and Pacific at WTM London.”

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).

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