The future of travel

Many experts believe that digitalization, climate change and rapid technological development will mean that very soon, the way we travel will change dramatically – and that means changes that will have profound effects on the aviation industry.

Transportation is developing incredibly fast,” says Mattias Forsberg, SAS Chief Information Officer responsible for IT and digital innovation. “And demographics and climate change are driving development towards a more flexible and sustainable transportation ecosystem.”

Part of that new flexible ecosystem could be influenced by innovative players who are new to the aviation industry, but who have already helped transform passenger travel on the ground, such as Uber and Lyft.
“The implications for SAS and the aviation industry are huge,” Forsberg adds.

‘Travel will change based on new consumption patterns’

“It might even open up new collaborations between airlines and these companies. Airlines like SAS can share knowledge about operating air traffic, which is subject to completely different types of regulation and much stricter rules than road transport.”

As well as new travel operating models, new technology will play a vital role in combating the negative effects on the climate that in part come from the airline industry’s dependence on fossil fuels. This is even more essential, given that air travel passenger numbers are set to continue to increase.
“Travel will change based on new consumption patterns,” says Forsberg. “The increasing number of people able and wanting to travel abroad will be especially driven by the growth of the middle class in Asia. The simplification of things like translation and payment services arising from new digital solutions will also make travel easier and drive growth for these new travelers.”

And then there’s the introduction of new technology, such as artificial intelligence (AI), virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR). Some transport companies are already using these technologies to simulate trips and enable people to experience travel destinations remotely.
“Is this something that transport companies like SAS need to develop?” asks Forsberg. “Or will this be offered by tech companies? The boundaries are becoming increasingly blurred and new alliances between digital and ‘physical’ companies will arise.”

Tech giants such as Amazon are also now starting to offer the opportunity to book flights via their platforms.
“We need to get rid of obstacles for travelers to find and book experiences,” Forsberg says. “This is essential to maintain competitiveness. With improved access to the internet and widespread ownership of smartphones, all aspects of customer interaction need to be opti- mized for the digital age, from marketing activities to trading and delivery of products and services.”

In terms of sustainability, Forsberg predicts that new types of electric transport will soon be seen in the air as well as on the ground, particularly in the form of drones, especially for the transport of goods.

“It’s clear that transportation is going to change dramatically,” says Forsberg. “And many of these changes will happen sooner than most of us think. But SAS was founded in 1946 with innovation hard- wired into its philosophy. That’s why in a few years’ time, whether you’re virtually traveling the world from your living room, receiving your shopping via a drone or reading this inflight magazine on a platform we haven’t even thought of yet, SAS will still be making life easier for Scandinavia’s true travelers.”

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