2019 brought a challenging period for aviation industry. Boeing MAX grounding, “flight shame” movement, airline bankruptcies and other important events made a huge impact on the annual results. However, positive news like the fact that 2019 was the safest in the last five years brightened up the day.

Based on the outcome of last year, certain expectations have been set for 2020. They are served by a number of trends that are to appear in the horizon of this ever-changing, inherently demanding industry.

Passenger-focused solutions

The global trend towards customer experience is currently being reflected in a variety of industries and aviation is no exception. It is extended across a number of fields, including researching, planning, airport experience and more.

Airports and airlines are now focusing on passenger-oriented rather than product-oriented decision making processes. The adoption of the newest technologies are helping the companies meet the customers’ demands and personalise their flying experience on board and at the airport.

Those technologies are advanced enough to accelerate the transactional activities of the passenger, those include check-in, baggage screening, security and customs making them more efficient. 5G network has also been integrated in order to provide greater connectivity and customer choice. The airports and airlines are taking the desires of millennial and Generation Z audience into account by offering ‘local’, ‘instagrammable’ meals. They have begun sourcing their products from smaller suppliers located not as far away, which turns their supply chain into a more complex one yet caters the needs of their customers.

Sustainable options

Sustainability has been at the forefront of all industries for some time now and it has proved to add value.

Considering aviation’s total contribution to climate change, the biggest and most significant one comes from carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from aircraft.

In order to reduce the carbon footprint when aircraft are taxiing, lighter airframe components and trials are taking place on the ground. OEMs are investing in methods that would help reducing aircraft fuel consumption.

With an aim to introduce passengers to the reality of it and the improvements that shall be made, there will be monitors installed in the aircraft showing the amounts of real-time CO2 emissions.

However, new power and flight systems’ integration is not possible with the current aircraft designs. Greener tomorrow requires reviewing absolutely all business processes from rethinking of aircraft design and airframes to their operation and in-flight services.

The results of the tests lead to further experiments, which also means heavy costs. Yet although it all may have a negative influence on travelling costs, the governments and the leaders of the industry are ready to prioritise environmental impact and waste reduction.

Artificial intelligence

In order to improve efficiencies and maintain high levels of security, artificial intelligence-based systems will be adopted by airlines.

Virtual assistants and chatbots will take the customer services and flight bookings to another level. Automated processes will decrease the need of human resources and the queuing times will be reduced by involving facial recognition software into the process. In order to improve the ride to the airport and the confusing experience in it, robotic assistants will be there to help passengers.

Machine Learning (ML), data analytics and robotic technology will assist in analysing and predicting passenger behaviour and record it, which will determine whether airport design, customer experience and profitability can be improved. Elon Musk recently stated that Tesla cars will soon talk to people. The same is expected in aviation industry – new-era aircraft that are able to talk to passengers about relevant matters.

Biometrics

Although the adoption of biometrics is yet at the early stage in the aviation industry, the first step has already been made. Airlines and airports have started investing in facial recognition and fingerprint technology with several trial runs that have already been carried out. The areas where this technology has been tested in include check-in, security as well as lounge access and boarding.

The main aim for this is to reduce security lines speeding up the passengers’ boarding process, which leads to reducing the need for staff. In the long run, as facial, fingertip or even palm-vein recognition emerges, paper and mobile boarding passes will become history.

Incorporating this technology would be significantly beneficial for all – passengers, airports and airlines.

Blockchain system

Now that the airline industry and regulators have fully embraced the blockchain technology, there are huge expectations for the improvement of safety and security operations. This technology allows companies to refuse using paper for processing all the information needed – recording and storing bookings, tracking the spares and aircraft parts as well as conducting aircraft parts census.

Blockchain technology is also seen to have a potential in dealing with increasing passenger flow by helping with passport and visa controls, which will eventually cause a closure of manual verification.

In conclusion, rising customer expectations along with innovative technology implementation and other relevant solutions set 2020 to be a transformational year for the world of aviation. It is forecast for the sector to have a net profit growth again this year, however for the market players to achieve that and evolve, it is essential that all are prepared to adapt the predicted trends of 2020.