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Future of the Airline Industry 2035

The Future of the Airline Industry 2035 study commissioned by IATA’s Industry Affairs Committee aims to help airlines and other key aviation stakeholders anticipate the key risks and opportunities that their businesses could face between now and 2035.

Carried out by the School of International Futures, the study looks at how external forces—from geopolitics to technological innovation and environmental concerns—could shape aviation’s future.

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Read the full report for free: Future of the Airline Industry 2035 (pdf)


Starting conversations today about the needs of tomorrow

smarter regulation framework for aviation won’t happen overnight and this study will help us to start conversations today about what we will need in 10 and 20 years’ time.

The study is especially relevant to the following aviation stakeholders:

  • Airlines in planning for future technological, product and market development
  • Governments and regulators in their long-term infrastructure and regulatory planning
  • Airport operators in considering future capital expenditure
  • Civil aviation authorities (CAAs) and air navigation service providers (ANSPs) in contemplating future infrastructure design and development

Brave new world

The Future of the Airline Industry 2035 establishes 11 themes affecting air traffic demand: geopolitics, data, Africa and Asia-Pacific, government, security and borders, privacy and trust, business models, economy, values and communities, environment, and technology. These are explored in the context of four potential scenarios envisaging different outcomes for the world.      

The study purposely makes these scenarios extreme and accepts that the more likely future will combine elements of all four. However, the exercise of pushing boundaries allows us to consider a wider perspective. 


The study allowed us to consider a variety of implications for the industry and to set out the industry-level recommendations. 

Society Technology Environment Economy Politics

Key drivers of change

  • Environmental activism
  • Infectious diseases and instability
  • New modes of consumption
  • Middle class growth in China and the Asia-Pacific region
  • Global aging
  • Risk of terrorism

Main recommendations

  • IATA should establish an industry-wide corporate responsibility programme, with a focus on transparency, safety and the environment that could help IATA to drive global standards and ensure the sector remains competitive in a world where there is increasing competition from other transport modalities.
  • With the increasing risk of pandemics, a global approach to managing infectious diseases becomes ever more important. While airlines need to be vigilant and prepared, IATA should also stress the increasingly important role that all stakeholders, particularly governments, need to play to ensure that responses are in line with WHO guidance and international health regulations.
  • The industry should make every effort to understand consumer attitudes in emerging markets, as well as how government and business in these countries view the role of the airline industry, in order to get ahead of potential future regulation.
  • The industry should establish core principles on facilitating the travel of older passengers and those with reduced mobility. An increasingly active aging population and changing attitudes to disability are likely to result in a greater need for the industry to support passengers with special requirements, for example on account of age, medical need or disability.
  • The industry should monitor proposals to extend or evolve the security cordon around airports to ensure that governments continue to be ultimately responsible for the safety of their citizens.
  • The industry should work with appropriate organizations to drive the establishment of globally harmonized standards to address biohacking.

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