Flying taxis, the metaverse and Gen Z: SITA unveils 2023 megatrends

A fleet of generic white electric powered Vertical Take Off and Landing eVTOL aircraft with four rotors parked with airport buildings visible in the background. One has a door open, with a young female passenger about to get on board. Another eVTOL is in flight, coming in to land.

Several influential megatrends – from young, highly connected travellers to the arrival of electric air taxis – are set to influence aviation over the next decade, with knock-on effects for the travel industry as a whole.

This is according to “Meet the Megatrends,” a new report from SITA that examines 12 emerging technological, societal, traveller, and economic trends that will significantly morph the travel landscape by 2033, forcing industry, governments, and technology to adapt rapidly.

One of the key trends identified in the report is Gen Z and millennial travellers seeking a more integrated digital journey and in turn, driving a digital transformation of the industry.

Off the back of this, demand for a more seamless, document-free airport experience has pushed privacy, digital identity rights and controls to the forefront of passengers’ minds.

Another powerful trend is the automation and emergence of smart airports, which will reshape the workforce, give rise to a new flattened business organization, and streamline operations through technology.

According to the report, by 2030 metaverse operations will be commonplace at leading airports and play a vital role in optimizing processes, avoiding disruption, and facilitating intuitive, immersive control of intelligent airports.

Meanwhile, electric air vehicles are expected to be commonplace at major international airports by the end of the decade, offering increased accessibility and revenue stream for airports and airlines.

This year alone, investment in the Urban Air Mobility industry has skyrocketed, with $4.7 billion committed to the development of eVTOL vehicles.

These megatrends do not exist in silos, according to SITA, but operate in an evolving ecosystem where emerging technologies interconnect the trends and help drive them forward, with data at the heart of this process.

The increasing willingness of providers to share data across the wider travel industry will help further accelerate these trends and pave the way for a more connected, seamless travel experience.

“The air transport industry is at a post-pandemic crossroads, facing challenges from all sides,” said Ilkka Kivelä, VP of strategy and innovation, SITA.

“While the travel recovery accelerates globally, airports and airlines are scrambling to provide the seamless travel experience passengers expect, often with slashed workforces and squeezed budgets. The climate crisis demands swifter and more decisive industry action to make travel more sustainable.

“We now have an opportunity to reimagine the world of travel, connect the dots and transform travel with bold solutions that cross sectors and exploit the latest technologies.”

The report was created by the SITA Lab innovation team and draws upon insights from across the transport industry, SITA’s global research, and the latest proof of concepts to identify the most powerful shifts that will drive the travel industry’s evolution by 2033.

Electric powered eVTOL aircraft (iStock/peepo)

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