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The four major forces revolutionizing the airline industry

QUARTZ/Bárbara Abbês
By Dasia Moore
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

In 2018, 4.23 billion passengers traveled by plane—up 61% from 2010. That passenger number includes each time someone took a trip, so some people are counted more than once. We can expect more people to fly, and to do so more often. But that doesn’t mean the business or experience of flying will always look the way they do now.

Quartz’s latest presentation introduces you to the four major forces already reshaping the future of air travel: the climate crisis, the rise of middle class flyers in Asia, a pilot shortage, and tech advances.

You can preview our presentation on the future of air travel below. To see all of the slides, view the PDF version or download the PowerPoint file, which includes our sources and notes. This is one of an ongoing series of member-exclusive presentations, which you can read, reformat, and use as you wish.

In this presentation,  we spell out the impact each of these four forces will have on everything in the aviation industry, from airport infrastructure to overhead luggage compartments. The magnitude of each force will only be amplified by the rapid growth in the world’s flying population.


Climate change is one of the most pressing challenges airlines face. Aviation contributes to the problem—the industry outranks most countries in annual carbon emissions—but it also stands to suffer from it in unique ways. To mitigate the effects of a changing climate, industry leaders will have to invest heavily in resilient infrastructure, adjusted flight times, and green alternatives to jet fuel.

Another transformation underway in the airline industry is the shift in flying power away from the West. Middle-class consumers in Asia, Africa, and Latin America are flying more than ever before, and countries with rapidly growing economies are already becoming aviation’s new hubs. In the presentation, we show you how decisive the shift towards Asia in particular has been. We also tell you which country is leading the new pack of airline industry power players.

To keep reading on the future of air travel, view the PDF or download our PowerPoint file. Please share any feedback about what would make these presentations more useful—or topics you’d like to see us cover—by emailing us at These presentations are an exclusive benefit for Quartz members, so we’d love it if you’d encourage any friends or colleagues who express interest to become a member so they can access this and other member content.