Future Scenarios: Airlines Adapt to Ageing Pax
Air Travel and Our Ageing Population
One of the most intriguing social and economic topics that will have a major impact on the future of most nations, regardless of geography, is the issue of an increasingly ageing population.
What is significant about this trend is that in the next twenty years the population over the age of 65 will at least double in most industrialised nations. These numbers are unprecedented in all of human history, and the demands and needs of this market segment will likely impact airport and airline operations.
While the population is ageing, it does not necessarily mean that they are doing so in quite the same way as previous generations. Medical advances and social and financial drivers are keeping people fitter longer, extending their overall health and mobility well past that of previous generations. In many nations, the average retirement age for both men and women is rising and this can occasionally be linked to a change in the social contract between individuals, their company’s retirement plan, and structured national social support for the aged.
One of the most likely impacts to airlines may be those who currently classify themselves in the “Low Cost Carrier” (LCC) category. With a focus on quick turnaround times and often utilising second-tier airports from forward and aft exits on a hard stand, they stand to lose the most from a changing passenger demographic. This is particularly true in the European sector of the airline business, as in the United States the prevalence of jet-bridges is more widespread.
Onboard the aircraft there may be a number of design changes that need to be considered to accommodate this new passenger demographic.
These could include:
- The installation of new or additional moveable aisle armrests to facilitate access to seats, particularly in economy class
- The installation of new or additional power outlets on long haul aircraft to accommodate the use of a growing number of medically necessary devices (such as respiratory support devices, etc.)
- The addition of larger, more accessible lavatories on the aircraft. With ongoing current security restrictions on passenger cabin movement, there may be a requirement for both forward and aft accommodation.
- The study of one-touch, or motorised, retractable tray tables and IFE devices in bulkhead seating. Often these can be challenging for some passengers to deploy.
In addition to cabin changes, there may also be a number of changes recommended for In-Flight Entertainment (IFE) devices. These may include updates such as:
- The ability for the passenger to manipulate the font size of a subtitle on a safety video or entertainment programme
- The opportunity for a passenger to use their blue-tooth enabled hearing aid devices to interface with the IFE without the potentially invasive insertion of ear buds
Operationally, there are also a number of challenging issues for the industry in regards to a mobile ageing population.
These could include:
- Safe accommodation and gate check delivery of a growing number of sophisticated mobility devices (such as “scooters”) to enable passenger the maximum of personal mobility without additional assistance. In association with this change, there may need to be an overall review of “checked luggage liability” associated with these high-value devices.
- For those who do not have access to personal mobility devices, there could be an increased demand of airline staff on the ground and in the air to support and assist customers through all aspects of their journey.
These are just a few of our thoughts on how this particular segment of the travelling public may influence the future of aircraft interiors, airport procedures and carrier policies.
If you would like to know more about this subject, or any other in our series, please feel free to contact us
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We can also recommend this link for The European Union Statistical Office
According to Eurostat, the EU’s statistical analysis unit, in the year 2060 over 30% of the entire population of the European Union will be over the age 65. In 2008, Eurostat reported the same population was at 17.1%
This entry was posted on Monday, May 10th, 2010 at 3:35 pm and is filed under Airlines and Aviation. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Responses are currently closed, but you can trackback from your own site.