High profile aviation incidents expose fragility of flight

Signal of change / High profile aviation incidents expose fragility of flight

By Futures Centre / 17 Mar 2015

In our topic hub on the future of shipping, we’re asking how a spotlight on safety standards in aviation could affect transport choices.  

A series of high profile aviation tragedies dominated global headlines in 2014. While experts have stated that the events were unique and do not point to a systemic problem in the aviation industry, the cluster of incidents has served as a public reminder of aviation’s susceptibility to extreme weather events, terrorism acts and communicable disease.

Statistically, the world is enjoying the safest-ever overall period in aviation history, with aviation deaths and major plane crashes continuing to fall over recent decades. Recent events highlight that these statistics do not stem business and reputational losses for those airlines involved in the incidents. Most significantly, the loss of Malaysian Airlines' flights MH370 and MH17 have directly resulted in falling ticket sales, forcing the embattled airline to restructure: one-third of staff (6,000 employees) lost their jobs as part of a $1.9 billion overhaul.

Image credit: Pieter von Marion / Flickr

So what?

Aviation has weathered worse crises in the past and it is unlikely that these incidents will alter the overall trajectory of growth in demand for commercial flights. However, if the frequency of terrorism and weather-related aviation incidents continues to rise, businesses may be spurred to re-evaluate transportation options. It is possible that shipping will increasingly be viewed as a relatively low-risk freight option and gain popularity. 

Click here to read the full report by the Sustainable Shipping Initiative exploring 15 signals of change and their potential impacts on the future of shipping.

Sources

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-10785301 

http://edition.cnn.com/interactive/2014/07/travel/aviation-data/ 

http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/malaysia-airlines-likely-to-suffer-greatly-in-aftermath-of-second-disaster/2014/07/17/594b98f8-0e03-11e4-8341-b8072b1e7348_story.html

http://www.dailyfinance.com/2014/08/29/malaysia-airlines-restructuring-layoffs/

What might the implications of this be? What related signals of change have you seen?

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