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Future scenarios for the European airline industry

2010

Our scenario study on the European airline industry focuses particularly on network carriers. We have developed four scenarios for the industry in the year 2015 based on two key uncertain developments and important industry trends.

Will low-cost airlines operate all intra-European flights by 2015? Will an ongoing economic crisis permanently change customer requirements and demand for air travel? Are China, India or the countries of South America the major growth markets for traditional European network carriers like Lufthansa, British Airways or Air France? Or will these companies continue to grow strongly in the international arena based on their solid European network and customer base? In this study, we aim to provide answers to these questions and we show implications for managing airline companies today in the year 2010.

The globalized economy is more and more dominated by complexity, volatility and uncertainty. Many aspects of the future are impossible to forecast accurately. No single ‘right’ projection can be derived from past behavior. Nevertheless, managers need to take decisions and commit resources. This is only possible if uncertainty is accepted and made part of their reasoning. Conventional forecasting tools, traditionally used to support decisions, are under these circumstances inadequate, as they do not sufficiently take into account uncertainty. Scenario planning differs in this aspect fundamentally from conventional forecasting tools. It is a planning tool that attempts to capture a wide range of possible development options thus stimulating decision makers to consider influences that they would otherwise ignore.

As one of the leading global scenario experts Herman Kahn stated that scenarios allow and encourage decision makers to think the unthinkable. They enable managers to expand their thinking, generate new insights and allow to prepare for and to proactively react to possible future developments.

We hope that these scenarios inspire and help manage the risks and opportunities that this dynamic industry faces.

We wish you an insightful journey through the present situation and potential future of the European airline industry.

Experts

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