The Return of Supersonic Travel

Travelers looking for a way to travel quickly from one continent to another may soon find themselves boarding a supersonic jet. Not since the Concorde fleet of airplanes retired in 2003 has any airline made plans to reintroduce supersonic jet travel. Now, however, a new company call Boom Supersonic is doing just that.

The supersonic jet revival is one that many business people have been looking forward to. With the ability to fly at speeds of 1451 mph, the new supersonic jet can cut overseas travel time significantly. So significantly, in fact, that a flight from New York City to London, England, can be made in under four hours.

In the past, flying on the Concorde was a privilege accorded only to the most wealthy people in the world. A round-trip ticket from London to New York was roughly $12,000, a price impossible for most people to pay. Now, costs of flying on a Boom Supersonic are projected to be around $5,000 for a round-trip flight. While this is still a significant amount of money, the price of a round-trip Business or First-Class flight is comparable.

Boom Supersonic is not the only company working toward supersonic air travel in the new future. Boeing and Lockheed Martin are both in the process of building and testing supersonic jets, and big-name companies and government agencies are backing them. In fact, NASA awarded a contract to Lockheed Martin to work on a supersonic plane with a quieter sonic boom.

The old Concorde jets were prohibitively expensive to both fly on and maintain, and there was considerable concern about the impact they had on the environment. Fuel usage alone was a problem, burning many times the amount of fuel as traditional commercial airlines. This excessive fuel usage, in turn, created greater emissions, and over time the flights were not cost effective to continue to run. Add to this the fact that few people could afford to fly on the Concorde, and it was almost destined to fail.

With the advent of technological advances, the new supersonic jet can hold up to 55 passengers, use less fuel and emit lower pollution levels, all at a price that anyone who is already flying business or first class can comfortably afford. Additionally, fewer hours in the air overseas or continentally directly translates to increased productivity and fewer out of office days of businesspeople all over the world.

While the supersonic jet revival has just begun, it appears that the test flights of some companies will start as early as 2022. As transportation needs increase for the business sector and when more people realize that supersonic jet travel is much more affordable now than it ever has been, it seems likely that this time around, supersonic jets will be here to stay.

Dave Pflieger

Dave Pflieger is currently the CEO of Island Air and previously the President and CEO of Silver Airways. Previously, Dave Pflieger was the CEO & Managing Director of Air Pacific (later Fiji Airways). Before joining Air Pacific, Mr. Pflieger was a Founding Officer and Senior Vice President at Virgin America from 2004 to 2010.

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