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Mini-breaks on the other side of the world by 2050
Hypersonic planes mean a trip to the other side of the world in just six hours
Today's popular European city-break destinations could fall out of fashion by 2050 as the development of hypersonic planes means a weekend break in Mexico and Thailand could become the equivalent to nipping to Paris on the Eurostar today.
The Future of Travel Report*, by travel insurer Churchill, reveals that by 2050 commercial hypersonic flights will become a real option for air travel. These 'superplanes' will fly at an estimated 2100 mph, shaving hours off existing flight times. For example, a flight to Australia will take just six hours – three times faster than today; flying to Thailand will take less than three hours – equivalent to a flight to the Greek islands today.
However, to cope with the demand of a 350 per cent increase in air travel, hypersonic planes will be designed to fly much higher in the atmosphere compared to conventional aircraft today. Alternatively, travellers taking short-haul trips to popular destinations could find themselves on a 'super jumbo' jet - planes designed to carry up to 1,000 passengers in one go. Already these developments can be seen in up-to-the-minute designs: the new Airbus A380 is a good indicator of how the 'super jumbo' planes might look and Japan is due to launch high over the Australian outback an arrow-shaped plane at twice the speed of sound. The aircraft — a Franco-Japanese design — is an unmanned model but the aim is to use it to build a 300-seat aircraft that could reach service by 2015.
Naturally, with increased air travel from both super-jumbos and hypersonic planes comes a predicted 240 per cent increase in carbon emissions. With the huge potential for environmental damage, global travel regulations may become the norm, meaning long-haul flights could be allocated on a priority basis. And to offset the damage caused to the environment, extra green tariff levies may be introduced. However, the benefit of hypersonic planes flying higher in the atmosphere means any effect from emissions is likely to be quite small compared to conventional aircraft.
Mike Ketteringham, Head of Churchill Travel Insurance commented:
"Our report shows that far away destinations could become more accessible by 2050 as new technologies mean that planes are substantially improved. However, with the increase in travel comes the risk of greater environmental damage which is why green levies and priority allocation rules may come into practice."
But future tourists won't need to restrict their holidays to this planet either. By 2050, space travel will be a serious option for those in search of a new kind of adventure holiday. A truly orbital space holiday (free of the Earth’s gravitational pull) at a space station could become a reality by 2050. And it will take just three and a half hours to get there – the equivalent of a train journey between London and Carlisle.
Mike Ketteringham continued: "There certainly won't be a decrease in the popularity of getting away from it all on holiday in the next forty years, whether it be on the other side of the world – or in space."
The Future of Travel Report, issued in conjunction with think tank The Centre for Future Studies, reveals 2050 flight times:
UK London (miles)*
Distance from UK
Current flight time (travelling at 550 mph)
High speed flight time (travelling at 2100 mph on a hypersonic plane)
|New York||3470||5585||6 hours 19 minutes||1 hour 39 minutes|
|Los Angeles||5436||8781||9 hours 53 minutes||2 hours 35 minutes|
|Mexico City||5556||8941||10 hours 6 minutes||2 hours 39 minutes|
|Argentina - Buenos Aries||6886||11082||12 hours 31 minutes||3 hours 17 minutes|
|South Africa - Johannesburg||5609||9027||10 hours 12 minutes||2 hours 40 minutes|
|China - Beijing||5071||8161||9 hours 13 minutes||2 hours 24 minutes|
|Hong Kong||6052||9740||11 hours 22 minutes||2 hours 53 minutes|
|Auckland, New Zealand||11390||18331||20 hours 43 minutes||5 hours 25 minutes|
|Australia - Sydney||10562||16997||19 hours 12 minutes||5 hours 2 minutes|
|Bangkok, Thailand||5924||9534||19 hours 46 minutes||2 hours 49 minutes|
|India - Mumbai||4477||7205||8 hours 8 minutes||2 hours 8 minutes|
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Notes to Editors:
*Report into the Future of Travel prepared on behalf of Churchill Travel Insurance by The Centre for Future Studies in January 2006