As more and more airlines go bust companies seek alternatives to air travel as a means of face to face communication with its employees and customers. For example, during the week of September 16th 2008 three airlines - Spanish carrier Futura, Irish carrier Futura Geal and XL Leisure Group - all declared bankruptcy leaving some 89,000 folks stranded abroad and another 200,000+ ticket holders in the lurch.
It has been predicted by the CEO of British Airways that some additional 30 airlines may go bankrupt by the end of 2008. Enter Telepresence who has already had an impact on airline travel. For example, HSBC recently deployed 6 Cisco TelePresence systems and report they were able to save $ 604,000 on travel in one month between their London headquarters and their Hong Kong office.
Developers of TelePresence, the Human Productivity Lab, are trying to achieve what we all saw in the Star Wars episodes - something called "The Princess Leia Effect - 3D TelePresence". This is where life-like photo-realistic 3D holograms will be used for teleconfernecing.
The real question is what effect this will have on business jet travel. Here in Lansing, MI we have a company which operates a Gulfstream IV to travel between Lansing and London on a regular basis. Just imagine the cost of 16 hours per week round trip times 52 weeks or 832 hours per year in lost productivity and the aircraft operating costs to accomplish this mission.
TelePresence could be used to replace all of this travel at a fraction of the cost in biz jet operational costs plus the savings of executive productivity. The savings could be enormous. So the question becomes whether or not face to face meetings and hand shakes are worth the costs in terms of productivity lost in travel added to the costs of that transportation. Could this result in a decline in biz jet purchases and operations?
As we move further and further into the 21st century technology continues to advance relentlessly, and it will be fascinating to see its effect on aviation in general, and business aviation in particular.
Until next time keep your wings straight and level Hersch!
Oh, I have slipped the surly bonds of earth,
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I've climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds...and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of...wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov'ring there,
I've chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air.
Up, up, the long, delirious burning blue
I've topped the windswept heights with easy grace
Where never lark, nor even eagle flew.
And while with silent, lifting mind I've trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space...
...put out my hand, and touched the face of God.
by John Gillespie Magee, Jr.