Reducing the time it takes to get to and from the airport would make airplane journeys more pleasant. It’s also essential for economic development, so no city can afford to overlook it.
Air travel profoundly impacts economic growth and effects a city and region’s competitiveness. It opens up economic opportunities that otherwise would not have been possible including international trade, foreign investment, vast productivity improvements, and tourism. In some places like India, air travel is so valuable to the local economy that regional connector flights are being subsidized by the government to stimulate economic growth. That may be a wise policy decision. In the U.S., aviation-related economic activity generates $1.5 trillion in economic benefits while European airports support roughly 4.1% of total European GDP.
High-speed connections enabled by hyperloop offer a new way for cities and states to unlock the full value of the airport. A report by the UK’s Airport Operators Association showed that a 5% improvement in journey times to and from airports results in 2.7% increase in passenger numbers, creating an additional £1.9 billion annual economic impact and 32,000 jobs for the UK economy. Using a hyperloop system to quickly connect airports and city centers generates time savings for passengers, business, and airport workers, and vastly improve the movement of goods. But that’s just the beginning.
Part of a multi-part series on the evolution of airline travel. Other articles examined how hyperloop could expand airport capacity by connecting two regional airports, and a conversation with University of Hong Kong professor Max Hirsh on how airports can keep up with the future of travel.
Connecting Cities with Far-Flung Airports Via Hyperloop
Air travel demand is set to double globally to 7.8 billion travelers in the next twenty years. Many cities are adding new airports or expanding regional airports to keep pace with demand. New airport projects are often well outside a city’s center given community concerns about noise and development and available land.
Istanbul’s new international airport, Istanbul Grand Airport, is touted as one of the largest aviation projects in the world and will serve 150 million passengers per year once the airport is complete. The new airport will be built 35 kilometers from Istanbul’s city center, farther than existing airports, but the location has the land needed for its grand plans. Hyperloop offers far-flung airports like Istanbul Grand and others like it a faster way to connect to city centers, which helps boost local competitiveness.
Hyperloop airport connectors are also a better way to link new cities to existing infrastructure. For example, in 2014 the north-west portion of the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh was bifurcated to form a new state of Telangana. The long-time state capital Hyderabad was transferred to Telangana and Amaravathi was named the new capital of Andhra Pradesh. One of the capital’s biggest challenge is its isolation. Today, the closest airport to Amaravathi is in Vijayawada, which takes more than 90-minutes to reach and requires driving on small, congested roads. Hyperloop could help connect Amaravathi’s city center to the airport with a journey time of about five minutes, establishing a critical connection between the new capital and the rest of the world. These kinds of links are essential for driving business, trade, and tourism for the new capital.
It’s no wonder that dedicated airport transit links have become an indication of a city’s growth and competitiveness. Strong links attract more business to the city, decrease highway congestion as well as emission and noise, and have a positive impact on wider industries including hotels, attractions, and venues. In U.S. cities with dedicated airport connectors, hotels see a 10 percent increase in daily room rates and revenue per available room on average.
Improving Passenger Experience
At most airports, travelers need to arrive two to three hours early to deal with parking, check-in, and security. This is on top of the time spent getting from the house or hotel to the airport. Hyperloop can enable a faster and vastly smoother experience.
In the future, journeys would start by traveling to a hyperloop airport check-in portal located in the heart of city’s center. At the hyperloop portal, travelers would check-in for their flight, including dropping off bags and getting screened by security. Hyperloop portals could feature cutting-edge security features already being installed in some advanced airports around the world, which would allow for a hassle-free security screening.
For example, Dubai International Airport is installing a tunnel outfitted with 80 cameras that will conduct facial recognition and iris scanning. Australia’s Department of Immigration and Border Protection is proposing something even more drastic: doing away with passports and interaction with border officials. Instead, it wants to use facial, iris, and fingerprint recognition so that it can process 90% of travelers with no human involvement by 2020.
After clearing security, travelers would board a hyperloop pod with minimal hassle and be securely transported directly to the terminal, without the need for additional security checks. This direct-to-terminal experience has benefits for passengers and airports. It creates a convenient experience and provides travelers with immediate access from the airport to city attractions, businesses, and public transport.
Connecting Airports to Regional Supply Chains
Airports are a crucial conduit for goods, especially time-sensitive deliveries. A regional hyperloop network throughout a country or state with connections to the airport would dramatically improve the delivery of cargo.
The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) is conducting a pre-feasibility study for a hyperloop regional network that would connect Denver International Airport (DEN) with economic hubs throughout the state. The state is landlocked, so goods currently arrive via trains, trucks, or the airport. The airport’s cargo operation exceeds 235,000 metric tons per year and is a central hub for several logistics companies including World Port Cargo Support, DHL, UPS, FedEx and United Airlines cargo. The potential hyperloop network being studied by CDOT would enable goods to move from the airport to Colorado’s Front Range within 30-minutes.
The airport industry trade group, Airport Council International, reported that for every 10% increase in air connectivity in a country the GDP for every person would increase by an additional 0.5% in Europe. Using hyperloop to extend the connective reach of an airport will have a profound economic impact.
YJ Fischer is the Senior International Business Development lead at Hyperloop One. She works at the intersection of business development, international policy, and law to shape market entry strategy globally and is responsible for the company’s airport vertical. YJ is a seasoned lawyer and public policy professional.