The Future of Airports: A Vision of 2040 and 2070

20 January 2020 Airport of the Future
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The Airport Think Tank of ENAC Alumni has published the first research findings of its initiative on The Future of Airports: A Vision of 2040 and 2070. The release includes white papers and posters on four of the eleven topics of the project:

  • Topic No. 1: The World in 2040 and 2070
  • Topic No. 2: Sustainable Business Models and New Sources of Funding
  • Topic No. 3: Smart Airports at the Era of Information Technologies
  • Topic No. 4: Security Threats and Unlawful Activities of the Future


From March to December 2019, the Airport Think Tank conducted the first phase of a research effort that involves a research team and thought aviation leaders from diverse backgrounds and affiliations. They looked at trends and potentially disruptive changes, emerging transformational innovations and their impacts on practice and challenges for air transportation, and their associated needs in research, education and policies for anticipating and facilitating these changes.

The output of this first phase of the project is compiled into various materials that are being published on the website of ENAC Alumni. In the next phase that will be announced this spring 2020, the various chapters of ENAC Alumni will organize local initiatives for exploring how these findings can apply to their respective region.

Gaël Le Bris (IENAC 07T), Chair of the Airport Think Tank and Principal Investigator of The Future of Airports, explains that “the future of airports cannot be envisioned without considering the future of our societies. At the 2040 and 2070 horizons of our study, the world will count more fellow human beings than ever who will all face increased impacts from climate change. We will have different social expectations. How can aviation address these new paradigms and continue to provide mobility? This is the starting point of our research initiative.”

The Future of Airports was presented for the first time at the French Moment (Moment Français) held at the Embassy of France in the United States on Monday, January 13, 2020. Presentations were given as well at the 99th Annual Meeting of the Transportation Research Board (TRB) in Washington, D.C. The TRB Annual Meeting is the largest event in transportation research and engineering in the world. The Future of Airports will be at Passenger Terminal Expo (PTE) next March in Paris.

Marc Houalla (IAC 89), President of ENAC Alumni has given his full support to this project: “The Airport Think Tank chaired by Gaël Le Bris is one of the most active of our research groups. The Future of Airports is an important study that brings a significant value added to help us foresee long-term challenges and prepare our industry for the changes to come. The participants of The Future of Airports have provided remarkable work. I am confident that the outcome of this Think Tank will be a huge move forward for the promotion and recognition of the ENAC Alumni.”

According to Le Bris, this future is upon us: “We are all part of it, and we can make a difference individually if we make ethical and sustainable decisions. Aviator and writer Antoine de Saint-Exupéry said that when it comes to the future, it is not about foreseeing it, but about making it possible. Let’s make a bright aviation future possible together.”

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