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Space Future has been on something of a hiatus of late. With the concept of Space Tourism steadily increasing in acceptance, and the advances of commercial space, much of our purpose could be said to be achieved. But this industry is still nascent, and there's much to do. So...watch this space.
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A Michalopoulos, 21-23 April 1999, "The Future of Commercial Airlines", Presented at the 2nd International Symposium on Space Tourism, 21-23 April 1999, Bremen, Germany.
Also downloadable from http://www.spacefuture.com/archive/the future of commercial airlines.shtml

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The Future of Commercial Airlines
Will they seize the day or not?
Alexandros Michalopoulos
Abstract

Nowadays, it is evident that airlines' future looks vague. Aircraft vehicles are at a stagnant point, where new designs are limited and only modifications of older designs exist. Engines have reached a point where further development is too time and money consuming to bother. New destinations are limited and volumes of traffic control are increasing dangerously. Maintenance costs increase, whereas ticket prices remain stagnant or decrease. Research is undertaken in order to improve the current situation but nothing innovative comes out. Only improvements and modifications of already existent hardware and infrastructure happen.

The development of a new concept might be able to improve the situation in airlines and tourism, in a worldwide level, in general. Space Tourism is still in the cradle, trying hard to develop. It is a concept that is starting to evolve and attract attention day by day. However, it is quite important to review whether the whole attitude towards Space Tourism in the airline industry is positive or negative.

After careful considerations, a large survey regarding Space Tourism among the world's best 100 airlines was undertaken. The survey was conducted over a period of 3 months, from August 1998 to November 1998. A questionnaire together with an information pack was sent to the airlines. The airlines had a choice of methods for responding to the questionnaire. The replies from the questionnaires were quite interesting. Most of the airlines that replied were quite interested in the concept, while others showed a lack of interest for the whole process. The results from the questionnaire were quite positive, leaving excellent hopes for the future.

The results of the questionnaire are currently on printing, and without doubt will be a surprise to many people in the Tourism industry and specifically in the Airline sector.

Acknowledgements

In order for this research to take place, some people were quite inspirational and helpful. First of all the Hellenic State Scholarship Foundation for their financial support and encouragement, without which nothing could be achieved. Mr. Andronikos Nedos for his expertise in computers, Mr. Aristides Apostolou for his support and encouragement. Bournemouth University, the International Centre for Tourism and Hospitality Research and especially Prof. Chris Cooper.

Finally special thanks should be given to Dr. Patrick Collins for his support and guidance throughout this research. I hope I haven't forgotten anyone and if so, please forgive me.

Introduction

People always had the dream to reach for the sky, to fly like birds do. Since the dawn of time, there were many plans and efforts implemented in order to achieve this. However, it wasn't until 1903, with the Wright brothers, that man finally succeeded into reaching for the sky, and flying. Ever since, flight developed rapidly, taking huge steps at small amounts of time, until its present form, today.

Nowadays there are hundreds of airlines in the world, specialising in different segments of the market, a big part of them into carrying passengers and cargo. The passenger-carrying sector has seen a large increase over the past 30-40 years increasing in volumes that no one could imagine. However over the last decade or so, the airline sector seems to be stagnant. Airlines increase their fleets, but with airplanes that are either existent models or modifications in older ones. Traffic volumes increase rapidly and there seems to be a shortage of facilities to cater for this increase. Ticket prices remain stagnant if not decreasing in small volumes, whereas maintenance costs remain high if not increasing. There are only a few new destinations and people seem to get fed up with the existent range.

Well, a new concept might be able to shed some new light and improve this situation. Space Tourism is a concept, gradually receiving more and more attention, that seems to offer many solutions to the problems that airlines face these days. Space Tourism will create new markets, will decongest these huge traffic volumes, will lead to the development of new technologies and concepts that airlines can only benefit from.

Therefore, in this paper, there will be an analysis of the current situation in the airline industry, and especially in the commercial sector. Apart from that, there will be an illustration of the background of the connection between the Airline industry and Space Tourism. Further on, an analysis of the research method used, a questionnaire in this case, followed by the results of it. Finally there will be conclusions and recommendations for further action.

The Commercial Airlines

The Airline Industry is a new and well-developed industry that has evolved mostly after the 2nd World War. The development of technologies for the war, that after the end of it became obsolete, boosted the development of the Airline Industry. It was a new field, people had the will and the technology was there. Especially after the development of the jet engine, the Airline Industry had an increase that no one could imagine.

Nowadays, the Airline Industry is a colossal business, that is responsible for the transportation of millions of people every year and the generation of billions of US$ of income. The network of flights to destinations all over the world has got bigger and bigger every year. Over the last 30-40 years it has thrived, getting more and more people and capital involved.1

However, over the last 5 to 10 years, the conditions have started to change. The market of commercial airlines has started to become more and more stagnant. The number of passengers still increases, but not at the same levels as it used to some years ago. Maintenance and operation costs seem to stay at the same level if not increasing. Therefore the margins for profit become smaller and smaller.

Apart from that, the number of destinations remains stagnant, since it is not easy or cost effective to create either a new destination or new facilities at a destination in a short term period. Also the fact that although good plans for development exist, due to a large number of factors which are not of current interest, they are usually not implemented properly. All these, in conjunction with the fact that airplane designs did not go through any drastic changes over the last 10-20 years, thus forcing the airlines to use airplanes that are old designs or modifications of already existent designs, leads to the conclusion that the airline industry goes through a stagnant phase.

By many, including IATA and many national organisations, this was anticipated and measures of overcoming this phase successfully, have been planned. A common practice in many of the major airlines of the world, is to create strategic alliances that will help them increase their market share and find ways of overcoming phases like these and preventing crises before happening. Others just try to create or modify their level of services at a unique level, which will attract specific segments of the market, thus specifying in some and leaving other segments out.

Whatever the measures, people in the airline industry are afraid that these will only be countermeasures of simply stalling and not providing solutions to a problem that seems to become more evident every year. In order for the airline industry to overcome such a situation and move onto a new era, drastic measures are needed.

Therefore, it is imperative to identify the problems faced and develop strategies and measures that will help the airline industry overcome this phase.

A solution proposed is the development of a completely new market, a "virgin" market with a share for everybody, the so-called "Space Tourism" market. People in the scientific community have been proposing this solution for the problems of the Airline Industry, for a long time, but to no result. Therefore the connection between Space Tourism and the Airline Industry, is not something new.

The Airline Industry and Space Tourism

In the 1960's 93.000 people registered with PAN AM's programme for flights to the moon. This programme was specifically designed by PAN AM, one of the biggest airlines of the time, to cater for the needs created by the success of the Apollo missions.2 Ever since, many intermediaries, travel agents-tour operators-etc., tried to devise and formulate similar programmes that would attract people's attention and boost tourism and space exploration into a new era.

However, it wasn't until 1998, when Virgin Atlantic, one of the biggest airlines nowadays, publicly declared its interest about Space Tourism. It was an interview of Richard Branson, president of Virgin Atlantic, declaring that Virgin Atlantic wants to be one of the pioneer, if not the first, airlines to get involved in Space Tourism.3

In 1999, Virgin Atlantic went one step further. They registered the name " Virgin Galactic Airways" as a company and revealed plans of extensive research in order to begin operations in 2007.4

No one knows what the next step will be. The fact that Virgin Atlantic got actively involved in the Space Tourism business can trigger reactions in the industry that can change the face of the industry. After all, it is usually one person with a vision that tries something bold and innovative and the rest that follow.

Therefore in order to assess the level of interest and awareness in the airline industry, thorough research has to be taken. A first step towards this direction, is the survey that follows.

The Questionnaire

In order to examine the intentions as well as the attitudes of people in the airlines industry, a specific questionnaire was designed. A postal questionnaire was used due to the complexity of the sample and the scale of the survey. It is largely believed that the advantages of such a questionnaire fit best in such a survey. (See Figure 1)

The main advantages of postal questionnaires are:

  1. low cost of data collection
  2. low cost of processing
  3. avoidance of interviewer bias
  4. ability to reach respondents who live at widely dispersed addresses or abroad

The main disadvantages of postal questionnaires are:

  1. Generally low response rates, and consequent bias
  2. unsuitability for respondents of poor literacy; for the visually handicapped, the very old or for the children below the age of, say, ten; often unsuitable for people with language difficulties
  3. no opportunity to correct misunderstandings or to probe, or to offer explanations or help
  4. no control over the order in which questions are answered, no check on incomplete responses, incomplete questionnaires or the passing on of questionnaires to others
  5. no opportunity to collect ratings or assessments based on observation.
Figure 1. Advantages and Disadvantages of Postal Questionnaires (Source: A. N. Oppenheim 1992 5)

The questionnaire was accompanied by 2 other documents, a letter of intent and a small synopsis of what Space Tourism is, as well as an envelope with the return address. The letter was designed specifically to expose the author's intentions of research in the field. It explained, who the author was, what the questionnaire was about, what accompanied the questionnaire, methods of filling in the questionnaire and ways of contacting the author for further details and return of the questionnaire. (See Appendix I) The synopsis explained in general the concept of Space Tourism. The author composed the synopsis, using references from reports and articles, as well as colorful illustrations, resulting in a 2-page introduction to the subject. (See Appendix II)

The questionnaire was a 4-page design, consisting of the author's address, a paragraph of guidelines and 23 questions. (See Appendix III) After careful consideration, it was decided not to create a bigger questionnaire. This was because a bigger questionnaire would probably wear down the respondents, get a low and non-representative response rate and result in a time and effort consuming process with no valuable results. The questionnaire was designed to be formal, clarify the author's intentions and assist the respondents fill it in.

The intention of the questionnaire was to find out whether the business development managers of the 100 best airlines in the world had any knowledge about the concept of Space Tourism, and what were their attitudes towards this concept. Also to examine whether these companies have any plans about future involvement in the field. The topic of this research is quite important because the airline industry is a very substantial industry, whose involvement in Space Tourism could be crucial.

These reasons led to the inclusion of both open and closed questions. With the closed ones, the respondents were asked for specific issues and were obliged to pick one or more of the answers provided, which usually included an "Other" answer. With the open ones, they were asked to express their true beliefs and opinions about the issues in question. The mixture of both of these questions is believed to provide the best possible results in research of this kind.

Therefore, the questionnaire, along with the synopsis, letter of intent and the answering envelope, were sent to the Business Development Managers of the 100 best airlines in the World. The selection of the airlines was based to the World Air Transport Statistics by IATA.6 (See Appendix IV) The questionnaires were all sent at the same day, with first class mail. They all had the same appearance and identical stationary. In order to help the respondents respond to the questionnaire, there was a choice of methods provided to them. Apart from the envelope with the return address, a fax number was included, 2 E-mail addresses as well as an Internet web site. The respondents using E-mail could send their results in two E-mail addresses, one in Greece and one in the UK. Therefore if the one wasn't operational, the other one would.

The web site was set up, using specific scripts that allowed the results to be automatically sent to the author, with the assistance of Mr. A. Nedos, a software engineer at Alphasoft. The web site's address was http://www.lakshmi.demon.co.uk and started operating the same day the questionnaires were sent. (See Appendix III)

The Results of the Questionnaire

The questionnaire was sent to the airlines in August 1998. Since August and until November 1998 was the period in which the author received all the completed questionnaires from the respondents. Over this period 19 airlines out of the 100 that the questionnaire was sent, returned the completed questionnaires. At first this shows quite a small percentage but when one considers the fact that postal questionnaires usually have a 5-9% response rate, as well as the fact that the questionnaire was in a world scale, it is quite a high percentage. (See Appendix V)

The important issue about this survey is the fact that it was the first ever attempted and at such a scale in the Airline industry. Also the fact that the respondents completed almost all of the questions included shows that it was a serious attempt, even though at an amateur level.

In the first section of the questionnaire, there were some questions in order to find out whether the respondents had any previous contact with the subject, and if so, what was that. In the first question of the questionnaire, the respondents were asked if they had ever heard of the concept of Space Tourism before. The results showed that a 79% answered "YES", which is almost 4/5 of the respondents, with "NO" getting 21%. (See Figure 2) This is quite interesting because it shows that the respondents had some previous knowledge of the subject. Therefore Space Tourism isn't something quite new to them. However it can not be decided from this introductory question whether the respondents had a positive or negative view of the concept. This can only be decided, and only up to a certain extent, after all the questions in this survey are analysed.

Continuing in the same section, the respondents were asked to declare where did they acquire the knowledge they had about Space Tourism. That is of course, under the presupposition that they actually had previous knowledge of the subject.

The first choice, Newspaper/Magazine, received the highest response rate from all the possible answers, an impressive 60%. (See Figure 3) All the other choices received lower response rates, but at a same level to one another. This response rate is quite important because it clarifies the most applicable media for the respondents. Therefore it is evident that the respondents prefer the more traditional way of getting information through reading in a newspaper or a magazine, rather than watching/listening about it on TV/Radio, or even reading about it on the Internet.

This response rate can also be interpreted as evidence of more traditionally oriented people that tend to let this show even in their everyday habits.

Finally, after the first couple of introductory questions, the respondents were asked if they were interested to learn more about Space Tourism, after their first encounter with the subject. A large percentage, a 63% answered "NO", with only 37% answering "YES". (See Figure 4) This illustrates that the respondents are still quite skeptical about the concept, however without clarifying the reasons for this lack of interest. Also the fact that 37% answered "YES" shows that there is possible interest in the field that should be the subject of more extensive and persistent research in the future.

Continuing after the introductory questions, the respondents were asked to declare if they had any knowledge of some of the organisations that are currently involved in the Space Tourism field. The responses in this question illustrate that the respondents had little if whatsoever knowledge of these organisations, with only a small percentage actually admitting they had any knowledge of them. (See Figure 5) The Space Transportation Association received most of the responses, thus justifying the media exposure from the joined NASA/STA report. Other organisations such as the X Prize and the Space Tourism Society received a lower response rate, thus illustrating the need for more media exposure and "getting the message to the people".

In the same spirit with the previous question, the responses in this question illustrate that the respondents have some basic knowledge of some of the concepts related to Space Tourism. All of the four possible choices received almost equal amount of responses. (See Figure 6) This illustrates that either the media exposure on these concepts was successful or that the respondents out of simple personal interest became aware of these. However, from this question it can not be decided which of the two is true, unless further research is conducted.

However, it is quite important to notice that answer No 3, "Space Hotels", a concept that is usually confronted with disbelief, received an equal if not higher response rate from some of the other possible answers, which are closer to reality.

When the respondents were asked how they find the concept of Space Tourism, they were given five choices: "Very interesting", "Interesting", "Indifferent", "Uninteresting" and "Not interesting at all". 26.3% chose the first answer, 42.1% found the concept of Space Tourism interesting, resulting in a cumulative 68.4%. 26.3% responded that they find the concept of Space Tourism indifferent, none answered uninteresting and only 5.3% answered not interesting at all. (See Figure 7) The responses for this question are quite important, since the majority of the respondents, a cumulative 68.4% find the concept of Space Tourism either very interesting or interesting. This exhibits a possible interest from people in the Airline Industry in the concept of Space Tourism. However, these responses do not illustrate if their views reflect their own personal beliefs, or their company's views.

Then the respondents were asked to declare if they ever had any enquiries from the public, regarding Space Tourism. The reason for including this question in the survey was to find out whether the public had actually expressed any kind of interest, regarding Space Tourism services, in the airlines.

The results in this question were quite expected. (See Figure 8) All of the respondents replied "NO", thus illustrating that none enquiry whatsoever has been done to their airline. This was quite expected because it wasn't until recently that Space Tourism started to attract public attention. Also the fact that the concept of Space Tourism was until recently confronted with disbelief, would make such an enquiry from the public distinct and memorable to the respondents.

The next question is one of the most important questions in this survey, since it identifies exactly what the people in the Airline Industry see as possible hurdles for Space Tourism. It is also important because this identification comes from people with a business oriented way of thinking, thus giving a more realistic and up to date view. As it is illustrated in Figure 9, the respondents chose more than one answer each, thus interpreting their views in Space Tourism. It is fairly obvious that a concept like Space Tourism, with no proven record, would probably face uncertainty and disbelief from such a group of respondents.

Therefore, the responses in this question were quite predictable. Safety, Credibility, Technology and Insurance were the answers that received the biggest response rates. Following a bit lower but still close, were Interest from the public, Legislation and Other. In the "Other" choice most of the respondents answered, "Cost" and "Space Infrastructure".

The responses in this question illustrate that further research needs to be taken in order to identify how and why did the respondents chose these specific answers. Also in order to identify how can these issues change in order to change the respondents' attitudes towards the concept of Space Tourism.

The next question was only a component of a major section of questions, that was specifically designed in order to identify any possible future interest in Space Tourism, from the business development managers. The respondents were given 3 possible answers as well as a fourth open one, where they could fill in the answer of their choice. Most of the respondents chose the second possible answer, "Several hour flights to and from orbit". (See Figure 10) This is quite reasonable from a business point of view, since suborbital flights lasting only a few minutes would probably have low profit margins and low perspectives for the future, whereas orbital accommodation would probably fit in another sector of the tourism industry and not directly to the airline industry.

Finally in the "Other" answer there were some answers such as "High Speed Transportation Services of goods and people". These answers are quite interesting as well, since the respondents seem to look at some of the more indirect concepts related to Space Tourism from a business point of view.

Following on the respondents were given a hypothesis, one that said that according to D. Ashford at a price of 25.000 1985 US$ there will be 30-40.000 passengers going to orbit, and were asked to respond whether an airline like this would be viable in today's world. A 63% answered "NO" with only 37% answering "YES".(See Figure 11) At first sight these results look quite negative for the concept of Space Tourism, though the 37% that answered "YES" is quite substantial for a hypothetical question. However, the fact that most, if not all, of the respondents commented that more financial information was necessary for them to decide, illustrates that the results could easily change. These comments leave further space for development and research in the field.

In succession, the respondents were asked to say if they were familiar with some Space Tourism related recent developments. (See Figure 12) Hilton's plans for a lunar Hotel and Virgin Atlantic's plans to operate suborbital flights, were the two answers that received the highest response rate. However, it is interesting to see that most of the respondents commented that these plans were probably a publicity trick, just to cause some media exposure. In specific, one of the respondents quoted that Hilton's plans "is quite a typical publicity stunt by an american company".

Other answers such as the NASA/STA joined report and the WTO prediction received a lower response rate. It is imperative to note that the response rate in this question was quite low, thus illustrating the need for more media exposure regarding Space Tourism related developments. Unless this happens, there will still be disbelief and laughing regarding Space Tourism issues.

In the next question the respondents were asked if they would consider funding any of the designs that are currently developed for Space Tourism. They were given three choices, "YES", "NO" and "MAYBE", which got 0%, 78.9% and 21.1% respectively. (See Figure 13) The answers in this question, though negative at first sight, were more or less expected since Space Tourism is still considered as a fantasy concept. Also these responses illustrate the fact that business managers are usually positive to new ideas in a theoretical level but not on a practical one. Unless there is some real, hard evidence that a concept can be financially viable, it does not get past the drawing board. However the fact that 21.1 per cent answered "MAYBE", shows that there are some bold business managers in the Airline industry, that are willing to take the risk.

In the same spirit of finding more about their future intentions, the respondents were asked if they would be interested in further research in the field of Space Tourism. Almost of the respondents, a 74%, answered "NO" with only 26% answering "YES".(See Figure 14) This illustrates the fact that Space Tourism is still considered as a fantasy concept for most of the people in the industry, though with only a small percentage showing interest in it. However, the structure of this question is such that can not explain why the respondents were not interested in further research in Space Tourism, thus illustrating research topics for the future.

In the general group of questions of examining possible future interest in the concept of Space Tourism, the respondents were asked if they would consider sponsoring such research. The results in this question were very simple. (See Figure 15) All of the respondents answered "NO". This result is justified by the fact that Space Tourism is still not considered as a serious concept. People are still very skeptical about it and look like they do not want to be directly involved in the field yet, moreover put their funding in.

Finally in the last question of this section, the respondents were asked if they would like some more information about some of the issues related to Space Tourism. This question was specifically allocated in this survey in order to examine whether the respondents would express any desire in order to learn more about some of the subjects that are related to Space Tourism.

The response rate in this question wasn't high, however, suborbital flights and Space tour agencies were the top 2 answers. (See Figure 16) This result comes not as a surprise since from the beginning of the designing of this survey it was anticipated that business development managers would probably want to learn more about the initial steps of Space Tourism and what is the existent business environment. This is quite important because it illustrates that even the few that answered this question showed true business interest.

Finally one of the respondents chose the "Other" answer, asking for more information about Space Tourism packages that already exist.

A very significant question for this survey was the sex composition of the respondents. Most of the respondents of the questionnaire, a 68%, were male. Only 32% that responded were female. (See Figure 17) This illustrates that the Airline industry is still a male-dominated industry, without equal representation of male and female managers. This in conjunction with the age composition of the respondents can partly justify the reputation of the Airline industry as a male dominant conservative industry. These results when cross-tabulated with results from other questions can illustrate and further clarify why the Airline industry is considered a conservative industry.

Finally, the respondents were asked about their age, which is very significant for this survey. The results in this question were quite interesting.

Twenty six per cent of the respondents belong to the first age group, which is between 20 and 30 years old. (See Figure 18) This per cent is quite high if one considers that the airline industry is generally considered as conservative. This shows a shift in the age distribution of the respondents, and thus a change in the profile of the industry.

Thirty two per cent belong to the second age group, which is quite rational. It shows that these are people who are not too young and inexperienced, but also not too old and quite conservative. These are probably people who are open to new ideas and concepts, but are experienced enough to decide on a business basis.

The last two age groups received from 21% each. This illustrates that people over the age of 41 are the majority of the respondents. As it is illustrated further on, this justifies the conservative character of the airline industry. The age of the respondents will help analyse and further comprehend many of the other questions in this survey.

In the spirit of further analysing the results of this survey, comes the next analysis of two questions that are crosstabulated. This is a crosstabulation between the Sex of the respondents and the question of "What services do you think your company might be interested in operating/participating in, when they become feasible?". The results extracted from this crosstabulation are quite interesting.

The results show that the responses in the first three possible answers were all from male respondents, whereas the responses in the fourth possible answer were all from female respondents. (See Figure 19)

These results can be interpreted in two ways. The first one is that all male respondents had some basic knowledge of the concepts mentioned and that is why they chose the first three answers, whereas the female respondents had less knowledge and chose the last one, and thus stating something less directly connected to the concept of Space Tourism.

The second way is that all male respondents chose the first three answers just based on an instant decision due to the excitement that surrounds the concept of Space Tourism, or even just to display their knowledge on the subject. Whereas the females chose the fourth one, with high speed transportation being the predominant answer, based on a more down to earth business oriented way of thinking, and thus choosing an answer that is not directly involved with the concept of Space Tourism.

In order to decide whether the first or the second way of interpreting the results is the correct one, further research needs to be conducted upon the motives of the respondents in this specific question.

As mentioned before, the problems Space Tourism can face, is a quite important issue. However, this question gets more important when crosstabulated with the Sex of the respondents. When done so, it is easier to realise what male and female business development managers in the Airline Industry think could be a problem, and therefore examine it even further in each sex.

The male respondents in this question feel Safety and Credibility are the two major problems to overcome. (See Figure 20) Technology and Insurance follow close, with the other answers receiving smaller response rates. The responses given by the male respondents illustrate the two major problems, as identified by specialists in the field. Safety, because Space Tourism is still only a concept and not a practice, and Credibility, because people still confront Space Tourism with disbelief.

The female respondents on the other hand, although identifying Safety as their top preferred answer, show less interest to the other possible answers with "Interest from the public" as the least chosen one. This is quite interesting because their male counterparts showed more interest in this specific answer, which received a quite high response rate.

However, the female respondents of this specific answer seem closer to reality than their male counterparts. That is so, since the public in various occasions, polls-Space Tourism related events-etc., has declared its interest in the concept of Space Tourism.

Finally this is a crosstabulation between the Age of the respondents and the question "If YES, where did you hear about it?". As illustrated in Figure 21 the majority of the first age group, the ages between 20-30, chose the first possible answer, in a newspaper or magazine, with the second preferable answer being the Internet. This illustrates that although these respondents are considered as members of a younger generation, more acquainted with technology and new media of information, the majority of them still prefer the old fashioned media of Newspaper/Magazine.

In the second age group, of the ages between 31-40, the respondents chose all the possible answers without significant variations. Newspaper/Magazine is the most preferred answer but only with a small margin. The answers of this age group illustrate that the respondents try to get as much information as possible from various sources. This is quite important because it shows that members of this age group are open to various sources of information, and therefore easier to reach.

In the third age group, of the ages between 41-50, most of the respondents chose the answer of Newspaper/Magazine. This was quite expected since the respondents in this age group belong to a generation that was more acquainted with traditional forms of information and not so with new technologies such as the Internet. Therefore, there seems to be a tendency to prefer more traditional ways of getting information. Over the last age group, of the ages of 51 and upwards, there is a similar pattern to the previous age group. They also seem to prefer more traditional ways of getting informed, with the majority of them choosing the first answer, Newspaper/Magazine and the rest of them choosing TV/Radio.

Conclusions and Recommendations

Always keeping in mind the results of the questionnaire as well as everything else mentioned above, there are some recommendations to be made.

First of all, it is obvious that there is a need to put more pressure to the commercial airlines. Although the results of this survey illustrate that until now there was no pressure at all from the public, this can be no res judicata for the future. The fact that Space Tourism gains more and more media attention shows that the time is right for the public to illustrate their interest to the commercial airlines. People should start contacting the airlines and keep on doing that until they get an answer. It is only until commercial airlines start to take seriously people's interest, that Space Tourism will be addressed as a serious concept.

Apart from that, further market research should take place. This is essential as market research can be a very powerful tool that draws attention from the public and industry. As mentioned above there is a lack of market research in both professional and amateur level. Market research should take place at both a professional level, conducted by companies specialised in market research, and at an amateur level, conducted by individuals and organisations in the field, at a worldwide level. Proper market research can affect the attitudes of both the public and professionals from the business world.

Another measure that needs special attention is the development and implementation of new technologies. Technology has reached quite a satisfactory level over the last 40-50 years but there are still steps to be taken in order to make Space accessible to the public. These technologies will benefit both Space Tourism and Space exploration in general. However unless some concepts get the proper funding and development, i.e. Reusable Launch Vehicles, Space Tourism will remain a fantasy concept. The development of such technologies will boost Space exploration and will help the development of a new Space era, where Space will be the source of wealth and pleasure for humankind.

Another major sector that needs further research and development is safety. Safety is probably the most important factor that needs attention in order to raise public interest. It is only until Space flight reaches commercial airlines' level of safety that Space Tourism can be a reality. Therefore further research is essential from both national and private organisations in order to overcome the hurdles that safety presents nowadays. This research should point on how safety can improve, what is the required level of safety for Space flight for the public, as well as a realistic timetable for the improvement of safety factors at both the short and distant future.

Legislation is a very important issue as well. Nowadays there is no existent legislation that could cover the field of Space Tourism. Steps towards this direction are taken, ( ), but at a slow pace. Therefore it is essential that people in the field put more pressure on national and international regulatory organisations. Legislation, together with safety, are considered the most difficult and urgent issues that need to be solved.

The benefits commercial airlines can have from Space Tourism, should be publicised. This research, as well as other similar ones, must be presented to the commercial airlines in order to attract attention and possible investment. Unless the airlines learn that this sector exists, that there is real market potential and that all could be done within 10 years' time, nothing will happen. The take off of the Space Tourism industry can only take place with more pressure from organisations and the public and with more informative illustrations of what Space Tourism is, to both the airlines and the public.

Last but not least, people and companies in the field must attract more investments and research. Investment is the force behind any major development and can trigger unexpected outcomes. There is no chance of Space Tourism ever happening, unless more funds are attracted. Potential investors and researchers must be lured into getting involved in the field.

There are thousand investors out there just looking for a good opportunity. So, what is better than Space Tourism? Some say it is very venturesome, but it can be very profitable one as well. Space Tourism is considered the next big thing in both the Tourism and Space industry. It only needs a chance to flourish. P>It is believed that with this paper a small contribution to the promotion of Space Tourism was made. It is a small cornerstone that can inspire more and more people and companies to get involved in the field

References
  1. WTO, 1997, Compendium of Tourism Statistics 1991-95 17th edition, Pages 198-210
  2. The X-Prize Organisation, 1998, 'Space Tourism: Historical Interest in Space Travel by the general public is well documented'
  3. Greg Swift, 'One small step for man, one giant step for Virgin', The Express, Thursday April 30 1998 Page 22
  4. The Financial Times, 21 April 1999, 'The UK's best-known entrepreneur plans to offer flights to space'
  5. A N Oppenheim, 1992, 'Questionnaire design, interviewing and attitude measurement', Pinter Publishers Ltd., UK, Page 102
  6. World Air Transport Statistics No 39 WATS 6/95 Published by IATA Market & Economic Analysis Division June 1995
Appendix I

Letter of intent accompanying the questionnaire

P>29 July 1998 P>To: Business Development Manager P>Dear Sir/Madam

My name is Alex Michalopoulos and I am a student at Bournemouth University, UK. I am currently doing a Masters degree in Tourism Management. My dissertation topic is about something new and innovative, it is about "Space Tourism".

In order to do the best possible research and achieve the best possible results for my dissertation, I am conducting a survey among the top 100 airlines in the world. The topic of this survey is Space Tourism and the attitudes toward this concept in segments of the Tourism airline industries. This letter is accompanied by a small text describing the concept of Space Tourism; the background to this concept; and a questionnaire. Therefore, I would like to appeal to you, the experts in the field. It will only take a few minutes to read the accompanying text and fill in the questionnaire. Also, as you can see, I have already enclosed an envelope with the appropriate address printed for you to send the questionnaire.

If you are not the appropriate person to fill in this questionnaire, I would ask you to pass it on to the appropriate person since this is an important part of my dissertation. In case you have any trouble filling the questionnaire or want to ask for more explanation my E-mail address is: alexis@michalopoulos.gr alex@lakshmi.demon.co.uk

Apart from this written form of the questionnaire, there is also an Internet address where it is posted for your convenience. The Internet address is: http://www.lakshmi.demon.co.uk

I would also like to urge you to be as soon as possible in replying this questionnaire, since it is a vital asset of my dissertation.

Finally I would like to assure you that all information from the questionnaire will be confidential and not revealed to anyone besides myself and my supervisor, Professor Chris Cooper. The data from the questionnaire will be analysed and the results will be included in my dissertation. A copy of the results of the survey or even a copy of my dissertation can be sent to you in case you are interested. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Yours faithfully,



Alex Michalopoulos

Ma in Tourism Management

Appendix II

A small synopsis describing Space Tourism

Appendix III

Questionnaire used in the survey among the top 100 airlines of the world

P> Alexandros Michalopoulos
Ma in Tourism Management
48 Cyril Road
Bournemouth
BH8 8QD
UK

This survey is about Space Tourism and the attitudes of tourism airline industries towards this concept. I would be grateful if you would give this questionnaire your serious attention. It will only take a few minutes of your time. If you are not the appropriate person to fill in this questionnaire please pass it on to the appropriate person. You only have to tick the appropriate box or write on the space provided. The contents of this form are absolutely confidential. Information identifying the respondents will not be disclosed under any circumstances.

Thank you for your co-operation in advance!

Have you ever heard of the concept of Space Tourism before?

YES
NO

If yes, where did you hear about it?

Newspaper/Magazine
TV/Radio
Internet
Company Report
Research Activity
Other:

Were you interested to learn more about Space Tourism after your first encounter with the subject?

YES
NO

Have you heard about any of these organisations:

The "X Prize"
Bristol Spaceplanes Ltd.
Zegrahm Expeditions
Space Adventures
Space Tourism Society
Space Transportation Association

Are you familiar with the concepts of:

Suborbital space flights
Orbital space flights
Space Hotels
Reusable space launch vehicles

You find the concept of Space Tourism:

Very interesting
Interesting
Indifferent
Uninteresting
Not interesting at all

Have you ever had inquiries from the public about Space Tourism?

YES
NO

If yes, how did you deal with them?

...

In terms of Space Tourism, what problems do you foresee?

Safety
Interest from the public
Technology
Insurance
Credibility
Legislation
Other:

What services do you think your company might be interested in operating/participating in, when they become feasible?

Suborbital flights lasting a few minutes
Several hour flights to and from orbit
Orbital Accommodation
Other:

According to D. Ashford, at a price of 25000 1985 US$ there will be 30-40000 passengers going to orbit. Do you think that an airline like this would be viable in today's world?

YES
NO

Are you familiar with these current developments:

The WTO prediction of Space Tourism by the year 2020
The NASA/STA report predicting Space Tourism to
become a 10$ billion business within 10-20 years
Hilton's plans for a lunar hotel
Japan's Shimizu Organisation's plans for an orbiting hotel
Virgin Atlantic's plans to operate sub-orbital flights

There are several companies in the field developing reusable launch vehicles specifically for Space Tourism. Most of the designs are highly respected among specialists of the field, but lack appropriate funding. Would you consider funding any of these designs for future use?

YES
NO
MAYBE

Would you be interested in further research in the field of Space Tourism?

YES
NO

Would you consider sponsoring such research?

YES
NO
MAYBE

Would you like more information about:

Sub-orbital space flights
Orbital space flights
Space Hotels
Reusable Launch Vehicles
Space Travel Agencies
Other

Company Name:

Sector:

Hospitality
Travel
Intermediaries

Name:

Position:

Sex:

MALE
FEMALE

Age:

Contact Address:

Appendix IV

The 100 best airlines in the world that the questionnaire was sent to.

  • Aer Lingus Limited (Irish Airlines)
  • Aeroflot-Russian International Airlines
  • Aerolineas Argentinas
  • Air 2000 Ltd.
  • Air Canada
  • Air China International Corporation
  • Air France
  • Air-India Limited
  • Air Jamaica (1968) Ltd.
  • Air Malta Co. Ltd.
  • Air Mauritius Ltd.
  • Air New Zealand Limited
  • Air Nippon Co. Ltd.
  • Air Ukraine
  • Air Zimbabwe Corp.
  • Alaska Airlines Inc.
  • Alitalia (Linee Aeree Italiane)
  • All Nippon Airways Co. Ltd.
  • American Airlines Inc.
  • America West Airlines Inc.
  • Ansett Australia
  • Austral Lineas Aereas S.A.
  • Austrian Airlines
  • Bahamasair
  • Balkan-Bulgarian Airlines
  • Braathens S.A.F.E.
  • British Airways
  • British Midland Airways Ltd.
  • Canadian Airlines International Ltd.
  • Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd.
  • China Eastern Airlines
  • Congo Airlines
  • Continental Airlines Inc.
  • Croatia Airlines
  • Cronus Air
  • Cyprus Airways
  • Czech Airlines
  • Debonair
  • Delta Air Lines Inc.
  • DRAGONAIR (Hong Kong Dragon Airlines)
  • Egyptair
  • El Al Israel Airlines Ltd.
  • Emirates
  • Finnair
  • Garuda Indonesia
  • Gulf Air Company G.S.C.
  • Hawaiian Airlines
  • IBERIA (Lineas Aereas de Espana S.A.)
  • Icelandair (Flugleidir)
  • Indian Airlines
  • Iran Air (The Airline of the Islamic Republic of Iran)
  • Japan Airlines Co. Ltd.
  • Japan Air System Co. Ltd.
  • JAT (Jugoslovenski Aerotransport)
  • Kenya Airways
  • KLM-Royal Dutch Airlines
  • Korean Air
  • Kuwait Airways Corporation
  • Lithuanian Airlines
  • LOT-Polish Airlines
  • L.T.U. International Airways
  • Lufthansa German Airlines AG (Deutsche Lufthansa AG)
  • Malaysia Airline System Berhad
  • MALEV (Hungarian Airlines p.l.c.)
  • Meridiana S.p.A.
  • MEXICANA (Compania Mexicana de Aviacion, S.A.)
  • Monarch Airlines
  • Nicaraguenses de Aviacion S.A.
  • Nigeria Airways Ltd.
  • Northwest Airlines Inc.
  • Olympic Airways
  • Philippine Airlines
  • Polynesian Airlines Ltd.
  • Qantas Airways Ltd.
  • Qatar Airways (W.L.L.)
  • Royal Air Maroc
  • Royal Brunei Airlines
  • Royal Jordanian
  • Ryanair
  • SABENA
  • SAS (Scandinavian Airlines)
  • Saudi Arabian Airlines
  • Silk Air
  • Singapore Airlines Ltd.
  • South African Airways
  • SWISSAIR (Swiss Air Transport Company Ltd.)
  • TAESA (Transportes Aereos Ejecuitivos S.A. de C.V.)
  • TAP Air Portugal
  • TAROM (Romanian Air Transport)
  • Thai Airways International Public Company Ltd.
  • Transbrasil S.A. Linhas Aereas
  • Trans World Airways Inc.
  • Tunis Air
  • Turkish Airlines
  • United Airlines Inc.
  • US Airways Inc.
  • VARIG Brazilian airlines
  • VASP (Viacao Aerea Sao Paulo, S.A.)
  • Virgin Atlantic Ltd.
  • Yemenia-Yemen Airways
Appendix V

The airlines that have participated in the survey conducted by the author. These airlines have returned the questionnaire to the author either by post or fax or through the web site http://www.lakshmi.demon.co.uk

  • Cyprus Airways
  • Gulf Air
  • JAT
  • Lufthansa
  • Monarch Airlines
  • Ryanair
  • TAP Air Portugal
  • Tunis Air
  • Virgin Atlantic
  • El Al Israel Airlines Ltd.
  • America West Airlines
  • Air New Zealand
  • Croatia Airlines
  • Malaysia Airlines
  • Meridiana
  • Delta Airlines
  • Air 2000
  • TWA
  • Air Zimbabwe
A Michalopoulos, 21-23 April 1999, "The Future of Commercial Airlines", Presented at the 2nd International Symposium on Space Tourism, 21-23 April 1999, Bremen, Germany.
Also downloadable from http://www.spacefuture.com/archive/the future of commercial airlines.shtml

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