No business exists in a vacuum. Social trends, economic shifts, and technological advancements can have a major impact, and the aviation industry is no exception.

Whether you’re primarily focused on freight or passengers, knowing what’s ahead can help you keep up and plan for a successful future. Here’s a peek into the airline industry trends we expect to continue throughout the rest of 2019.

Airline Industry Trends in 2019

Whether you’re trying to keep up with your competitors or find ways to improve your customer experience, check out these top trends.

1. More Cargo Competition

If you’re in the air freight space, consider this to be a warning: you’ll gain a major competitor soon.

Amazon has been building its own logistics network for the past few years. As this network grows, they’re likely to keep expanding their presence in the air.

This presents a serious challenge to companies who rely on cargo flights for their revenue. Amazon will give less and less of their business to air freight companies. They may even start offering their service to other customers instead of using it for their own order fulfillment.

2. More Customized Ticket Sales

Over the past year, we’ve seen development in something called the New Distribution Capability, or NDC.

The NDC will learn and anticipate customers’ travel preferences and common add-ons. This could include seat upgrades, checked bags, in-flight wifi, and more. The system then includes these options when showing customers their flight options.

This system may expand even more in the next few years. It could start including car rentals and other types of ground transportation. It may add hotel bookings as well.

It’s all an attempt to make the travel booking process easier for customers.

3. Regionalized Planning for Flights

Everyone wants to be able to get a flight out of their nearest airport. For people who aren’t in major cities, though, this is about to become more difficult.

As populations shift and become more concentrated in cities, airlines are responding. They’re sending fewer and fewer flights to small local airports.

While people in rural areas will still have plenty of flight options, they’ll need to travel to the nearest city to access them. There is a hope that bus lines and other types of ground transportation will start offering more options to bring rural residents to major airports too.

4. Continued Seat Constraints

It seems ironic that while Americans continue to get larger, airplane seats are getting smaller. The bad news for anyone who’s above the average height is that these seat constraints don’t seem to be improving.

Over the past few years, airlines have taken away a few inches of legroom at a time. This has happened in higher-level economy seats too, rather than in basic economy alone.

The FAA has the power to regulate these changes, but it doesn’t mean that they will. At most, we expect to see the FAA establish a minimum seat size. This would likely align with current seat sizes rather than requiring airlines to bring back some of the old legroom.

It’s nothing new for customers to voice their frustration with shrinking seats. However, with so few options for long-distance travel, customers have little ability to take their business elsewhere.

5. More Emphasis on Safety Assessment

There has been no bigger story in the airline industry this year than the widespread problems with the Boeing 737 MAX. It’s caused upheaval and massive costs for major airlines who purchased the high-priced planes but can’t use them.

More importantly, though, the news has made passengers more concerned about plane safety. They’re more aware of the many ways plane manufacturing can go wrong and they’re making their concerns known.

This will play a major role in airlines and logistics companies who are buying new planes. These companies are likely to do more research on potential problems and safety testing.

We also expect airlines to invest more money in PR efforts to soften their customers’ fears.

6. Demand for Speedier Air Freight

Say what you will about Amazon, but their competition is forcing retail to push harder for fast shipping. Customers are getting more and more used to being able to get their purchases in a day or two, and other retailers are now trying to keep up.

This matters for the aviation industry because there will be a higher demand for same-day and overnight freight.

Logistics companies who offer this service will see a great boom. Those who don’t offer fast air freight should put serious consideration into it.

7. Biometrics in Airports

Researchers are always looking for ways that technology can make people’s lives easier and more efficient. This is coming to US airports in the form of biometric.

Biometric technology involves reading a person’s physical attributes. It’s beginning to be used in airports to identify passengers at security checkpoints using facial recognition.

Passengers will no longer walk up to an agent who checks their photo ID and marks their boarding pass. Instead, they’ll walk up to a biometric device that verifies their identity in seconds.

This trend is in its early stages today. It made its first appearance in the US last fall in Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson Airport.

Delta, in concert with TSA and US Customs and Border Patrol, is using this biometric checkpoint as a test to see if the technology allows for a more efficient security process. If all goes well, we expect to see the practice expand around the country in a hurry.

Keeping an Eye in the Skies

For freight and passenger aviation alike, the next few years promise to be full of twists and turns. Between economic changes, social pressures, and advances in technology, the landscape of aviation will change and hopefully for the better.

The airline industry trends above will give you an idea of what to expect in 2019 and in the coming years. If you’re expanding your reach in the aviation industry by buying a new aircraft, shop for our aircraft value guides to make sure you’re getting the right deal.