Commercial supersonic travel will have made a return by the time the 2030s are in full swing. One of the most significant challenges that this form of transport faced in previous decades was the high cost of boarding such a plane. However, the leadership behind a key program in the field feels that this hurdle can be overcome this time around. Simple Flying spoke with the management of Exosonic, a firm that is working with the likes of the United States Air Force on supersonic executive travel, about the cost factors of such a project.
Cutting time and cutting costs
The company is seeking to transport passengers to their destination in half the time. For instance, it expects to fly from New York JFK to Los Angeles International in just three hours. It is also planning to fly from London Heathrow to Shanghai Pudong International in just over five hours and to Hong Kong in just six hours. While these are grand ambitions, the likes of the Concorde were restricted with their growth due to aspects such as cost.
Exosonic is keen to achieve better fares for passengers when it comes to supersonic transport. It feels that it can bring ticket prices to approximately the same range as a business class seat. Overall, the economics of flying such a plane should be much lower than what it cost to run previous generation supersonic aircraft.
“We’ve done extensive work looking at the costs – the operational costs, the fixed costs, the fuel burn, etc., to figure out what are the cost drivers for supersonic aircraft. And what we’ve seen is that fuel costs are going to be lower than the Concorde. It’s hard to use the Concorde as a direct comparison because they are just different aircraft in different times,” Exosonic’s CEO, Norris Tie, tells Simple Flying.
“But generally, just look at the standalone Exosonic airliner, with the number of seats that we have, we can get tickets down to business class price, which is between $2,500 to $5,000, one way, depending on how long the flight is.”
Notably, the price is still high for a general passenger that would normally travel in economy. However, there are major airlines that offer business class cabins with over 70 seats. With the capacity of Exosonic’s aircraft expected to be between 50 and 70 seats, filling up the jet should be more than feasible.
In comparison, the price of a round trip Concorde flight from London to New York in the mid-1990s was around $8,000. Taking inflation into account, this figure is approximately $13,000 today.
A new era
Altogether, the world has changed significantly since the fall of the Concorde nearly two decades ago. Exosonic is applying newer breakthroughs such as sustainable air fuel and low boom engineering to its aircraft, which will tackle several previous difficulties that supersonic travel faced. So, if it can also lower the fares of a seat on a supersonic jet, the program could get off to a flying start.
What are your thoughts about the future of supersonic aircraft? Are you looking forward to the return of this type of travel? Let us know what you think of the prospects in the comment section.