Trends in transportation



Any type of transport can be chartered or hired. Bicycles can be hired to cycle round a city centre for an hour. Cars can be hired by tourists or business people for a week. Coaches and buses can be hired to take children to school, by holiday companies or to take groups of people on outings. Ships (tramps) can be hired for particular voyages or for a period of time. Even a train can be hired for a special journey such as to take supporters to a football match. Clients hire trucks and vans to carry their goods because they do not wish to own their own vehicles. All these methods of transport have been available for hire for many years.


The main development in charter transport over recent years has been the increased use of chartered aircrafts. Charter aircrafts are aircrafts hired to carry freight, specific cargo and people. These aircrafts are hired for specific times or for specific journeys and operate outside normal schedules.


Charter flights are usually thought of as flights to transport holidaymakers to tourist destinations. These flights are usually chartered by holiday companies such as Thomson who sell the airline seats to customers as part of a package holiday, e.g. to Spanish resorts or Swiss ski slopes. Aircraft may also be chartered for employees in a company, an orchestra going on tour, sports teams or the armed forces.


Charter flights tend to be cheaper than scheduled flights. There may be a reduced baggage allowance, limited service or restricted and rigid return dates.


Many airlines operating scheduled services have set up charter divisions. Examples of these are Japan airlines, North American Airlines, United Airlines, Aer Lingus and Finnair.


Air charter or air taxis usually involve smaller aircraft. An individual or a company hires a plan for a specific flight at a particular time. A race jockey wanting to ride at more than racecourse in an afternoon may hire a small plane. These charters are usually expensive and often used when time is important. Some operators of air charter planes also offer flights over spectacular sights such as Victoria Falls between Zimbabwe and Zambia or Ayers Rock in Australia.



In 2006, premium traffic volumes rose by 4.3 per cent with considerable growth in Europe, Middle East and Far East routes. This may have been because of new routes and because of strong Asian economic growth. To take advantage of the demand for more luxurious air travel, some airlines are spending are spending millions of dollars on upgrading their premium airline areas and seats. Singapore Airlines is spending S$360m on improving their business and first class suites with additional services.


Some airlines are also offering premium economy seats on long haul flights with more leg room and better meals, e.g. Qantas on routes from Europe to Australia.



Cargo airlines or air freight carriers are airlines dedicated to carrying cargo. Some cargo airlines are subsidiaries or divisions of passenger airlines. Large cargo airlines tend to use new or recently built aircraft but many companies make use of converted passenger airlines.

  • Nippon Cargo Airlines
  • Australian Air Express
  • DHL Aviation
  • Emerald Air
  • Heavy Lift Cargo Airlines
  • Tampa Cargo
  • Air France Cargo
  • British Airways World Cargo
  • China Cargo Airlines
  • Emirates sky cargo
  • Singapore Airlines Cargo
  • Lufthansa Cargo



  • The demand for lightweight goods such as electronics, fragile and perishables increased
  • The need for speed and direct flights for perishables and valuable goods
  • Increased number of low bulk/high value goods that can absorb the costs of air transport
  • Increased demand for foreign goods by many people in the global economy
  • Safer method of transport compared to sea transport so packing and insurance costs are lower
  • Containers have been developed for aircraft
  • There are more airports and air routes available
  • Freight forwarders such as DHL own their own cargo planes
  • Larger capacity of cargo planes and better aircraft design so they may be more fuel efficient and more economic to operate. Charges for carrying goods are gradually coming down relative to the cost of goods
  • There are more cargo planes available so rates are likely to be more competitive thus more people can consider using air freight
  • Facilities for handling cargo have improved – better storage, better handling of cargo at airport, larger cargo doors on aircraft
  • There are specialist facilities for carrying certain cargoes such as horses and other livestock
  • There is increased automation for the handling of air freight



These airlines are sometimes known as budget airlines, discount carriers or ‘no frills’ airlines. They offer cheap fares in exchange for eliminating many traditional services for passengers. The first successful low cost airline, Pacific South West Airlines in USA began its services in 1949. Low cost airlines such as BskyB, Ryanair and Easyjet in Europe, Virgin Blue and Jetstar in Australia and Indigo Airlines and Deccan Airlines in India are becoming increasingly popular.

They aim to increase market share and to reach new customers by offering frequent services and many routes. They are particularly popular on short haul and medium haul journeys. They tend to use a single type of plane, e.g. Boeing 737 and Airbus A320. This reduces training and servicing costs. They aim for quick turnaround of their aircraft making the maximum use of them. Their staff often have multiple roles – they may be flight attendants as well as gate agents checking boarding cards.


Low cost airlines usually operate a single passenger class. They have a simple fare system – charging one-way tickets at half those of return trips. They have simplified routes so that they do not have to deal with transit passengers. They sell their tickets directly by telephone or on the internet and do not use intermediaries such as travel agents. They usually have un reserved seating to encourage passengers to board early and quickly. Their flights are often early in the morning or late in the evening to avoid air traffic delays and to take advantage of lower landing charges.



  • Competitive fares
  • Many routes
  • Attract people who could not afford to fly because of high prices
  • Attract people who are not interested in in-flight catering and other services but who wish to reach their destinations on time and at a cheap price
  • Use cheaper, less congested airports
  • Easy to book seats, e.g. online. Air berlin, Europe’s third largest low cost airline is now selling seats through supermarkets. Vouchers can be purchased at supermarket counters and then swopped for one-way tickets when booking online or on the telephone.


Many ‘full service’ carriers have launched their low cost airlines e.g. KLM’s buzz, Air India’s air India Express but they have often found it difficult to operate these services alongside their core business. Some of these have failed partly because of branding problems or because the low cost airline was too closely identified with the parent airline company.


For holiday destinations, low cost airlines often compete against charter flights. Since charter flights have booking restrictions and inflexible timings, many travelers prefer to use low cost airlines, e.g. many people are using Monarch Scheduled for flights from London Gatwick to Spain.



In many large countries such as South Africa and Australia, regional airlines are essential. These link towns and cities several hundred kilometres apart. Many airlines flying these routes have proved uneconomic and many airlines (although possibly government subsidised) have closed. The most significant of these failures was that of Ansett in Australia. Other airlines, usually low cost airlines have opened such as virgin Blue and jester to take their place.


Some airlines such as south African Airways use turbo prop airlines for regional services. They fly at low altitudes, need shorter runways than many jet airliners and are more economic to operate.


After the 9/11 bombings in New York in 2001 and the downturn in demand for air travel, many airline companies realised that if they were to remain profitable, they would have to make changes. They could no longer fly to every place, they could not give passengers the quickest possible flight times and provide amenities to satisfy everyone from a billionaire to a student on a gap year.


Some airlines started low cost airline services. Other airlines are identifying niche markets such as business travelers and are aiming their advertising and their pricing structures at these markets. Lufthansa have provided entirely business class flights across the Atlantic from 2003 operating from Dusseldorf to Newark, New Jersey and to Chicago. The airline has found a market that wants a direct flight, quick transfers from the airport in a small jet aircraft carrying no more than 50 passengers.


Environmental issues associated with carbon emissions from aviation fuel are causing problems for most airlines. The price of fuel is likely to increase steadily and many governments will levy additional charges to try to reduce the impact of air travel on global warming. The growing demand for air travel and cargo carried by air versus the increasing costs of providing air transport will provide an interesting debate for many people in the next few years.



Many airlines reward people who use their airlines repeatedly with frequent flier points or air miles. These allow customers to have free flights or upgrade their tickets when they have built up a large number of pointe. Airlines often have agreements with car hire companies, hotel chains or other airlines and points can be gained by using these companies. Offering these loyalty schemes encourages repeat business for the airline.



These are highways or major roads used to link cities and to speed up long distance road transport. They have helped to make long-distance transport by truck much more economic. These are two, three and four lane highways usually with a central barrier. They may be known as freeways, superhighways, autoroutes, autobahns, parkways, expressways or motorways. They may also link cities with airports such as the Pan Island Expressway in Singapore. They may be inter-state highways such as the Hume Highway in Australia or cross a number of countries such as the Pan America Highway. The longest national highway is Australia’s 2000 km Highway 1. The largest national highway system is in USA.


Direct motorway connections between cities have become a major factor in deciding on the location of factories and warehouses. Many business parks, industrial estates, large warehouses and regional distribution centres for large-scale retailers are often sited at motorway junctions.


Many countries have these roads – the first motorway in Pakistan was opened in 1997 between Islamabad and Lahore. Most European countries have a network of motorways. Many are still being built.


In addition, bridges and tunnels are being built to shorten road routes. The Normandie bridge in North East France has reduced journey time to the port of le Havre.


Many major cities have ring roads. These may be called beltways, loops or orbital motorways. These are roads that join together to form an orbital distributor style road such as the Peripherique round Paris in France, the Johannesburg Ring Road in South Africa, the Sydney Orbital Motorway in Australia and the M25 around London in UK.


Bypass roads are built to avoid built-up areas, to let traffic flow and to improve road safety.


Sometimes the bypass becomes as congested as the local streets it is intended to avoid. In Shrewsbury UK, the bypass in the outer parts of the town became so congested that another bypass further out into the countryside had to be constructed.



In many countries, the rail network has declined as more and more people use road transport and less bulk cargo is moved by rail. In some countries, however, the rail ways are being improved in order to compete with transport by road and, to some extent, air transport.

Faster inter-city passenger services are available. Virgin Trains in UK has introduced the Pendolino, its tilting train. This has meant much faster journey times between major cities such as London and Birmingham and Manchester. The TVGC in France is a high-speed long distance train service between major French cities. Eurostar, linking UK with France using the channel tunnel, opened its St Pancras International Terminal in November 2007. With connecting trains in France, rail transport is able to compete with airlines between London and cities in Europe. Trains run at over 180 mph and journey times have been reduced. With increased security measures at airports that force passengers to arrive earlier for flights, railway is becoming more attractive as an alternative means of transport, but only if the price is competitive.


The channel Tunnel has meant competition for ferry transport. Eurotunnel operates four types of trains, the Eurostar passenger train, passenger shuttles for cars and coaches, freight shuttles for trucks and through freight trains to European cities. Ferries services on some routes across the English Channel have been reduced or ships have been replaced by smaller hydrofoils to operate the ferry crossings.


Railways may be publically owned i.e. by the nation or privately owned as limited companies. Often they are unprofitable and require a huge amount of capital investment. The UK rail system is in the private sector and many parts of the system have had problems of poorly maintained track, delays to trains and sometimes safety problems. To overcome difficulties with transport in London, the Mayor of London has put forward a plane to take London rail services back into public ownership using the name London Overground. This organization will take control of all commuter trains that terminate in London, use a unified ticketing system and provide trains at regular intervals.


Other improvements to rail networks are automatic signalling, modernisation of rolling stock, the electrification of railway lines and computer controlled goods yards and container terminals. Some cities are also introducing electrified light railways or tram systems.


As has already been referred to, commuter trains and rapid transit systems are very important for moving people to and from work in major cities. The MRT in Singapore operates all round the island and at the moment has three lines. The London Underground has several lines such as the Northern Line, the Jubilee Line and the Piccadilly Line with a direct link to London Heathrow Airport. Expansion of this kind of railways is planned for many cities as it relieves some of the traffic congestion on city streets.



With the growth of e-commerce, more and more people are booking airline and train seats online. They may not receive a paper ticket but they will have an electronic ticket (a booking reference). They can use this to check in electronically at the airport or the railway station.



More and more people are using transport for pleasure. Many people either use their own cars or hire cars for touring holidays in their own country or abroad. Motor homes and caravans are used to save on hotel expenses. Canals and rivers are used for boating holidays. Flotilla cruises in the Greek islands are a popular way of having a sailing holiday. Cruise liners offering luxury holidays for a short break, a few weeks or round the world attract many holidaymakers. Larger and larger ships such as the Queen Victoria are being built to satisfy the demand.



The ideal transport system would be one where there is a direct, uninterrupted flow of goods from the producer to the consumer. This is not feasible but transport systems are now used, particularly containerisation, that require the minimum of handling, loading, unloading and repacking.


Most cargo handling is now done by machine and controlled by computer to save labour costs. A wide range of cargo handling equipment is used. Conveyor belts may be used to discharge cargoes. Elevators using suction may unload bulk grain into stores. Pumping equipment is used to unload tankers. Trucks and goods wagons may have tilting equipment to enable loads to slide off the transport.


The development of the pallet, a flat platform that can be lifted by fork-lift truck, has made loading groups of goods very easy. It has speeded up the loading and unloading of road transport particularly and made the moving of goods around a warehouse very easy.



Information technology and computers have speeded up the transport industry and made it more efficient in a number of ways:


Roads and Road Transport

  • Traffic control
  • Traffic lights (robots)
  • Routing of vehicles (satellite navigation equipment)
  • Storage and distribution of goods and fuel
  • Observation of traffic density and motorway problems
  • Arrangement of return loads



  • Timetabling
  • Control of trains and other rolling stock
  • Track maintenance
  • Ticketing
  • Information on services



  • Timetabling aircraft movements
  • Flight stimulation for training pilots
  • Aircraft design
  • Online booking and check-in procedures
  • Scheduling crew rosters for manning aircraft



  • Loading and unloading containers at container ports
  • Ship design
  • Navigation – buoys and lighthouses
  • Monitoring shipping movements
  • Cargo storage



The development of sustainable transport is likely to be an important trend in the coming decades. It is part of the movement for sustainable development – the move to stop the using up of the world’s resources at the expense of generations of people to come.


Sustainable transport tries to meet the mobility needs of the present world population but, at the same time, looks at the effects this has on the environment and the use of non-renewable resources such as fuel supplies.


The term sustainable transport can be used to describe all forms of transport that reduce carbon emissions. It is concerned with finding ways of moving people and goods so that the impact on the world economy, the environment and society is minimized.


  • Encouraging the use of public transport (but this would not be sustainable if public transport moved around half empty).
  • Improving facilities for using bicycles and walking
  • Controlling car use in city areas by such measures as congestion charges and electronic road pricing. This raises revenue for the city, controls the volume of traffic and also reduces pollution caused by vehicles.
  • Encouraging people to work from home rather than commute into city centres for work.
  • Developing cleaner fuels such as bio diesel and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG).
  • Developing vehicles that use less fuel such as electric cars. Creating policies for getting rid of older, less efficient vehicles.
  • Making use of collective passenger transport such as rapid transit systems and frequent buses and trams.
  • Reducing the speed of transport by traffic claiming measures such as narrowing roads and speed restrictions.
  • Creating pedestrian only areas in city and town centres where vehicles are excluded.
  • Introducing Park and Ride schemes where visitors to cities park on the outskirts of the city and use public transport to reach the city centre.
  • Introducing road pricing and tolls on some roads. In Norway, tolls are set on each new road until it is paid for and then the tolls are removed. In other contries people pay to use motorways, bridges or tunnels.
  • Persuading people to be less reliant on cars-car sharing or cycling to work.
  • Encouraging people to take holidays at home instead of using aircraft to go abroad.

Contributor: Niyasha