NEW YORK (AP) — Millions of people step aboard airplanes each day, complaining about the lack of legroom and overhead space but almost taking for granted that they can travel thousands of miles in just a few hours.
Wednesday marks the 100th anniversary of the first commercial flight: a 23-minute hop across Florida’s Tampa Bay.
With the anniversary in mind, The Associated Press reached out to today’s aviation leaders to see what they are predicting for the future of flying. Answers have been edited for length and clarity.
IN FIVE YEARS
n Richard Anderson, CEO Delta Air Lines: “Just over a decade ago airlines seemed to be buying every 50-seat aircraft they could get their hands on. But the real utility of those small jets has come and gone and in the next five years we’ll see their numbers in the U.S. continue to dwindle.”
IN 25 YEARS
n David Barger, CEO JetBlue Airways: “The freedom to travel between any two points in the world will be commonplace. There will be billions of travelers every year flying on new aircraft that will be environmentally friendly.”
IN 100 YEARS
n David Siegel, CEO Frontier Airlines: “The first flight was just 18 miles long, but now look how far we can go. We could see innovations in aircraft design, local community-based air transport with smaller, higher efficiency aircraft, and maybe even pilotless commercial aircraft.”
— Doug Parker, CEO American Airlines: “I am quite certain that Tony Jannus never could have imagined the size and importance of commercial aviation today, or the impact it had on changing our world. Similarly, I cannot imagine what commercial aviation will look like in 2114. I imagine whatever state it is, though, it will be extremely important and its continued development will be a key part of the story that built that world.”
— Ben Baldanza, CEO Spirit Airlines: “Google’s ‘put me there’ technology implemented into its maps software renders all airlines obsolete.”
Scott Mayerowitz can be reached at http://twitter.com/GlobeTrotScott.