Short-haul air travel might be poised to take off. Our weekly digest of McKinsey insights explores that topic

Sustainable and inclusive growth: Briefing note #49, June 8, 2023

June 8, 2023

In 2019, air travel was the mode of choice for only about 8 % of trips covering a distance of roughly 95 to 500 miles in the United States, and only about 4 %of such trips in the European Union. That might change as short-haul flying becomes more convenient, affordable, and sustainable. This week, McKinsey analysis examines the rise of regional air mobility (RAM). Elsewhere, an interview with the CEO of the Global Infrastructure Hub looks at strategies for ramping up the construction of sustainable infrastructure.

Travelers often decide that shorter trips will be cheaper, easier, and quicker by car than by air. But technological innovations in the design of small aircraft, thicker congestion on roadways, the increasing salience of sustainability, and the rise of user-friendly apps that turn mobility into a service could combine to make short-haul flying more attractive. Partners Axel Esqué, Robin Riedel, and coauthors say several developments could help enable the RAM transition, including continued advances in decarbonized aircraft propulsion technology and improved infrastructure at regional airports.

The Global Infrastructure Hub is a nonprofit organization formed by the G-20. Its CEO, Marie Lam-Frendo, recently spoke with McKinsey about the quest to build more sustainable infrastructure around the world. Lam-Frendo says that public–private partnerships will be crucial in the effort to derisk infrastructure investment. She adds that infratech—which involves embedding technology into infrastructure—could cut expenses and create more efficient outcomes.

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This briefing note, based on McKinsey’s latest published insights, was prepared by Seth Stevenson, a senior editor in McKinsey’s New York office.