Tuesday, 5 June 2018

Shanghai to Los Angeles in 5 hours? Why supersonic air travel could boom in Asia

Shanghai to Los Angeles in about five hours, Tokyo to San Francisco in 5.5, Sydney to Los Angeles in 6.75: The next wave of supersonic flight could make traveling between destinations in the United States and Asia a breeze.

In recent years, a clutch of aeronautics startups has sparked renewed interest in supersonic travel, which stalled after the Concorde's retirement in 2003.

Among the major players, Boom Technology has raised $85 million in funding from seed investors and strategic partners, such as Virgin Atlantic Airways.

Support for the Denver-based startup has expanded to Asia as well. In December, Japan Airlines reportedly invested $10 million to pre-order 20 of the 55-seat airliners, which are slated for a 2023 debut.

This spring, Ctrip -- Asia's largest travel services provider, with 300 million registered users -- became Boom's first strategic partner from China.

"China promises to be one of the largest markets for supersonic air travel. The demand for air travel is incredibly strong," Victor Tseng, chief commercial officer of Ctrip, tells CNN Travel.

"Apart from a growing middle class and having more disposable income, the Chinese are now increasingly interested in spending money on experiences. Travel has become an important form of seeking happiness."

Cutting flight times by half

Boom Supersonic hopes to pick up where Concorde left off.
The first stage of Boom's plan could be launching as early as next year.

The company has publicly announced plans to fly its XB-1 -- a two-seat demonstration aircraft -- in 2019 as proof of concept.

If that goes well, the company will embark on its main mission: To build a fleet of supersonic commercial jets that fly at Mach 2.2, which equates to 1,451 mph -- or more than double the speed of sound.

Putting that into travel terms, a typical 12-hour flight from Shanghai to Los Angeles could be reduced to roughly five to six hours.

This could make it much easier for travelers in Asia to hop around the world -- and vice-versa.

(Source: CNN)

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