28 / 01 / 2022

This is how you might get a cheap airline ticket in the future

We are used to air travel with strict schedules, that are planned far in advance. But what if the departure times were not fixed, but flexible? And what if you could get a cheaper ticket by being flexible regarding your own departure time?

Imagine a future, where electric aircrafts between Vaasa and Lycksele are part of the day-to-day. Imagine, that you go on the booking app in your phone to book a flight. Now imagine, that instead of booking a certain departure, you let the app know that you can travel Wednesday next week anytime between 8am and 22pm. 

The app now gives you an estimated price for the ticket, which will be quite low since you are rewarded for being so flexible with your departure time. Three days before departure, the app has put together the wishes from all passengers, and lets you know when the plane will leave. 

Not just replacing the engines 

This is the future of regional air travel envisioned by Senior Design Researcher Mr Jeroen Peeters from RISE (Research Institute of Sweden). He has been part of The Kvarken Council’s project that explores the possibilities of electric aviation. 

– To be honest, at first I thought the subject was a bit boring, explains Peeters.

– I thought electric aviation was just about switching the type of engine in the plane. After a while, however, I realized that the flexibility that comes with smaller planes that are cheaper to operate can also be translated into flexibility regarding other aspects of travelling.

The more Peeters dove into the subject, the more intriguing it got. He and his colleagues decided to develop a prototype for a booking app for the imaginary airline Volta, that operates small electric planes in the Kvarken region.  

On-demand travelling 

One of the main ideas of the Volta app is that both departure times and prices are flexible. To reduce the number of trips and thereby CO2 emissions, the algorithm in the app optimizes both the number of departures as well as the departure times, based on customer demand. The underlying goal is to have as few departures with as full planes as possible.  

Another feature of the app is that the trips are booked door-to-door, instead of airport to airport. Air travel is combined with other modes of transportation, like busses, taxis, and even electric drones, and the user pays an overall price for the whole trip. This way of operating is already in use in some places and is called mobility as a service, or MaaS.   

“It will never work” 

When showing the prototype of the app to different stakeholders in the aviation industry, Jeroen Peters has mainly gotten two types of feedback.  

– Some people are very excited while others say it will never work. And of course, it is true that this kind of booking will not work with the air travel system and regulations we have today. However, this is one way to contribute to rethinking the whole system.

Peeters admits that the subject is very complex, as flexible schedules naturally can be hard to fit together with, say, ground services at the airports.  

Still, he stresses that the app by no means is a final solution, but that it should rather be seen as a conversation starter. 

– It may be difficult to discuss something that does not yet exist, and that is why design researchers work in this way. We develop prototypes that help people imagine different possibilities for the future by making them as tangible as possible.

You can try out the Volta app by yourself through this link.

Senior Design Researcher Mr Jeroen Peeters from RISE (Research Institute of Sweden) here together with his colleague Ms Carita Roslund.

Bild på Arne Smedberg


(Finding innovations to Accelerate the Implementation of electric Regional aviation) is to be seen as a first step of preparing the Kvarken region for an early implementation of electric aviation. The project increases the knowledge base about electric aviation, investigates the possibilities and surveys both the needs and the required technical investments. The geography of FAIR includes also Nordland County in Norway.

Read more flyfairkvarken.com