Carry On: Hypersonic rockets, e-bike subscriptions and what’s next for sustainable travel in B.C.

Two years of pent-up demand means innovation is taking flight and mobility is powered by the world's greening forces.


Credit: CNW Group/Zygg

Two years of pent-up demand means innovation is taking flight and mobility is powered by the world’s greening forces

The Long Run

A new member among the world’s ultra-long-haul flights, Qantas’s debut non-stop route between Melbourne and Dallas is around 17 hours. It joins Qantas’s Auckland–to–New York route, at around 17-and-a-half hours, in that elite club.

The official longest haul is still Singapore Airlines’ route from its home hub to New York. However, recent reroutings (to avoid Russian airspace, or take advantage of favourable winds) mean that Cathay Pacific’s Hong Kong–to–New York flight’s over the Atlantic exceed that flight’s mileage.

Hypersonic travel could be a reality, if Beijing-based Space Transportation starts flying between Shanghai and New York in just a few hours, as it promises. The company plans a 12-seater powered by two massive booster rockets, from which the aircraft detaches at cruising altitude, travelling 7,000 kilometres per hour. With a test flight planned for 2025, the company hopes to launch globally in 2030.

With an April Fool’s Day bang, the faux WestJet-X “affordable travel,” one-way, $500,000 space flights launched. Promising “Wi-Fi available so you can TikTok from space” and “complimentary pretzels,” the too-real gag might induce both giggles and groans.

The Short Haul

Zygg in Vancouver is an e-bike subscription (by the week or month) program that could be your business-fleet solution for everything from deliveries to commuting. It includes free home delivery, next-day repairs and theft and damage protection. Co-founder and CEO Kevin McLaughlin lauds e-bikes for the over-40 set, joking that they come in “three speeds: 5, 10 and 20 Years Younger.”

You could potentially take a bite out of your carbon footprint by flying a plane powered by cooking oil. So far, Airbus A380 trial flights with sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), a mix of used cooking oils and waste fats, are only a few hours long, within France. The company hopes one day to power its aircraft with a blend of SAR and traditional fossil fuels.

Mary PointYVR. Mary Point

Jet Setter

A city’s airport can say a lot about its culture and values to arriving passengers, and YVR’s Mary Point wants visitors to feel “a sense of a home, a sense of belonging.” 

The airport’s manager of Indigenous relations (who identifies as a Musqueam person) notes that YVR’s thematic design and architecture representing B.C.’s regions, plus the Indigenous art, means “we’re welcoming people home, and welcoming visitors, in a true spirit of reconciliation.” At a time when some are struggling to reconcile Canada’s history, she believes “we have an opportunity to look at Indigenous culture with new eyes. We’re hearing people saying, I would like to learn more about that.”

When Point herself travels internationally, she says, “I want to fully understand the history of a place, the people of the land there, and have an authentic experience. Where I can actually learn and experience local culture and local knowledge, then I have a story to tell when I get home.”

For business groups welcoming inbound travellers, Point encourages collaboration with Indigenous travel entrepreneurs for fresh local experiences, or perhaps choosing Indigenous artist or maker works for a corporate gift exchange. “It could be as simple as a land acknowledgement greeting at the start of your meetings or sharing something about your own culture as an introduction.” For example, Point says, “My mum is Irish, and welcomes people by putting down a cup of tea.”

Though she stops short of calling her job a one-of-a-kind role, Point does say that other airports have been in touch for learnings from her position. One insight is that reconciliation ties into many existing business goals.

“Chances are you’re doing something already about protecting the land and waters, or about welcoming newcomers,” she notes. “Instead of making it a separate thing, reconciliation becomes part of how we construct a business culture.”