Exploring quantum computing use cases for airlines

Helping airlines take advantage of the future disruptive computational power of quantum computing

“Quantum advantage” is the point when we can definitively demonstrate, in certain use cases, a significant performance advantage over today’s “classical” (conventional) computers. By “significant,” we mean that a quantum computation is either:

– Hundreds or thousands of times faster than a classical computation 

– Needs a smaller fraction of the memory required by a classical computer, or 

– Makes something possible that simply isn’t possible now with a classical computer.

With the acceleration of efforts to increase the computational power of quantum devices, quantum advantage is on the horizon. Today, during what IBM calls the “quantum ready” phase, the focus is to enable clients to be prepared to take advantage of the future disruptive computational power of quantum computing. Key insights can already be developed by executing versions of future use cases that are small enough to run on current systems.

As the technology continues to improve, industry application developers will grow the scope of these use cases and leverage quantum computing for business advantage.

In the next twenty years, air travel is expected to double, increasing operational complexity.  In the future, we expect quantum computing will play a crucial role in solving airlines’ complex business problems. It will produce new opportunities, mainly through higher computational speed, greater accuracy of data-driven actions, and the creation of new algorithms and systems capabilities to address challenges that classical systems cannot solve. This report identifies three use cases where quantum advantage may be a game-changer for airlines to optimize operations and improve customer experience.


Bookmark this report  

Meet the authors

Dr. Imed Othmani

Connect with author:

, Industry Partner, Quantum Industry & Technical Services Systems, IBM Quantum

Dr. Markus Ettl

Connect with author:

, Distinguished Researcher and Senior Manager, AI Marketing Research, IBM Research

Yannis Gounaris

Connect with author:

, Global Leader, Airlines, IBM Travel & Transportation Center of Competence, IBM Consulting

Lynn Kesterson-Townes, Global Cloud & Quantum Leader, IBM Institute for Business Value, IBM Consulting

Steven Peterson

Connect with author:

, Global Travel and Transportation Research Leader, IBM Institute for Business Value

Download report translations

Originally published 16 March 2020