On March 2020, IBM published an article to discuss use cases of quantum computing for airlines. They predicted that signatures of “quantum advantage” would start to unfold from 2020 onwards. The term “quantum advantage” refers to the scenario where a quantum computer outperforms a start-of-the-art supercomputer at some tasks.
In the next twenty years, air travel is expected to double, increasing operational complexity. This makes the airline industry particularly interesting to leverage quantum advantage. Benefits of the first movers are to first develop proprietary quantum software for industry-specific applications.
Use cases predicted in the IBM report includes untangling operational disruption, enhancing contextual personalised services and optimising network planning globally.
The IBM report provides excellent and tangible explanation of how airlines could benefit from a quantum boost in the computational power. However, as also mentioned in the report, a quantum computer is not a magical machine that can solve every problem that cannot be solved by a classical computer. On the other hand, some problem that is easy for a classical computer may not be suitable for a quantum computer. Airlines should therefore partner with experts to start exploring use cases that are most relevant to them and most likely to gain quantum advantage from near-term quantum devices.