The results of a survey commissioned by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) show that, interestingly, COVID is still a key reason why in 1 in 3 people, particularly the elder generation (aged 55 and above), are not flying.
But that’s not the only reason. Nearly as many people – especially younger travellers – say that flying is just too expensive according to the survey results. The twin factors of increased passenger demand, and a restrained strategy on the part of most airlines to rebuild capacity following COVID, has resulted in air fares that are simply too expensive for many people. As the cost of living crisis continues, people of course have fewer pennies to spend on non-essentials, such as air travel. And let’s not forget that the real cost of flying is far higher than the price of a ticket. The “frills” – even the not so “frilly” ones, like baggage and seat selection fees - can easily equal, if not exceed, the cost of a cheaper ticket.
Another factor putting people off flying is anxiety about flights being delayed or cancelled (around 15%, again according to the CAA survey). We all know that both of these major nuisances were rife last year as the aviation industry failed to manage the upsurge in demand for travel following the easing of COVID restrictions. During COVID the aviation sector’s infrastructure had naturally been reduced down to skeleton crews. Clearly, as the airlines look to increase their air passenger numbers to pre-COVID levels, it will be vital that they improve their service and customer satisfaction levels. This will be key to rebuilding passenger confidence in the industry and encouraging greater numbers to fly.
Finally, but crucially, we must remember that aviation currently makes up around 2.4% of global CO2 emissions. 37% of CAA survey participants agreed that they think about the impact of flying on the environment when considering travelling by air (an increase from just 21% in 2016). But change is afoot as the International Air Transport Association (IATA) - the trade association for the world's airlines - aims to make aviation net carbon zero by 2050, when 10 billion people are expected to fly.
Who knows what the future will bring – but hopefully it will include the holy grail of low cost fares (including all the frills!) combined with more consideration for the climate (for example, Sustainable Aviation Fuel) and great service!