A survey of passengers conducted on behalf of UK air traffic services provider NATS has found that almost a fifth of people would travel further to fly from a specific airport in order to get better service.
The research conducted through an Ipsos MORI Online Panel also found that 27% of passengers would choose to pay more to fly with a particular airline as operational reputation and on time performance seen as among the more important factors when booking a ticket. However, ticket price, time of flights and distance to the airport top peoples’ list of criteria, other factors also play an important part in the selection process.
Jem Dunn, NATS Director, Airports, said: “Operational performance is already influencing millions of passengers’ decision making, and as the skies get busier its likely people will increasingly place a premium on service and getting away on time. Airports are already investing in ways to improve the resilience of their operations so that things like bad weather are less likely to disrupt their schedules, but it’s likely to become a rising priority in the coming years.”
In terms of safety, over half of those surveyed had no opinion on whether flying is the safest form of transport, despite clear evidence to support the claim. However, 63% of people do see flying as safer now than ever before, despite terrorism (45%) being their top concern. Those responding to the survey also said that cutting aircraft carbon emissions should be the top priority for the aviation industry, with just over half of those polled citing reducing emissions from flying as the main objective from any reworking of the nation’s airspace. Improving flight paths (36%) was the next highest priority, followed by cutting noise and flight times. While the environment was given top priority, more respondents agreed (45%) than disagreed (21%) that residential areas should be avoided as far as possible, even if that did mean an increase in fuel burn and emissions.
The research also asked about digital control towers. Most people were unfamiliar with the emerging trend, with four in five people having not heard of the concept. Once it was explained 46% expressed scepticism and said they would prefer to fly from an airport with a traditional tower. However, 35% versus 13% felt digital towers would make flying more efficient, and support for the concept was higher among frequent flyers.
The findings form part of what NATS is calling The Aviation Index. A thousand adults in the UK, weighted to be representative of the wider population, were asked their views on a variety of aviation topics, from their attitudes to redesigning flight paths, the rising use of drones and the impact of Brexit.
Dunn concluded: “We conducted this research because it’s important for us to understand how people feel about flying and the issues that are impacting or might impact on our airline and airport customers. It’s proved to be a fascinating insight into people’s attitudes.”
Picture: A survey conducted on behalf of NATS has found that some passengers would travel further to use an airport that offered better service. (Key – Andy Martin)