As the airline industry begins its recovery in the wake of the coronavirus, it would be well served to pay heed to travelers ever-increasing concerns about sustainability issues.
In January and February – just prior to the COVID-19 crisis becoming a global pandemic – OAG, a global data provider, surveyed more than 2,000 travelers on sustainability issues.
According to the survey, 56 percent of all travelers and 50 percent of business travelers would consider switching their preferred airline if there were “more environmentally friendly options available.” Interestingly, that number was even higher for millennials (68 percent).
Similarly, 54 percent of all travelers – and 69 percent of millennials –would be more likely to “use a travel site to plan and book travel if they received sustainability-related information to help inform purchases.”
Many respondents said they would be willing to “explore new options to reduce their own carbon footprint.” Sixty-six percent said they would be willing to accept fewer daily flights with larger aircraft if it resulted in fewer carbon emissions, and 50 percent said they be willing to change to a “greener mode of transportation, even it if took longer than the typical flight.”
Fifty percent said they would be willing to increase their travel time by 50 percent for a greener mode of transportation, and 59 percent said they would be willing to increase their total travel time by two hours or more. Forty-four percent of business travelers said they would willing to increase their total travel time by two hours or more.
On the subject of airfare, 36 percent of respondents said they would be willing to pay up to 10 percent more for “flights that had a smaller impact than other similar flight options.” Eight percent said they would pay up to 25 percent more; two percent said they’d pay up to 50 percent more; 54 percent said they would not be willing to pay more.
Travelers’ sustainability concerns go beyond the airline industry. “Consumers expect the entire travel ecosystem – especially OTAs and travel search engines – to be more transparent about the sustainability impact of various travel options,” the survey stated.
When asked what information, “if made available,” would influence their booking decisions, 32 percent of all travelers and 42 percent of millennial travelers said data on a flight’s environmental impact/carbon emissions. Thirty-nine percent of all travelers and 55 percent of millennials said data on an airline’s environmental impact/carbon emissions, and 26 percent of all travelers and 35 percent of millennials said data on an airport’s environmental impact.
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