Majority in Europe reject aviation’s claim to boost economic growth

A pan-European survey of public attitudes to aviation suggests there is minority support for the industry view that growth in flying boosts economic growth.

The survey of more than 12,000 adults in six major aviation markets, including the UK, found 59% of recent flyers and 68% of non-flyers thought the economy could grow without people flying more. Fewer than one third (30%) of ‘flyers’ and 16% of non-flyers disagreed.

In the UK, 58% of respondents considered the economy could grow without aviation growth, while 30% considered flying essential to the economy.

Researchers for polling group More in Common, which carried out the research, concluded: “Few people believe aviation growth is essential to economic growth. People are significantly more likely to say the economy can grow without people flying more.”

More: Analysis: Major survey confirms popularity of flying

Just 23% of those who had flown in the last year thought flying essential, while 55% of ‘flyers’ disagreed.

A small majority in each country – and 52% in the UK – rated tackling climate change as a priority over economic growth.

The survey did find significant proportions “more likely to think living a full life requires travelling”, with 37% in agreement in the UK and 39% in Spain, and it found younger adults “significantly more likely to say a real holiday requires flying”.

However, a majority in every age group disagreed that flying is essential to a holiday, with 55% of both 18-24-year-olds and 25-40-year-olds saying flying is not essential.

The research found a majority in all six markets would support boosting rail travel as an alternative to flying, even “when paid for by increasing the cost of plane fares”.

Three quarters of respondents (73%) thought train journeys should be cheaper than flying on the same route, and 73% also wanted government action to make rail travel the same price or cheaper than flying, with two thirds (64%) agreeing even if this made flying more expensive.

The researchers concluded: “Most participants prefer travelling by train, but see it as costly . . . There was strong support for the government ensuring train journeys are cheaper than or the same cost as flights.”

  • The survey, by research firm More in Common, was published in April. The report can be read in full here.

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