Environmental pressure builds
There has been a sea change in public attitudes about aviation and the environment.
The proportion agreeing that airport expansion is the right thing to do has dropped considerably compared to 2019. The vast majority (70%) now feel that the industry should be prioritising emissions for improvement, almost double the number who think it should prioritise reducing noise (36%), the next highest priority. By a margin of 12:1 (73% vs. 6%), the public think the aviation industry should be prioritising investment in greener technology, such as fully-electric commercial aircraft.
Most strikingly, there is evidence more people are recognising that this could come at the expense of choice and low cost. There has been a significant rise in the number of people who disagree with the statement, ‘I don’t think people should be discouraged from flying if they want to, even if this might have a negative impact on the environment’, up to 32% ( 22% in 2019) with agreement dropping to 34% (47% 2019).
'I especially focus on customer centricity and engagement and also being honest about their environmental impact [when choosing an airline].'
Three in five now also say they have done something personally to reduce the environmental impact of the flights they have taken, including finding alternative arrangements for domestic travel. However, people are far more likely to say they will do more in future than to have actually done something already to reduce their environmental impact.
People are also far more likely to believe responsibility for cleaning up aviation lies with government and the industry (78%) than with individuals (6%). When it comes to noise, older people are far less likely to agree to experiencing more aircraft noise if it meant reducing it for others living under a flight path.
NATS has enabled carbon savings of 10.1 million tonnes since 2008, but there is no doubt more needs to be done. With traffic levels currently at an all-time low, the industry does have the opportunity to try and ‘build back better', to reduce noise and emissions and do what's right for our planet while getting ahead of what will be a longer term threat.