World aviation is changing and so is the way the UK flies.

Aviation has a huge influence on modern life. Millions of us fly every year, and millions more of us have opinions about flying; from the political and environmental to the personal. At NATS, we’re here to keep the skies safe. To do this, we must understand the trends, topics and attitudes that are shaping our industry.

Presenting Aviation Index 2019: the definitive survey of the UK public's views and perceptions about air travel, produced in partnership with Ipsos MORI.

Travel preferences

Airborne nation

What really motivates the UK's flying public?

Many factors shape the airline choices of UK flyers. Unsurprisingly, price matters more than anything else, but reputation and airport proximity are becoming more influential.

Among those who say they would never choose to fly with an airline that has a bad reputation, 42% cited their personal travel experience and 26% cite the airline's perceived reliability
79% of people see flight price as a priority in 2019. That's slightly less than 82% in 2018
The time of flights is less important to people this year
Last year, 28% of people said that reputation was one of the most important aspects influencing airline choice. That's grown to 32% this year
Why would someone never fly with an airline that they said had a 'bad reputation'? A quote from our research:
Different groups have different priorities. For example, the proximity of airports served to the final destination is more important when choosing an airline for those living in the North East and the East Midlands against an national average of 46%
When choosing an airport, journey time (73%), transport connections (39%), and destinations served (59%) are the most decisive factors
Price is important to everyone when it comes to choosing an airline, but more so for 18-24 year olds against a national average of 79%
While there's much public debate about airport expansion, only 16% of those asked were against it, while support has grown from 48% (2018) to 57% now.
In 2018, 24% of people said they are prepared to pay more for a flight if it was less likely to be delayed. In 2019, that's risen by 11 points to 35% (33% disagreed)
Another quote from our research:


Safety above all

Do passengers feel safe in the air?

The good news is that more people are confident about flight safety than ever. But, like last year people see terrorism as the biggest risk. Passenger behaviour follows with technical faults close behind.

31% see terrorism as a top risk to safety, but that's fallen from 45% in 2018
98% don't see ATC as a risk to flight safety
88% of people don't see drones as among the biggest risk to flight safety

The impact of Brexit

Cleared for departure

Is Brexit changing the way we fly?

Uncertainties about the UK's exit from the EU are having some impact on the public's travel plans. They're shaping expectations about the cost and convenience of flying too.

While 74% of people told us they hadn’t made any changes to their travel plans due to Brexit, one in four people have
When asked if the price of flights would go up, down or stay the same after Brexit, the majority thought they would rise
With younger people most likely to think prices will go up

Drones and technology

Disrupting the industry

Do passengers support new technologies?

After drone sightings caused major disruption at Gatwick in late 2018, strong opinions abound. But attitudes about new technologies are more nuanced than some might expect.

People see the potential benefits to commerce and recreation
More people agree drones should be controlled by NATS in the same way as piloted aircraft
More people are supportive of drones which assist the emergency services
24% now agree that the benefits of drones outweigh the potential costs. That's in line with last year, but 39% remain sceptical
19% of the UK had heard of digital control towers - the idea of using cameras to manage air traffic at airports - before taking part in the survey
But while technology advances, 63% disagree with fully automated Digital Towers. However, this figure is down from 82% in 2018

Environment and airspace change

A changing atmosphere

Are environmental issues shaping attitudes to flying?

As concerns over climate change reach new heights, people want the environment to be the priority in any reworking of the UK's network of flightpaths. The public thinks more action should be taken by the industry however there are some contradictory opinions.

But despite growing concerns over climate change, 47% of people don’t believe people should be discouraged to fly even if this might have a negative impact on the environment. That's an increase on last year's results
Since last year, there’s been almost no change in those who think flights should avoid residential areas, even if that has a negative impact on the environment (26% disagree)
Although 44% of people believe flights should fly over Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty if it cut carbon emissions, an increase of four points on 2018 (31% disagreed)
38% of people would be willing to pay a levy to help protect the environment - something many airlines do already offer in the form or carbon offsets. That's 8% more than in 2018
45% don’t consider the environmental impact of their flights, a figure that is unchanged since last year
60% think the modernisation or the UK's network of flight paths and air routes should be given the same priority as the roll out of high-speed broadband

To view and download the full survey, click on the link below

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