At the end of October, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) published the results of its annual Air Passenger Survey.
The survey, undertaken every year since 1968, is designed to help aviation barons understand the “characteristics of air travel to and from the United Kingdom,” and details the results of more than 200,000 interviews with outbound UK travellers.
Questions ranged from the duration of holidays and the size of travelling groups, to a person’s annual income. The latest survey also introduced questions on environmental issues, such as carbon offsetting.
Passengers at 12 UK airports were surveyed, including four of the five London airports: Heathrow, Stansted, Gatwick, and Luton. Manchester, Newcastle and Durham made up the remainder of the English airports included in the survey.
In Scotland, the two largest airports, Edinburgh and Glasgow, were included, as were Inverness, Aberdeen and Prestwick.
Whilst the project will be of little interest to most people, the survey threw up some interesting statistics, especially with regard to the annual income of respondents. Leisure travellers at Newcastle are the “worst off,” to use the CAA’s phrase, earning an average of £37,663 per year.
In comparison, holidaymakers jetting off from Heathrow earn around £57,532 per year, the highest traveller salary in the country. The London hub also topped the wages poll in the business category, with the average executive departing Heathrow pulling in a salary of almost £80,000 a year.
On the topic of the environment, 60% of passengers at Gatwick and Stansted said that they understood the concept of ‘carbon offsetting,’ a scheme that encourages travellers to pay a higher ticket price to fund eco-friendly projects, such as new wind farms.
However, only a disappointing 6% of interviewees had taken the plunge and offset the flight they had booked, a figure that can only fall unless airlines and airports make a conscious effort to promote the scheme.
The recent rise of the Air Passenger Duty is likely to exacerbate low interest in carbon offsetting by making plane tickets even more expensive, adding up to 50% to the cost of a long-haul flight to the West Indies or South Africa, for example.
Other figures of note include the size of travelling groups: almost 80% of passengers interviewed at Aberdeen were “singletons,” compared to 35% at Manchester Airport. Southwest of Aberdeen, Prestwick Airport was host to the largest family groups in the UK, with 8.4% of families boasting five or more members.