Ash cloud stops air travel plans for 2.8 million consumers

Thursday 10, June 2010


Ash cloud stops air travel plans for 2.8 million consumers


While the impact of the volcanic ash cloud on consumer travel plans has ostensibly slowed in recent weeks, it seems there may still be grey skies ahead for outbound tourism.



Latest research from Mintel reveals that ash cloud disruptions could put off as many as one in five Brits from flying – and already 2.8 million of us have decided not to fly as a direct result of the ash cloud.


Following increased consumer confidence in holidaying at home, 2010 could prove another lucrative year for the domestic tourism industry as experiencing the world cup, the threat of air strikes, coupled with the volcano impact entice holidaymakers to forgo overseas travel. While 10 million consumers say they will not change their travel plans as a result of the volcano, it seems its impact has certainly clouded travellers' intentions. Indeed, as a direct consequence of the volcanic ash cloud, some 2.8 million Brits have decided not to fly at all and as many as 4.7 million are undecided. Added to the 2.4 million Brits who had already decided that they are staying at home it seems whatever the weather, there’s a sunny outlook for domestic tourism.


Tom Rees, Senior Travel Analyst at Mintel, said:


“Last year saw more consumers decide to holiday at home than go overseas as the economic climate influenced consumer spending. In a 'normal' year, we could perhaps predict that the balance would shift back to foreign holidays as the country emerges from recession, consumer confidence picks up and pent-up demand for overseas - and far-flung - travel is released. However, 2010 is turning into anything but a 'normal' year for travel. The Eyjafjallajökull volcano is continuing to cause disruption, and air strikes are also playing a part in denting consumer confidence. The full effect of the volcano - and the possibility that its sister Katla will also erupt - is extremely hard to predict, but these results highlight that domestic tourism is likely to benefit as a result.”


For those still planning to take to the skies, package holiday operators may see a boost as 7% (2.8 million) consumers say that they will be booking a package holiday to ensure they are looked after in the event of disruption. Meanwhile, a determined 4% of consumers say that they will still travel overseas, but plan to use alternative transport and 1.2 million consumers (3%) say that the impact of the volcanic ash cloud has discouraged them from using low cost airlines. Meanwhile, it is also good news for the insurance industry as some 3.2 million (8%) consumers say they are going to take out extra travel insurance to cover possible disruptions.


Finally, it seems consumers not put off by air travel can still see room for improvement - with extra leg room topping the wish list. When asked which optional extras consumers would like to see on a flight* of four hours or less, extra leg room (39%), choice of seats (33%) and hot/soft drinks on board (28%) are top of the would-be short-haul consumers' wishlist. Meanwhile, for those flying four hours and more, extra leg room (56%), food on board (35%) and entertainment such as movies and video games (30%) are a priority. In both cases around one in seven consumers said that the option to sit away from children and babies was an important extra they would like to see.


"Particularly interesting was the response to the suggestion that airlines could offer guaranteed seating away from children or babies. For both flight lengths, just under one-in-seven people chose this option - indicating a clear market for a 'kid-free' zone. And given that the facilities to allocate and charge for specific seats are - for most airlines - already in place, implementing such an option would seemingly be straightforward." Tom concludes.




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