Low Cost Airlines: Social Inclusion Or Social Exclusion?

Low Cost Airlines: Social Inclusion Or Social Exclusion?


T Baum, University of Strathclyde, UK



The emergence of low cost airlines and their business models have fostered several changes within the tourism and travel industry as well as are having a tremendous impact on travellers? behaviour. New travel destinations have emergence, airport passenger traffic has increased, more people now travel more often, while others that they could never travel can afford a travel holiday. Moreover, although the principal target audience for low cost airlines is the price sensitive leisure traveler, business travelers now also consist a significant proportion of their customer database (McWhiter, 2000; Mason, 2000; Sigala et al, 2002). The latter developments not only create several strategic implications for traditional airlines but by affecting traveler?s travel behaviour they also have critical implications in the tourism industry as whole. However, despite the anecdotal evidence of such effects, no systematic research has so far examined the impact of low cost airlines on travelers? behaviour.

To that end, this papers aims to examine the impact of the use of low cost airlines on travelers? real motives and travel behavior. The context of this investigation is a wider study of the socio-economic barriers to accessing the distribution models employed by low-cost airlines in Europe, notably the requirement for ICT access; payment methods; and flexibility within working and leisure time. Specifically, the paper discusses and investigates the impact of low costs airlines on the following travel demand issues: size, frequency and nature of travel demand for both business and leisure travelers; travel booking patterns in terms of time and distribution channel; travel product preferences amongst package holidays, short breaks, long-haul traveling. Data are gathered by Scottish residents using low costs airlines at Prestwick International Airport. Findings provide useful information regarding the impact of low costs airlines on the Scottish Travel market. The implications of the research are provided, while suggestions for future research are also discussed.


Association for European Transport