Factors Affecting Airport and Airline Choice?

Factors Affecting Airport and Airline Choice?


Paul Le Masurier, MVA Consultancy, Liam Kirkwood, MVA Consultancy


The Paper will present outcomes of two pieces of research: one secondary and one primary. The results combine to give a qualitative and quantitative understanding of how air passengers’ choose their preferred airline ticket (and, hence, their departure and arrival airports and subsequent surface access choices).


For many years now, Governments of the day have struggled with how to deal with ever increasing demand for air travel, whilst wanting to protect the rights and quality of life of those who live in proximity to airports. Arguably, crucial demand-side issues such as how do air passengers decide their mode/airline/airport and surface access mode choice are not well known nor understood; yet fundamental decisions are being made regarding new aviation capacity in the South East of England, and the outcome will have considerable consequences for UK plc and thousands of residents.
Furthermore, the current Civil Aviation Bill gives new powers to the CAA to force the aviation industry to provide better (full) information to passengers and the public. Up to now, little is known about what information (potentially) air passengers would like to enable them to make informed choices – only research on what information they had found, and used; and almost no information on what the public would most like in terms of information on the environmental impacts of the aviation industry.

Our Paper
Our Paper will attempt to provide insight on these key questions. The authors have carried out an extensive review of relevant studies undertaken in the UK to assess air passengers’ decision-making processes. The authors have also conducted new social and market research, using qualitative and quantitative techniques, to fill-in the gaps on our understanding of what is most important to air passengers when making their travel decisions. For example, what dictates their decision to buy a particular air ticket – is it, primarily, the cheapest ticket from Town A to Town B; or is it the quickest way; or is the most convenient journey in terms of accessing the departure airport and egressing the arrival airports; or the flight that has the most suitable arrival time; or the airline/airport that is considered most secure; or the airline that allows the passenger to offset the environmental impact of the flight, or offers on-line check-in, or allows greatest amount of hand-luggage; or a combination of these – and does it vary according to journey purpose, even for the same individual?

The Paper will:

- provide an overview of the limited research evidence to date;
- give the main findings from a survey of 1,000 air passengers and 1,000 residents (close to and remote from UK airports) and parallel qualitative depth interviews with a sub-sample – providing clear insight into people’s rationale for their preferred decision-making process, and their information needs at the time of booking;
- provide insights into the special needs of mobility impaired travellers; and
- highlight the environmental concerns of residents in close proximity to airports, and how some of these concerns can best be allayed.
The Paper will benefit from research currently being undertaken by MVA Consultancy on behalf of the CAA and is expected to be placed in the public domain on completion (April 2013).

The Paper will conclude with the authors’ views on the decision-making process(es) of air passengers, by passenger segment, and identify the additional information residents want so that they can better understand the environmental and health impacts to them and society of UK civil aviation.


Association for European Transport