Press Release: YouGov Poll Shows UK Business Air Travel Will Not Recover to Pre-Covid Levels

New research by the polling organisation YouGov has found that most UK business travellers will fly less often than before the Covid crisis. The research found that business travellers have discovered that video conferencing provided a cheaper and more convenient way to carry on their work during lockdown. 20% said the pause to air travel had a positive impact on their work life, with 12% saying it also had a positive impact on their productivity.


Responding to the research, Chris Foren, chair of the anti-expansion group GALBA said: "This report exposes the myths peddled by supporters of Leeds Bradford Airport expansion. They lined up to tell the Leeds planning committee that airport expansion was essential for local businesses. But this poll tells a very different story.”


He added: “It’s no great surprise that business travel will stay low - everyone has online video meetings these days. The world has changed and we all need to adapt to the new reality. GALBA has said all along that expanding air travel is unsustainable - both economically and environmentally. We urge the government and Leeds City Council to help workers in the aviation sector move into safe and sustainable jobs - jobs with a future, for the future."


These are the key findings of the YouGov poll:

Most (56%) of UK business travellers say they will fly less often as a result of video conference software, even once travel restrictions are lifted (a higher percentage than in any of the other six European countries surveyed)

Almost half (49% of UK business travellers say that the pause to air travel caused by COVID19 shutdowns has had no impact on their work life, while 20% say the pause to air travel has had a positive impact on their work life (so a majority think either no impact or positive)

60% of UK business travellers say that the pause to air travel caused by COVID19 shutdowns has had no impact on their productivity at work, while 12% say the pause to air travel has had a positive impact on their productivity

Most (62%) of UK business travelers think jet fuels' tax-free status should be ended.

If there was an air route and rail link to the same destination that you needed to travel to for business, and the ticket price was the same, 6 in 10 UK business travelers would prefer to travel by rail (more than in any of the other European countries surveyed)

Most (51%) of UK business travellers think "Governments must legislate for airlines to decarbonise in order to meet the climate goals set out in the Paris agreement"

Half (50%) of UK business travellers say their company would be either extremely or somewhat willing to switch from first/business class to economy to reduce the climate impact

Almost half (47%) would be less likely personally to fly with an airline if they found out it was lobbying against climate measures such as green fuel targets or jet fuel taxation


Additional notes:


1) YouGov research: an online survey of business travellers and their experience of the changes in business travel. 1414 respondents completed the survey in total across seven countries: UK, Denmark, Spain, France, Netherlands, Sweden and Germany


2) Topline poll results: can be found here (Google Drive, Powerpoint)


3. Full poll results: can be found here (YouGov site, PDF)


4. Impact on LBA? While business travellers make up a relatively small proportion of LBA’s total passengers, the income derived from business travellers is likely to be disproportionately high. What impact will a reduction in income of 50% from business travellers have on LBA?


5. Photo: a high resolution photo of a giant projection onto Leeds Civic Hall of the words ‘Stop Leeds Bradford Airport expansion’ is attached. The photo is owned by GALBA and we freely give it for publication but please credit the photographer, Neil Terry.

6. Public inquiry request: GALBA’s letter to Robert Jenrick requesting a public inquiry can be found here.

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