Although no-frills carriers continue to expand throughout Europe, only 22 percent of European business travellers are choosing to fly with them when travelling for business. In the UK, where no-frills carriers are most prevalent, more than two-thirds (67 percent) of UK business travellers still choose to fly with a full-service airline.
This is according to a new survey commissioned by Delta Air Lines
and conducted by international market research firm Martin Hamlin GfK, who questioned regular transatlantic and intra-European business travellers across five European countries - France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK. The survey focused on the habits and choices of business travellers when they fly, including booking preferences, preferred style of flying, i.e. scheduled versus no-frills airlines and in-flight attitudes to food and activities.
When choosing between no-frills and full-service carriers, the top three factors taken into account during the decision making process, and rated as very important or important, by the majority of all European travellers were:
á Proximity of airport to end destination (76 percent)
á Frequency of schedule (75 percent)
á Flexibility of ticket purchased (68 percent).
These rankings were similar in the UK, with the top three factors being:
á Frequency of schedule (68 percent)
á Proximity of airport to end destination (68 percent).
á Flexibility of ticket purchased (56 percent).
For those European travellers who did choose to use no-frills carriers (22 percent), 87 percent made their decision based on price.
Carolyn Ezzell, Delta’s Vice President Atlantic Region, said, “The findings of this survey highlight some key trends in the travel habits of Europeans flying for business purposes and also illustrate changing attitudes towards travel. Well-timed, frequent schedules and conveniently located airports drive the purchase decision for business travellers when they are choosing which carrier to fly with.”
“Although no-frills carriers have traditionally competed on price, full-service carriers are evolving their business models to remain competitive and meet the changing needs of both the business and leisure traveller. Delta, already the largest U.S. carrier across the transatlantic, has developed multiple service offerings across it’s markets to meet the varied needs of its passengers. In the U.S. domestic market, Delta has set up its own low-fare product, Song, to respond to the low-cost challenge there.”
Duration of flights significantly impacts the class of travel that European business travellers are booking. According to the survey, on flights of less than four hours, 59 percent of all respondents are most likely to travel in economy, while 28 percent choose to fly business class. For flights exceeding four hours, 30 percent of European travellers opt to travel in Economy while 42 percent travel business class. In the UK, 62 percent of travellers are likely to travel economy on flights of less than four hours with 19 percent travelling business class. This compares to 21 percent travelling in economy on long-haul flights and 41 percent in business.
The survey also highlighted the impact that technology is having on European business travel habits. Nearly one-third (30 percent) of all European business travellers now prefer electronic tickets, with 46 percent of continuing their use of technology at the airport by using self-service kiosks.
When making travel reservations, more than half of business travellers across Europe (52 percent) still prefer to book with a travel agent, with 42 percent preferring to use the internet. However in comparison, only 29 percent of business travellers surveyed in the UK prefer to book with a travel agent, with 63 percent choosing to book via the internet. Of the UK respondents who prefer to use the internet to book flights, 73 percent frequently book directly via an airline website, 55 percent use an online travel agency site (e.g. Opodo) and 18 percent book with an online high street travel agency website (e.g. Thomas Cook).
Ezzell said, “As travel processes are increasingly streamlined, technology is creating a more convenient and efficient travel experience for our passengers. Over the past several years our passengers have adopted technology as fast as we offer it. In the past year alone, Delta has seen online sales on Delta.com and online travel agencies grow by more than 29 percent and we expect to see further growth.”