Quarter of Brits hit by Ash crisis - but most think Nats was right

Quarter of Brits hit by Ash crisis - but most think Nats was right

Almost 3 million British adults were directly affected by the recent closure of UK airports, according to new research.

TNS RI Travel & Tourism found that 8% of adults were prevented from flying due to Iceland’s volcanic eruption, with a further 19% of people indirectly affected by family being unable to fly.

The figures paint an impressive picture of the degree to which our island nation was impacted by this extraordinary phenomenon.  More than a third (34%) of people interviewed said that they or a family member were unable to return home from a holiday on a scheduled date, while 25% had to cancel or postpone their holiday because they could not depart.

Despite this, the vast majority of travellers accept that the government’s flight ban decision, on the advice of Nats, was the right course of action.  63% of those questioned agree that ‘the authorities were correct in keeping UK airspace closed for as long as they did’, rising to 70% of those directly affected by the ban.

The media hype around the damage that the recent events have had on future airline bookings appears unfounded, with just one in ten people considering postponing a planned holiday as a result.  Almost half (46%) of people disagreed that the airspace closure made them less likely to fly for their summer holiday this year.

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Tom Costley, Head of TNS RI Travel & Tourism, comments: “This data highlights the significant impact that the Ash crisis had on travellers in Britain.  There is continued uncertainty over the extent of the impact on taking flights and overseas trips for the rest of 2010, although it is interesting to see that the majority of travellers will not let the situation influence their future plans.  The speed of recovery to ‘normal travel patterns’ will obviously be heavily influenced by whether the emissions from the volcano result in any further closures in coming weeks.”

TNS RI’s research also highlights the significant impact of closed airspace on business.  20% of people had to cancel or change business trip plans because they could not fly into or out of the UK.  Despite this, only 16% will consider alternative means of transport for future business trips.