Sustainability – a new focus for the airline industry?

The world is warming up and CO2 is filling the atmosphere. The aviation sector currently accounts for about 2% of global emissions and is one of the fastest-growing polluters. According to The Guardian, more carbon is released into the atmosphere from one long-haul flight than the average person in dozens of countries around the world produces in a year. By the end of 2019, almost 40 million flights will have departed from airports worldwide (more than 100,000 trips per day).

As fun as airline travel is, consumers are increasingly aware of the environmental impacts it has. More extreme travellers have vowed to forgo flights completely and stick to buses, boats and trains!

For most of us, our feelings of guilt are quickly offset by excitement for a holiday but, that doesn’t mean that consumers arent paying close attention to the sustainability efforts put forward by airline brands. 

For airlines, an awareness of issues and an effort to offset carbon emissions is essential.  Some brands are doing it well, and some are not. Starcount took a look into the airline audience to see just how important sustainability initiatives really are. 

Starcount’s analysis

Starcount did a deep dive analysis into the audiences of airlines that are doing well to offset carbon emissions. British Airways is the most popular airline within this audience, Virgin Atlantic also scored high.

BA is making efforts to combat climate change and has partnered with Velocys, a renewable fuels company, to design a series of plants to convert household and commercial waste into renewable jet fuel. From January 2020, British Airways have promised to become the first UK airline to offset carbon emissions on all its flights within the UK. According to the data, these efforts to reach sustainability goals have not got unnoticed. 

EasyJet, in 2013, set a target to reduce carbon emissions by 5% per passenger kilometre by 2022. They have so far reached 3% and are aiming for an 8% reduction by 2020. Virgin Atlantic has committed to reducing aircraft emissions by 30% by 2021. According to the International Air Transport Association IATA, the UK is the third-largest airline passenger market in the world after the US and China. 

Our insight

Our data shows that BA is the most popular airline within the environmentally aware audience but KLM is growing the fastest. KLM has recently put out the ‘Fly Responsibly’ campaign encouraging its customers to seek alternative forms of transport when they can. The positive reaction to this campaign is tangible, with KLM growing 11.1% in the last 6 months.

So what?

Our analysis shows a surge in popularity among those who are putting themselves front and centre of the sustainability movement, British Airways, Virgin Atlantic and KLM. 

Charities such as the National Trust, Environment Agency and Greenpeace are popular amongst the Airline audience. 

We can also see that holidays and travel is among the top 10 passions for the environmentally conscious audience. Airlines who want to be in tune with this audience need to take notice of the growth in Climate & Green issues and Nature Conservation. All these passions are higher than Holidays & Travel showing what really matters to this audience. 

What now?

The fear and concern that surrounds climate change are enough to alter consumer mindsets around the way they travel and the airlines they travel with. Our data is built on 19 million UK social media users which, unlike survey data, is not modelled out. Our analysis allows the data to cluster forming ‘passions’ and ‘mindsets’ of customers which helps us understand how they are motivated and what they love. 

Starcount can help you get to know your customers better, tap into the mindsets and reveal what really matters to your customers. Airline brand’s need to make some changes in 2020 to remain relevant and respected by consumers in a sustainably aware culture. 

Get in touch with Starcount to learn more about the work we are doing in this field. 




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