More that 400 Guernsey islanders responded to a business air travel survey issued earlier this year, to help airlines consider their post-Covid services.
The hierarchy of business needs showed that with regards to flight schedules, early morning and evening services are of high importance, along with reliability and competitive pricing.
Priorities for business travel
|Lower Importance||Moderate Importance||Greater Importance|
|2nd||Early morning and evening flights for day return schedules||8%||15%||77%|
|4th||Choice of 1-2 daytime flights in addition to early morning and evening||21%||39%||40%|
|5th||Through ticketing for flight connections||28%||35%||37%|
|6th||Choice of 3-4 daytime flights in addition to early morning and evening||47%||34%||19%|
The survey also questioned expected frequency, destination and duration of business trips, and sought to understand expected changes in travel patterns compared to pre-Covid. Whilst the results do not provide a conclusive picture, 25 % of respondents indicate they anticipate less travel in future, while 65% of respondents gave no specific comment on the anticipated degree of change to their business travel needs compared to pre-pandemic times.
The duration of business trip, destination and frequency
|1-3x a year or less||1-2x a quarter||More than 2x a quarter||Total by weighted average of responses|
|UK trip with overnight stay||24%||37%||39%||8.6|
|UK day return||42%||29%||29%||8.0|
|CI day return||73%||14%||13%||4.6|
|CI trip with overnight stay||82%||10%||8%||3.5|
The complexity of factors which will affect the amount of air travel seen post-Covid is reflected in comments made by respondents. These include continuing concerns over health risk, increased inconveniences for travellers, and greater use of remote technology as an alternative to business travel, which 6% of respondents cited as a driver leading them to anticipate less frequent travel being required.
In terms of destinations, the survey explored which airports are favoured by business travellers to serve different needs.
79% of respondents indicated that they will continue to use Gatwick for travel to London, whilst the results also indicate an interest for a Heathrow and a London City route for access to/from London. Heathrow features strongly as a preference for international connections, and the value of Southampton for connections elsewhere in the UK is also evident.
Airports favoured according to different business travel needs
|For travel to/from London|
|For Flight Connections|
|For other UK travel|
The results support the idea that a coordinated schedule across Gatwick, Heathrow, London City and Southampton might most effectively serve the business community’s varied requirements for air travel.
Respondents also expressed a need to travel to Manchester, and of destinations not currently served, Dublin was also shown as being of interest.
|% respondents expressing a need for|
|services at least 2-3 times a week||Services at least daily||Services twice daily||Weighted average|
Comments by 10% of respondents noted a degree of interest in European destinations, though with no large expression of interest for any one destination. The most cited (3% of respondents in each case) were Amsterdam, Paris and Zurich/Geneva.
Guernsey Chamber President Elaine Gray said that the data provided useful insight into mindsets and potential activity during the challenging post-Covid period. She told Channel Eye: “The data will be added to information already held which underlines the need for stable, regular airlinks with major business and recreational hubs such as London and Manchester. The Chamber of Commerce will also be reviewing demand for European links when travel restrictions are eased and opportunity for both corporate and visitor use is broadened.
“As a relatively small but important jurisdiction, we are very mindful of the requirement to make it as seamless and cost effective as possible to enable face to face transactions and engagement, coupled with the community element of recreational travel and family and friends’ reunions.”
“There were a wide range of responses to the questions on future air travel needs, but it was clear that access to sustainable and competitively-priced air connectivity will remain of central importance to the island’s business community. Given the importance of air connectivity, we will continue to advocate that air links remain a core part of the government’s policy agenda” says Bob Moore, IoD committee lead for transport.
The survey was conducted by the four business groups – the Guernsey branch of the Institute of Directors, Chamber of Commerce, The Confederation of Guernsey Industry and Guernsey International Business Association.