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Delayed flights, congested airports lead key concerns for air travellers

A new survey by travel technology firm SITA has identified major worries for travellers, but not enough to stop them flying.

Despite congested airports and high airfares, travellers can't get enough of flying.

Concerns around delayed flights, surging airfares and congestion at the airport are not putting travellers off air travel, according to preliminary findings from SITA’s 2023 Passenger IT Insights study.

The poll of more than 6,000 passengers across 27 countries conducted earlier this year shows travellers intend to fly more than ever, with respondents expecting to take 4.7 flights this year compared to 4.2 flights in 2019.

Those planning more than 10 flights in 2023 have increased from 6% of passengers in 2019 to 10% this year, with business travellers and other frequent flyers making up a large part of the survey pool.

“It is encouraging for our industry that passengers want to travel and want to travel better in light of some of the challenges airports and airlines have experienced with congestion in the past year,” said SITA CEO David Lavorel.

SITA CEO David Lavorel cited more automation as key to easing streamlining the traveller experience.

Anxiety around flight cancellations was cited by 32% of passengers when booking their next flight. Nearly two out of 10 passengers surveyed cited concerns around congestion in the airport and pointed to high airfares as another leading problem.

This was fuelled by past experiences, where 56% of respondents said they had experienced delays or cancellations and 48% long airport queues.

“We cannot dismiss the fact that the overall experience of air travel is an essential element in passengers’ decision-making,” Lavorel added.

“With passengers indicating a clear intention to travel more this year, the industry is well advised to address their concerns, for example, with increased automation.”

Lavorel highlighted that earlier SITA research indicated that airport and airline CIOs were taking this seriously by pushing digital transformation.

The industry’s IT spend is projected to continue its steady year-on-year growth trend since 2020 to support digitalisation and automation. Last year, airline and airport IT spending rose to an estimated US$37 billion (approx. $AU55 billion) and US$6.8 billion (approx. $AU10 billion), respectively.

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Written by: Jon Underwood
Published: 4 July 2023

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