What factors will influence the demand for leisure air travel in the future?

The development of competition between airlines which followed air transport deregulation, coupled with more efficient and less costly aircraft has led to the democratisation of air transport. It is necessary to understand the factors affecting demand in order to understand the market and to forecast traffic better.

Growing demand encompasses both freight and passengers, including business as well as leisure trips. In 2003, 69% of air trips made by Europeans were for leisure – leisure meaning all travel purposes other than business. Demand for leisure travel is one of the possible choices within the limits of an individual’s leisure budget. Understanding how these choices are made and will be made in the future can give an indication of how the traffic is likely to evolve between now and 2025.

Determining demand for leisure air travel in 2025 requires an understanding of how passengers make their decisions to travel and how their behaviour and needs will evolve. Two complementary approaches have been used in this study: an economic approach and a sociological approach. The study concerned the French population, one of the foremost European populations for leisure air traffic. The sociological part was based on interviews and projections of society experts and of citizens, using the EUROCONTROL STATFOR scenarios for the description of the general context in 2025.

According to the study, air travel demand in 2025 will increase in all future scenarios.
It will be characterised by:
  • Increase in the level of air travel demand for the purpose of Visiting Friends and Relatives (VFR), boosted by job mobility and migration flows
  • Increase in the level of air travel demand from retired people
  • Increase in the demand for customised travel
  • Use of travel as a way to escape from the stress of modern living
  • Price is, and will remain, the main choice criterion
  • Despite the environmental concerns that will shape the market, only increases in air fares, or regulation measures limiting supply levels, will lead people to reduce their demand for air travel
However, to improve long-term demand analysis methods, some aspects addressed in the present study should be explored further:
  • The elasticities of total cost of travel - including the cost of living at the destination;
  • Household consumption of leisure air travel
  • The holiday departure rates according to socio-professional categories
  • The number of retired and emigrated people - which will impact the number of trips for the purpose of Visiting Friends and Relatives;
  • The opposition between environmental issues and the right to travel
  • The use of long-term projections made by experts from different disciplines
Finally, the study has revealed the lack of understanding of current demand features and expectations of potential travellers, although such information is essential for long-term demand analysis.

A synthesis has been produced which outlines the main findings.


  HTML Evolution of Demand for Leisure Air Transport in 2025, Synthesis Report, EEC Note 2007/11


Nadine Pilon
  Last validation: 23/06/2008