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15-24 year olds ready to pay more for their plane tickets to limit their carbon footprint

Generation Z is increasingly sensitive to environmental issues, even if they continue to use the plane extensively, according to the new report from the Pegasus Chair.

We could sum up the relationship that “Generation Z”, ie 15-24 year olds, has with air transport in a single word: paradox. Increasingly aware of the negative effects of the plane on the climate, they are also still many to use it. Between environmental awareness and an irrepressible desire to discover the world, young people are at the heart of the new issues affecting this sector. The new report from the Pégase Chair, a chair devoted to the economics of air transport, published on May 9, tried to understand them.

38% of young French people are “ashamed to fly”

Although greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions linked to air transport have decreased, in France, by 49.3% between 2000 and 2020, they still amount to 10.3 million tonnes, i.e. 4 .6% of all French GHG emissions [3,8% pour le trafic international et 0,8% pour le domestique]. Globally, these have, on the contrary, increased by 130% between 2001 and 2021, in a context where the number of passengers has increased from 1.66 billion to 4.56 billion between 2001 and 2019. of these figures, the plane is an eminently polluting means of transport. It is in this context that the concept of flygskam Where “ashamed to fly», which means that more and more individuals want to drastically limit their use of air travel, due to its environmental impact.

According to a survey carried out by JAM for Allianz Travel in 2019, 75% of young French people would be “concerned about the impact of tourism on the environment», while 38% feel flygskam. Steven, a 22-year-old Parisian student, feels it fully. “It is out of environmental awareness that I try to reduce my air travel to a strict minimum. The last time I took it was to go to Istanbul for my studies. Since then, I only favor destinations where I can go by train, car or boat from France.“. The study by the Pégase Chair shows that 74% of 15-24 year olds consider the aviation sector as “polluting“.
The 15-25 year olds are the first generation to be fully immersed in environmental issues. They therefore identify a lot with opinion leaders, such as Greta Thunberg, who have particularly emphasized the ecological impact of the plane. explains Paul Chiambaretto, Professor at the Montpellier Business School and director of the Pégase Chair. 15-24 year olds are even ready, on average, to pay 14% more for their plane tickets [contre 8% de plus pour les 25-25 ans]to encourage them to limit their ecological footprint.

A paradoxical relationship of young people with air transport

However, 15-24 year olds have a paradoxical relationship with air transport. Despite a real generational awareness of the impact of their consumption habits on the climate, this age group remains the second generation to fly the most. Indeed, it makes 1.46 flights per year, just behind the 25-35 year olds [1,65 vol/an]but ahead of Generation X [nés entre 1968-1987]which achieves 1.34 flights/year, or the “1946-1967» [1,015 vol/an]. 80% of Generation Z have already flown at least once. And the “company environmental performance“, or its ability to limit its carbon footprint by offering a more “green», constitutes only the 7th criterion of choice – out of 10 – in the purchase of plane tickets for 15-25 year olds. The first purchase criterion being the price, safety, reputation of the company or even comfort. Moreover, a survey carried out as part of the study shows that 36% of young people do not consider the environment as an important criterion in the choice of their modes of transport and that 48% do not really want to take the plane to preserve the environment. “Even if we find strong environmental values ​​at home, 15-24 year olds are not the generation to have the most eco-responsible actions.explains Paul Chiambaretto. “Having strong values ​​that do not necessarily materialize in behavior is part of the DNA of Generation Z. We can explain this paradox by the fact that it is less rooted in the purchase of material goods, but wishes to live unique experiences, in which travel occupies a central place“.

More than a “flygskam generation”, the Pégase Chair shows that instead of truly limiting their air travel – given that 52% of them still use it for journeys of 1000 km and more – Generation Z is rather seeking to adopt habits of current consumption allowing them to compensate for their air travel. They are thus 51% to sort their waste or 39% to use less polluting transport in their daily life. “What our study has shown above all is that 15-25 year olds are nevertheless ready to pay more for their plane tickets to choose a company that is more respectful of the environment. Thus, we think that in the long term, young people will not fly less but fly better by choosing their company in a more relevant way.explains Paul Chiambaretto. “Centering its offer on environmental or social criteria should also become more and more extensive and become a fundamental means of differentiating itself from its competitors.he concludes.

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