The COVID-19 pandemic is increasingly becoming a part of our day-to-day lives. At the same time, the situation is creating new market dynamics in the aviation sector. To support the industry in its decision-making on product and service offerings, Bauhaus Luftfahrt 1 conducted a passenger survey to investigate its future requirements for long-haul flights in the current transition period to this New Normal. Due to high yields and low substitution potential, long-haul flights are an essential product for airlines and could become an attractive source of revenue through possible catch-up effects.

A choice-based conjoint analysis was set up as part of this endeavour, surveying 269 German private and business passengers on their purchasing behaviour for a hypothetical long-haul flight. The passenger survey data were gathered and preferences quantified using the data obtained from the responses on choices between different ancillary services, which were presented as possible upgrade options for a long-haul flight.

The results show that the price of additional services still has the highest relevance for passengers, followed by a seat upgrade for more comfort. Especially female and elderly passengers perceive the CO2 compensation as an attractive ancillary service. Additional hygiene-related services, such as seat disinfection or hygiene amenity products, were hardly chosen and seem to provide fewer benefits. As previous studies have already confirmed, high-yield business passengers and frequent flyers continue to attach great importance to their comfort in the cabin.

Influence of ancillary services on passengers’ choice behaviour

The importance score depicts the relative influence of the total price and various ancillary services on the choice behaviour in the sample. This allows the derivation of passenger preferences on the German market.

Ancillary services could also be offered as bundles

By bundling different ancillary services, packages can be created that target specific passenger needs. The graph shows the price-demand curve in the overall sample for three exemplary bundles.

This study was conducted in collaboration with WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management and supported by Sawtooth Software through an academic grant.

Ancillary services go beyond the core service and can create a more enjoyable travel experience.

1 Schmalz, U., Ringbeck, J., Schlereth, C., & Spinler, S. (2022). Air passengers‘ preferences in the transition towards the new normal. Manuscript submitted for publication.