Carbon plan

Firms urged to set target for cutting business flights

business travel
Business travel has fallen

Employees are demanding that companies set targets for reducing corporate flying in order to meet carbon emission goals.

Three in five business travellers have already curbed their flying habits as a result of the pandemic, according to a survey by Travel Smart Campaign conducted by Ipsos. 

More than two-thirds (71%) of employees felt that that to reduce levels of corporate flying a business must set targets and include them in travel policies. 

Elspeth Wray, spokesperson for the sustainable transport campaign group Transform Scotland, said: “An overwhelming majority of employees want their employers to take action to cut climate emissions by permanently cutting back on corporate flying.

“In a competitive recruitment market where companies are finding it hard to recruit and retain good staff, employers need to be seen to meet the desire from employees for action to cut emissions.

“Corporate leaders who claim to care about the climate should first examine their own flying habits, and seize the moment to pledge to keep their company’s air travel to under 50% of pre-pandemic levels, as a key measure to cut corporate emissions.”

The survey comes at a time when there is a growing sense that lower levels of business flying are here to stay. Of those who report flying for work currently or before the pandemic, 62% say they have curbed their flying habits compared to before COVID-19. Only 27% say that they fly as often as they did prior to the pandemic, with 11% saying they are now flying more. 

When asked their preference for how to reduce the environmental impact of business air travel, business travellers in this survey were most likely to say they prefer virtual collaboration technologies (46%). Less frequent flying (33%) and other means of transport (32%) received around a third of intentions. 

The shift toward collaborating remotely is predicted to have a great impact on the return of internal meetings.

A large majority (72%) of business travellers said that they are willing to take fewer business flights for internal meetings in order to reduce their environmental impact, while 67% are willing to plan more local meetings than global meetings, and therefore avoid long-haul flights.  

Paul Tuohy, chief executive of Campaign for Better Transport, concluded:  “Corporate flying habits have changed. This survey shows that employees want a new normal where businesses take responsibility for reducing their emissions.

“Just as investment in public transport is of significant benefit to the wider economy with improved access to jobs and services, businesses and employees can now see more clearly than ever that sustainable travel policies are not just better for the environment, but also better for business”.

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