Analysis: Do Austrians fly or do they prefer to stay on the ground?

ÖBB intercity bus Iveco (Photo: Jan Gruber).
ÖBB intercity bus Iveco (Photo: Jan Gruber).

Analysis: Do Austrians fly or do they prefer to stay on the ground?

ÖBB intercity bus Iveco (Photo: Jan Gruber).
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The holiday season is in full swing and after more than 2 years of pandemic, the Austrians' desire to travel is greater than ever. Which means of transport do you prefer in this country for your holiday trip?

Do Austrians still get on planes or are they ashamed of flying? And who can imagine going on vacation in the future only on earth, i.e. without an airplane? The online research institute Marketagent investigated these and other questions in its current travel study among 1.000 people.

Travel habits of Austrians

Mr. and Mrs. Austrians travel an average of 14 days, i.e. 2 weeks a year. In Germany, people prefer to go on holiday in their own country or in neighboring countries by car (78%), at least one in three uses the train (33%) and one fifth flies (19%). Even within Europe, the majority of Austrians prefer to travel by car (57%). 2 out of 5 board a plane (41%) for Europe travel, 27% board the train. When it comes to long-distance travel, there is of course almost no way around the airport. More than three quarters use the plane for long-distance travel 76%). At least 6% also make a long-distance journey by car, caravan or train. Incidentally, according to the present survey, on average people in Germany afford to fly once a year.

If you look at the criteria that are most important for respondents when choosing a means of transport, it is not surprising that Mr. and Mrs. Austrians prefer to go on holiday by car. After all, the vehicle meets three of the top 4 criteria: good value for money (64%), comfort during the journey (52%) and little or no change necessary (51%).

Whether consciously or unconsciously – the usage data from the present survey indicate that Austrians are already very terran on the move. "Terran" is a new word that describes a form of travel in which the plane is deliberately avoided for ecological reasons. “Words create reality and consciousness. The fact that flying is bad for the environment has now reached the general public. The new term "terran" strengthens the perception of more climate-friendly travel behavior and also gives it a positive image," explains Thomas Schwabl, Managing Director of Marketagent. 

Terrane travel

The specific term "terrane" is not yet very common among the Austrian population - only one in five states that they have heard of it. Nonetheless, this concept is attracting interest. More than every second person thinks it's good to consciously avoid flying when traveling and to use more climate-friendly alternatives instead.

The interviewees would – not surprisingly – most likely make the switch to the car. With 73% agreement with those surveyed, the car is clearly the most attractive alternative to the plane. After all, the climate-friendly railway is a conceivable counter-proposal for almost 60%.

“In order to make the switch, the Austrians see not only the consumers but also the providers as having an obligation. Three quarters assume that people will not voluntarily switch to other modes of transport as long as cheap flights are available. Conversely, one would like cheaper tickets for the train so that more people switch to rail transport," says Thomas Schwabl. In this sense, 55% of those questioned would also support a tax on kerosene.

Flexi-terran instead of flight shame

In addition to the term terran, which has positive connotations, there has also been the neologism of “flight shame” for a few years – i.e. the guilty conscience when traveling by plane. This is also not entirely unfamiliar to the domestic respondents: 54% have at least some pangs of conscience when they fly.

And how do Austrians see the future of travel? 6 out of 10 can imagine only traveling flexi-terran in the future, i.e. reducing air travel to a minimum. On the other hand, only 40% could imagine completely doing without the plane, i.e. purely terrestrial travel behavior. The most important obstacles are that some destinations would be difficult or impossible to reach without a plane (52%) and traveling without a plane might take too long (46%).

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