UK Airlines Market Report 2023
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Easing inflation has boosted Brits' interest in flying, but long-term market growth will be dependent on the industry's ability to manage environmental concerns. Marloes De Vries, Travel Analyst…

UK Airlines Market Report 2023

 2,600 (Excl.Tax)


After taking a serious hit during the COVID-19 pandemic, the UK airline industry is recovering. Mintel’s UK Airlines Market Report 2023 is packed with consumer-led market intelligence, the latest trends and market statistics, to help you secure future growth for your business. Get a 360° view of the UK airlines industry, including market size, market share, and a five year forecast.

Key Issues Covered in this Report

  • How the rising cost of living will impact the recovery of the UK airlines market.
  • Intentions to travel by air and likely behavioural changes.
  • Key drivers of passenger satisfaction with flights.
  • Decisive factors when choosing an airline.
  • Consumers’ perceptions of seven key players in the airlines market.

Current UK Airlines Market Overview

Following two pandemic impacted years in 2020 and 2021, we have seen a further recovery of passenger volumes in 2023. The volume is not quite at pre-pandemic levels, but is getting closer, and Mintel estimates passenger numbers at UK airports in 2023 are up almost a quarter on 2022. A full recovery is expected in 2025, with volume continuing to grow thereafter. Economic recovery and growth, and increased capacity will contribute to this growth. However, innovations around sustainability will be essential to enable future growth.

  • UK Airlines Market Share: EasyJet’s and British Airways’ market share is the largest, but has not yet returned to pre-pandemic levels. Loganair has seen the largest increase in market share from 2019 to 2022.

UK Airlines Market Trends and Innovation Opportunities

Sustainable flying

Sustainability now plays a key part of the UK aviation market. Even during a cost-of-living crisis, almost half of UK passengers would be happy if airlines made opting in to offsetting emissions the default option when booking flights. However, airlines must prove that this will lead to a positive impact on the environment, so clear and transparent messaging is vital.

Older passengers need encouragement

Intent to fly is also above participation levels seen prior to the pandemic, except among those aged over 65. Since the ageing population offers a growing opportunity, innovations will be needed to boost the older generation’s confidence in flying. Over-65s are more likely to prioritise convenience and, as such, providing access to priority security lines, priority boarding and easy ways to get in touch with customer service will help boost appeal.


UK Airlines Market Report 2023 Infographic


To gain a deeper understanding of the UK Airline industry and the opportunities for innovation in the market, purchase our full report. Readers of this report may also be interested in Mintel’s UK Sustainability in Travel Market Report 2023.

Additional Features Included with your Purchase

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Expert Analysis from an Industry Specialist

This report, written by Marloes De Vries, a leading Travel analyst, delivers in-depth commentary and analysis to highlight current trends in the [name] market and add expert context to the numbers.

Easing inflation has boosted Brits’ interest in flying, but long-term market growth will be dependent on the industry’s ability to manage environmental concerns.

Marloes De VriesMarloes De Vries
Travel Analyst



Table of Contents

  1. Executive Summary

    • Opportunities for the airlines market
    • Market dynamics and outlook
    • What consumers want and why
    • Innovation and marketing
  2. Market Size

    • Graph 5: passenger numbers uplifted at UK airports, 2017-23
    • Both domestic and international passenger volumes are not expected to fully recover in 2023
  3. Market Forecast

    • Learnings from the last time consumers faced an extended income squeeze in the aftermath of the financial crisis
  4. Market Segmentation

    • Nearly nine in 10 overseas trips taken by UK residents in 2022 were made by air
    • Overseas business trips by air remained at a relatively low level in 2022
    • Greece, Portugal and Turkey are the only destinations in the top 10 to have surpassed pre-pandemic levels in 2022
    • Speed of recovery varies greatly between destinations
  5. Market Share

    • Jet2.com, Wizz Air and Loganair carried more passengers in 2022 than before the pandemic
    • The recovery in 2022 varied widely by airline
    • Jet2.com continues to gain market share as it aims to become the UK’s leading and best leisure travel business
    • Ryanair and Wizz Air show strong growth ambitions
    • Loganair, the UK’s largest regional airline, carried a record number of customers in 2022
  6. Macroeconomic Factors

    • Inflation and wage growth reach same level for the first time in nearly two years
    • Graph 6: CPI 12-month rate change and wage growth, 2020-23
    • Graph 7: the Financial Confidence Index, 2009-23*
    • Graph 8: Europe Brent Spot price, yearly averages 2010-22, forecast for 2023-24
    • Nearly a quarter of Brits affected by higher prices for holidays
    • Strikes continue to pose a threat to the aviation industry
  7. Social, Environmental and Legal Factors

    • Government and industry invest in the development of electric flight technologies and hydrogen-powered aircraft
    • Air Passenger Duty halved for domestic flights from 1 April 2023
    • Various airports are looking to increase their capacity
  8. Holiday bookings and booking intentions

    • Holiday bookings continue to be comparable to pre-pandemic levels
    • Graph 9: holiday bookings in the last three months, 2018/19-2022/23
    • Brits remain keen to book holidays
    • Graph 10: plans to book a holiday in the next three months, 2018/19-2022/23
  9. Flights taken

    • The share of Brits who flew in the year to June 2023 remained below pre-pandemic levels
    • Graph 11: flights taken in the last 12 months, by age, 2019 vs 2023
    • Participation in business travel also recovered at a slower pace
    • Graph 12: flights taken in the last 12 months, by purpose, 2019 vs 2023
    • Consumers are flying less often than before the pandemic
    • Graph 13: frequency of flights taken in the past 12 months*, 2019 vs 2023
    • Drops in frequency seen across different travel purposes
    • Nearly two thirds of passengers flew to an overseas destination in Europe in the year to June 2023
    • Graph 14: flight destinations in the past 12 months, 2023
  10. Future intentions to take flights

    • Efforts are needed to entice more over-65s to return to the skies
    • Holidays remain high on Brits’ wishlists, while participation in business travel remains subdued
    • Graph 15: flights taken in the past 12 months vs intention to take flights in the next 12 months, by purpose, 2023
    • Lower-cost options and support in meeting environmental targets are critical to business travel recovery
    • Less intent to travel domestically in the coming year
    • Airlines need to make sure passengers feel comfortable flying domestically to benefit from tax cut
  11. Decisive factors when choosing an airline

    • Airline bookings remain highly price-driven
    • Graph 16: factors influencing choice of airline, 2023
    • Effective strategies to help passengers pay a low price
    • The importance of comfort and convenience increases with age
    • Graph 17: factors influencing choice of airline, by age, 2023
    • Room for improvement to cater for the needs of people with reduced mobility
  12. Satisfaction levels

    • Staff have a positive impact on the passenger experience
    • Boarding efficiency and flight punctuality are points of attention
  13. Attitudes towards sustainability

    • Most passengers are open to flying in an electric aircraft
    • Small electric vertical take-off and landing aircrafts are closer to becoming a reality
    • Many passengers are willing to contribute, but airlines must prove that this will lead to a positive impact on the environment
    • Passengers are divided on whether airlines will reach net zero by 2050
  14. Attitudes towards flying

    • Free Wi-Fi will contribute to a better flying experience
    • Most passengers trust biometric recognition technology at airports…
    • Graph 18: attitudes towards flying, 2023
    • …but clear communication will be essential to utilise its full potential
    • New ways to entice travellers to upgrade
  15. Launch activity and innovation

    • Airlines introduce new premium experiences
    • Quantas’ ultra long-haul aircraft will feature a Wellbeing Zone; a dedicated space for movement and refreshments
    • World’s first transatlantic flight using 100% sustainable aviation fuel scheduled for take off in November 2023
    • Paris expects to be the first city in the world with electric vertical take-off and landing aircraft
    • Airlines have made progress in making flying more accessible and inclusive
    • Delta plans to offer free Wi-Fi across its global fleet by the end of 2024
  16. Advertising and marketing activity

    • Jet2.com, TUI Group and Virgin Atlantic Airways were the biggest ad spenders in 2022
    • easyJet launched the pan-European ‘Get Out There’ campaign in July 2023
    • Virgin Atlantic’s ‘See the World Differently’ campaign shows that everyone is welcome on board
    • British Airways launched its new brand positioning ‘A British Original’ in October 2022
    • Ryanair launched a TV campaign in January 2023, highlighting ‘low fares, on-time flights and sunshine destinations’

    • Virgin Atlantic and Jet2.com have the highest share of customers who would recommend the brand to others
    • Graph 19: % of consumers who prefer the brand over others or describe it as their favourite brand, 2019-23
    • Graph 20: share of users who rated their experience with the brand as ‘good’ or ‘excellent’, 2019-23
    • Graph 21: share of users who would recommend this brand to a friend, family member or colleague, 2019-23
    • Graph 22: share of users who associate the brand with one that offers good value, 2019-23

    • Supplementary data
    • Market forecast data and methodology
    • Report scope and definitions
    • Methodology

About the report

This market report provides in-depth analysis and insight supported by a range of data. At the same time, introductory and top-level content is provided to give you an overview of the issues covered.


Mintel provides a range of market information, frequently through the category level, including market size and forecasting, complete with market drivers that illustrate the forces that shape a category or market.


Mintel’s proprietary consumer research provides our analysts with the attitudinal and behavioral data used to provide valuable insight to topical issues.


Mintel provides overviews of the top brands and manufacturers, and uses consumer research to explore attitudes and reactions to brands, as well as insight into what will resonate with consumers.


Market reports provide appendices of data to support the research and insight produced. Our databooks* are easily manipulated and downloadable to support your research needs and covers factors from consumer attitudes to market forecasts.

*databooks not available with UK B2B Industry reports.

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