Ferries to benefit as UK travellers shun flying over health concerns

The ferry industry’s recovery from the pandemic is potentially set to benefit from UK people’s lingering concerns about the health and hygiene risks associated with air travel, according to national research by LEK Consulting.

LEK’s survey of 1,500 UK people, shows that ferries are seen as almost twice as safe health and hygiene wise as short-haul air and three times as safe as long-haul air.

Online searches about ferry transport have returned to pre-covid levels, whereas searches for flights are much lower, LEK’s research shows. It also highlights that nearly a third of UK people who didn’t use a ferry in 2019 would consider travelling on one now.

“Whilst the European ferry industry was hit hard by the pandemic, it could make a far faster recovery than air travel. A key factor is that people think they are much less likely to catch cover or another illness in a ferry than on an aeroplane,” says Becrom Basu, a partner at the consulting firm.

“The European ferry industry had exhibited strong growth before the pandemic. With our forecasts showing that international air travel is not expected to fully recover until 2024, we believe the ferry industry has a significant window of opportunity to build on its pre-pandemic momentum and current interest levels to grow market share in the next two years.”

LEK’s research showed that UK people also perceive ferries to be almost twice as safe as trains. Eurotunnel is the only form of transport seen as safer than ferries, because travellers are able to remain in their own vehicle bubble.

LEK’s analysis of leading ferry companies operating in Europe highlighted that following robust revenue growth of around 7% from 2017-2019, revenues declined by about 35% as a result of the pandemic.

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