Consumers have become less willing to pay for the environmental cost of flying as the economy tightens.
That is the conclusion of a poll of more than 1,000 voters in marginal constituencies commissioned by industry lobby group Flying Matters.
The state of the economy is now the prime concern of 77% of voters, up from 28% last year. The cost of living is the major issue for 39% of voters, up from 11% last year.
The environment concerned just 8% of the sample compared with 18% a year ago.
The poll last year rated the environment fourth in a list of issues voters wanted tackled – behind healthcare, the economy and education, but ahead of crime, immigration and housing. Voters now rate the environment in seventh place, which is still more important than transport and security.
Support for increasing the cost of flying on environmental grounds also appears to have fallen from 45% in 2007 to 27%, and the Flying Matters poll shows 67% oppose an increase in tax on flying.
The poll also found 31% of voters believe reducing carbon emissions should be a high priority, compared with 63% wanting to see control of inflation and 45% wanting action to stimulate the economy.
It also found a clear desire for government and industry to do more to cut emissions – 91% agree airlines should use the most fuel-efficient aircraft and 67% want the industry to invest more in alternative fuels.
Flying Matters director Michelle di Leo said: “The scale of the change since last year is startling. The willingness to pay more for flying has evaporated.
“The survey lends weight to the point that now is not the time to put new taxes on the industry.”