We reviewed previous research, analysed London Heathrow’s passenger survey data and interviewed relevant stakeholders, like airlines and the charity Age Concern, in a study of the travel needs of the airport’s ageing passenger population.

Key Facts

    • It is predicted that in many developed and developing societies, elderly citizens will account for a rising proportion of the population.

    • Beyond the age of 60, there is accelerated deterioration in capabilities which can restrict mobility, confuse the senses and impair cognitive function. This can make airport terminals particularly challenging for many elderly citizens.

    • Increased disposable income means that elderly citizens will have a high appetite for travel, providing significant commercial opportunities for the air travel industry.

    • For many elderly citizens, the air travel experience can be very confusing and stressful. Airports and other air transport service providers have not fully considered the implications of population ageing in terms of what products need to be offered and how processes, systems and architectures needs to be adapted.

  • Funded by London Heathrow Airport.

Impact of our research

London Heathrow Airport has recognised the need to address the challenges and opportunities posed by the ageing population phenomenon.

Our research highlighted some important findings relating to future travel trends and to how, historically, elderly passengers have rated elements of its service provision and how the airport is positioned relative to its key competitors. This information provides London Heathrow with an important insight into which processes need greater management focus.

Our stakeholder analysis presented some really important insights in the area of operational and strategic communication between the airport and its partners and how the airport’s current elderly passenger proposition is perceived.

Why the research was commissioned

Given that the elderly passenger market is becoming more important to the airport, we set out to initially review previous research in the fields of health and mobility and the effects of population ageing on travel, tourism and air transport.

London Heathrow also sought to obtain deeper insights into how elderly passengers had rated their experience of its services, both historically and relative to its key competitors. It also wanted to obtain deeper qualitative perspectives on ageing population from its partners, relevant interest groups and population ageing subject experts.

Why Cranfield?

We have a large number of academics focused on management and policy in air transport. We recognise that one of the most important issues that will affect the industry in the coming years will be what population ageing is likely to mean in terms of how systems will need to be redesigned, services delivered and customer needs satisfied.