Skift Take

Travel managers are concerned for the safety of travelers who will be flying Boeing 737 Max series aircraft in the future, and with good reason.

With hundreds of Boeing 737 Max series aircraft still grounded pending a new wave of training and approvals from global aviation authorities, business travel has largely been unaffected by disruptions.

Sentiment in corporate travel, though, remains negative over safety concerns and because so many travelers are now aware of Boeing’s mistakes designing the aircraft.

A poll of 155 travel managers conducted by the Global Business Travel Association found lingering concerns about not just travelers flying on Boeing 737 Max aircraft, but the possibility of future disruption once they enter service once again.

“Our latest research shows that travel managers and their employees are very concerned about flying on a Boeing 737 Max,” said Global Business Travel Association executive director and chief operating officer Scott Solombrino. “Transparency is vital to restoring consumer confidence and according to the research most travel managers trust the FAA and National Transportation Safety Board’s assessment on safety. Business travel is critical to the U.S. economy and maintaining consumer confidence in air travel is of the utmost importance.”

Safety, obviously, tops travel manager concerns given the track record of the aircraft. Travel managers themselves are overwhelmingly concerned about their personal safety flying on a Boeing 737 Max aircraft, with 81 percent very or somewhat concerned about their own safety on one of the flights.

Corporate liability is the second most common concern besides safety; duty of care in the U.S. is more of a method to prevent potential liability than a legal mandate. More than half reported safety remains a concern despite Boeing’s efforts to assure the public the aircraft will be safe.

Travel Manager Concerns Regarding Boeing 737 Max Flights

Traveler Safety 59%
Traveler Concerns About Their Own Safety 21%
Liability Concerns 11%
Rebooking Costs 3%

Source: GBTA

Given the awareness of consumers regarding the Boeing 737 Max, travel managers remain concerned about their travelers switching flights to avoid the aircraft. Just 3 percent of those polled said it’s not likely that their travelers will change their plans to fly on a different plane.

How Likely Are Travelers To Change Plans To Avoid Boeing 737 Max Flights

Very Likely 19%
Somewhat Likely 48%
Neither Likely Nor Unlikely 17%
Not Very Likely 13%
Not At All Likely 3%

Source: GBTA

Concerns are widespread, though, among business travelers. Just 12 percent of those polled haven’t heard concerns about the aircraft from the travelers.

Travel managers are more optimistic about the outlook when the Boeing 737 Max series returns to service; 40 percent are very or somewhat confident the issues will be fixed, while 30 percent are neutral.

Travel manager confidence may not transform into state of mind for travelers, however. As Boeing inches closer to gaining the approvals it needs to put the aircraft back into service, organizations should remain wary of both physical and mental risks from placing travelers on aircraft with a tarnished reputation.

Check out the full survey below.

Download (PDF, 138KB)


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Tags: Boeing, boeing 737 max, corporate travel, ctir, gbta

Photo credit: Models of Boeing passenger airliners are displayed during the Airshow China in Zhuhai city, south China's Guangdong province. China’s airline industry association has thrown its support behind 13 Chinese carriers seeking compensation from Boeing for groundings of the 737 Max 8. Kim Cheung / AP Photo

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