This is a reasonable estimate from the data we have, but it refers to all flights, not just international ones. It comes from analysis of government survey data from 2014 by campaigners for a frequent flyer levy.
One of the researchers shared their analysis with us. A more detailed breakdown of responses shows that those 15% of flyers made 70% of the total flights.
We asked the Department for Transport, which designed the survey, about this claim. It said a more precise estimate is that the 15% of adults in Great Britain who made 3 or more flights (our frequent fliers) made 71% of flights from March 2013 to March 2014.
The same survey asked about what types of flights people had taken. 7% had flown domestically, 37% short-haul within Europe, and 18% long-distance. People could choose more than one option, so we can’t separate domestic flyers from international ones.
A bigger survey, The National Travel Survey, asks 18,000 people in England how many times they flew abroad in the last year. In 2015, it found 12% of people had flown three or more times. The figures are less detailed, so we can’t calculate the percentage of flights those people accounted for in the same way.
We can’t sugar coat how difficult this year has been for good information.
News this year has fractured communities, and caused confusion and panic for many of us. No one can control what will happen next. But you can support a debate based on fair, accurate and transparent information.
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