Collecting local views on the post-Covid future of flying using online qualitative methods: A case study of Bristol, UK

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review


The aviation sector represents an important terrain for contemporary environmental politics and policy. This position has been complicated by the Covid-19 pandemic, which has led to a dramatic slowdown in international travel and threatened the position of the aviation and airline sectors. The temporality of this decline remains unclear. In this article, we present online qualitative research that explores how people’s think their flying habits might change in the future – in the wake of both Covid-19 and resultant social restrictions and awareness of climate breakdown. To do so, we foreground our analysis in Bristol, UK – a city characterized by a strong brand of green politics and debates surrounding airport expansion and the role of aviation in a net-zero future. This work adopted a research design conducted entirely online, incorporating surveys disseminated via local media and online focus groups. Findings from this work demonstrate that close to 60% of those surveyed will likely fly less in a post-Covid future. Furthermore, the Covid-19 pandemic has prompted a ‘reimagination’ of flying – with important behavioral, policy and justice implications. Our objective in presenting this work is twofold – first to illuminate emergent patterns of behavioral change in flying post-Covid and, second, to critically reflect on conducting online qualitative research in a pandemic.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1464020
JournalCase Studies in the Environment
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was funded by the Cabot Institute for the Environment, University of Bristol, via the 2019 Cabot Innovation Fund.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 by the Regents of the University of California. All rights reserved.


  • Aviation
  • Covid-19
  • Flying
  • Online methods
  • Focus group


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