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Article

Passengers’ Knowledge and Attitudes toward Green Initiatives in Aviation

1
Department of Aviation Engineering, Faculty of Aeronautics, Technical University of Košice, Rampová 7, 041 21 Košice, Slovakia
2
Department of Air Transport Management, Faculty of Aeronautics, Technical University of Košice, Rampová 7, 041 21 Košice, Slovakia
3
Institut of Earth Sources, Faculty of Mining, Ecology, Process Control and Geotechnology, Technical University of Košice, Letná 9, 042 00 Košice, Slovakia
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Sustainability 2023, 15(7), 6187; https://doi.org/10.3390/su15076187
Submission received: 3 March 2023 / Revised: 29 March 2023 / Accepted: 31 March 2023 / Published: 4 April 2023

Abstract

:
The aviation sector is one of the fastest-growing segments of the transportation industry responsible for a considerable share of greenhouse gas emissions. Therefore, sustainability has become one of the central issues for the aviation sector. International regulatory bodies, airlines, and airport operators, along with aircraft manufacturers and suppliers have put forward initiatives to make aviation green. However, before the wider implementation of new sustainable practices, it is important to look at the opinion of passengers, as customers, on these matters. For this reason, this study aims to explore the knowledge and attitudes of Slovak passengers about green initiatives in aviation. The information about passengers’ knowledge and attitudes was collected through an online questionnaire. The data obtained from 514 respondents were evaluated employing descriptive and inferential statistics. From the results, several conclusions are apparent. Slovak passengers have generally weak environmental knowledge; therefore, it is important to provide them with enough relevant information to make informed decisions. The passengers have generally neutral to positive attitudes towards green initiatives in aviation, with the exception when these initiatives endanger their comfort or finances. For the development of green aviation, it is essential to increase the number of passengers with overall positive attitudes.

1. Introduction

The aviation sector is a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, which are projected to increase significantly in the future. As a result, issues related to sustainability have become crucial topics for both airports and airlines. National and international governing bodies are placing greater pressure on the industry to reduce its CO2 emissions. Airlines and their key partners are collaborating to investigate and create methods for decreasing the industry’s environmental impact. Additionally, a rising number of travelers are experiencing “flight shame,” a social trend in which they feel compelled to decrease their carbon footprint or opt for more eco-friendly modes of transportation.
To successfully implement green solutions in the aviation industry, it is important to consider the opinions of passengers. Assessing the quality of air transport services is crucial in order to ensure high standards and improve the services offered to passengers. Air transport service is composed of a wide range of services provided by both airlines and airport operators. Given the complexity of the aviation sector, compared to other transport sectors, evaluating service quality presents a challenge. Passenger satisfaction depends on many factors, such as pre-flight, in-flight, and post-flight services, and it is important to understand their expectations to compare an organization’s performance against them. As passengers’ expectations for air travel become the norm, it is essential to understand their attitudes before implementing new practices that may affect their comfort and perceived safety, and ultimately their satisfaction with the overall travel experience. Customer-oriented strategies are becoming increasingly popular among airlines and airports as passenger satisfaction significantly impacts their loyalty and willingness to promote the use of these services to others. Providing quality services is critical in ensuring that passengers return and recommend them to others.
This article highlights the importance of considering the opinions of passengers when implementing new, sustainable practices in aviation. It points out the areas where passengers’ knowledge is insufficient and suggests strategies for improving environmental knowledge dissemination. In this article, we first present the overview of the green initiatives currently in use or in consideration for the aviation sector, which could help to significantly reduce the carbon footprint of the aviation sector. The next part offers an overview of the academic literature related to the presented research and includes studies concerned with the links between passengers’ knowledge and their attitudes toward sustainable initiatives. In the following section, the practical part of the research is presented. After the explanation of the methodology used, along with the goals, we proceed to the analysis of the results we obtained from the questionnaire that was the key source of information for the research.

2. Background

As a result of technological and scientific innovations, as well as legal and political initiatives, the sector of green aviation is able to grow. New technologies are the key to driving the aviation sector towards sustainability; therefore, it is essential for scientific and technological innovations to become the priority and receive all the regulatory support. Thus, changes are required in various sectors within the aviation industry, including advancement in energy-saving technologies, improvement of fuel efficiency, new legislative regulations, advancement of sustainable aviation fuels, improvement of waste management at the airports, and many others. For the purposes of our research, we have divided green initiatives in the aviation sector into four main categories based on the sphere they are related to, namely legal, airports, aircraft, and energy carriers (see Figure 1).

2.1. European Initiatives towards Sustainability in the Aviation Sector

2.1.1. European Green Deal

The EU’s long-term growth plan, the European Green Deal, aims to make Europe carbon neutral by 2050. Europe must cut its emissions by at least 55% from the 1990 levels by 2030 in order to meet this goal [1]. The European Green Deal provides a roadmap for transforming climate and environmental issues into opportunities across all policy sectors and ensuring that the transition is fair and inclusive for everyone in order to make the EU’s economy sustainable. By transitioning to a clean, circular economy, the European Green Deal seeks to increase resource efficiency, halt climate change, reverse biodiversity loss, and reduce pollution. It describes the financial resources that must be invested, the funding options available, and how to achieve a fair and equitable transition. All economic sectors are covered by the European Green Deal [2].
By 2050, transport emissions must be reduced by 90% in order to become climate neutral. The achievement of such a decrease will require participation from all modes of transport, including road, rail, air, and waterborne transport. Providing people with more accessible, healthier, and cleaner alternatives to their present modes of transport is essential for achieving sustainable transport. Moreover, the cost of transport must reflect its effects on the environment and public health [3].
Resuming efforts to approve the Commission’s plan for a really Single European Sky will be necessary to reduce aviation emissions significantly. Fossil fuel subsidies should be eliminated, and the EU should accelerate the development and use of sustainable alternative fuels for transport. Present tax exemptions, particularly those for aviation fuels, will be examined and considered on how to effectively narrow any loopholes that need to be made. The Commission also suggests reducing the free allowances for airlines under the EU Emissions Trading System. This action should be coordinated at the international level, particularly with the International Civil Aviation Organization [3].

2.1.2. Single European Sky

The fundamental goal of the EU is to reform air traffic management (ATM) in Europe so that it can handle continued air traffic growth and operations while maintaining the highest levels of safety, cost-efficiency, flight-efficiency, and environmental friendliness. Defragmenting the European airspace is implied, along with a reduction in delays, an increase in safety standards and flight efficiency to lessen the aviation industry’s environmental impact, and a decrease in service-related expenses [4]. The European Commission has been trying to redesign European airspace since the late 1990s in order to improve traffic flow. The goal is to consolidate the fragmentation brought on by national borders and interests by establishing Functional Airspace Blocks (FABs). Only when the airspaces and related airspace fees are homogenized can the most effective, direct routes be employed. Thus, significant fuel consumption reductions of up to 10% and a shortening of flying periods are possible [5].

2.1.3. Destination 2050

The European aviation sector is pursuing ambitious sustainability targets with the aim of reaching CO2 neutrality, in accordance with IATA’s Net Zero by 2050 initiative. It is expected that 10 billion passengers will be carried annually around the world by 2050, up from only 4 billion before COVID-19 [5]. In Destination 2050, advancements in aircraft and engine technology, ATM and aircraft operations, sustainable aviation fuels, and economic initiatives are all taken into account. Most importantly, these kinds of solutions will permit maintaining the social and economic advantages of aviation while considerably reducing CO2 emissions [6]. Four sets of measures are primarily intended to be used in Europe to reduce CO2 emissions [5]:
  • Up to 37% in savings due to advancements in aircraft and engine technologies;
  • Up to 34% can be saved by using sustainable aviation fuel (SAF);
  • Up to 8% in savings due to newly implemented economic measures;
  • Up to 6% savings resulting from ATM and flight operations improvements.

2.1.4. Fit for 55

In its “Fit for 55” package, the European Commission unveiled a variety of policy recommendations that would help the EU reach its target of decreasing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 55% by 2030 compared to the 1990 levels with the ultimate goal of making Europe the first climate-neutral continent [7]. Even though the recommendations will have an impact on a variety of industries, including construction, energy, and transport, the prospective changes that are most pertinent to aviation are [7,8]:
  • The revision of the EU Greenhouse Gas Emissions Trading System, a carbon market-based measure;
  • The ReFuelEU Aviation proposal, a directive promoting the use of sustainable fuels with the targets set for the years 2025 to 2050;
  • The revision of the Energy Taxation Directive, which would impose a tax on fuel used for both commercial and private flights;
  • The conversion of the Directive on Deployment of the Alternative Fuels Infrastructure into a regulation.

2.1.5. Certification of Green Airports

Airport Council International (ACI) Europe introduced the Airport Carbon Accreditation in 2009 with the intention of encouraging airports to lessen their environmental impact. Airport Carbon Accreditation evaluates and acknowledges airports’ efforts to control and lower their carbon emissions in accordance with four ascending levels of certification: “Mapping,” “Reduction,” “Optimization,” and “Neutrality.” Airports must adhere to growing requirements across these tiers, including by incorporating emissions from external stakeholders operating at the airport in their carbon management, such as airlines, ground handlers, or retailers. Airports that have their CO2 emissions under control are at the point where further reductions are impossible and are awarded the desired certification level known as carbon neutrality. The requirement that airport operators lower their own emissions as much as possible before offsetting third-party contributions is a crucial component of the scheme [9,10]. Green airport certification can bring benefits such as clear identification of sources of emissions, measurable emissions reduction, a boost of climate initiatives, operational and cost efficiency, increased public credibility, and access to green finance [11].

2.1.6. Frequent Flyer Tax

Due to a 1944 international agreement, international aviation fuel is currently tax-free, which is in bold contrast to other sources of transport. According to several research, taxation of fuels along with charges on air travel might significantly help reduce demand and thus reduce emissions. There are basically four main possible methods of taxation of air travel: the air passenger duty, tax per ton of CO2, a frequent flyer levy, and frequent air miles’ tax, the latter two taking into account not only emissions but also a number of flights [12].
Frequent Flyer Tax would take the form of a progressive tax that targets individuals based on how frequently they travel both domestically and internationally. Everybody would receive a free return flight each year, after which the tax would start at a modest rate and increase incrementally for each further flight. To lessen the impact of the remaining flights, environmental activities would be funded with the money raised from this [13]. There are already several proposals on how this tax could be implemented. For example, the model for the UK suggests the fee for the first flight to be GBP 0, the second flight GBP 25, and the fee for each consecutive flight to increase by GBP 10 [14]. According to the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT), to receive the required finances for emissions reduction, it would be necessary to charge USD 9 for the second flight and gradually increase the tax up to USD 177 for the 20th flight within one year [15].

2.2. Initiatives at Airports

To cut carbon emissions at the airports, investing in low-energy vehicles and equipment that runs on electricity or renewable fuels would be necessary. As well as to switch to zero-carbon energy and fuel sources, reduce energy consumption through the design of new energy-efficient infrastructure, and invest in energy efficiency and energy storage [16]. Given the normal physical size of airports and the continued cost decline of renewable infrastructure, there are opportunities to expand on-site energy generation using hydrogen, solar, wind, and biomass fuels [17]. By increasing efficiency and electrifying processes, equipment, and infrastructure, we may not only improve air quality and reduce carbon emissions but also create a sustainable economic model. By improving airside operations, one may make better use of the runways and taxiways, cut emissions, and save money [18].
Local air quality objectives can be supported by policies that promote the usage of electric cars within the airport premises and ground power for airplanes to reduce air pollution. It would improve an airport’s sustainability level to decrease light pollution, monitor indoor air quality, limit the use of harmful materials, implement a biophilic design, and take precautions against the hazards of producing heat islands [17]. It is advised to use natural light wherever possible and to shade windows from the sun to lower cooling expenditures. The practical energy-saving strategy is to just heat or cool the air that is immediately around passengers while the remaining air separates lower air from the coat.
At airports, surface access is a significant source of emissions. Putting public transportation first helps cut emissions [17]. Any new or enlarged airport building must include the development of effective public transit choices since it lowers emissions for passenger connections between the airport and their respective metropolitan service regions [19].
There are many excellent examples of airports that have previously adopted methods such as green roofs and increased planting inside their estates to mitigate the consequences on biodiversity while still maintaining aviation safety [17].
Another environmental issue at airports is the handling of water and waste. As a result, an airport operator should cooperate with the local government to meet the requirements for nearby water supply protection. Airports should focus on reducing water outdoor consumption, managing runoff water, and promoting its reuse [19]. Reclaimed water, advanced water purification, geothermal cooling, condensed water from air conditioners, low-flow fixtures, infrastructure improvements, landscaping with effective irrigation and drought-resistant plants, artificial wetlands, and stormwater management are some of the sustainable water management strategies for airports [20]. One of the main goals of airport planning is to improve waste reduction, recycling, and reuse programs. It goes without saying that the main goal of any waste management initiative should be to decrease the overall quantity of waste produced by a certain airport during a given time frame [19]. Airports should cooperate with third parties to choose the right option of waste disposal to ensure lower environmental impact in the form of the reduced amount of landfill space required, a lower degree of groundwater pollution, energy production, and carbon footprint reduction [21].

2.3. Aircraft Improvements

When looking at the ways airlines can cut their emissions and increase the sustainability of their operations through technological operations, the most effective and most popular is fleet modernization [22]. In order to improve propulsion efficiency and reduce fuel consumption, American and European aircraft and engine manufacturers, along with a number of research organizations, are developing new engine technology [23].
In order to advance aircraft improvements, fulfill environmental criteria, and improve aircraft performance, aerodynamics is essential. Adopting state-of-the-art aerodynamic techniques to boost lift and minimize drag may result in a decreased level of fuel consumption of aircraft already in use, which would reduce fuel costs and pollution emissions. Around the world, civil aviation authorities and environmental organizations create stricter guidelines and standards for aircraft in terms of noise pollution. Three crucial aspects must be addressed to achieve this: the control of the engine, nacelle, and airframe noise [24].
The aircraft’s engine is the main generator of pollutants. By improving engine performance and combustion efficiency, fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions might be immediately decreased [24]. By increasing cabin density or load factor, fuel consumption may be decreased as well. A short- and medium-haul aircraft may save 0.83% of its fuel for every 1% increase in seat capacity, according to Morrell’s [25] estimates.
Researchers are looking into the possibilities of using recycled and renewable materials instead of synthetic composites to increase the sustainability of the aviation sector. The goal is to find alternative resources to make fiber reinforcements for aircraft. It was found that recycled carbon fibers and bio-based fibers from plants are highly promising. An advanced thermoplastic composite technology enables the production of components to be less resource-intensive while producing the parts that meet the operational requirements. The use of recycled composite in cabin sidewall panels may result in a sizable decrease in emissions at every stage of the part’s lifecycle [26]. These new parts can be 9% lighter than conventional technology and can reduce CO2 emissions from production by up to 80% [27]. Moreover, there is undergoing research into the possibility of using recycled plastic as a new material in aircraft electric cabling, which besides having a smaller carbon footprint itself could bring a reduction in aircraft weight, and thus result in further emissions-cutting [28]. Modern environmentally friendly aircraft paints do not include chromate and are very effective at avoiding corrosion. Due to the low amount of volatile organic compounds they contain, they effectively reduce greenhouse gas emissions [23].
Alternative propulsion methods, such as battery-electric and hydrogen-powered systems, may someday prove to be a feasible option, as the hardware improvements only slightly benefit the environment and will not be sufficient in reaching the emissions goals for aviation. Electric engines provide a number of advantages, including significantly fewer maintenance needs, due to their reduced mechanical complexity and lack of local pollutants. Aircraft powered by hydrogen are also being developed at the same time. In late 2020, Airbus displayed three hydrogen-powered, zero-emission concept aircraft that are planned to enter service in 2035 [22,29].

2.4. Alternative Energy Sources

The aviation industry can promote sustainability by encouraging the use of sustainable aviation fuels. These fuels have a lower carbon footprint because they are made from renewable energy sources and sustainable raw materials, unlike fossil petroleum. They can reduce CO2 emissions by up to 80%. Additionally, unlike other alternative energy sources for aircraft propulsion, they do not need significant infrastructure changes because they can be blended with traditional aviation kerosene [23,30].
Sustainable aviation fuels can be classified into three main categories, so-called generations, based on their source and how they are produced. The first generation SAF, made from crops such as canola, sugarcane, maize, soybeans, and palm oil, were the first to be tested and were found to reduce CO2 emissions. However, the use of food crops as feedstock raises concerns about SAF’s potential negative impact on food production and food security of the affected communities, which reduces its sustainability and presents a barrier to the scalability of these biofuels. Second-generation SAF addresses this issue by using waste materials (e.g., used cooking oil, organic waste) and water plants such as algae as a feedstock. However, even feedstock diversification and transfer to sources that do not directly affect food production did not bring desired applicability to the general market, due to the lack of feedstock supply and controversies over land use. This resulted in the research of third-generation SAF, which, by using the “Power-to-Liquid” and “Power-to-Gas” processes, convert renewable energy into synthetic kerosene. Despite being carbon-neutral and not affecting land use or food production, these fuels have limited supply and high costs [22].
At present, researchers are exploring alternative propulsion systems for airplanes in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. One of the possibilities being considered is the use of hydrogen, which can propel an airplane either through a hydrogen combustion engine or via a fuel cell that converts hydrogen to electricity to drive an electric motor. However, unlike drop-in SAF, using hydrogen as an energy source would require significant technological modifications to the aircraft engine [31], and new infrastructure would be needed to produce, liquefy, store, and transport the hydrogen. Developing new aircraft power and propulsion systems, such as turboelectric, hybrid electric, or all-electric, would also necessitate substantial changes to the aircraft’s propulsion systems and supporting infrastructure. Upgrading the current power supply network and installing charging facilities would be essential to support the use of electric aircraft [24,32].

3. Literature Review

3.1. Theoretical Framework

The attitudes and behavior of people have been in the central attention of psychology for many years. Consequently, a quite large number of theories focusing on the formation of attitudes and the changing in people’s behavior have been developed over the years. In relation to our research, we are interested in theories that relate to the attitudes of people, their formation, and possible factors that can influence them. In relation to air travel and green initiatives, the attitudes and behaviors of passengers are crucial. Policymakers are taking necessary steps to decrease the impact of aviation on the environment; however, an important part of achieving carbon-free milestones are attitudes and behaviors of passengers. Based on psychological theories, if the attitudes of passengers are favorable, they would be more likely to accept all necessary changes that are awaiting the aviation industry in the coming years.
One such theory that has been widely connected to the research on the attitudes of people is the theory of planned behavior. This theory received broad attention in many areas and it is largely researched in connection with the environment [33]. This theory is focused on the predictors that influence a certain behavior of people. These predictors are attitudes toward act or behavior, subjective norm, and perceived behavioral control [34]. According to this theory, these three predictors are influenced by beliefs, which can be behavioral, normative and control. It is important to keep in mind that when applying this theory an adequate attention has to be paid to these indirect predictors or beliefs that affect behaviors [35].
If all direct three predictors are perceived in a positive way, they together create the behavioral intention which leads to behavior [34]. It is in the best interest of air transport companies or airports to achieve positive attitudes of passengers so that they would support them also in the form of their behavior. According to this theory, the first step in achieving desired behavior from passengers is to create positive attitudes toward green initiatives among the passengers. Such a positive attitude can be achieved when individuals view that believing in a specific behavior makes a positive contribution to their lives. The second step is to have a favorable social norm, meaning the environment which surrounds the individual views that they should support green initiatives. The third step of perceived behavioral control is related to the view of the individual as to how difficult would it be to act or behave in a certain way. This theory predicts that, by achieving all three steps, it is possible to attain desirable behavior on the part of the passengers.
Over the years, many scholars have employed this theory to understand factors that influence the pro-environmental behaviors of people. However, it seems that this theory prioritizes attitudes, while actions toward green initiatives are heavily influenced by knowledge and also habit, which are not reflected in this theory [36]. This is also one of the reasons why the present study focuses not only on attitudes but also on knowledge.
Another psychological theory related to the pro-environmental behavior is cognitive dissonance theory. In general, people tend to have positive attitudes toward environment and its protection. On the other hand, many of these people are frequent flyers and are not willing to reduce their behavior toward air travel [37]. This gap between the beliefs and the actions can be explained by dissonance theory. This theory states that there is a mental conflict when values or beliefs of an individual are in conflict with their actions or behaviors. This mental conflict can be experienced in the form of discomfort which needs to be addressed by individuals since, the greater is the dissonance between beliefs and actions, the greater is the pressure to eliminate such dissonance. In the case, that a dissonance occurs, the individual has two options of how to solve it. Firstly, they can change their attitude, values, or beliefs, or secondly, they can change the way they act [38]. According to the study [39], most of the interviewees expressed feelings of dissonance when it comes to traveling by plane which resulted in feelings of frustration in passengers. Social marketers could use the knowledge about this theory and develop campaigns that would highlight dissonance in green passengers, which could promote them to change their way of behaving.
Another theory that could influence the attitudes of passengers toward green initiatives is the social learning theory. It discusses learning processes among a group of individuals who aim to better a common issue and take action collectively. Social learning can be described as a transformation in knowledge or perception that extends beyond an individual. It becomes integrated within larger social groups or communities through interactions between individuals within social networks [40]. Knowledge, values, and action competence can grow in harmony through assisted social learning to boost an individual’s or a group’s opportunities to participate more actively in the solution of emergent personal, organizational, and societal problems. In social learning, the community of learners itself determines the learning objectives, at least in part [41]. It is noted that social learning is emerging as a useful framework to support collective decision-making and action [42]. In [43], authors encourage to wider the involvement of stakeholders in environmentally sustainable action in order to gain more positive outcomes. This theory suggests that the attitudes of passengers could be positively modelled based on the observation of the behavior of other passengers as well as on positive attitudes coming from other stakeholders. It is believed that people are more likely to adapt pro-environmental behaviors if they believe that others around them are doing the same.
According to the theory of individual differences, the attitudes of individuals toward environmental issues can vary considerably based on their personality traits, cognitive abilities, and learning styles. Study [44] suggests that inaccurate assessments of “green” products are correlated with individual differences in cognitive processes. It is a common practice for many individuals to automatically assume that products labelled “green” are carbon neutral and, therefore, can be used with impunity. The frequent flyer may think that, if the flights’ carbon emissions are offset, he can travel twice as much. In [45], authors discovered that, even though positive attitudes toward environmental issues are not affected by gender, it is strongly connected to the individuals’ personality traits and their general positive relation with nature. This was also supported by the studies [46,47], which both concluded that green initiatives are generally more acceptable for people who naturally feel positive emotions and have a positive attitude toward the environment. Therefore, it is important for aviation companies to understand the individual differences of passengers in order to take appropriate measures and create tailored information dissemination campaigns.
Despite the fact that there is debate over their efficacy, persuasive communication campaigns are frequently employed to encourage pro-environmental behavior [48]. Persuasive theory is a psychological approach to communication that aims to influence people’s attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors. Dealing with the significant gap between actions and their consequences is one of the key difficulties in changing human behavior. It takes time and effort to persuade people to take sustainable action since it is difficult to get people to change their behavior for the good of society as a whole rather than just for themselves [49]. Therefore, to change passengers’ attitudes and secure sector-wide emissions reduction, it is essential to deal with the existing gap between passengers’ knowledge regarding the link between aviation and climate change [50]. To this end, the use of persuasive messages would be appropriate in order to appeal to passengers’ values and emotions and provide them with information about the environmental impact of air travel.

3.2. Previous Research

Determining the attitudes of passengers in aviation is crucial since their satisfaction and behavior influence air travel. Airlines have to use different market and economic models to attract passengers and make them choose their airline [51]. This includes the implementation of new technologies into their operations, the quality of provided services, or reduced environmental footprint. In recent years, passengers have started to be more concerned about environmental issues and thus, airlines adopted the approach of a green image to meet the passengers’ environmental needs. According to several studies, a green image of an airline is an important predictor of consumers’ preference in choosing the airline [52,53].
The implementation of green initiatives by policymakers is to transform the aviation industry in order to reduce its impact on the environment. Airports and airlines will have to comply with these new regulations and, therefore, they are about to change some aspects of present air travel. A passenger that values green initiatives has a stronger preference for an airline that develops in line with the idea of reduced impact of aviation on the environment [54]. The decisions of airports and airlines in regard to the implementation of various green initiatives should be guided by the passengers’ attitudes with the goal to satisfy their passengers in the best way possible.
Knowledge is a crucial part of the decision-making of people, and it has been a subject of research in various studies conducted in the context of other fields, for example, mental health [55], genetically modified food [56], or the purchase of green products [57]. Research in aviation also focused on the importance of knowledge of passengers, as according to [58] passengers with different amounts of knowledge respond differently to the same advertisements. Consequently, based on [58], it is important for advertisers such as airlines to adapt advertisements for specific groups of people by providing those with a lower level of knowledge with more information. This increases passengers’ awareness about the problem and possible solutions, which results in increased trust in passengers. According to research from Turkey, women and elderly passengers had higher environmental awareness than other gender and age groups [59].
A study from 2018 [60] assessed the knowledge, perception of climate change, and attitudes toward policies that promote the reduced impact of aviation, including the introduction of the carbon tax in France. According to this study, the knowledge about climate change by the French general public is limited; however, they show concern for climate change and would, therefore, support stricter norms and green investments. The study recommends launching an information campaign with the goal to improve knowledge about climate change since higher knowledge is associated with higher concern for the environment and support of green policies. The importance of providing people with more knowledge was also stressed by a Chinese study, which recommends organizing eco-friendly activities and continuous environmental education for adults and also at schools [61]. For some passengers in Sweden, advanced knowledge and fear were the important factors that affected their attitudes to flying, resulting in drastically reduced flying, or no flying at all [62].
It seems that there is a gap in sharing information about aviation’s impact on the environment between the aviation industry and the wide public [63]. The actions that are taken to reduce this impact are in many cases unseen to the passengers [52] but may become more evident over time, for example, in the form of higher prices or reduced comfort for the passengers. This sacrifice from the passengers is viewed negatively and, therefore, airlines should invest in marketing strategies that would reduce this perception [64]. An example of a negative attitude to green initiatives was observed by research that compared the opinions of passengers in India and America on the use of recycled water at airports. It was discovered that, even though both nations have a negative view of the use of recycled water at airports, Americans were more critical of it than Indians [65]. Therefore, it is important to keep in mind that people around the world have various attitudes and beliefs and may react differently to proposed initiatives. A study from Indonesia [66] highlights that the environmental efforts of passengers will likely depend on their value orientations, which are different for each individual and can be also influenced by their culture. Thus, the marketing strategies of airlines and airports should be adapted to the specific groups of passengers.
One of the possibilities of how to make passengers more open to the various green initiatives is by sharing information about the efforts to protect the environment. The passengers will then be more likely to pay for the cost of their air travel [67], for example, in the form of carbon offsetting [68], and will understand the reason why their comfort is being reduced. The overall provision of information helps the passengers to remain satisfied even with less comfortable solutions. The willingness to pay for green initiatives relates to emotion and the level of caring for the environment by passengers [69]. Another study [70] focused on the behavior of passengers to determine significant factors that would motivate them to reduce air travel.
The current environmental situation requires more than just one price instrument. A study in Sweden [71] revealed that Swedes are more likely to support a policy that is targeted at the aviation industry in general rather than focused on individual passengers to discourage them from traveling. The preferences of people regarding green policies are influenced by several factors, such as the degree of coercion of the policy, the behavior targets, and the perceived cost of it [72].
The willingness to pay for green initiatives was observed in several studies. According to a study conducted in Germany [52], passengers are willing to pay more for a greener flight; however, they would rather pay more for additional legroom. According to [73], one of the factors that influence the willingness to pay an additional fee related to the quantity of reduced greenhouse gases per flight. Another study [74] revealed that people would pay more if the aircraft used more sustainable fuel than conventional jet fuel. Passengers are also willing to pay more for greener airports [75]. However, these studies were based in the US and cannot be applicable to all passengers around the world. For example, a study in Pakistan [76] showed the opposite: that the passengers would not be willing to pay a higher price for an airplane ticket because of the airline being eco-friendly.
The literature review of related works revealed that passengers are becoming more aware of the impact of aviation and are influenced to decide on a type of airline based also on their green image. The airlines should pay attention to the attitudes and wants of passengers and accommodate their marketing strategies accordingly. The literature review of related works revealed that passengers are becoming more aware of the impact of aviation and are influenced to decide on a type of airline based also on their green image. The airlines should pay attention to the attitudes and wants of passengers and accommodate their marketing strategies accordingly. It is important to share and provide more information about green initiatives to the wider public in order to attain their satisfaction with the new initiatives that may influence them in the form of higher financial expenses or decreased comfort at the airport or during the flight. Research from different countries may present various results about the attitudes of passengers as they are influenced by their values that are also connected to the culture and personal beliefs of the individuals. This is one of the reasons why the authors decided to perform this study in the context of Slovakia, as the values of people may not be comparable to other nations, such as Americans, who participated in many of the previous surveys.

4. Methodology

The aim of this article is to explore the Slovak passengers’ attitudes towards green initiatives and their knowledge about environmental approaches in aviation. The authors intended to increase public awareness about the upcoming implementation different green initiatives that are to be implemented in aviation in the forthcoming future. The authors were motivated to conduct this research because they perceived a lack of knowledge about such initiatives among the Slovak population. To bridge this gap, the authors constructed a questionnaire that provided participants with insights into the latest developments in green aviation initiatives. The questionnaire sought to obtain an understanding of respondents’ attitudes and knowledge by collecting demographic data, including gender and age.
The fundamental component of the methodology in this article is represented by both descriptive and inferential statistics, which were used to determine significant differences and correlations. The use of inferential statistics permitted the examination of the relationships between groups of participants (either according to gender or age) and provided data based on which it was possible to determine whether a significant difference can be observed. Appropriate tests, such as the independent t-test, were used in order to determine the significant differences. Correlation analysis was used to investigate possible relations between variables. The correlation matrix was calculated by Spearmen’s non-parametric method, as the sample did not comply with the parametric requirements. Specifically, the authors estimated that there was a significant positive relationship between the passengers’ attitudes and their willingness to pay for green initiatives. Therefore, it would be possible to estimate that, the more passengers were open to the implementation of green initiatives, the more likely they were to pay for them. The significant differences and correlation matrix were evaluated according to data generated by the Jamovi statistical software. The correlation matrix enabled the authors to assess the significance of the relationship between the two variables and draw conclusions about their relationship.
The methodology of this study followed a systematic process, as depicted in Figure 2. The first phase involved literary research concentrated on green initiatives in aviation, focusing on European Union policies, green certification of airports, alternative sources of energy, and aircraft modifications to become more efficient. Further, a literary review of theoretical framework is provided, which focused on psychological theories related to the formation of attitudes and factors influencing behavior. This is followed by previous research in the attitudes and knowledge of aviation passengers. The second phase involved the creation of an online survey tool using Qualtrics, which was chosen due to its ability to reach a larger number of participants across the Slovak Republic. The third phase involved the distribution of the questionnaire on social media platforms and online travel forums. The fourth phase focused on the evaluation of gathered data that were exported from the online survey tool and converted into the statistical software Jamovi.
After the questionnaire was constructed, it was published and shared on social media in Slovak online travel forums. The link to the online survey was initially sent to twelve online groups focusing on traveling. However, the administrators of the groups had to approve the questionnaire, which resulted in distributing the survey to five online groups accessing a total of 58,800 potential respondents. The previous studies performed in various countries provided different results in regard to the attitudes of passengers. Therefore, the authors estimate that a study focused on Slovak passengers will show different results than studies focused on passengers in other countries. The target respondents were Slovak passengers who travel by plane at least once in three years.
The questionnaire consisted of three parts. One part was devoted to demographical information about the participants, asking about their age, gender, highest achieved education, and their frequency of flying. Another part paid attention to the evaluation of the passengers’ knowledge about green initiatives. Each question in this section was focused on one aspect of the green initiatives, namely, green policies, changes at airports, use of alternative energy sources, and modifications of aircraft. Lastly, one part focused on the passengers’ attitudes and questions in this part were addressing the willingness of participants to accept various initiatives and their view on the aviation sector as a polluter. This questionnaire provided various types of questions including open- and close-ended questions or questions assessing attitudes using a Likert scale. The collection of data was from 16 January to 1 February 2023. Questions that focused on the knowledge about green initiatives were used to calculate a raw score representing the knowledge of the participants. In the same way, questions asking about the attitudes of the passengers served for the calculation of the raw score representing the attitudes about green initiatives. These two variables were then used for the evaluation of the overall knowledge and attitudes of the participants.
This study followed a methodology, which consisted of a systematic literary review, the creation of an online questionnaire, and the further use of the statistical software Jamovi for data analysis. The results gained from this study can serve as valuable insights into Slovak passengers’ attitudes towards green initiatives in aviation and their knowledge of environmental approaches in this sector. These findings can be useful in the development of policies and initiatives that aim to reduce the environmental impact of aviation in Slovakia.
By the means of a questionnaire that was distributed through an online travel group, a total of 622 anonymous responses were obtained. Upon evaluating of the responses, 514 were found to meet the predetermined criteria for inclusion in the target sample. The final sample of our research featured 514 respondents, of which 224 were male and 290 were female. Considering the age of participants, it was well distributed. We had divided the respondents into five age groups, limits for which were selected carefully to make sure all of the five groups comprised approximately the same number of respondents, the largest being aged 19–24 (23%), followed by 21% aged 31–44, 19% for groups aged 25–30 and aged over 56, and 18% aged 45–55. Looking at the highest achieved education level, the vast majority of the respondents fall into the categories of high school and master’s university degree, both groups comprising 42% of respondents, 10% have Bachelor’s degree, and 6% have a doctoral degree.
In terms of flight frequency, the majority of respondents travel by plane at least once a year (44%), 27% travel two to three times a year, 18% travel less than once a year, and 11% travel more than four times a year. The questionnaire included response options for infrequent and non-fliers to ensure that the respondents met the study’s criteria for the target sample. Of the 622 initial respondents, 14% reported traveling by plane less than once in three years, and 4% reported not traveling by plane. These responses were excluded from further analysis in the current study. All demographic information is available in Table 1 below.

5. Results

This section provides an evaluation of the results, firstly in relation to the knowledge and attitudes of passengers toward green initiatives in aviation. These sections are presenting the findings from the point of view of groups formed based on demographical information, firstly according to gender and then age groups.

5.1. Knowledge

The knowledge of participants was evaluated based on four questions in one of the parts of the questionnaire. One question was dedicated to each aspect of green initiatives in aviation, namely, aviation green policies, initiatives at airports, modification of aircraft, and the use of alternative fuels. In each question, respondents had to mark one or multiple options, which were covering several initiatives. If they did not hear about any of the proposed initiatives, they could mark the answer I have not heard about any of the initiatives. A total of 7% of all respondents did not have knowledge about any of the initiatives and marked this option in all four questions. On the other hand, 0.4% representing two participants knew about all of the mentioned initiatives. Figure 3 demonstrates the number of passengers who knew about the green initiatives from the questionnaire.
Regarding the first question about the green policies in aviation, the most known green policy is the Green Deal which was marked by 45% of participants. The second most known policy is the Single European Sky with 18% of respondents. All other options of green policies were recognized by a small number of respondents. The certification of green airports was marked as known by 13%. The possible introduction of a frequent flyer levy that would directly influence plane ticket prices was known to 11% of respondents. Finally, the least recognized is the initiative Fit for 55 which received 7%. The majority of respondents may know the Green Deal since it covers many areas not only aviation transport and they may have heard about it in relation to another sector. However, 39% of respondents have never heard about any of the policies, which supports the claim that the knowledge of passengers is severely limited.
The second question focused on the green initiatives that are being implemented at airports. Most of the respondents (56%) have heard about recycling of waste, 46% have heard about the initiative of airports to provide sufficient and satisfactory public transport from and to the nearest city, and 34% have heard about the use of electro mobiles at the airport, used for example, for transport from and to the terminals. The least known initiatives are the adjustment to colder temperatures in the winter and warmer in summer at the airport (18%) and the use of recycled water (17%). A quite large part (29%) of the respondents have never heard about any of the initiatives, but it is less than in the case of knowledge about green policies.
When it comes to the alternations of aircraft, the most common initiative (30%) is the modification of aircraft engines in order to be more effective. The second most common (27%) is the augmentation of passengers on each flight. The improvements achieving greater aerodynamics received 26% of responses. The initiative to carry less fuel onboard in order to reduce weight was marked by 19%. The two least recognized initiatives relate to the use of materials, 18% of passengers have heard about the use of recycled materials, and 15% about light materials. The use of light materials can help to decrease the overall weight of the aircraft and, therefore, reduce fuel consumption. The majority of the respondents (46%) have selected the option that they have never heard about any of these initiatives.
The recent attention that has been paid to the innovations of energy carriers in road transport may have contributed to a level of knowledge about hydrogen and electric energy in aviation. The purpose of all alternative energy carriers is a decrease in CO2 emissions. Considering the alternative energy carriers in aviation, the most known is hydrogen (42%), followed by electric energy with 28%, and fuel made from organic waste with 24%. A quite small number of respondents marked the option of fuel made from rapeseed (19%) and fuel from algae (7%).
According to Figure 3, we can denote the most and the least known green initiatives. The five most known initiatives are, firstly, recycling waste at airports, the second is making the airports accessible by public transport, followed by the knowledge about the Green Deal, the planned use of hydrogen as an alternative energy carrier, and the use of electro-mobiles at airports. The five least known are the green policy Fit for 55, the second is the fuel from algae, followed by two other green policies, the frequent flyer levy and the certification of airports. The fifth least known is the use of light materials in aircraft. The category in which green initiatives are viewed as the most known is airports, here only 29% of respondents stated that they do not have knowledge about any of the initiatives. The second is the category of green policies, where 39% of respondents did not know about any of them, followed by the categories of aircraft modifications and alternative energy carriers, where this option was chosen by 44% in each category.
During the evaluation of the results, a raw score of knowledge was calculated for each participant to represent their amount of knowledge about aviation green initiatives. For each initiative that they have heard of, they received one point. The minimum of points possible for one respondent was 0 and the maximum was 21 points. Three categories of knowledge were then created: weak (0–6 points), medium (7–13 points), and strong knowledge (14–21 points). Based on the raw score of each participant, they were placed in one of the above-described knowledge categories.
Figure 4 demonstrates the knowledge of passengers about the green initiatives in aviation according to gender. It is clear that the majority of the respondents from both genders have weak knowledge; however, there are more women than men in this category.
The least represented category is the one of strong knowledge, which is represented only by 11 men and 20 women. What seems interesting is that, even though there are more women with weak knowledge, there are also more women with strong knowledge than men in both of these categories. The differences between the number of men and women in all categories motivated authors to compare the knowledge of these two genders by inferential statistics in order to determine whether there is a significant difference in the overall knowledge between genders.
Table 2 shows the results of inferential statistics in the form of an independent samples t-test with the use of the Mann-Whitney test due to the nature of our data. It is possible to determine that the difference between the knowledge of men and women is significant if the p-value is smaller than 0.05. This value is not achieved, which means that there is not a significant difference in overall knowledge, which is represented by the raw scores of participants. According to the descriptive statistics, the average raw score for women is 4.91 points and for men is 5.42 points. This is implying that the knowledge about green initiatives in aviation by men is similarly high as the knowledge of women.
The further evaluation process of knowledge continued with the view of knowledge based on age groups. Figure 5 illustrates that, similarly, as was the case with gender, the majority of the respondents’ raw score falls into the category of weak knowledge. The least represented is the category of strong knowledge; from the point of view of age groups, the highest number of participants came from the age category 19–24. Overall, if we look at the knowledge of all groups, we can say that they are quite similar to each other. To verify whether the difference in the amount of knowledge between the age groups is significant, we performed an inferential statics operation through non-parametric One-way ANOVA. According to the results, there are no significant differences observed. Due to the limitations of space, these calculations are not present in this article. This means that, generally, most Slovak passengers have a weak knowledge of green initiatives, and it does not differ based on gender or age.

5.2. Attitudes

The attitudes of participants were evaluated based on two questions in one part of the questionnaire. The questions were directed at passengers’ attitudes toward sustainability in the aviation sector in general, exploring their opinion on reducing aviation’s environmental impact and their willingness to participate in green initiatives, evaluating also their willingness to pay more for their flights in order to cut carbon footprint. The content of these questions was linked to the questions in the knowledge part of the questionnaire. The statements included opinions about emissions from aviation in general, giving up part of the comfort in order to decrease emissions, sustainable materials, and sustainable energy carriers. In this part, respondents had to choose on a scale of one to five to what extent they agree with the given statements. Option 1 (I strongly disagree with the statement) and option 2 (I disagree) were considered as a negative attitude, option 3 (I neither agree nor disagree) was perceived as neutral, and options 4 (I agree) and 5 (I strongly agree) as positive.
The first two statements were related to the passenger attitude towards emissions caused by aviation. When looking at the first statement concerning the need for cutting emissions from aviation, the majority of respondents (56%) agreed, while only 17% disagreed. When we, however, asked if the emissions should be limited at the expense of passengers’ comfort, the number of respondents that agreed or disagreed with the statement became almost equal, 38% and 35%, respectively, while 27% were neutral. Therefore, it could be said, that most of the respondents have a highly positive attitude towards sustainability in aviation, as long as their comfort is not directly affected by the new practices.
The questions followed with statements related to passengers’ comfort. When asked directly whether they would be willing to give up part of their comfort in exchange for the decrease in emissions from aviation, the answers of the respondents varied. Although 41% would be willing to give up part of their comfort, 31% were neutral about the subject and 28% had a negative attitude. One of the green initiatives that may decrease comfort is accessing the airport with public transport services. However, the results for the statement concerning public transport are in sharp contrast with the answers to the previous question. When asked whether they would be willing to utilize public transport to get to the airport, the vast majority of the respondents comprising 63% provided a positive answer. Only 18% would not be willing to commute to the airport and approximately the same number (19%) was neutral.
When it comes to sustainable materials, 61% of the respondents would choose to fly with an aircraft that was built using recycled materials if the tickets had the same price as with regular aircraft, while 18% were neutral and 21% opposed to the idea. The attitudes changed considerably when we asked whether they would be willing to pay more for such a flight. A total of 52% of the respondents had a negative attitude, 31% were neutral, and only 17% would choose such an option.
The last part was dedicated to sustainable aviation fuels. A total of 77% of respondents claim they would rather fly with the aircraft running on sustainable aviation fuel if the ticket cost is the same as one with conventional aviation fuel, 12% had a negative attitude, and 11% were neutral. Same as with questions concerning sustainable materials used for aircraft construction, the numbers changed considerably when the option included a need to pay more for such a flight. In this case, only 17% had a positive attitude, 31% were neutral, and 52% opposed the idea. Based on the presented data, we can state that people have a more positive attitude about flying with aircraft using sustainable aviation fuels than recycled materials, which could be caused by the lower level of knowledge about sustainable materials compared to sustainable energy sources.
According to our data, respondents were considerably more positive about the initiatives that did not include additional costs. This opposes the studies [52,74,75] that concluded that passengers are, in general, willing to pay more for green initiatives in aviation. On the other hand, the results are in line with the study [76], according to which the passengers are not willing to pay more for the flight ticket on the basis that airlines are more eco-friendly.
Upon closer inspection of the results, an independent samples t-test in Table 3 focused on whether there is a significant difference between men and women in their willingness to pay for a flight with aircraft from recycled material and for a flight using alternative fuel. Table 3 revealed that the p-values, which are smaller than 0.05, indicate that the difference between genders is significant in both cases. According to the descriptives of the men’s and women’s willingness to pay for recycled materials and alternative fuels, both men and women have a negative attitude toward paying for these initiatives; however, men’s attitude is significantly more negative than the one of women.
Table 4 shows the correlation matrix related to recycled materials. A non-parametric method was used since the sample did not comply with the requirements for a parametric method. The p-value which is smaller than 0.05 indicates that there is a significant correlation. Spearman’s rho of 0.399 states that this relationship is strong. According to these results, there is a correlation between the passengers’ attitudes towards flying with aircraft made out of recycled materials and their willingness to pay an augmented price for such a flight.
When it comes to Table 5, the same is true about the relationship between attitudes towards the use of alternative fuel and the willingness to pay extra for this use. The p-value states that it is a significant relationship which is also strong; however, it is slightly weaker than in the case of the use of recycled materials. Based on these results, it could be said that people who would pick a flight with alternative fuels instead of the conventional ones provided the plane ticket costs the same amount of money are more likely to be willing to pay for such a flight. Therefore, if the number of people that trust green initiatives increases, the number of people willing to pay higher prices for such initiatives will also rise.
According to these results, we can state that the majority of passengers have a positive attitude when it comes to the use of recycled materials for aircraft construction or the use of alternative fuels. However, this attitude considerably changes when the passengers are required to pay higher prices in order to implement these initiatives. Passengers are in favor of initiatives that do not directly influence them in the form of augmented financial expenses. Even though both genders have a negative attitude towards paying additional costs for services that are green, women have a significantly less negative attitude than men and are more willing to participate in green solutions for aviation.
During the evaluation of the results, a raw score of attitudes was calculated for each participant to represent their attitude toward the aviation green initiatives on a scale from negative through neutral to positive. Points were assigned based on the number of points they allocated for each initiative ranging from 1 (I strongly disagree with the statement) to 5 (I strongly agree with the statement). Altogether, each respondent could receive a maximum of 40 points. Three categories of attitudes were then created: negative (8–18 points), neutral (19–29 points), and positive (30–40 points). Based on the raw score of each participant, they were placed in one of the above-described attitude categories.
From the assessment of raw scores for the attitude section, several trends were observed. Figure 6 demonstrates the attitudes of passengers about green initiatives in aviation according to gender. The majority of the respondents from both genders have a neutral attitude; however, there are more women than men in this category. The least represented category is the one of negative attitude, which is represented by 38 men and 30 women. The differences between the number of men and women in all categories motivated authors to compare the attitudes of these two genders by inferential statistics in order to determine whether there is a significant difference in the overall attitudes between genders.
Table 6 shows the results of inferential statistics’ independent samples t-test in the form of the Mann-Whitney test which was used due to the nature of our data. It is possible to determine that the difference between the attitudes of men and women is significant if the p-value is smaller than 0.05. This value is achieved, which means that there is a significant difference in overall knowledge, which is represented by the raw scores of participants. According to the descriptive statistics, the average raw score for women is 27.24 points and the score for men is 25.86 points. This is implying that there is a significant difference between the attitudes of men and women about participating in green initiatives in aviation. This means that women, in general, have better attitudes toward green initiatives and are more willing to pay for sustainable initiatives in the form of a more expensive plane ticket.
The evaluation process of attitudes further continued with the view of attitudes based on age groups. Figure 7 illustrates that, similarly, as was the case with gender, the smallest proportion of respondents falls into the category of negative attitude. The most represented is the category of neutral attitude. Overall, if we look at the attitudes of all groups, we can say that they are quite similar to each other. To verify whether the difference in attitudes between the age groups is significant, we performed an inferential statistics operation through non-parametric One-way ANOVA. The results revealed that a significant difference is only between age groups 19–24 and over 56. Due to the limitations of space, these calculations are not present in this article.

6. Discussion

In order to determine the level of knowledge of Slovak passengers, a few questions in the questionnaire focused on their familiarity with green initiatives. According to the results, the initiatives at airports are most commonly known among the respondents. The reason why some of these initiatives are more recognized may be that initiatives at airports can be directly seen by the passengers, while knowledge about other green aviation initiatives requires specialized attention. For example, in order to have knowledge about green policies, modifications of aircraft, or alternative energy carriers, the passengers would have to actively search for such information as it is not commonly present in media. The least recognized initiatives are those concentrating on aircraft modification and alternative energy carriers. In these least known categories of initiatives, more information should be given to the passengers in an easy, accessible, visible, and understandable way.
Based on the results, generally, most Slovak passengers have a weak knowledge of green initiatives, and it does not differ based on gender or age. This is in contrast with a Turkish study [59], which claims that women and elderly passengers had higher knowledge about the environment than other gender and age groups. According to a study [58], it is important for advertisers to modify the adverts and provide information about initiatives based on the knowledge of the target groups. It seems that, in the Slovak Republic, the knowledge of all passengers would require an extensive amount of information that would help them to know how they can participate in these solutions. The authors believe that the dissemination of information about green initiatives should be a part of education at schools, which was also recommended by [61].
The attitudes of passengers towards green initiatives are mostly neutral. When it comes to specific versions of how these initiatives can affect the passengers, some differences in attitudes are observed. The majority of respondents agreed that aviation should decrease its emissions, but only about half of them agreed that it should be performed even at the expense of the passengers’ comfort, which shows a certain level of dissonance. Generally, passengers are not eager to exchange a part of their comfort for decreased emissions from flying. The passengers’ reluctance to decrease the level of their comfort was also proved by a study [65]. However, in the present study, a quite high percentage of passengers would be willing to travel to the airport by public transport, which would decrease their comfort, but this seems like a little sacrifice that they would be willing to undergo.
It seems that passengers have more confidence in the use of alternative fuel than the use of recycled materials for the construction of aircraft. Even though both of these green initiatives received mostly a positive attitude, more passengers would be willing to choose a flight with alternative fuel than with aircraft made from recycled materials provided the price of the plane ticket stays the same. However, when it comes to paying more for a plane ticket due to the use of one of the green initiatives, the attitudes of the majority are negative. It seems that passengers are supporting green initiatives when their comfort and their finances are not compromised. This is in contrast with findings of studies from the US, stating that passengers are willing to pay additional prices for the implementation of green initiatives [73,74,75]. However, the results correlate with findings from another study from Pakistan [76], according to which passengers are not willing to pay additional fees. It is interesting to note that, even though passengers are generally not willing to pay additional costs for green initiatives, there is a correlation between the attitudes and the willingness to pay for these initiatives. According to this finding, we suppose that, by augmenting the number of people with a positive attitude, it is possible to increase the number of people who are willing to pay for the initiatives. The found correlation between these attitudes towards green initiatives and the passenger’s willingness to pay for them is in agreement with the findings of [69], that state that there is a link between the willingness to pay for green initiatives and the level of caring for the environment. This is in agreement with the Theory of Planned Behavior, which states that positive attitudes are one of the components that predict certain behavior. When it comes to the attitudes and willingness to pay of specific groups, according to the results, women have significantly more positive attitudes and are more willing to pay for green initiatives than men. Considering the age groups, the most positive attitude is observed in the age group 19–24, and it is significantly more positive than the one of the age groups over 56. It is important to keep in mind that the attitudes of people also reflect the individual differences of passengers. At the same time, an information dissemination campaign should be produced for a specific group of passengers while applying emotion or point out the dissonance in the actions of passengers.
The successful achievement of dissemination of information about green technologies was verified by the last question in the questionnaire which asked respondents to express their opinion on a scale from 1 (I strongly disagree) to 5 (I strongly agree) about the statement that this questionnaire gave them useful information about green initiatives. The average answer of the respondents was 3.5, while 61% of people chose options 4 (I agree) and 5 (I strongly agree) and only 13% chose options 2 (I disagree) and 1 (I strongly disagree). A quite large percentage of the respondents (26%) did choose option 3 (I neither agree nor disagree). These results show that the questionnaire provided some useful information, and it is viewed as one of the first steps in the dissemination of information about green initiatives in the Slovak Republic. The future dissemination strategies can utilize the presented findings and also make the use of psychological theories that focus on formation of attitudes and change in behavior. One of the ways is to pay attention to the overall view of the green initiatives by individual social groups.
The study showed several limitations. It was targeting Slovak passengers; therefore, it is not possible to generalize the results to the whole population and a similar international study could be conducted by future research. The sample of the study is viewed as sufficient in terms of size and heterogeneity. Greater dissemination of information about green initiatives could have been achieved by self-administration of the questionnaire, which would, however, require a considerable amount of time and dedication on the part of the researchers. The authors observe a possible limitation in the form of missing information about the average income of the respondents. The questionnaire did not contain such information due to the potential respondents’ unwillingness to disclose this personal information which would lead to fewer responses. As a result, it was not possible to observe the willingness to pay in relation to the average income. Future research could include this question and further explore this relation. Additionally, it could also focus on the current access to information about green initiatives and the willingness of passengers to acquire new knowledge in this field.

7. Conclusions

This article presents an overview of green initiatives that are under implementation or are to be implemented in the forthcoming future. These green initiatives are divided into four main groups: aviation green policies, initiatives at airports, aircraft modification, and the use of alternative fuels. The environmental knowledge of passengers was evaluated based on their knowledge of these four groups. The most known group is the one addressing the initiatives at airports, and the least known are the ones focusing on aircraft modification and the use of alternative fuels. According to these results, the authors can estimate information about which specific green initiatives should be more disseminated to the wider public.
The present study explores the environmental knowledge and attitudes towards green initiatives of Slovak passengers. The results show that an average Slovak passenger has weak environmental knowledge. There are no differences across age groups or genders in relation to the amount of knowledge, meaning that all Slovak passengers have similarly limited knowledge. The majority of Slovak passengers have a neutral attitude towards green initiatives in general and a negative attitude towards initiatives that require them to pay additional fees. A strong positive relation was found between the attitudes towards green initiatives and the willingness to pay for them. According to these results, we suppose that a passenger that has a positive attitude toward initiatives that do not modify the prices of plane tickets would be more willing to pay an additional fee for similar initiatives. Therefore, the authors recommend strengthening the knowledge of passengers through various information campaigns targeted at adult passengers but also see a benefit in providing information to younger generations. The attitudes of passengers are crucial for the implementation of new initiatives as, when their attitudes are positive, they are more likely to accept additional fees related to these initiatives. The findings of this study can be beneficial for other researchers, airlines, airport operators, people who are interested in the implementation of green initiatives, regulatory organs, and policymakers. In this way, the presented research contributes to the understanding of passengers’ knowledge and attitudes towards green initiatives in the aviation industry and highlights the need to increase passengers’ environmental knowledge and provide them with relevant information to make informed decisions. Moreover, the research provides valuable insights that could contribute to better promotion of European and global sustainable practices.

Author Contributions

Conceptualization, I.S. and M.K.; methodology, I.S.; validation, I.S. and M.K.; formal analysis, I.S. and M.K.; investigation, I.S. and M.K.; resources, I.S., M.K. and P.K.; writing—original draft preparation, I.S. and M.K.; writing—review and editing, I.S., M.K., P.K. and A.B.; visualization, I.S. and M.K.; supervision, P.K. and A.B.; project administration, P.K. All authors have read and agreed to the published version of the manuscript.

Funding

This research received no external funding.

Informed Consent Statement

Informed consent was obtained from all subjects involved in the study.

Data Availability Statement

The data presented in this study are available on request from the corresponding author. The data are not publicly available due to privacy restrictions.

Acknowledgments

The presented work was supported by APVV under Grant No. APVV-20-0546—“Innovative measurement of airspeed of unconventional flying vehicles”. The work was also supported by research and development potential in the area of transport means with ITMS project code: 313011T557. This support is very gratefully acknowledged.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

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Figure 1. Possibilities of green initiatives.
Figure 1. Possibilities of green initiatives.
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Figure 2. Methodology process.
Figure 2. Methodology process.
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Figure 3. The passenger’s knowledge about green initiatives.
Figure 3. The passenger’s knowledge about green initiatives.
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Figure 4. Knowledge of passengers according to gender.
Figure 4. Knowledge of passengers according to gender.
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Figure 5. Knowledge of passengers according to age group.
Figure 5. Knowledge of passengers according to age group.
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Figure 6. Attitudes of passengers according to gender.
Figure 6. Attitudes of passengers according to gender.
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Figure 7. Attitudes of passengers according to age groups.
Figure 7. Attitudes of passengers according to age groups.
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Table 1. Demographical information.
Table 1. Demographical information.
Demographical Groupsn%
Gender
  Male22443%
  Female29057%
Age
  19–2411623%
  25–309819%
  31–4411021%
  45–559218%
  56 +9819%
Highest education
  High school21642%
  Bachelor’s degree4810%
  Master’s degree21842%
  PhD. Degree326%
Frequency of flying
  <once a year9018%
  Once a year22844%
  2–3 times a year14027%
  >4 times a year5611%
Table 2. Independent Samples t-Test of Attitudes According to Gender.
Table 2. Independent Samples t-Test of Attitudes According to Gender.
Statisticp
RS Knowledge Mann-Whitney U30,7110.37
Table 3. Independent Samples t-Test of Willingness to Pay for Recycled Materials and Alternative fuel According to Gender.
Table 3. Independent Samples t-Test of Willingness to Pay for Recycled Materials and Alternative fuel According to Gender.
Statisticp
Willingness materialsMann-Whitney U28,8200.036
Willingness fuelMann-Whitney U25,272<0.001
Table 4. Correlation Matrix between Attitudes Towards Recycled Materials and Willingness to Pay for Recycled Materials.
Table 4. Correlation Matrix between Attitudes Towards Recycled Materials and Willingness to Pay for Recycled Materials.
Attitudes MaterialsWilligness Materials
Attitudes materialsSpearman’s rho
p-value
Willigness materialsSpearman’s rho0.399
p-value<0.001
Table 5. Correlation Matrix between Attitudes Towards Alternative Fuels and Willingness to Pay for Alternative Fuel.
Table 5. Correlation Matrix between Attitudes Towards Alternative Fuels and Willingness to Pay for Alternative Fuel.
Attitudes FuelWillingness Fuel
Attitudes fuelSpearman’s rho
p-value
Willingness fuelSpearman’s rho0.318
p-value<0.001
Table 6. Independent Samples t-Test of Attitudes According to Gender.
Table 6. Independent Samples t-Test of Attitudes According to Gender.
Statisticp
RS AttitudesMann-Whitney U28,7100.036
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Korba, P.; Sekelová, I.; Koščáková, M.; Behúnová, A. Passengers’ Knowledge and Attitudes toward Green Initiatives in Aviation. Sustainability 2023, 15, 6187. https://doi.org/10.3390/su15076187

AMA Style

Korba P, Sekelová I, Koščáková M, Behúnová A. Passengers’ Knowledge and Attitudes toward Green Initiatives in Aviation. Sustainability. 2023; 15(7):6187. https://doi.org/10.3390/su15076187

Chicago/Turabian Style

Korba, Peter, Ingrid Sekelová, Martina Koščáková, and Annamária Behúnová. 2023. "Passengers’ Knowledge and Attitudes toward Green Initiatives in Aviation" Sustainability 15, no. 7: 6187. https://doi.org/10.3390/su15076187

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