One of the greatest achievements of modern aviation is the relative ignorance of the passenger who steps onto the plane. Few who are not aviation geeks know the model or manufacturer of the aircraft they’ve booked, and even fewer would opt to book one aircraft over another.
Until very recently, commercial aviation largely took that for granted. But in the wake of the 737 Max groundings, a question about consumer perception looms heavy over the industry. Will the questions about Boeing’s manufacturing of the Max and the FAA’s certification of it mean that passengers begin to think twice about what kind of aircraft they are stepping onto?
Last week, Barclays downgraded its rating of Boeing’s shares due a survey indicating passengers might be reluctant to fly on the Max, even when it’s re-certified to fly. The investment bank polled roughly 1,700 American and European passengers, 52% of whom said they would choose a different aircraft type from the Max if given the choice. In addition, 44% said they would wait a year or more to fly on the plane once it re-enters service.