Image: Loz Pycock Image: Loz Pycock

Nearly half (48%) of small business owners in South Wales would consider flying to London during major rail disruption in the Autumn, according to a Fresh Business Thinking poll.

In March, Flybe announced that it would operate four 'rescue flights' on weekdays and two a day on the weekend between Cardiff International Airport and London City Airport.

The Severn tunnel will be closed for six weeks during September and October for work on the electrification of the line between London and South Wales.

Just over 40% of the 67 members of small business communities in the Cardiff Capital Region and Swansea said the cost of the flight was the most attractive factor in their decision to consider flying. Flybe said flights will operate from £34.99, one way, including taxes and charges. With the flights taking less than one hour, compared with an expected three hour journey from Cardiff to London via a diversion to Gloucester, nearly 30% said they were considering flights because of journey time. One respondent said he would not consider it because of the environmental impact of domestic flights.

Over half (52%) said they are not considering using Flybe's temporary route, with 36% of all surveyed saying they will opt to drive or use bus services instead and 16% planning to stick to the train.

Despite over half saying they won't be flying to London during the six-week period, 80% of those surveyed said they would consider it if the route was continued after the rail works are completed, but only if it still worked out faster and cheaper than the train (58%).

Vincent Hodder, chief revenue officer at Flybe, said: “We recognise that time is precious for our customers, especially those travelling for business which is why we have pulled out all the stops to ensure that those wanting to travel between the two capital cities of Wales and England still have convenient and affordable travel options during the period when the Severn Tunnel will be closed and there will be no direct rail link either.

Flybe also said that the Bombardier Q400 aircraft that will be used to operate the service is one of the world's most environmentally efficient ways to travel, on-par with eco-friendly cars for emissions per passenger measures.